Natural Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Lung Cancer

October is Healthy Lung Month, an annual reminder to stay conscious of ways to combat airborne toxins and reduce the risk of lung cancer nationwide. Lung cancer has a longstanding history as one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths around the world, however, 90 percent of diagnoses could have been prevented.

The reality is that taking simple steps to improve indoor air quality could make all the difference for your health. This Healthy Lung Month, learn the top causes of lung cancer and the most natural ways to fight against indoor air pollution – not just this month, but all year long.

The Main Cause

Smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of lung cancer and those who smoke tobacco products are 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with the cancer than people who don’t smoke. This product is suggested to contain over 7,000 chemicals, making the term “toxic” an understatement. Despite cigarettes being linked to nearly 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, consumers continue to purchase, use and support the tobacco industry.

This not only impacts smokers themselves, but also anyone in close proximity. Over 7,000 non-smokers are killed by secondhand smoke annually and this environmental issue is especially harmful to children under 18, resulting in 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections each year. The first step toward a possible resolution is encouraging loved ones to quit, but there may be circumstances where exposure is out of your control.

In this case, always try to keep your house, car, or any other common area smoke free. Opt for non-smoking facilities and, if you live in a public building such as an apartment, look into a reliable air purifier. Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent exposure, purifiers can help to reduce any lingering emissions that may have infiltrated indoors.

An Invisible Threat

The second leading cause of lung-related deaths in the United States happens to occur in the natural environment and is invisible to the human eye. Radon, a radioactive gas, develops within soil and is naturally emitted into our atmosphere. While we are always exposed to low levels outside, radon exposure can become dangerous when it accumulates to high levels inside of homes and buildings.

Research suggests that one in every 15 homes throughout the United States contains high levels of radon, a result of cracks and holes in the home’s structure. Rather than waiting for symptoms of respiratory issues to surface, test your home twice a year to ensure your indoor air quality is safe. A simple at-home test costs about 25 dollars and will assure that your home and family are being kept safe.

Toxic Infrastructures

While most people have some degree of knowledge about the dangers of smoking and radon exposure, many of us never develop an interest in looking into other less common reasons for lung deterioration. The link between lung cancer and asbestos exposure has been well documented among industrial workers, primarily throughout the construction industry, shipyards and the military. Aside from working in high-risk professions, a major risk factor is living or working within a building constructed before 1980. Millions of homes are warned to hide this toxin today, as so many were built during the peak consumption of asbestos.

This has prompted safety organizations to stress the importance of approaching home projects with caution, including anything from maintenance to repairs. While this mineral isn’t an immediate threat to the respiratory system, disturbing toxic materials can stir up asbestos fibers and be inhaled by anyone in the surrounding area. Asbestos can pose an airborne threat for as long as 48 to 72 hours after it’s been broken. Over time these fibers can develop into an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis, both of which are preventable. The best way to assure your safety is to avoid renovating old homes until you have double-checked with an inspector and confirmed your house is free of asbestos.

Natural Solutions For Healthy Lungs

Other airborne toxins surrounding us every day include household solvents and chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, mold, and volatile organic compounds. Any one of these toxins could impact your indoor air quality and lead to the development of asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions. Here are some easy and natural ways to start being conscious of your lung health:

  • Keep your home smoke free.
  • Fix any leaks or water damage to prevent mold growth.
  • Avoid aerosol sprays and choose fragrance-free products.
  • Vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Keep the windows open whenever possible.
  • Store toxic products such as paint or cleaning supplies outside in a shed or a garage to avoid off-gassing indoors.
  • Take shoes off before entering your home to prevent tracking dirt, pesticides, or any other chemical throughout the house.

Healthy Lung Month is the perfect time to ask questions and do research on your own to find ways to better improve yours and your family’s health. Although some toxins are unfortunately unavoidable, taking these small steps may have the ability to improve your overall lung health and ultimately lead to a more enjoyable life.

Stress News: Mental Distress May Increase Heart Attack, Stroke Risk In Adults Over 45

Adults – ages 45 or older who experience psychological distress such as depression and anxiety – may have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

In a study of 221,677 participants from Australia, researchers found that:

  • Among women, high/very high psychological distress was associated with a 44 percent increased risk of stroke; and
  • In men ages 45 to 79, high/very high versus low psychological distress was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, with weaker estimates in those 80 years old or older.

The association between psychological distress and increased cardiovascular disease risk was present even after accounting for lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol intake, dietary habits and disease history. “While these factors might explain some of the observed increased risk, they do not appear to account for all of it, indicating that other mechanisms are likely to be important,” said Caroline Jackson, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The research involved participants who had not experienced a heart attack or stroke at the start of the study and who were part of the New South Wales 45 and Up Study that recruited adults ages 45 or older between 2006 and 2009. Researchers categorized psychological distress as low, medium and high/very high using a standard psychological distress scale which asks people to self-assess the level. Of the participants – 102,039 men – average age 62 – and 119,638 women – average age 60 – 16.2 percent reported having moderate psychological distress and 7.3 percent had high/very high psychological distress. During follow-up of more than four years, 4,573 heart attacks and 2,421 strokes occurred. The absolute risk – overall risk of developing a disease in a certain time period – of heart attack and stroke rose with each level of psychological distress.

Underestimating Psychological Stress

The findings add to the existing evidence that there may be an association between psychological distress and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. But they also support the need for future studies focused on the underlying mechanisms connecting psychological distress and cardiovascular disease and stroke risk and look to replicate the differences between men and women. Mental disorders and their symptoms are thought to be associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke, but previous studies have produced inconsistent findings and the interplay between mental and physical health is poorly understood.

People with symptoms of psychological distress should be encouraged to seek medical help because, aside from the impact on their mental health, symptoms of psychological distress appear to also impact physical health, Jackson said. “We encourage more proactive screening for symptoms of psychological distress. Clinicians should actively screen for cardiovascular risk factors in people with these mental health symptoms.”

All factors analyzed in this research, apart from the outcomes of heart attack and stroke, were identified at the same point in time, which made it difficult for researchers to understand the relationship between psychological distress and variables such as unhealthy behaviors like smoking and poor diet. With that analysis approach, they may have underestimated the effect psychological distress has on the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Link Between Stress And Bad News

Feeling stressed or anxious makes people more able to process and internalize bad news, a recent UCL-led study reports. The Wellcome-funded research, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, reveals that a known tendency of people to take more notice of good news than bad news disappears when people feel threatened. “Generally, people are quite optimistic and we ignore the bad and embrace the good,” said co-lead author Dr. Tali Sharot, UCL Experimental Psychology. “This is indeed what happened when our study participants were feeling calm; but when they were under stress, a different pattern emerged. Under these conditions, they became vigilant to bad news we gave them, even when this news had nothing to do with the source of their anxiety.”

Previous studies have shown that people are more likely to incorporate information into their existing beliefs if the information is positive. Such optimism can be good for well-being and keep people motivated, but can be unhelpful when people underestimate serious risks, so the researchers were seeking to understand if the general human tendency to prioritize good news might vary depending on other conditions.

The study was conducted in two parts: one in a UCL lab, and one with firefighters in Colorado. In the lab, half of the 35 participants were told at the start that they would need to deliver a speech on a surprise topic in front of a panel of judges after completing a task – thus elevating their stress levels – while the other half were told they would complete an easy writing assignment at the end of the study. The heightened stress among those anticipating public speaking was confirmed by measures of physiological arousal by testing their skin conductance and cortisol levels and self-reported anxiety.

Optimistically Processing Information

The participants were asked to estimate the risk level of various threatening life events, such as being a victim of domestic burglary or credit card fraud. They were then told the real risk – either good news or bad news depending on how it compared to their estimate. Later they were asked to provide new estimates of what they thought the risks would be for themselves. As expected, the participants who were more relaxed internalized the good news better than the bad. Researchers found these participants continued to underestimate some risks even when being told the threatening event was more likely than they thought.

People who were stressed or anxious were better than the more relaxed participants at incorporating the bad news into their existing beliefs, while still responding normally to good news. The study was replicated with similar findings in a real-world setting with firefighters, who did the task online while they were on shift between calls at the station. Their anxiety was measured by self-report, and varied naturally due to their volatile work environment.

