A recent Q&A discussed the excess amount of salt in our daily diets: Are You Addicted to Salt? Check out the article and let us know what the largest source of salt is in your diet.
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis before a first pregnancy can set the stage for breast cancer later in life. A study published online on August 28, 2013 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found an 11 percent increased risk of breast cancer among women who drank 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce) of alcohol six times a week compared to women who didn’t drink any alcohol. More than 91,000 women participated in the study and were followed for 20 years to determine how drinking (or not drinking) affected their breast cancer risk. None had a history of cancer to start with. The study also linked pre-pregnancy drinking with an increased risk for proliferative benign breast disease, itself a breast cancer risk. The researchers reported that 1,609 women developed breast cancer and 970 developed proliferative benign breast disease over the 20 years. They noted that breast tissue in women who have not been pregnant is particularly susceptible to carcinogens, which they suggested might help explain the breast cancer threat posed by drinking before pregnancy. They also wrote that the increased risk tended to be “more pronounced” among women with a longer time interval between the onset of menstruation and first pregnancy compared with women with a shorter interval.
Graham Colditz et al, “Alcohol Intake Between Menarche and First Pregnancy: A Prospective Study of Breast Cancer Risk,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt213 First published online: August 28, 2013
Barry Brownstein, a tai chi expert who has practiced and taught since 1977, discusses the nature of "chi" and provides a short demonstration of how to feel it. While the existence of chi is controversial in the West, many Eastern disciplines including tai chi and acupuncture are based on a fundamental belief in this basic "life energy" force. It is thought to pervade the universe, and to be subject to direction and control by trained human beings.
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A healthy diet (that includes a daily cup of coffee), keeping weight down and regular exercise can protect women from endometrial cancer, the most common malignancy affecting the female reproductive organs (the endometrium is the lining of the uterus). A new study from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund International found that keeping weight down via diet and exercise could prevent almost 60 percent of the 49,600 new cases of endometrial cancer that occur annually in the United States. The antioxidants in coffee (both regular and decaf) can cut the risk by seven percent, possibly by preventing DNA damage, improving insulin sensitivity and inhibiting glucose absorption in the intestine. Avoiding high glycemic index foods is also key. The study found that for every 50 units of glycemic load that a woman averages in her daily diet, the risk of endometrial cancer bumps up 15 percent. And they noted that foods high on the glycemic index affect production of estrogen and insulin, the hormones thought to underlie endometrial cancer. Bottom line: obesity is likely the primary driver of endometrial cancer, as body fat produces estrogen, which stimulates the uterine lining.
“New Report: In the U.S., 3 out of 5 Cases of Endometrial Cancers are Preventable,” American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund International, accessed September 13, 2013, http://www.aicr.org/press/press-releases/3-out-of-5-cases-of-endometrial-cancer-are-preventable.html
Simply maintaining a positive attitude seemed to help prevent death from any cause over five years among heart disease patients, and also made it more likely that they would exercise, a new European study concludes. What’s more, the heart patients who did exercise were 50 percent less likely to die during the five-year study than those who didn’t work out. The participants were mostly men who had ischemic heart disease, a condition in which blood flow to the heart is reduced and may cause chest pain (angina). The researchers noted that patients with this form of heart disease often suffer from depression, anxiety and other negative emotions, all of which are linked to several major heart problems and death. The contribution of these negative influences seems to remain despite advances in treatment that have reduced deaths from ischemic heart disease.
Overall, the study showed that a positive outlook was more common in men who had higher education, were employed and had a lower likelihood of diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than others in the study. They were also were less likely to have a prescription for a diuretic, use medications for depression, anxiety or other mental disorders, and less likely to be hospitalized (as were those who exercised).
My take? This study fits right in with prior findings that positive thinking can enhance health. Pessimism has been linked to a higher risk of dying before age 65, while optimism – and positive emotions in general - are associated with lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol, better immune function, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Earlier studies have found that among patients recovering from coronary artery bypass graft surgery, those with a positive outlook recovered faster and were less likely to be re-hospitalized for post-surgical complications or other heart problems. None of this seems to bode well for pessimists, but some research has shown that optimism is at least partially learned, and that even the most negative personalities can be improved. I suggest reading a classic book on the subject, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind & Your Life, by famed psychologist Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
A recent Q&A discussed the question of adding whey protein into your diet if you are vegetarian: Whey Better Protein? Check out the article and let us know what your favorite protein source.
If you followed medical news over the past year you've likely heard that sitting too much can lead to heart disease and diabetes. The latest study on the perils of sitting suggests that it can lead to depression in mid-life women. In 2001, a research team in Australia surveyed nearly 9,000 women age 50-55 about their physical activity, time spent sitting and their feelings. The participants were surveyed again in 2004, 2007 and 2010. A comprehensive review of the data showed that women who sat for more than seven hours a day had a risk of experiencing depressive symptoms that was 47 percent higher than women who sat for four hours a day or less. The investigation also showed that those women who did not exercise were at 99 percent higher risk of depression than women who met the Australian government’s recommendation to devote 30 minutes a day to physical activity. In fact, women who sat for multiple hours and did not exercise were overall three times more likely to report depressive symptoms than women who spent less time sitting and more time exercising. The researchers concluded that simply getting up and exercising for 30 minutes a day may help relieve current depression and ward off future bouts.
Jannique E.Z. van Uffelen et al, “Sitting-Time, Physical Activity, and Depressive Symptoms in Mid-Aged Women,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 45, Issue 3 , Pages 276-281, September 2013
Integrative medicine focuses on optimizing the body's natural healing capacity. It aims to enhance healing in body, mind and spirit by using an intelligent combination of conventional and alternative therapies for which there is strong evidence of safety and effectiveness.
Watch as Dr. Weil discusses the evidence for integrative vs. strictly conventional medicine, and explains why integrative medicine offers the best hope for more effective, less costly health care.