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4 Steps to a Positive Outlook

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:

  1. Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep.
  2. Express your emotional reactions honestly so you can effectively deal with what's bothering you.
  3. Confide in someone - your mate, a good friend or a trusted relative.
  4. 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!


Too Little Sleep May Raise Colon Cancer Risk

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.


Colloidal Silver: Is It Safe?

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.


Stare Down Pain

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.   


Traveling and Fitness Not Compatible?

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.


Vitamin D Update

The latest news on vitamin D comes from Iran, where a study found that drinking yogurt containing extra vitamin D may help individuals with diabetes regulate their blood sugar. Researchers divided 90 adult diabetics into three groups. Each group received yogurt drinks twice a day, one group's drink was plain yogurt, one contained extra vitamin D and one had extra vitamin D and calcium. After 12 weeks the investigators found a "relatively remarkable improvement" in blood sugar levels in the groups that were given the extra vitamin D. The study was published online on Feb. 2, 2011, by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In other news about "D" researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York checked blood levels of vitamin D in samples collected (in 2005-2006) from more than 3,100 children and teens and 3,400 adults nationwide. They found that low vitamin D levels in the children and teens were associated with an increased risk of developing allergies. The low levels of "D" among the kids were correlated with a sensitivity to 11 of 17 allergens tested including ragweed and food allergens. No such association was seen in the adults.

5 reasons you need vitamin D.


Your Heart & Your Hearing

Some decreased hearing ability seems inevitable with age - a new study found that the prevalence of partial hearing loss is about 21 percent in adults aged 48 to 59 years, but rises to 90 percent in those over 80. The investigators, from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, analyzed data on nearly 3,300 men and women ranging in age from 21 to 84. The research team also evaluated hearing impairment and measured word recognition at different sound levels (using both male and female voices) in the study participants. Their analysis showed that hearing impairment was more likely in men, in those who had lower education levels, worked in noisy occupations or had a history of ear surgery. But they also found that there may be a cardiovascular link to hearing impairment, as hearing loss was also correlated with the use of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs), a higher hematocrit (a marker of blood viscosity) and the thickness of artery walls. The report was published online on Feb. 21 by the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery and will appear in the journal's May print issue.

My take? The link between hearing impairment and cardiovascular disease is interesting. We also know that heart attack risk is higher among people exposed to chronic noise, and a study published in 2005 showed that partial hearing loss is 54 percent more prevalent among those who have a history of heart disease than it is in the general population. Encouragingly, the same study showed that individuals who exercised at least once a week reduced their risk of hearing loss by 32 percent compared to sedentary people.

Smoke and your hearing.


A Yoga Pose for Digestion?

Yoga can help tone and strengthen all parts of the body, including internal organs. The Full Boat Pose is an abdominal and deep hip flexor and strengthener, requiring you to balance on the tripod formed by your sitting bones and tailbone.

The benefits of the Full Boat include:

  • Strengthened abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
  • Stimulation of the kidneys, intestines and thyroid and prostate glands
  • Stress relief
  • Improved digestion

There are variations of this pose, including one you can perform while sitting at your desk! Learn more about this pose, including what it looks like, how to properly execute it, and who this pose may not be right for. See the Full Boat Pose.