The findings help explain how people benefit from a generally optimistic way of processing information, while still taking heed of warning signs when under threat. “A switch that automatically increases or decreases your ability to process warnings in response to changes in your environment might be useful,” says co-lead author Dr. Neil Garrett. “Under threat, a stress reaction is triggered and it increases the ability to learn about hazards – which could be desirable. In contrast, in a safe environment it would be wasteful to be on high alert constantly. A certain amount of ignorance can help to keep your mind at ease.”

Sleep Stress: A Cure For Not Sleeping?

In today’s environment, demanding jobs and socio-economic factors lead to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation induces a tremendous amount of stress, and stress itself is one of the major factors responsible for sleep loss or difficulty in falling into sleep. Sleep loss is also associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, and mania deficits.

Scientists with the Japanese sleep institute recently found that the active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may reduce stress and help contribute to sound sleep. The research group led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal. Octacosanol is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane, rice bran, wheat germ oil, and bee wax. The crude extract is policosanol, where octacosanol is the major constituent. Policosanol and octacosanol have already been used in humans for various other medical conditions.

In the study, authors made an advancement and investigated the effect of octacosanol on sleep regulation in mildly stressed mice by oral administration. Octacosanol reduced corticosterone level in blood plasma, which is a stress marker. The octacosanol-administered mice also showed normal sleep, which was previously disturbed due to stress. They therefore claim that the octacosanol mitigates stress in mice and restores stress-affected sleep to normal in mice. The sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature. However, authors also claimed that octacosanol does not affect sleep in normal animals.

These results demonstrated that octacosanol is an active compound that has potential to reduce stress and to increase sleep, and it could potentially be useful for the therapy of insomnia caused by stress. Octacosanol can be considered safe for human use as a therapy, because it is a food-based compound and believed to show no side effects. Octacosanol/policosanol supplements are used by humans for functions such as lipid metabolism, cholesterol lowering or to provide strength. However, well-planned clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm its effect on humans for its stress-mitigation and sleep-inducing potentials. “Future studies include the identification of target brain area of octacosanol, its BBB permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress,” Kaushik says.

Oxidative Stress

Reactive molecules derived from molecular oxygen – known as reactive oxygen species or ROS – increase dramatically in the body during times of environmental stress or disease. This stress can result in significant damage to cells and is associated with negative health consequences such as aging, male infertility, degenerative diseases and cancer. “We think there’s an ideal intermediate concentration, but neither extreme is good,” said Daniel Suter, a professor of biological sciences at Purdue University.

In a recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Suter’s team looked at an enzyme that produces ROS in zebrafish embryos to see if it’s essential to the development of their nervous systems. Inhibiting this enzyme, NADPH oxidase or Nox, resulted in complications with signaling between the eyes and the brain. The research team used a drug called celastrol to inhibit Nox activity, which led to defects in the formation of the ganglion cell layer and optic nerve, both of which send signals from the retina of the eye to the brain.

Since a drug could affect other enzymes besides Nox, the researchers needed to confirm their results with another approach. The team turned to CRISPR, a system for modifying genes in living cells and organisms, to mutate Nox genes in the zebrafish embryo. This method also allowed the researchers to differentiate between different isoforms of Nox. Their findings show that Nox2 could be functionally important to neuronal development, whereas mutations in Nox5 could lead to more general developmental problems.

“This is really a study about the role of ROS as signaling molecules in normal development, but it has key applications for human health,” Suter said. “If you take too many antioxidants to treat disorders or injuries, you could go into a range where you get negative effects, because ultimately you need some ROS for normal signaling. We’re trying to figure out if there is a certain range that’s best.”

The Effects Of Stress On Your Digestive System

Having a digestive system that’s not doing its job right is an awful feeling. And unfortunately, it’s a feeling that affects thousands of people every single day. Everything from minor issues like constipation, indigestion and just general intestinal and abdominal discomfort, to more serious problems like IBS or Crohn’s disease.

All of these are problems rooted in digestive issues and they can be caused by a number of different things like diet and lifestyle. Some people are just unlucky enough to have a genetic inclination towards digestive issues.

Something else that we don’t often hear about in connection with your digestive system is stress. We should be talking about this one though because it could be one of the contributors to your digestive problems.

How Stress Can Affect Your Digestion

Something that a lot of people don’t realize about their gut is that it’s one of the most prominent body parts involved in the nervous system. There is an awful lot more to the digestive system than people realize and this is one thing that people should learn about because it will change the way you treat your gut. The gut is packed full of neurons and chemicals, and there are almost as many in there as you would find in the spinal cord.

So as you can imagine, any problems in your gut can cause a lot of stress on your nerves and consequently on your brain too. You’ve probably heard the word “serotonin” before. This hormone is one of the main factors in your mood. And funnily enough, it’s produced almost entirely in your digestive system. When you’re stressed, your body focuses blood flow on your muscles and away from your digestive tract.

This means that your digestive system will slow down and become less efficient the more stressed out you are. This will cause things like constipation and intestinal discomfort, the unpleasant but less serious issues that we talked about. But the more often your body is subjected to these issues, the more serious the problems in your digestive tract will become.

It can limit the diversity in the microorganism in your digestive tract, meaning that your intestinal flora will become stilted and ineffective. Intestinal flora, in case you’re unaware of it, is important for maintaining a strong immune system. So chronic stress leads to weak intestinal flora which in turn leads to a weak immune system, meaning that you’ll be sick more often.

A weak immune system, especially one that’s caused by inefficient gut flora, can lead to things like IBS and polyps. And eventually, even bowel or colorectal cancer. In truth, long-term stress can be catastrophic for your digestive system.

How Can You Deal With This?

The first obvious answer to this question is to try and eliminate the amount of stress you deal with on a daily basis. That’s easier said than done of course. But it can be done if you’re willing to work on it. Improving your mental health will help with digestion and it works the other way too.

The best course of action to start with is finding out what it is that’s actually causing your stress in the first place. It could be any number of things. Stress can come from a bunch of different places – some of them you may have never even considered before. It could be something to do with family. If you’re going through a divorce, a bereavement or any kind of familial conflict, this could almost definitely stress you out.

Any kind of relationship or friendship issues can be stressful too. Even some major change that seems like a positive thing on the surface. If you’ve moved houses or moved jobs recently that could be it. You might be happy about the change but it’s still a major change and this can trigger an imbalance.

It could even be something as simple as not getting enough sleep or not getting outside enough. Find out about what normally causes people stress and see if it’s a factor in your life. Then try and change it and see if you’re still stressed. If you are, it’s probably something else. Keep doing this until your find the root of the problem and then adapt accordingly.

Conclusion

Being stressed is bad enough, but having problems with your digestion on account of your stress is a whole other level of misery. You can make sure that this doesn’t become a problem for you. And if it already is, there are effective ways to deal with it.

Cancers In The News: Can Chemicals Found In Vegetables Prevent Colon Cancer?

Chemicals produced by vegetables such as kale, cabbage and broccoli could help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent colon cancer, says a new study from the Francis Crick Institute. The research, published in Immunity, shows that mice fed on a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol referred to as I3C, produced when we digest vegetables from the Brassica genus, were protected from gut inflammation and colon cancer. This study offers the first concrete evidence of how I3C in the diet can prevent colon inflammation and cancer by activating a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor referred to as AhR.

“Seeing the profound effect of diet on gut inflammation and colon cancer was very striking,” says senior author Dr. Gitta Stockinger, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute. “We often think of colon cancer as a disease promoted by a Western diet rich in fat and poor in vegetable content, and our results suggest a mechanism behind this observation. Many vegetables produce chemicals that keep AhR stimulated in the gut. We found that AhR-promoting chemicals in the diet can correct defects caused by insufficient AhR stimulation. This can restore epithelial cell differentiation, offering resistance to intestinal infections and preventing colon cancer. These findings are a cause for optimism; while we can’t change the genetic factors that increase our risk of cancer, we can probably mitigate these risks by adopting an appropriate diet with plenty of vegetables.”

AhR acts as an environmental sensor, passing signals to immune cells and epithelial cells in the gut lining to protect from inflammatory responses to the trillions of bacteria that live in the gut. “We studied genetically-modified mice that cannot produce or activate AhR in their guts, and found that they readily developed gut inflammation which progressed to colon cancer,” added first author Dr. Amina Metidji from the Francis Crick Institute. “However, when we fed them a diet enriched with I3C, they did not develop inflammation or cancer. Interestingly, when mice whose cancer was already developing were switched to the I3C-enriched diet, they ended up with significantly fewer tumors which were also more benign.”

