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Danger at the Nail Salon?

Although it's unlikely, it remains possible that women could develop skin cancer from too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light while their nail polish or gel manicures dry, and there have been a few rare case studies where women did develop non-melanoma, squamous cell skin cancer on areas of their hands that were repeatedly exposed to UVA light used in nail salons. To get a better sense of the possible danger, researchers from Georgia Regents University did a random sampling of lamps in 17 nail salons to see how much UV radiation is emitted when nails are drying. They found a wide variation ranging from “barely” to “significant,” said study lead author Lyndsay R. Shipp, but reported nothing to warrant anything more than caution. Previous studies have noted that the exposures to salon lamps are likely not significant contributors to increased risks of skin cancer, and Shipp notes she uses the UV machines at the nail salon every few months and will continue to do so. “You can get that amount of exposure when driving down the road in your car,” she told The New York Times.

Deborah F. MacFarlane, and Carol A. Alonso, “Occurrence of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers on the Hands After UV Nail Light Exposure,” Archives of Dermatology, 2009;145(4):447-449. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2008.622.

Lyndsay R. Schipp et al, “Further Investigation Into the Risk of Skin Cancer Associated With the Use of UV Nail Lamps,” JAMA Dermatology, doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8740


Motivating for Health and Well-Being (Video)

Fear is a common motivator in health - when something goes wrong with our health, we are motivated to see a doctor and find a quick fix. Dr. Weil believes fear is not a good motivator for good health and instead believes education is a better option for motivation of making lifestyle changes. See what else Dr. Weil says about motivating people to make better choices in life and their health.

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How Not to Help Young Girls Lose Weight

Telling a young girl that she’s fat may backfire on your good intentions and put her at risk of obesity in her teens. A new study from UCLA checked the weights of more than 2,300 10-year-old girls in California, Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati. The researchers noted that at the start of the study 58 percent of the girls reported that they had been told they were too fat by a parent, sibling, teacher, classmate or friend. When the researchers went back to check the girls at age 19, they found that the ones who had been told they were too fat years earlier were 1.66 times more likely to be obese than other girls in the study. This held true even after the researchers factored in the girls’ actual weight, their income, race, and when they reached puberty. “We nearly fell off our chairs when we discovered this," said study senior author A. Janet Tomiyama in a UCLA press release. When people feel bad, they tend to eat more, not decide to diet or take a jog, she said. Making people feel bad about their weight could increase their levels of cortisol [the stress hormone], which generally leads to weight gain.

A.J. Tomiyama and J.M. Hunger, “Weight Labeling and Obesity: A Longitudinal Study of Girls Aged 10 to 19 years,” JAMA Pediatrics, doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.


This is Your Brain on Laughter

Seriously, research suggests that a good laugh can boost memory, lower stress, protect against heart disease and even burn calories. The latest news on the health benefits of laughter comes from a small study at California’s Loma Linda University, where researchers investigated the effects of humor on 20 seniors. First, they tested short-term recall among all the participants and took saliva samples from them to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They then showed comic videos to half the participants while the others were asked to sit silently elsewhere without talking, reading or using their cell phones. After 20 minutes, the researchers again tested short-term recall in all the participants and took new saliva samples. They found that recall among those who watched the videos increased by 43.6 percent compared to 20.3 percent in the other group and that cortisol levels in the video-watching group were significantly lower than they were in the others. The researchers noted that studies elsewhere have demonstrated that a sense of humor helps protect against heart disease and that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter daily burns up to 40 calories.

My take? Laughter is infectious. When we see or hear people laugh, we tend to laugh ourselves, which makes them laugh more, and so on. This means that a group of people laughing constitutes a powerful collection of internal and external feedback loops of positive emotion. If you want to be happy, put yourself in joyful situations as often as you can. Or consider laughter yoga. According to the official Laughter Yoga website, there are more than 6,000 "social laughter clubs" in 60 countries. Studies have shown that laughter can influence health by easing pain, reducing stress and even helping protect against heart disease. Researchers in Japan have shown that participating in laughter yoga can help lower blood pressure among adults ages 40 to 74, and are now investigating whether the positive changes are long-lasting.

G.S. Bains et al “The Effect of Humor on Short-term Memory in Older Adults: A New Component for Whole-Person Wellness,” Advances in Mind Body Medicine, Spring 2014, 28(2):16-24


5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Eat Farmed Fish

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is a favorite food of many, but when buying salmon and other fish, it is important to know its origins. Farmed fish is not a better option than wild-caught fish. Most farmed fish:

  1. Have unfavorable ratios of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids to pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids – meaning you get less of the good omega-3s and more of the less healthy omega-6s.
  2. Are raised in crowded conditions that are unnatural – and to help prevent infection they are given antibiotics. This means the fish are likely to contain residues of pesticides, antibiotics and other synthetic compounds used to control diseases that occur when fish are crowded in pens.
  3. May have lower levels of protein - as much as 20 percent less - compared to wild fish, making it a less valuable source of this essential nutrient.
  4. May have higher concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals such as PCBs and dioxin.
  5. Are resource- and energy-intensive (it takes several pounds of feed fish to produce one pound of farmed fish) and do not protect dwindling wild stock.

Choose wild-caught salmon, especially from the Pacific fisheries - they are more sustainably fished and have a larger, more stable population. If wild-caught salmon is cost-prohibitive, canned salmon (choose products containing salmon from wild, not farmed, sources) is a good alternative.

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How Long Would You Like to Live? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed living beyond 100 years old: Could You Live to Be 150? Check out the article and let us know how long you would like to live if you had a choice.


No Surprise: Massage Therapy Works

In case you had any doubts, a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that massage can relieve muscle soreness and improve general blood flow. The researchers noted that until now, no studies had actually validated what this investigation focused on – whether massage therapy is beneficial for aching muscles after exercise, and if the intervention improves circulation. For the study, healthy but inactive adults were asked to exercise on a standard leg-press machine until their legs were sore. Then half of the participants received massage on their lower extremities while the other half did not. After completing 90 minutes of therapy, the participants in the massage group reported no continuing soreness, while those in the the group that did not get massages were still sore 24 hours later. The researchers also reported improved blood flow (measured in the brachial artery of the upper arm) in the participants who received after-exercise massage, while the non-massage group had reduced blood flow at 90 minutes, 24 hours and 48 hours after exercise (their blood flow returned to normal at 72 hours). Because blood flow was improved in a part of the body distant from both the site of injury and the massage, the finding suggests a “systemic rather than just a local response,” the researchers concluded.

Nina Cherie Franklin et al, “Massage Therapy Restores Peripheral Vascular Function following Exertion”, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.02.007.


Okinawans Revere Aging (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the diet and lifestyle of Okinawans, a group of people who live on the island of Okinawa, south of Japan. Okinawa, has the world's highest concentration of centenarians, a unique trait that many scientists are studying to determine the factors leading to this trait. Obesity and common Western diseases such as breast and prostate cancer are also rare there. Dr. Weil describes his experience while visiting this tiny island and how Okinawans revered the elderly.

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