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8 One-Minute Tricks That’ll Boost Your Health

 1. Drink Before You Eat

One-minute trick: Guzzle two glasses of water a half-hour before mealtime. Aside from keeping you hydrated, keeping you “regular,” and keeping other bodily functions running smoothly, simply downing 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before each meal may prevent overeating and help with weight loss. Too easy to be true? Nope — not according to a study published in August 2015 in the journal Obesity. Researchers found that participants who “preloaded” with two glasses of water half an hour before meals lost more weight (nearly 3 pounds in 12 weeks, on average) than participants who didn’t preload with water. Bottoms up!

2. Power Up With Protein

One-minute trick:  Scramble an egg. Not only are eggs a classic on the breakfast menu, they’re a source of high-quality protein and nutrients. “Having protein with breakfast helps fill you up and keeps you feeling satisfied for longer,” says Everyday Health nutritionist Kelly Kennedy, RD. She recommends an egg on toast with avocado or another quick, protein-packed breakfast option like a yogurt-based smoothie. Just remember,

You Need to Know about Surgery

 Understand Your Options

With everything that’s going through your mind after you’ve been told that you may need a surgical procedure, it’s important to focus and think through your options. Is surgery your only choice or are there alternatives? If you do need surgery, do you need it now or can you — and should you — wait? Are there different surgical procedures to choose from? Discuss details of your treatment options with your doctor, scheduling more than one consultation if necessary.

Select an Experienced Surgical Team

With your primary care doctor’s help, choose an experienced surgeon and a facility that specializes in performing operations for your particular condition. In addition to working with a qualified surgeon, scheduling your procedure in a hospital that does a high volume of the surgical procedures you’re having is also important to ensure a successful surgery. A recent study showed that hospitals where many cancer surgeries were performed had better survival rates than hospitals where fewer surgeries were done.

Follow Pre-Surgery Prep Instructions

In the time leading up to your surgical procedure, be sure to take good care of

Exercise linked to better breast cancer

 Several lifestyle changes can improve outcomes after a breast cancer diagnosis, but exercise is far and away the best habit to establish, researchers say.

Women with breast cancer, whether newly diagnosed or at any time in their “survivorship” phase, need to exercise regularly and avoid weight gain, said Dr. Ellen Warner from Odette Cancer Center at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, who coauthored the research review.

Warner and her colleague Julie Hamer joined forces to review nearly 70 articles that addressed lifestyle modifications that might have an impact on the risk of breast cancer recurrence and survival after breast cancer.

They found that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent compared to women who didn’t exercise. Unfortunately, less than 13 percent of women with breast cancer achieve the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity.

“Exercise has the greatest benefit on lowering risk of recurrence and has many other secondary benefits like helping with weight management (which itself lowers the risk of recurrence) and fewer side

Injuries to Pedestrians Wearing Headphones

Folks who walk to work or school while listening to music via headphones may want to unplug, with a new U.S. study finding injuries to this group of people tripling since 2004.

The reason, University of Maryland researchers say, is that use of iPods and other MP3 players makes people much less aware of their environment, including oncoming traffic.

“MP3 usage is common in young adults and teenagers and we found that people wearing headphones are at risk of getting hit and having injury or death,” said lead researcher Dr. Richard Lichenstein, an associate professor of pediatrics in Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

“These are pedestrians getting hit by cars, trains, trucks, vans, buses and things like that,” he said. “About 70 percent of the injuries were fatal and more than 50 percent of the victims were hit by trains.”

The report was published in the Jan. 16 online edition of Injury Prevention.

For the study, Lichenstein’s team used the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Google to find data on deaths and injuries among pedestrians wearing headphones from

Gene Shortage Might Lead to Shorter Height

Tall or short, it’s long been known that genes account for much of a person’s height. Now, scientists have found that short people actually might be missing copies of certain genes, which can leave them significantly smaller than average.

Studying DNA from more than 11,000 children and adults, an international team of researchers learned that those of short stature — defined roughly as falling into the shortest 2.5 percent of their peer group — had an excess number of rare deletions, or missing copies, of specific genes. Thus far, most research into genes and height has centered on identifying variations in common genes instead of an absence of others, study author Dr. Joel Hirschhorn said.