While the health benefits of vegetables are well-established, many of the mechanisms behind them remain unknown. By studying both mice and mouse gut organoids – “mini guts” made from stem cells – the researchers found that AhR is vital for repairing damaged epithelial cells. Without AhR, intestinal stem cells fail to differentiate into specialized epithelial cells that absorb nutrients or generate protective mucus. Instead, they divide uncontrollably which can ultimately lead to colon cancer. As well as correcting altered AhR dependent gene expression, dietary I3C also had a surprising effect on unmodified mice with normal AhR expression. While normal mice fed on standard or I3C-enriched food did not develop tumors during the study, those fed on a “purified control diet” did.

Purified Control Diets

Laboratory mice are usually fed a standard grain-based chow which contains a mix of ingredients and nutrients. For dietary studies, they are given a “purified control diet” so that researchers know exactly what is in the food. These are designed to precisely fulfil the animal’s nutritional needs while being free of allergens, pathogens or variable ingredients found in standard chow.

Purified control diets contain exact mixtures of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibers enriched with vitamins and minerals. However, the latest study suggests that these diets have fewer AhR-promoting chemicals than the standard chow or the I3C-enriched diet. “Normal mice on the purified control diet developed colon tumors within 10 weeks, whereas mice on the standard chow didn’t develop any,” says co-corresponding author Dr. Chris Schiering. “This suggests that even without genetic risk factors, a diet devoid of vegetable matter can lead to colon cancer.”

The team is now hoping to do further experiments in organoids made from human gut biopsies and eventually human trials. “A number of epidemiological studies suggested that vegetables may be protective against cancer,” Stockinger added. “However, there is very little literature on which vegetables are the most beneficial or why. Now that we’ve demonstrated the mechanistic basis for this in mice, we’re going to investigate these effects in human cells and people. In the meantime, there’s certainly no harm in eating more vegetables!”

“This study in mice suggests that it’s not just the fiber contained in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too,” added Professor Tim Key, Cancer Research UK’s expert on diet and cancer. “This adds to the evidence that a healthy diet, rich in vegetables, is important. Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.”

Lung Cancer Development Insight

Lung cancer, the leading cause of preventable cancer death, is a disease of complex origin usually considered to result from effects of smoking and multiple genetic variants. One of these genetic components, a chromosome named 15q25.1, has been previously identified as a leading influencer of susceptibility to lung cancer, smoking behavior, and nicotine addiction. However, no previous study had investigated the mechanisms of this lead agent, or documented the susceptibility pathways that allow this chromosome to modify development of disease.

A research team led by Xuemie Ji, MD, Ph.D., Research Associate in the Department of Biomedical Data Science at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, helped solve this central problem. The team identified two main pathways involving the mechanism by which the chromosome 15q25.1 locus influences lung cancer risk. The first pathway is an interaction pathway in the nervous system that is implicated in nicotine dependence. The other pathway can control key components in many biological processes, such as transport of nutrients and ions, and the human immune system. The results were published in Nature Communications.

“Our findings in pathways uncover insights into the mechanism of lung cancer etiology and development, which will potentially shorten the interval between increasing biological knowledge and translation to patient care,” says Ji. “Blocking genes downstream or in parallel pathways might provide a strategy to treat such cancer.” The study used two independent cohorts of 42,901 individuals with a genome-wide set of genetic variants, as well as an expression dataset with lung tissue from 409 lung cancer patients to validate findings. Two different methods were used to analyze data, and confirm that the findings are reliable and can be repeated with different methods.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore the pathogenic pathways related to the mechanisms of chromosome 15q25.1 and the first to use a novel analysis approach to analyze data and to validate the findings,” says Ji. “The ability to block the damaging genetic variants downstream or in parallel pathways might improve lung cancer prognosis and survival, and therefore provide alternative strategies to treat such cancer.” The team is working to identify more mechanisms contributing to the increased risk of lung cancer. They aim to provide more explanation for the large, unexplainable division of lung cancer occurrences.

Skin Cancer Facts And Types

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Skin cancer, like all types of cancer, is capable of destroying healthy tissue and spreading to distant body sites,” says C. Blake Phillips, M.D., a fellow in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Dermatology. “If undetected or untreated, skin cancers lead to loss of vital functions or death. It is important to keep an eye on your skin and watch for changes that could be a sign of skin cancer.”

There are many types of skin cancer with varied causes, most commonly ultraviolet radiation directly damaging skin DNA. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, and the least prone to spread from the primary tumor site. It is a locally destructive cancer, and if untreated can become a bleeding sore that eventually destroys the structures it overlies. When skin cells are exposed to ultraviolet rays, the DNA can become damaged over time, leading to the potential for basal cell carcinoma growth. People with a history of sunburn are more susceptible to this type of skin cancer.

The second most common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which is most commonly due to chronic sun exposure. It is both locally destructive and prone to spreading to lymph nodes and other organs. Melanoma is highly capable of spreading and can be rapidly deadly if not treated. Acral lentiginous melanoma is often seen on the palms, soles and under the toenails of patients with darker skin. “Over a lifetime, it’s quite common for high-risk patients to develop multiple skin cancers on different body sites,” Phillips added. “That said, most skin cancers have an excellent cure rate if detected and treated early. I encourage learning the signs of skin cancer and self-exams between clinic visits. Patient awareness is extremely helpful in early diagnosis.”

Risk Factors
Most skin cancers are the result of exposure to radiation from the sun or other sources. UV radiation from the sun directly damages the skin DNA of susceptible people. Over time, this damage can build up, leading to the formation of cancerous cells, which grow into tumors. Sources of artificial UV rays, such as tanning beds and manicure UV lamps, also contribute. Genetics plays a large role in underlying risk for sun-induced cancers and seems to be more important in melanoma.

Global location matters since the sun’s UV radiation is most intense near the equator. This means that living in the Southeast increases the risk for skin cancer when compared to the northern United States or Canada. “Anyone with skin is at risk for developing skin cancers, though the common types and locations vary by ethnicity,” Phillips said. “While less common, even those with heavily pigmented skin can develop skin cancer.”

The strongest risk factors include fair skin with a tendency to sunburn, red hair or light hair, light eyes, growing up in southern latitudes, history of numerous sunburns – especially peeling or blistering burns – outdoor jobs or hobbies, routine and longstanding sun exposure, family history of skin cancers, age, prior radiation treatments, chronic lymphoma or leukemia, and immune system-altering medicines.

Skin Cancer Signs And Symptoms
Signs of non-melanoma skin cancers include new red lesions that steadily grow, non-healing sores or crusted areas on the skin, bumps with a “pearly” or translucent surface, and any tender growths on the skin’s surface.

Melanomas are darkly pigmented, discolored areas or bumps with an asymmetrical shape, irregular borders, or dark black or multicolored surface.  While the majority of melanomas do not arise from moles, new or changing moles in adulthood should be examined. “You should see a doctor if you are concerned that a lesion is changing, is newly symptomatic, or is non-healing,” Phillips said. “If you have a first-degree relative with melanoma or you have many dark moles, it’s a good idea to have a baseline skin exam by a dermatologist.” A doctor should examine those with prior skin pre-cancers or skin cancers at least annually, with some people requiring more frequent visits.

Protecting Your Skin 
The most important aspect of protecting your skin is to avoid UV radiation exposure from the sun. “I recommend sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or higher every day to exposed areas,” Phillips said. “Look for products that don’t feel greasy and block both UVA and UVB. Many regular moisturizers now contain sunscreens, making selection of a comfortable sunscreen quite easy and inexpensive.”

Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats with sunglasses when out in the sun. Avoid peak sun hours of the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., choosing to do outdoor activities in morning or evening hours. “Avoid indoor tanning, and choose pigmented lotion, spray tan or no tan instead,” Phillips said.

Is Skin Cancer On The Rise?

