Here’s a potential solution for patients who are always nervous and anxious in a dentist’s chair: researchers in Italy found that acupuncture reduced the likelihood of gagging among patients having impressions taken of their upper and lower teeth. In this small study - only 20 dental patients with a history of gag reflex took part – participants ranging in age 19 to 80 had teeth impressions taken under normal circumstances. They then had the procedure repeated with acupuncture. The first time around, the patients reported an average gag reflex for upper teeth impressions of 7 on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 representing the most nausea and gagging. With acupuncture, the average score was 1 on the 0 to 10 scale. The results for impressions of the lower teeth were similar. The needles were inserted at acupuncture points on the face and wrist about 30 seconds before the impressions were taken. Because this study was so small, the findings will have to be confirmed by further research before they can be widely accepted or considered in clinical practice. The study was published online on November 5, 2013 by the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
The heavier women are, the higher their risk of hearing loss compared to women of normal weight. This surprising finding stems from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study II that, along with other health parameters, tracked physical activity, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and hearing loss among 68,000 women from 1989 to 2009. On the positive side, the researchers from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the more physically active the women in the study were, the lower their risk of hearing loss. The researchers reported that women who had a BMI indicating obesity had a 17 percent higher risk of hearing loss than women whose BMI was lower than 25, indicating normal weight. Women with a BMI of 40 or more had a 25 percent higher risk of hearing loss than normal weight women, the study showed. As far as exercise is concerned, the most physically active women had a 17 percent lower risk of hearing loss than the least physically active women. The study found that walking two hours or more per week lowered the risk of hearing loss risk by 15 percent compared to walking less than an hour a week. The results were published in the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Medicine.
My take? Obesity increases the risk of illness and death due to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and kidney and gallbladder disease; it may also increase the risk for some types of cancer and is a primary risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis and sleep apnea. And now it appears that obesity may also increase the risk of hearing loss. Earlier research from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons found that obese teenagers have a nearly twice the risk of one-sided low frequency hearing loss, compared to normal weight teens. Here, the researchers suggested that this accelerated hearing loss might be associated with inflammation stemming from obesity. Clearly, as the news about hearing loss attests, the list of health risks presented by obesity continues to grow.
Anil K. Lalwani et al, “Obesity is associated with sensorineural hearing loss in adolescents,” The Laryngoscope, DOI: 10.1002/lary.24244
A recent Q&A discussed boredom with food and how some people feel they need to eat out of necessity instead of for pleasure: Bored with Food? Check out the article and let us know what part of meal preparation you least enjoy.
Keeping regular sleeping hours might be the easiest way for women to stay slim. A study from Brigham Young University found that young women who went to bed and woke up at the same time every day had lower body fat than women in the study who maintained irregular sleeping patterns. Sleeping between eight and 8.5 hours was associated with the lowest body fat among the study participants, comprised of 330 college women. Women whose sleeping patterns varied more than 90 minutes had higher body fat than those whose sleep patterns varied less the 60 minutes, the study found. It also showed that sleeping less than 6.5 hours or more than 8.5 hours was associated with higher body fat. The researchers theorized that the lower body fat seen among the regular sleepers might be a result of exercise, and noted that they only tracked the women’s sleep patterns for a week. Because this was simply an observational study, it doesn’t prove that regular sleeping patterns, on their own, affect amounts of body fat.
Bruce W. Bailey et al, “Objectively Measured Sleep Patterns in Young Adult Women and the Relationship to Adiposity, ” American Journal of Health Promotion doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.121012-QUAN-500
Carbohydrates have long been maligned by our health- and weight-obsessed public. In fact, some popular diets virtually exclude them. While refined grains undoubtedly contribute to the obesity epidemic, Dr. Weil explains that carbohydrates in whole, unprocessed form can be part of a healthy diet.
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If you snack regularly on nuts, you may be prolonging your life. The latest study on this healthy snack found that individuals who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts daily (that amounts to 16-24 almonds, 16 to 18 cashews) reduced their risk of dying from any cause over three decades compared to people who didn’t eat nuts or ate fewer nuts. Researchers from Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute tracked nut consumption in some 119,000 Americans for 30 years, looking for how snacking on nuts might affect all causes of death as well as any link between nut consumption and certain health threats such as heart disease. The investigators reviewed the participants’ nut consumption when the study began and every two to four years afterward. During that period, more than 16,000 women and more than 11,000 men died. When the investigators compared study participants who ate nuts to those who didn’t, they found that eating seven one-ounce servings per week cut the risk of death from any cause by 20 percent. They also found that people who ate nuts were learner, had lower rates of obesity, lower cholesterol, less high blood sugar, and smaller waist circumferences. In addition, they ate more fruits and vegetables and exercised more than people who ate fewer nuts or didn’t eat nuts at all.
Charles S. Fuchs et al, “Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” New England Journal of Medicine, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1307352
The evidence is undeniable that sugar-sweetened drinks raise the risk of type 2 diabetes and have a big impact on obesity. Now a new study shows that these beverages also seem to raise the risk of endometrial cancer. An investigation from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that women who drank the most sugar-sweetened drinks had a risk for the most common type of endometrial cancer that was 78 percent higher than that of women who did not consume these beverages. The researchers reviewed data from more than 23,000 postmenopausal women taking part in the Iowa Women’s Health Study. The women were asked to complete a questionnaire that asked about consumption of 127 food items. Between 1986 and 2010, 506 of the women developed type 1 endometrial cancer, an estrogen-dependent disease. The study revealed only an association between the risk of endometrial cancer and sugar-sweetened drinks. While it doesn’t prove that the drinks caused the cancer, there is a plausible link: “increase(ed) consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer,” said study leader Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D.
My take? I've warned for many years to avoid consuming high fructose corn syrup, which is used to sweeten most soft drinks. These products represent a major source of the average American intake of an unhealthy amount of sugar, 355 calories per person per day. That amounts to 22 teaspoons of sugar daily. A single 12-ounce soda contains about 130 calories and the equivalent of eight teaspoons of sugar. The high glycemic load of these sugary drinks provokes insulin resistance in many people, which underlies much of the obesity in our society and raises risks of type 2 diabetes. And now we have evidence suggesting that these drinks also raise the risk of endometrial cancer, the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. These beverages have absolutely no place in a healthy diet.
Maki Inoue-Choi et al, “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake and the Risk of Type I and Type II Endometrial Cancer among Postmenopausal Women”, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 2013; DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0636
A recent Q&A discussed the weight loss hype surrounding Garcinia Cambogia, the small purple fruit native to India and Southeast Asia: Lose Weight with Garcinia Cambogia? Check out the article and let us know what weight loss method works best for you.