“We were a little bit surprised, since we didn’t really know what we would find going in [to the study] and whether we would see enough of an effect,” said Hirschhorn, a professor of genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston. “We were trying to figure out what’s the underlying genetics of height and things like it, and this is a class of variation less well studied.”

The study is published in the December issue of the American Journal of Human

Estrogen therapy shown effective in reducing tooth and gum diseases

Estrogen therapy has already been credited with helping women manage an array of menopause-related issues, including reducing hot flashes, improving heart health and bone density, and maintaining levels of sexual satisfaction. Now a new study suggests that the same estrogen therapy used to treat osteoporosis can actually lead to healthier teeth and gums. The study outcomes are being published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

As estrogen levels fall during menopause, women become more vulnerable to numerous health issues, including loss of bone mineral density which can lead to osteoporosis. Around the same time, changes in oral health also are common as teeth and gums become more susceptible to disease, which can lead to inflammation, pain, bleeding, and eventually loose or missing teeth.

In the Menopause article “Association between osteoporosis treatment and severe periodontitis in postmenopausal women,” 492 postmenopausal Brazilian women aged 50 to 87 years, 113 in osteoporosis treatment and 379 not treated, were evaluated to determine whether osteoporosis treatment could help increase the bone mineral density in their jaws and, subsequently, improve overall oral health.

The study found that the rate of occurrence

Prostate cancer cells grow with malfunction of cholesterol

Now a team led by researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute have identified a cellular process that cancer cells hijack to hoard cholesterol and fuel their growth. Identifying this process could inform the development of better ways to control cholesterol accumulation in tumors, potentially leading to improved survival for prostate cancer patients.

The findings are published online this month in the journal Cancer Research.

“Prostate cancer cells, as well as some other solid tumors, have been shown to contain higher cholesterol levels than normal cells,” said senior author Donald McDonnell, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke. “All cells need cholesterol to grow, and too much of it can stimulate uncontrolled growth.

“Prostate cancer cells somehow bypass the cellular control switch that regulates the levels of cholesterol allowing them to accumulate this fat,” McDonnell said. “This process has not been well understood. In this study, we show how prostate cancer cells accomplish this.”

McDonnell and colleagues began by identifying genes involved in cholesterol regulation in prostate tumors. They homed in on a specific gene, CYP27A1, which is a key component of the machinery that governs the level of cholesterol

Cognitive Training Benefits in Dementia

“The effects of cognitive training in dementia patients have been studied actively during recent decades but the quality and reliability of the studies varies,” says licenced neuropsychologist Eeva-Liisa Kallio. She reviewed 31 randomized controlled trials on cognitive training in dementia patients.

Kallio’s reserch paper “Cognitive Training Interventions for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review” was published inJournal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Some of the studies in the review focused primarily on cognitive training and in others cognitive training was part of broader cognitive or multi-component intervention.

“Many of the studies reported effects on cognitive functions immediately after the intervention but only few studies included follow-up of the patients or showed improvement in cognitive functions that were not directly linked to the skills trained in the intervention,” Kallio says.

In the studies, cognitive functioning was measured before and after the intervention. Also questionnaires on psychological wellbeing, quality of life and activities of daily living were used.

According to Kallio’s review, the data from the previous studies is not adequate to give any recommendations on the use of cognitive training in the treatment of dementia patients. Even though the scientific evidence remains scarce, the studies do suggest that the training should be intensive or focus primarily on

Read Emotions From The Eye Sees

“Our findings show that how we see directly relates to how others see us, through our facial expressions,” says psychological scientist Daniel H. Lee of the University of Colorado Boulder. “This is a clear demonstration of emotional embodiment, from sender to receiver.”

“For example, if you’re watching ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and wonder why when Larry David squints his eyes that conveys scrutiny, our work offers a theory that explains it,” Lee explains. “Narrowing the eyes for visual scrutiny also communicates scrutiny.”

The idea that our facial expressions communicate emotion isn’t new — but Lee and co-author Adam K. Anderson of Cornell University wanted to understand how our expressions came to communicate so many complex emotions and mental states.