Recent diagnoses for two types of skin cancer have increased in recent years, according to a Mayo Clinic-led team of researchers. Their paper, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, uses medical records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project to compare diagnoses of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – both nonmelanoma skin cancers – between 2000 and 2010 to diagnoses in prior years. The Rochester Epidemiology project is a medical records linkage system and research collaborative in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The researchers report that, between 2000 and 2010, squamous cell carcinoma diagnoses increased 263 percent, and basal cell carcinomas increased 145 percent. They compared the 2000-2010 period to two other segments of time: 1976 to 1984 and 1985 to 1992. Women 30 to 49 experienced the greatest increase in basal cell carcinoma diagnoses; whereas, women 40 to 59 and 70 to 79 experienced the greatest increase in squamous cell carcinomas. Men had an increase in squamous cell carcinomas between the first and second time period studied – 1976 to 1984 and 1985 to 1992 – but experienced a slight decline in the 2000 to 2010 period. However, for basal cell carcinomas, men over 29 showed similar increases in diagnoses in the 2000 to 2010 period then the two earlier periods.

Tanning And UV Rays
“We know that the sun and some artificial sunlight sources give off skin-damaging ultraviolet, or UV, rays,” says Christian Baum, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist and the study’s senior author. “This skin damage accumulates over timeand can often lead to skin cancer. Despite the fact that sunscreens and cautionary information have been widely available for more than 50 years, we saw the emergence of tanning beds in the 1980s, and tanning – indoors or out – was a common activity for many years.”  Baum notes that tanning has slowed, tanning beds still exist, and beaches will never be empty. But what people should remember is that the damage accumulates and eventually sunburns, reddened skin, and peeling shoulders can add up to one or more skin cancers.

Shifts in exposure to UV light may be the reason for a location shift in where the cancer tumors are found. In the earlier time periods, both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas were diagnosed more often on the head and neck. In the most recent time period, the records showed that basal cell tumors on the torso increased, as did squamous cell carcinomas on the arms and legs. Baum says that the risk of cancer should provide the ultimate argument for using sunscreen every day, year-round on all exposed skin. “Use sunscreen,” says Dr. Baum. “This includes on your left arm for those who do a lot of driving. UV rays can penetrate car windows and exposed skin even when the sun isn’t shining. UV rays bounce around under the clouds, off the snow, buildings, and more, causing damage ? even on gray days.”

Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project medical records linkage system, the research team was able to identify nearly all of the Olmsted County, Minnesota, adult residents who received an initial diagnosis of the most common nonmelanoma skin cancers – basal or squamous cell carcinoma or both during the 2000 to 2010 period and the comparison years. “There is no tumor registry for these types of cancer,” Baum says. “So it is difficult to have accurate estimates of the national or worldwide impact of these cancers. However, because the Rochester Epidemiology Project contains health care information for virtually all residents of Olmsted County since 1966, it provides a good proxy for information on many global population health concerns.”

Study: Tomato Extract Fights Stomach Cancer

A recent study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology shows that whole tomato extracts from two different Southern Italy cultivars inhibit gastric cancer cell growth and malignant features, paving the way for future studies aimed at implementing lifestyle habits not only for prevention, but potentially as a support to conventional therapies. “Their antitumoral effect seem not related to specific components, such as lycopene, but rather suggest that tomatoes should be considered in their entirety,” says Daniela Barone, researcher at the Oncology Research Center of Mercogliano (CROM), and one of the authors of the study.

The researchers analyzed whole tomato lipophilic extracts for their ability to tackle various neoplastic features of gastric cancer cell lines. Extracts of both the San Marzano and Corbarino tomato varieties were able to inhibit the growth and cloning behavior of malignant cells. Treatment with the whole tomato extracts affected key processes within the cells hindering their migration ability, arresting cell cycle through the modulation of retinoblastoma family proteins and specific cell cycle inhibitors, and ultimately inducing cancer cell death through apoptosis.

“Our results prompt further assessment of the potential use of specific nutrients not only in the cancer prevention setting but also as a supportive strategy along with conventional therapies,” says Professor Antonio Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute for Molecular Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. “Distinct species may exert different effects, in different stages of a certain neoplasm,” added Daniela Barone from the research group at the National Cancer Institute of Naples, Pascale Foundation, CROM.

Gastric cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer worldwide and has been  associated with genetic causes, Helicobacter pylori infection, and eating habits, such as consumption of smoked and salted food. Tomatoes are consumed worldwide and are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is popularly thought to lower cancer risk. Various tomato components have also been analyzed for their ability to counteract tumor growth in experimental systems, although few studies have analyzed the effects of tomatoes in their entirety.

Study: Are You Aging Faster Than Your Chronological Age?

Many people are interested to know whether they are aging faster or slower than their chronological age. That is why a lot of online quizzes, expensive chromosome tests or blood panels are prevalent nowadays, apparently to determine if our aging process matches our actual age. However, these tests are not really reliable in terms of determining your aging process. Some are also quite costly, ranging from $300 to $800.

A recent study revealed that based on 11 different measures of aging, including blood and chromosome tests, none of them agree with one another in terms of given results. The research is based on a lifelong study of nearly 1,000 people in Dunedin, New Zealand, who have been studied extensively from birth to age 38. This means that age tests have varying results and data from specific tests don’t support one another. Thus, it is difficult to identify which one is accurate.

“People age at different rates and geriatric medicine needs a way to measure that,” says Daniel Belsky, an assistant professor of population health sciences at Duke University who studies aging. “However, results coming from different aging measures may vary and see a lot of disagreement, depending on a person’s physiology, genes, blood markers, balance and grip strength. It is safe to say that it’s premature to market aging tests to the public.”

Varying Results

The researchers collected physical aging measures from the Dunedin participants such as motor coordination, cognitive function, facial aging, and self-assessed health. However, the DNA’s telomeres, located at the end of chromosomes that unravel the more we age, are found to have “no evidence of the ability to predict physical or cognitive changes, except possibly facial aging,” Belsky said.

Moreover, the DNA’s “epigenetic” patterns, which are thought of as clocks that measure the aging rate, were found to “keep time pretty well.” However, it also seemed that these patterns “were less clearly related to changes in people’s physiology or problems with physical or cognitive performance.” Thus, using the said patterns can be questionable whether they are appropriate to use to survey individuals in order to predict their life span.

Algorithms were also utilized to analyze large data involving blood markers and tests of organ functions, and fared somewhat better. Regarding telomeres, Stephen Kritchevsky, director of the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging at Wake Forest University but not involved in the said study, said that while it is a mechanism that can potentially prevent aging and cancer, using telomeres to measure aging in a 50-year old individual can produce varying results.

Kritchevsky further added that different tissues of our body age at different rates and not simultaneously, and that “there are another seven or eight aspects of physiology that are being pursued that might turn up a more reliable measure of aging.” Nevertheless, the Dunedin study can be a stepping stone for further research regarding aging tests. While the rest of the world focuses on treatments to slow down the aging process, an aging test can similarly be helpful, preferably those that are inexpensive and non-invasive, and measure whether an anti-aging treatment is effective or not.

Research Explains Pertussis Resurgence

A group of researchers, with scientists from the University of Georgia, has established that the return of pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough in America – is a predictable outcome of incomplete treatment with an effective vaccine. This conclusion goes against existing theories as to why we have seen a resurgence in the disease outbreak even while the vaccine is administered at an early age. The study is very important to public health in that it exposes the truth that there has not been any change in the epidemiology of whooping cough that was causing the increasing number of cases, says Pejman Rohani, senior author with a joint appointment at the Odum School of Ecology and the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. The resurgence is due to the way vaccines are administered in the past and that the effect could take years to manifest.

Pertussis is actually a respiratory tract infection caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium capable of causing serious infections in infants and young children. Regular vaccinations for this disease started in the 1940s and led to a hundred-fold decrease in the volume of annual reported cases down to the level that the possibility of totally eliminating the disease seemed likely. However, pertussis has made a stunning gradual comeback since the mid-1970s. Rohani and his fellow researchers checked long-term health surveillance records from Massachusetts to understand the reason.

Findings

  • The most popular hypothesis on the resurgence of pertussis is that a new generation of vaccines is flawed somehow. However, Rohani and his group found no evidence to support this claim. They rather saw that new pertussis vaccines have been largely effective like earlier ones despite not guaranteeing 100 percent lifelong immunity to individuals who got vaccinated.
  • The team discovered that high rates of vaccinations when the vaccines were first introduced resulted in an overall reduction in transmission among the populace. As a result, those who were not vaccinated were even less likely to contract pertussis.
  • As vaccinated individuals grew old, the immunity offered by the vaccine began to wear off in certain cases. Again, there were fewer people alive who survived outbreaks of pertussis infections before vaccination and subsequently gained lifelong protection.
  • These twin realities mean the number of individuals who are susceptible to whooping cough infection is steadily rising, thus setting the stage for an increasing number of new cases especially in adults. This has been variously described as the “end of the honeymoon” epoch.

