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Thursday
Jul102014

How Lifestyle Can Affect Your Vision

Being physically active and having an occasional alcoholic drink both seem to reduce the risk of developing vision problems as you age. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin noted that visual impairment in the U.S. population is projected to increase by 70 percent between the year 2000 and 2020. They attributed most of these projected changes to the expansion of the aging population and the prevalence of age-related eye diseases. The investigators looked at the relationships between the incidence of visual impairment and smoking, drinking alcohol and staying physically active in an ongoing study of nearly 5000 adults aged 43 to 84. They found that only two percent of physically active participants developed visual impairments compared to 6.7 percent of those who were sedentary. After adjusting for age, the researchers found that physically active study participants had a 58 percent reduced risk of developing eye problems. And here’s a surprise: only 4.8 of study participants who drank alcohol occasionally (defined as having consumed alcohol in the previous year, but averaging less than one drink a week) developed visual impairment compared to 11 percent of non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers and smokers also had a higher risk of vision impairment than study participants who never drank heavily and never smoked, but the association was not statistically significant.

Want To Age Gracefully?
It's not about the lines on the face - it's about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Begin today - start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging now, and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Ronald Klein, et al, “Relation of Smoking, Drinking, and Physical Activity to Changes in Vision over a 20-Year Period,” Ophthalmology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2014.01.003

Wednesday
Jul092014

Choosing High-Quality Olive Oil (Video)

Olive oil comes in a variety of forms, but Dr. Weil explains what makes a good-quality olive oil. The best olive oil is extra virgin, organic and cold pressed. It is important to protect olive oil because the compounds (polyphenols) in the oil break down when exposed to light and air, decreasing the health benefits it provides.

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Tuesday
Jul082014

Chemicals Endanger Male Fertility

Phthalates, chemicals used to make plastics flexible and lotions spreadable, are now found in everything from packaging, textiles, and detergents, to time-release capsules, and may contribute to male infertility. A study published online on February 14 in Fertility & Sterility found that women who use cosmetics often have higher levels of phthalates in their bodies, but concluded that the chemicals are a contributor to infertility only in men. Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NCHHD) followed 501 couples trying to conceive, and investigated the association between phthalate exposure and infertility. Earlier research has suggested that the chemicals can interfere with the workings of testosterone and other hormones, leading to changes in testicular development, sperm quality and to malformations of the male reproductive system. Fortunately, it is easy to lower phthalates levels quickly: avoid personal care products listing phthalates on their labels, don’t use plastic food containers for heating food and drink, and drink from a glass, not a plastic bottle. A reduction in phthalate levels can often be measured in urine samples within a few days after making these changes.

Want To Age Gracefully?
It's not about the lines on the face - it's about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Begin today - start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging now, and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Germaine Buck Louis et al, “Urinary bisphenol A, phthalates, and couple fecundity: the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study,” Fertility and Sterility, DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.01.022

Monday
Jul072014

News About Exercise and Breast Cancer

Over the years, a number of studies have shown that regular exercise can help protect women from breast cancer. And now a review and analysis of 37 studies performed between 1987 and 2013 involving more than four million women worldwide has found that exercise is protective regardless of a woman’s age or weight. The only exception to the new finding applies to women who are on hormone replacement therapy, which may offset the positive effects of physical activity. All told, the review found that women who exercise for more than an hour a day could cut their breast cancer risk by 12 percent compared with women who don’t exercise at all. The report didn’t specify the type of exercise or the intensity required, but the lead researcher mentioned walking and biking as options. Results of the analysis also suggested that the exercise benefit extended even to aggressive types of breast cancer and held true regardless of where the women lived. The report was presented at the 9th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-9).

My take? We have ample evidence that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of breast cancer, although findings often have been limited to women who began to exercise when they were young. These new findings are surprising in that the protective effect of exercise encompassed women who were overweight or obese. In the past, we’ve thought that exercise is protective because it helps reduce fat stores where estrogen is produced. A German study published in 2008 may have foreshadowed these new findings – it also showed that the protective effect was independent of body mass index or weight, but that study showed that exercise specifically reduced the risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer and found little protective effect for other types of breast cancer. An earlier study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2003 concluded that even women who don’t begin exercising until later in life can lower their breast cancer risk by 20 percent and that a brisk, half-hour walk five days a week will do the trick.

Sources:
Mathieu Boniol et al, “Regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk irrespective of age." The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO). "http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100816.htm, accessed March 21, 2014

Abstract no: P102, “Physical activity, hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies”, Wednesday 19 March 12.30 – 13.30 hrs, poster session, poster area.

Friday
Jul042014

How Would You Describe Your Sleep? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed how to improve rapid eye movement sleep, also known as REM sleep: How Do You Improve REM Sleep? Check out the article and let us know how you would describe your sleep patterns.

Thursday
Jul032014

Omega-3s for a Good Night’s Sleep

A new study from the UK suggests that taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may improve sleep, at least among kids. For their sleep study, researchers at the University of Oxford recruited 362 children between the ages of seven and nine. The children chosen weren’t selected because they had sleeping problems, but it turned out that 40 percent of them did. The researchers outfitted 43 of the kids who weren’t sleeping well with wristband sensors to monitor their movements in bed over five nights. All the youngsters received supplements of either 600 mg of omega-3s from algal sources or a placebo, which they took for 16 weeks. The researchers reported the sleep-monitored kids given the omega-3s slept 58 minutes longer than they had in the past and awakened seven fewer times a night than the kids who received the placebo. The study found that higher blood levels of long-chain omega 3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) are significantly associated with better sleep. Study leader Paul Montgomery noted that lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, which he said fits in with the finding that kids with sleep problems may have lower blood levels of DHA.

Sources:
Paul Montgomery et al. “Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: Subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study – a randomised controlled trial.” Journal of Sleep Research, March 2014 DOI: 10.1111/jsr.12135

Wednesday
Jul022014

Statins, Cholesterol, and Heart Health (Video)

Statins are used for doing one thing in the body: to lower LDL cholesterol. However, as Dr. Weil discusses, many doctors prescribe statins but do not go beyond medication as a form of treatment and fail to discuss the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, stress-reduction and other healthful routes. Watch as Dr. Weil talks about how statins affect cholesterol and heart health, as well as where he believes statins will be in the future in our society.

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Tuesday
Jul012014

Vitamin D and Women's Cholesterol

Here’s more good news about vitamin D: it seems to help lower LDL, also known as “bad” cholesterol, in post-menopausal women. The reduction isn’t huge, but it is significant, according to study leader Peter F. Schnatz, a professor of internal medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. The 576 women who participated in the study were randomly assigned to receive either a supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily or a placebo. After three years, the women taking the supplement had higher blood levels of vitamin D and lower LDL than they had at the study’s start. In analyzing the results, the researchers controlled for the women’s vitamin D level when the study began, as well as smoking, alcohol consumption and more than 20 other variables. Because of the study’s small size, the researchers said no conclusions could be drawn about the effect of vitamin D on heart health, but they noted that among the women who took the calcium/vitamin D supplement, those whose vitamin D levels were higher also had high levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, as well as lower triglyceride levels.

Sources:
Peter F. Schnatz et al, “Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women’s Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial.” Menopause, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000188

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