“We went back to Darwin,” says Lee. “His theories on how expression appearance evolved to have a sensory function for the sender showed how it also co-evolved to have communication function for the receiver.”

Opening our eyes wide boosts visual sensitivity by allowing more light in, helping us to see any threats that might lurk nearby. Narrowing our eyes to a squint, on the other hand, can increase visual acuity, helping us to discriminate fine details.

Proteins in nose could reveal a infection

Duke Health scientists have identified a group of proteins that, when detected in specific quantities in the mucous, are 86 percent accurate in confirming the infection is from a cold or flu virus, according to a small, proof-of-concept trial published online in the journal EBioMedicine.

The researchers hope their initial work identifying the protein signature could aid the development of a quick, noninvasive doctor’s office test to determine the cause of upper respiratory illness and appropriate treatment.

“Every day, people are taking time off from work, going to emergency rooms, urgent care or their primary care doctors with symptoms of an upper respiratory infection,” said Geoffrey S. Ginsburg, M.D., Ph.D., a senior author of the paper and director of the Duke Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine (DCAGPM), which led the study. “Looking for these proteins could be a relatively easy and inexpensive way of learning if a person has a viral infection, and if not, whether the use of antibiotics is appropriate.”

Although upper respiratory infections are among the most common reasons people visit the doctor in the U.S., health care providers lack tools to distinguish between a bacterial infection that might warrant

Protein once thought exclusive to neurons helps some cancers grow

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report those findings in two recent studies, one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and the second in Developmental Cell

“Many properties of aggressive cancer growth are driven by altered cell signaling,” said Dr. Sandra Schmid, senior author of both papers and Chair of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern. “We found that cancer cells are taking a page from the neuron’s signaling playbook to maintain certain beneficial signals and to squelch signals that would harm the cancer cells.”

The two studies find that dynamin1 (Dyn1) — a protein once thought to be present only in nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord — is also found in aggressive cancer cells. In nerve cells, or neurons, Dyn1 helps sustain neural transmission by causing rapid endocytosis — the uptake of signaling molecules and receptors into the cell — and their recycling back to the cell surface. These processes ensure that the neurons keep healthy supplies at the ready to refire in rapid succession and also help to amplify or suppress important nerve signals as necessary, Dr. Schmid explained.

“This role is what the cancer cells have figured

Changing the environment within bone marrow

The findings, reported in the journal Science Advances, are a first step toward developing more effective bone marrow treatments for diseases like leukemia and lymphoma.

Blood cells flow throughout the body delivering life-supporting oxygen and nutrients. As these cells are used and recycled they are regenerated by bone marrow, the soft tissue inside the body’s long and hollow bones.

Certain regions of bone marrow contain hematopoietic stem cells, the precursors of all blood and immune cells, said University of Illinois chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Brendan Harley, who led the research with postdoctoral researcher Ji Sun Choi.

“The tissue environment that surrounds these cells in the bone marrow provides a wealth of signals that can alter how these precursor cells behave. This paper looked at the signals provided by the tissue matrix itself,” said Harley, who also is affiliated with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I.

One of the major tools that oncologists use to treat leukemia and lymphoma involves transplanting HSCs. The donor stem cells must locate marrow cavities and start producing blood and immune cells. However, there is a limited quantity of available donor HSCs

Resveratrol May an Effective For Lung Aging

“We believe that ours is the first study to demonstrate a beneficial effect of lung-directed resveratrol treatments on aging lung function,” said Driscoll.

Resveratrol (RSL), a chemical found in red wine, is an antimicrobial chemical substance produced by plants to protect against infection and stress-related changes. It has previously been shown to support muscle metabolism when delivered orally.

RSL prophylaxis by inhalation was a novel measure taken by the research team as a potential approach for slowing age-related deterioration of lung function and structure by preserving alveolar epithelial type 2 cells (AEC2) which line alveoli (the tiny air sacs in the lungs through which the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place) and produce surfactant which is vital for efficient breathing.