Recommendations

  1. The study model identifies the main transmission group as schoolchildren. Consequently, the team recommended this group to be the major focus of pertussis vaccination campaigns, instead of the prevalent emphasis on vaccinating adults.
  2. The team recommends to further examine the findings of this research to assess the frequency and number of booster vaccines.

Foot Pain? How To Find The Best Shoes For Common Issues

Our feet are responsible for supporting our bodies throughout many tasks, but we often don’t give them the care they need to stay healthy. That’s why most Americans suffer from foot pain. Constant repetition and strain wear them down over time, potentially leading to a number of conditions that can cause chronic pain.

While foot pain doesn’t always come from the same source, it can often be alleviated simply by switching to a more comfortable, well-fitted pair of shoes. After improving your posture, finding more supportive sandals or sneakers is the best way to reduce your foot pain. These are among the most effective shoes when it comes to lessening pain related to common foot conditions.

Typical Causes Of Foot Pain

Pain can be experienced in nearly every area of the foot, but it most often happens in the heel, ball, or toe. The first possible cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, which will affect about one in ten people at some point in their lives. Plantar fasciitis occurs when there is inflammation in the cord connecting your heel to your toe.

When left untreated, plantar fasciitis can make it more difficult to stay active. It can even lead to additional foot problems, like heel spurs and stone bruises. Therefore, it’s important to address heel pain as soon as it occurs before it develops into something more difficult to treat.

Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis mainly affects the heel, which is often under unnecessary stress due to a poor choice of footwear. Flat shoes, or styles without adequate support, put most of the body weight on the heel rather than distributing it throughout the foot. Over time, this leads to poor posture and heel pain.

The simplest way to reduce this pain is to find a pair of shoes that fits well and supports all areas of the foot. If you’d prefer to keep your current pair of shoes, you can also purchase custom insoles designed based on your foot shape. Custom-designed products are the best way to ensure your foot is getting the support it needs.

Shoes For Other Conditions

While plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of foot pain, there are many other possible issues that can cause pain in the heel or other areas of the foot. These include everything from bunions and swelling to calluses and corns.

Since these conditions are typically less concentrated on a specific area of the foot, they can often be addressed with similar advice. You should look for a shoe that fits well and provides ventilation without being too tight or flimsy. Shoes that are too big or small, or that don’t cushion the foot, will typically cause pain over time.

Foot pain can have a significant impact on your quality of life, and when the solution is often as simple as a new pair of shoes, there’s no reason to suffer. Getting a supportive, well-fitting shoe will reduce your foot pain over time and ensure that you don’t develop a more serious or painful condition.

All Pain Isn’t Created Equal: Head And Face Pain Experienced Differently

Pain is something that we’ve all experienced at some point in our life. The way that you deal with and suffer through pain can be greatly determined by where that pain is located on the body. Researchers have found that pain felt from the head and face can actually be more emotionally draining and disruptive than other types of pain. The reason there is such a notable distinction is because the sensory neurons that are wired from the face and head to the brain reside in an emotional signaling hub. The sensory neurons that are wired from the body to the brain have an indirect connection to this hub.

This is typically why many people loathe experiencing headaches or migraines, reasoning that it’s much more distressing to have to deal with that pain rather than from other parts of the body. In fact, individuals have categorically rated pain felt from teeth, ears, eyes, face and head as much more disruptive and emotionally taxing than pain felt anywhere else on the body.

Duke University scientists wanted to conduct research regarding these differences and to specify what brain waves may experience when face or head pain is felt. It goes much deeper than what our five senses may tell us about sensations but how the experienced sensation causes us to feel emotionally.

Emotional Aspects Of Pain

Due to the direct wiring from the sensory neurons into the brain’s primary and principal emotional signal hubs, this is why the prospects of chronic migraines and neuropathic face pain can be so debilitating. A professor of neurobiology and cell biology Fan Wang, who teaches at Duke explains: “Usually doctors focus on treating the sensation of pain, but this shows that we really need to treat the emotional aspects of pain as well. There has been this observation in human studies that pain in the head and face seems to activate the emotional system more extensively. But the underlying mechanisms remained unclear.”

Wang and his team of researchers wanted to pinpoint just how these two types of pains differed, and in order to do so, they tracked the brain chemistry and activity of mice after aggravating either their face or their paw. Aggravating their face lead to a much higher brain activity than any type of aggravation or pain inflicted onto their paw.

The amount of brain activity was seen in the parabrachial nucleus, commonly referred to as the PBL, which is the region that is directly connected to the brains emotional and instinctive centers. These insights and research findings can potentially help provide necessary insights that would encourage better treatment plans for those who do experience chronic face and head pain.

Understanding why the presence of conditions such as cluster headaches and migraines are so excruciating is better understood when both the chronic nature, as well as the interworking of the connections within the pain sensors that make them so debilitating and painful, are better explained. Identifying a new approach, now that the information on why things are this way for pain above the neck, can be largely helpful in better managing and treating said pain. Perhaps directly dealing with the emotional experience can help to manage the pain and discomfort more thoroughly.

Are We Slowing Down The Age Clock?

The rate of biological aging appears to be more delayed for all Americans – particularly men – which may extend their lives, says recent national heath data. Researchers cite advancements in medicine as one possible reason for the deceleration. A new study by University of Southern California and Yale University researchers suggests that at least part of the gains in life expectancy over recent decades may be due to a change in the rate of biological aging, rather than simply keeping ailing people alive.

“This is the first evidence we have of delayed ‘aging’ among a national sample of Americans,” says senior author Eileen M. Crimmins, University Professor and AARP Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “A deceleration of the human aging process, whether accomplished through environment or biomedical intervention, would push the timing of aging-related disease and disability incidence closer to the end of life.”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers examined how biological age, relative to chronological age, changed in the U.S. while considering the contributions of health behaviors. Biological age was calculated using several indicators for metabolism, inflammation, and organ function, including levels of hemoglobin, total cholesterol, creatinine, alkaline phosphatase, albumin, and C-reactive protein in blood, as well as blood pressure and breath capacity data.

Improvements Apparent At Older Ages

While all age groups experienced some decrease in biological age, the results suggest that not all people may be faring the same. Older adults experienced the greatest decreases in biological age, and men experienced greater declines in biological age than females. These differences were partially explained by changes in smoking, obesity, and medication use.

“While improvements may take time to manifest, and thus are more apparent at older ages, this could also signal problems for younger people, particularly females, who – if their improvements are more minimal – may not see the same gains in life expectancy as experienced by the generations that came before them,” added lead author Morgan E. Levine, assistant professor at the Yale Center for Research on Aging.

Slowing the pace of aging, along with increasing life expectancy, has important social and economic implications. The study suggests that modifying health behaviors and using prescription medications does have significant impact on the health of the population.

“Life extension without changing the aging rate will have detrimental implications,” Levine said. “Medical care costs will rise as people spend a higher proportion of their lives with disease and disability. However, lifespan extension accomplished through a deceleration of the aging process will lead to lower healthcare expenditures, higher productivity, and greater well-being.”

The Visible Signs Of Aging

Heavy drinking and smoking are linked to visible signs of physical aging, and looking older than one’s years, says research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Light to moderate drinking was not associated with biological aging, the findings showed. Nor was it linked to the slowing of the visible aging process as there was no difference in the prevalence of the signs of aging between light to moderate drinkers and non-drinkers.

They base their findings on information from more than 11,500 adults, whose heart health and visible aging signs were tracked for an average of 11.5 years as part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study. This study, which began in 1976, has been monitoring a random sample of Danish people over the age of 20 living in the Copenhagen area from 1981 to 1983, from 1991 to 1994, and from 2001 to 2003.

Participants were quizzed about their lifestyle and general health and asked how much they drank and smoked. They were also checked for four signs of aging that have previously been linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular ill health or death – earlobe creases, a grayish-opaque colored ring or arc around the peripheral cornea of both eyes – called arcus coneae, yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids – called xanthelasmata, and male pattern baldness.

The average age of the participants was 51, but ranged from 21 to 86 among the women, and from 21 to 93 among the men. Average alcohol consumption was 2.6 drinks per week for women and 11.4 for men. Just over half the women – or 57 percent – and around two thirds of the men – 67 percent – were current smokers. Arcus coneae was the most common sign of aging among both sexes, with a prevalence of 60 percent among men over 70 and among women over 80. The least common sign was xanthelasmata, with a prevalence of five percent among men and women over 50. A receding hairline was common among men, with 80 percent of those over the age of 40 affected.

Looking Older Than Your Actual Age

Analysis of drinking and smoking patterns revealed a consistently heightened risk of looking older than one’s true age and developing arcus coneae, earlobe creases, and xanthelasmata among those who smoked and drank heavily. For example, compared with a weekly alcohol intake of up to seven drinks, a tally of 28 or more was associated with a 33 percent heightened risk of arcus coneae among the women, and a 35 percent heightened risk among men who had 35 or more drinks every week.

Similarly, compared with not smoking, smoking one pack of 20 cigarettes daily for between 15 and 30 years was associated with a 41 percent heightened risk among women and a 12 percent heightened risk among men. The occurrence of the visible signs of aging was no different among light to moderate drinkers than it was among non-drinkers. Male pattern baldness was not consistently associated with heavy drinking or smoking, possibly because it is strongly influenced by genes and circulating levels of male hormones.

This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, particularly as the data on smoking and drinking relied on personal recall, which is subject to bias. And while the researchers took account of a range of potentially influential factors, they were unable to take account of stress, which is associated with cardiovascular disease risk, smoking, and heavier drinking.

This is the first prospective study to show that alcohol and smoking are associated with the development of visible age-related signs and thus generally looking older than one’s actual age. This may reflect that heavy drinking and smoking increases general aging of the body.

Eating Less Can Slow The Aging Process

Recent research published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics offers one glimpse into how cutting calories impacts aging inside a cell. The researchers found that when ribosomes – the cell’s protein makers – slow down, the aging process slows too. The decreased speed lowers production but gives ribosomes extra time to repair themselves. “The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest,” said John Price, Brigham Young University biochemistry professor and senior author. “When tires wear out, you don’t throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It’s cheaper to replace the tires.”

So what causes ribosome production to slow down in the first place? At least for mice it is reduced calorie consumption. Price and his fellow researchers observed two groups of mice. One group had unlimited access to food while the other was restricted to consume 35 percent fewer calories, though still receiving all the necessary nutrients for survival. “When you restrict calorie consumption, there’s almost a linear increase in lifespan,” Price said. “We inferred that the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging.”

This research team isn’t the first to make the connection between cut calories and lifespan, but they were the first to show that general protein synthesis slows down and to recognize the ribosome’s role in facilitating those youth-extending biochemical changes. “The calorie-restricted mice are more energetic and suffered fewer diseases,” Price said. “And it’s not just that they’re living longer, but because they’re better at maintaining their bodies, they’re younger for longer as well.”

Ribosomes are expensive and important. They use 10 to 20 percent of the cell’s total energy to build all the proteins necessary for the cell to operate. Because of this, it’s impractical to destroy an entire ribosome when it starts to malfunction. Repairing individual parts of the ribosome on a regular basis enables ribosomes to continue producing high-quality proteins for longer than they would otherwise. This top-quality production in turn keeps cells and the entire body functioning well.

Despite this study’s observed connection between consuming fewer calories and improved lifespan, Price assured that people shouldn’t start counting calories and expect to stay forever young. Calorie restriction has not been tested in humans as an anti-aging strategy, and the essential message is understanding the importance of taking care of our bodies. “Food isn’t just material to be burned – it’s a signal that tells our body and cells how to respond. We’re getting down to the mechanisms of aging, which may help us make more educated decisions about what we eat.”

Eating Better Improves Physical Fitness In Old Age

People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don’t, says a recent study led by the University of Southampton. Scientists from the University’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Uni looked at the dietary patterns of a group of 969 British men and women whose lifestyles have been monitored since they were born in March 1946.

Using information collected at four points in their adult lives – between 36 and 60 to 64 years – they examined diet at different ages in relation to three standard measures of physical function at age 60 to 64 – chair rise, timed up-and-go speeds, and standing balance. The study, published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, is one of the first to look at the long-term benefits of healthier diets across adulthood for physical function in older age. It showed that those who ate more fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals, and fewer highly processed foods, across adulthood performed better in the three tests of physical function in older age.

In addition, the study found evidence of better performance in two of the measures – chair rise speed and standing balance time – among participants whose quality of diet had improved across adulthood. “Improving the quality of your diet can have a beneficial effect on health whatever your age,” says Sian Robinson, lead author and Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology at the University of Southampton. “However, this study suggests that making good dietary choices throughout adulthood – by cutting down on highly processed foods and incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet – can have a significant beneficial effect on strength and physical performance later in life, helping to ensure a much healthier old age.”

The link between dietary patterns and frailty in older people will open the door to effective interventions against the age-related decline in musculoskeletal function, which is such a growing cause of disability in aging populations worldwide.

Air Quality: The Number One Environmental Threat

The state of our environment has been the source of much debate and discussion for the last decade with increasing regularity. This is because it has become apparent that the over consumption and irresponsible way many of us discard waste and overly pollute the environment causes real, lasting harm.

While it’s heart-wrenching when videos of ocean animals are seen combating materials never meant for the water, it seems that the number one threat to public safety, in terms of our health, is actually the state of air quality. This means that the ecosystem that we currently exist in isn’t properly supplying the kind of healthy air that our lungs actually need. This could be devastating in years to come.

Environment Suitability

A report, compiled by researchers from Yale and Columbia, who joined forces with the World Economic Forum, was able to rank environment suitability based on country. There are some countries that have stricter laws and practices to protect the environment and have better air quality as a result. Switzerland is the country that outranked all the rest with the strongest performance in both climate protection and quality of air. They have made long-standing commitments to preserving and emboldening natural resources, mitigating pollution, and protecting the health of the public.

Countries that are near the bottom of the ranking are India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. These three countries’ populations are exceedingly high and they have low scores on numerous impacting entities – lack of sustainability, bad air quality, and high levels of breathable toxins in the air.

The United States is ranked 27th. This puts us much lower on the list than many developed, first-world nations. The U.S. is ranked behind the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and France. For all intents and purposes, we’re doing a terrible job at creating a sustainable and positive change for the environment. Some scientists say that the damage we’ve done to the earth has already reached the point of no return – and we can’t undo what has already been shown to have terrible, disastrous effects.

“As the world community pursues new sustainable development goals, policymakers need to know who is leading and who is lagging on energy and environmental challenges,” says Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center of Environmental Law & Policy. “The 2018 EPI confirms that success with regard to sustainable development requires both economic progress that generates the resources to invest in environmental infrastructure and careful management of industrialization and urbanization that can lead to pollution that threatens both public health and ecosystems.”

This data also looks at areas that should potentially be included in additional research pieces – water resources, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and many other facets that would effectively and properly align the overall state of the environment with health, prosperity and functionality. We cannot continue to misuse resources and diminish the necessary ways that nature and the earth contribute to the air we breathe and our ability to live fruitfully.

The earth isn’t something that we can treat as some type of afterthought that bears no real consequence from humans’ rash and irresponsible actions. Science and data have been very clear about how neglecting to take care of the world already has potentially catastrophic outcomes. Clean air, water, and land are necessary for our very ability to survive.

Better Understanding Proteins And The Immune System

At the University of Birmingham, there is breakthrough research being done regarding the impact that specific proteins have on the immune system and even the ability to fight cancer. Amino acids can be found in proteins. Anywhere from hundreds to thousands of these acids form long chains. These specific proteins often do work within the cells as they relate to the regulation of the body’s internal organs and tissue.

The lead author of the research study, who is also a professor at the university, Paul Moss, explains the process and the hypothesis linked to the study. “We worked on a protein called ULBP6, which leads to the removal of damaged cells, and observed that there are two types of this protein found in people,” Moss said. “This is important as previous studies have shown that the type of protein that we inherit from our parents can influence our risk of auto-immune disease and affect how we respond to some forms of cancer treatment. The ULBP6 protein is found on the surface of damaged cells, including several types of cancer cells, and acts as a “flag” to signal to white cells in our immune system that the damaged cell should be killed.”

Two Types Of Proteins

There are actually two different types of proteins that would be considered common. It has been shown in various research studies that human beings who end up inheriting a specific subtype can have poorer outcomes after going through a treatment called stem cell transplantation.

This is typically the most common measure that is taken to treat cancers such as leukemia. It is also referenced as a bone marrow treatment. Those who have the specific genetic makeup may be more at risk of not reacting properly to these types of treatments.

The study found that the ULBP6 protein actually works really well with its receptor and forms a strong bond which helps to embolden the immune system. The research that was being done was to improve the ability of this type of treatment. The presence of protein seems like a good start.

Different types of cancers attack the body much differently. Stem cell transplants are largely used as a treatment protocol but there level of effectiveness definitely depends. Unfortunately, this is a condition of life or death. Understanding what could help the treatment work better and for more individuals is a worthy and necessary cause. In order to improve the success rates, more research like this would have to be completed.

The presence of the protein obviously shifts and changes the ways in which the process can best adhere to the body and blood, all via the immune system. Immune system strengthening is one of the foremost important aspects of many types of research because a compromised immune system is more susceptible to health issues while a strong, fortified one can more easily fight them off or not contract them in the first place.

Blood cancer is notoriously touch and go to fight, but it seems that the level and type of protein that can be found in the body can better set up the body to fight off the cancer cells that are present in the blood when exposed to transplant therapy.

Study: Diabetes Screenings And The Progress Made

Diabetes is a chronic condition that, if left untreated, can cause serious health complications and lead to greater risk of potentially fatal issues such as heart disease or stroke. Diabetes affects the way that the internal body processes sugar. Statistics gather that there are over 30 million adults that currently have diabetes and about 23 percent of cases that are actually undiagnosed. That is a staggering number considering the severity of the condition itself.

The number of sufferers who have been diagnosed has doubled in the last 25 years, which isn’t the type of health-improving news our society wants to hear. Despite the fact that the prevalence of diabetes is continuing to rise, there is good news in relation to proper screenings and diagnosis of the disease.

A recent study shows that the amount of cases of diabetes that are missed or diagnosed improperly has gone down from 16 percent to 10. This means that understanding the functions and symptoms of prediabetes and diabetes is becoming much more obvious to a wider range of medical practitioners. For those who haven’t had any routine health screenings in quite some time, or live in communities that have a preponderance of in-access when it comes to basic, fundamental health care options, the amount of cases that remain undiagnosed is staggering.

Diagnosis And Treatment

The study was conducted by researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and they concluded that their findings are indicative of greater opportunities for treatment. “Understanding the proportion of diabetes causes that are actually undiagnosed, and who those patient groups are, is really critical to allocation of public health resources,” says Elizabeth Selvin, Ph.D. and the lead professor on the study. “Our results suggest that targeted screening in these populations and increasing health coverage could help make sure that persons who have diabetes receive a diagnosis and get the appropriate treatment that they need.”

The study used two sets of data from periods 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2014, which included over 7,000 and 17,000 participants, respectively. The information was obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. The researchers studied the diabetic threshold for further clarification on false positives regarding the undiagnosed population.

In order to inform the general public of the health concerns that diabetes can bring to sufferers’ lives, we must start to look at why certain foods are available in specific areas where those with a lower income and minority landscape are so affected. The influx of food that we are surrounded by as a culture is the top contributing factor to the onslaught of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Food is available to us in copious amounts and, because of how addictive many of these foods are made, people tend to have a fixation with and preoccupation with them. We’re not properly educated on food as we should be and for this reason many people continue to use food as a bandage or salve and have incredibly poor dietary habits as a result.

The fact that the occurrence of diabetes has grown to such numbers, and the main issue that brings about diabetes is an inability to process sugar, is no coincidence. Processed junk food is packed full of carbohydrates and sugar. Defeating the obesity and diabetes epidemic isn’t possible without educating larger society and giving everyone access to healthy options.

 

Great Nutrition And Healthy Aging

Improving dietary resilience and better integration of nutrition in the health care system can promote healthy aging and may significantly reduce financial and societal burden. This was the key finding of a paper called Nutritional Considerations for Healthy Aging and Reduction in Age-Related Chronic Disease.

The paper – published in Advances in Nutrition – reports that by 2050, the number of persons aged 80 years old and over will reach 392 million, about three times the 2013 population. An increasingly large portion of the population will be vulnerable to nutritional frailty, a state commonly seen in older adults, characterized by sudden significant weight-loss and loss of muscle mass and strength, or an essential loss of physiologic reserves, making the person susceptible to disability.

Nutritional Assessment Model

While increasing numbers of older adults are obese, many are also susceptible to nutritional frailty and, as a result, age-related diseases including sarcopenia, cognitive decline, and infectious disease. The review concludes that exploring dietary resilience, defined as a conceptual model to describe material, physical, psychological and social factors that influence food purchase, preparation and consumption, is needed to better understand older adults’ access to meal quality and mealtime experience.

“A nutritional assessment model that takes into consideration the effect of aging on muscle mass, weight loss and nutrient absorption is crucial to overall wellness in our elderly population,” said Gilles Bergeron, Ph.D., executive director, The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences, New York, N.Y. “However, nutrition recommendations are usually based on that of a typical healthy adult, and fail to consider the effect of aging on muscle mass, weight loss, and nutrient absorption and utilization.”

A recent model to frame food intake included the addition of more randomized clinical trials that include older adults with disease and medication. This will help to identify their specific nutrient needs, biomarkers to understand the impact of advancing age on protein requirements, skeletal muscle turnover, and a re-evaluation of how BMI guidelines are used.

“Much greater emphasis needs to be placed on prioritizing research that will fill the knowledge gaps and provide the kind of data needed by health and nutrition experts if we’re going to address this problem,” added Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Mass. “There also needs to be more education about on-going nutritional needs for those involved with elder-care – not only in a clinical setting, but also for family members who are responsible for aging adults.”

Tips To Stay Healthy

Here are five suggestions – offered by Paul Erwin, professor and department head of public health in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences – that may help you live a longer, healthier life. Keep up with clinical prevention. Stay up to date on immunizations, screening exams for specific types of cancer – colorectal cancer screening for men and women, and breast and cervical cancer screening for women – and screening blood tests for conditions such as diabetes and HIV.

Be physically active. Current recommendations call for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. If you are not into running, swimming, or yoga, try mowing the lawn with a push mower rather than a riding lawn mower. Park at the far end of the parking lot rather than the spot closest to the door. Take the stairs up to the second floor rather than riding the elevator.

Achieve good nutrition. Eating well can be both enjoyable and affordable, but it requires a level of thoughtfulness about foods of all types. What we eat is much more important than how much we eat. Be mindful about what you eat. Stay tobacco-free. This is the most important preventable cause of early disease and death. Model this good behavior for family, friends, and co-workers. If you currently use tobacco, make an effort to quit. Pursue balance. Practice and pursue harmony and balance in life – between work and play, between rest and activity, and across the spectrum of mind, body, and spirit.

Some Common Beliefs About Food And Health

Here’s the medical lowdown on a couple of widely held notions about food and health.

Fish is brain food. “Many long-term studies have found a correlation between improved cognition and the consumption of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA,” says Annette Frain, a registered dietitian at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. and the medical program coordinator at Wake Forest Baptist’s Weight Management Center. “This isn’t a speedy fix – you’re not going to get a higher score on your test or do a better job on your project at work because you ate fish last night. It’s rather the build-up over time. So the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run.”

The best seafood sources of these omega-3s that promote optimal brain function are fatty and oil-rich fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring. Flounder and tilapia appear more frequently on our plates and are good for you as well but just not as good. “They aren’t as potent in terms of omega-3s, and they’re often breaded and fried, which only adds calories,” said Frain. “Grilling is the best way to prepare fish.”

The Acne-Food Connection

Eating chocolate does not cause acne. “I remember hearing that when I was growing up and I still hear it when I see patients, especially teenagers,” said Sarah Taylor, M.D., a dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist. “But it’s not true. Chocolate has been studied, and there’s no hard evidence it has anything to do with acne.”

Acne occurs when the skin’s pores become clogged with excess oil produced by hair follicles. This allows dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells to build up in the pores and form the lesions and blemishes of acne. What triggers this isn’t clear. Hormonal changes can prompt the overproduction of oil, and heredity can be a factor. But eating chocolate is not and that goes for pizza, potato chips, French fries and cheeseburgers, too.

Research, however, has identified one acne-food connection. “Non-organic dairy products can make acne worse, because the cows are treated with growth hormones,” Taylor said. “So we’ll tell patients that when they’re having yogurt, cheese, milk or ice cream to make sure it’s organic if they want to help their acne out.”

Eating carrots does not exactly improve vision. “Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which is one of the nutrients necessary for good ocular health,” says Craig Greven, M.D., chair of ophthalmology at Wake Forest Baptist. “But they won’t improve your eyesight.” Their vision-friendly reputation notwithstanding, carrots are far from the only way to get vitamin A. Dairy products, eggs, fish and liver are prime sources, as are a number of fruits – peaches, mangoes, tomatoes – and vegetables – spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, red bell peppers – that also provide other nutrients and antioxidants that contribute to good vision. “In general, a balanced diet, and really anything that leads to a healthy lifestyle, is good for your eyes,” Greven said. “But there’s not one specific perfect eye food.”

Spicy foods do not cause ulcers – and Jalapenos and habaneros aren’t to blame. Ulcers are sores on the inside lining of the stomach, esophagus or small intestine that develop when acid is able to penetrate the layer of mucus that normally protects the digestive tract. But spicy foods have nothing to do with that. Stress and alcohol also can be added to the list of things that don’t cause ulcers.

“About 75 percent of all ulcers are caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori,” says Joel Bruggen, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Wake Forest Baptist. “Most of the others are caused by the use of aspirin and other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications. Stomach ulcers can produce a burning pain in your stomach, and if you have a pain in your stomach after eating spicy food you might think you have an ulcer, or a doctor might even tell you have an ulcer, but you probably don’t.”

Golden Years And Good Health

People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live longer and stay healthy far longer than others, according to a 40-year study reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. “Good cardiovascular health in middle age delays the onset of many types of disease so that people live longer and spend a much smaller proportion of their lives with chronic illness,” said Norrina Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

In the first study to analyze the impact of cardiovascular health in middle age on the duration of illness later in life, researchers examined data from the Chicago Health Association study, which did initial health assessments in the late 1960s/early 1970s and has followed participants on an ongoing basis using Medicare health records. Researchers determined how many participants had favorable factors: non-smokers, free of diabetes and normal weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; versus those with elevated risk factors or high risk factors.

Comparing those who had two or more high-risk factors in middle age among the 17,939 participants who reached age 65 without a chronic illness, researchers found that those with all favorable factors: lived an average of 3.9 years longer; survived 4.5 years longer before developing a chronic illness; spent 22 percent fewer of their senior years with a chronic illness – 39 percent vs. 50 percent; and saved almost $18,000 in Medicare costs.

“Health professionals need to let young adults know that maintaining or adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle makes it more likely that you’ll live longer and still be healthy enough to do the things you love to do when you’re older,” Allen said.

Consider The Risk Factors

Looking solely at heart disease in 18,714 participants who reached age 65 without having a heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure, those with all favorable risk factors: lived 6.9 years longer without heart disease; and spent 46.5 percent fewer of their senior years with heart disease.

At the start of the study, when their average age was 44, only 5.6 percent of participants had all favorable factors. That data is even grimmer than a 2011-2012 national survey suggesting only 8.9 percent of U.S. adults age 40-59 had five or more “ideal” health factors, according to The American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2017 Update.

“We need to think about cardiovascular health at all stages of life,” she said. “The small proportion of participants with favorable levels in their 40s is a call for all of us to maintain or adopt healthy lifestyles earlier in life. But risk factors and their effects accumulate over time, so even if you have risks it’s never too late to reduce their impact on your later health by exercising, eating right, and treating your high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.”

What Causes Abnormal Mineral Accumulation?

The arteries are integral to our ability to process the minerals we ingest and how our blood is effectively pumped. A study that was conducted at McGill University wanted to gather a more complete understanding of how the calcification of these arteries happens after consistent and tempered mineral accumulation, which results in kidney disease and diabetes.

Genetically-modified laboratory mice were tested to find out why a hardening of the arteries occurs on a broader spectrum. It was found that elastin, which is what allows the arteries to stretch and allows adequate blood flow to get to the heart, is hugely compromised by the building of this calcification.

The study also found that collagen, which is necessary for the bones and teeth, does not affect arterial mineralization. Team leader Marta Cerruti further explains: “The first part that mineralizes in the arteries of our genetic model is the elastin part and not collagen. To me that was really surprising. The part that mineralizes in bone and teeth is collagen, which is also present in the arteries. You would think collagen must have really specific properties that aid that process, so why do the minerals instead get deposited in association with elastin in arteries?”

Initiatives And Interventions

Cerruti hopes that these findings are beneficial enough to push forward initiatives that will block this type of accumulation of minerals in the arteries. Added information, and a way to test patients who may be more predisposed to this condition, can be incredibly helpful in broadening the standard of care. It is believed that one way this can happen is to intervene in these cases before too much damage has been done. Intervening when the calcium phosphate minerals begin the process of crystallizing is a good tactic.

There isn’t a current structured course of action as far as treatment goes for this dangerous condition that can severely compromise the heart. There is a huge lack of understanding when it comes to the entire mineralization process that can occur by the arteries. What seems very imperative is that this process be halted as soon as possible because the heart getting properly pumped and circulated blood is one of the most crucial things the body needs.

Additional Questions

Of course, there needs to be much more research in order to make informed, complete decisions. The authors of the study believe that there is a direct correlation to the nucleation and the arterial mineralization. So an approach that would look into how much of these things have carried on in interplay with one another and an interdisciplinary approach would likely be the most successful. There is also additional questions regarding what actually causes this type of hardening to occur.

There are so many cardiovascular diseases that point directly to diet, lack of activity, and genes as the most impacting precursors for this type of condition. There is an inter-relational force that exists between them. Ultimately, while some things are completely outside of our control, there are ways that we can be proactive in managing our health and by extension our lives. We must pay attention to and alter the things we can control.

Important Tips For Seniors To Avoid Falling

The elderly are at a much greater risk of suffering from a fall than those that are younger. The scary aspect of them potentially falling is that their bodies and bones are more compromised at that age. This can lead to dangerous and disastrous consequences. Every single year the expenses tied to injuries sustained by a fall total a whopping $31 billion.

There are ways to help seniors prevent the occurrence of a fall by following certain steps and always being aware of what may cause falls to begin with. Here are some of the most critical ways you can secure your surroundings and prevent a senior from falling.

Don’t Live In A Cluttered Home

A large percentage of falls take place in homes. In order to prevent this from happening, removing hazardous clutter from your home is a necessity. Get rid of loose rugs or rugs that have a tendency of bunching up at the corners.

Also keep your hallways clear of clutter as it’s easy for a slower foot to get caught on an errant item which can cause a bad trip. Always have a clear path in hallways and floors. This is especially necessary at night when you may not see something and accidentally trip. It’s unfortunately very easy to suffer a fall in this way.

Kitchen And Bathroom Safety

Reaching for something and losing balance or having your equilibrium thrown off is a common way falls occur. Don’t unnecessarily crouch for things in the shower. Always have everything nicely within arm’s reach.

More slips than you may think are a direct result of stray bits of water that gather on the floor. Make sure a thin mat is placed under the fridge and the sink in the kitchen, which is helpful to absorb any water spills or leaks that may result.

It’s also a great idea to add stability bars in the shower or bath to assist seniors in getting in and out of a potentially slippery environment. These are sometimes also necessary and helpful near toilets, especially if the toilet seat is too low. This provides added stability that can often be lost in older age.

Have Your Doctor Review Medications

In the case of dizziness or imbalance, sometimes there is a deeper yet more obvious cause then you may think. Medications often have various side effects, and one of these side effects can greatly affect the ability to stand upright and balance. If you lose a bit of stability, or are experiencing even slight dizziness, it’s crucial that you speak to your doctor about these symptoms as they could be the catalyst to a detrimental fall.

Also, always tell your doctor if you’ve fallen, even if you don’t feel as if anything was broken or you weren’t hurt. No fall is normal and your doctor will perhaps need to look more thoroughly into what caused the fall. This could require tests and scans, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Do not neglect to alert your doctor if you do have a fall, however minor you may think it is.