In healthy young adults, breathing is an essential, efficient process, but natural aging of the lung occurs at a steady and irreversible rate, as measured by a decline in lung function. This natural deterioration leads to a significantly reduced quality of life, over a time frame dependent on genetic and environmental factors. Although some available therapies can ameliorate symptoms, aging-related lung failure is generally irreversible and is accompanied by high rates of morbidity

Brain Scans May Predict How People Learn

Researchers report that brain scans can help predict how people will perform a challenging mental task, a discovery that could lead to a better understanding of how the mind learns new things.

The researchers found that what they once thought was “noise” in the brain, like static from a television, actually plays a major role and “is very important for understanding how the brain does things,” said study author Dr. Maurizio Corbetta, a professor of neurology at Washington University at St. Louis.

This means a brain scan has the potential to act as a kind of crystal ball, he said: “One of the most exciting things we could do is look at the brain activity and do more to try to predict what the brain is going to do next.”

The study authors scanned the brains of 14 people — seven men and seven women — using functional MRI to measure bursts of activity in the brain. The researchers tracked the brains of the volunteers as they learned how to better use their peripheral vision through a computer game.

In the game, participants learned to detect the presence or absence of a tilted

New Drug Shows Promise Against

An investigational drug called pridopidine seems an effective and safe treatment for people with the progressive movement disorder Huntington’s disease, researchers report.

Huntington’s patients have an imbalance in the signaling chemical dopamine. The new drug stabilizes dopamine signaling in areas of the brain that control movement and coordination.

According to the study authors, this is the first drug shown to improve patients’ loss of ability to move their muscles voluntarily. The only drug currently approved for Huntington’s is tetrabenazine, which treats only involuntary movements and can cause serious side effects.

The results of the phase 3 clinical trial, conducted by Spanish researchers led by Dr. Justo Garcia de Yebenes, of the department of neurology, Hospital Ramon y Cajal in Madrid, appear in the Nov. 7 online edition of The Lancet Neurology.

The study included 437 Huntington’s disease patients from eight European countries. The participants took either pridopidine (45 milligrams once daily or 45 mg twice daily) or a placebo for 26 weeks.

After six months of treatment, patients taking the higher dose of pridopidine showed improvements in motor function — specifically in eye and hand movements, involuntary muscle contractions (dystonia), and gait

Drug-Resistant Germs in Hospital Rooms

Nearly half of 50 hospital rooms tested by researchers were colonized or infected with a multidrug-resistant bacteria, a new study says.

University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found Acinetobacter baumannii (MDR-AB) bacteria on multiple surfaces, including bedrails, supply carts and floors. This species of bacteria, which has caused infection outbreaks in healthcare facilities over the last decade, can survive on surfaces for long periods of time. MDR-AB infections mainly occur in patients who are very ill, wounded or have weakened immune systems.

For the study, the researchers analyzed samples collected from 10 surfaces in each of 50 hospital rooms occupied by patients with a recent (less than two months prior to sampling) or remote (more than two months) history of MDR-AB.

The surfaces selected for sampling included bedrails, bedside table, door knob, vital sign monitor touchpad, nurse call button, sink, supply cart drawer handles, infusion pump, ventilator surface touch pad, and the floor on both sides of the bed.

The researchers found that 9.8 percent of the surface samples from 48 percent of the rooms showed evidence of MDR-AB. The surfaces most commonly contaminated were supply cart handles (20 percent), floors (16

Yawning May Help the Brain Chill Out

Yawning may be a natural way of regulatingbrain temperature, a new study suggests.

U.S. researchers examined the frequency of yawns among 80 people in the winter and another 80 people in the summer and found seasonal variations.

Yawning is known to be “contagious,” the researchers pointed out. After being showed pictures of other people yawning, nearly half of the participants yawned while outdoors in winter, compared with less than one-quarter while outdoors in summer, according to the report published online Sept. 22 in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.

The finding that people yawn less often in the summer, when outdoor temperatures often exceed body temperature, suggests that yawning could be a natural brain-cooling mechanism, said the researchers at Princeton University and the University of Arizona.

“This provides additional support for the view that the mechanisms controlling the expression of yawning are involved in thermoregulatory physiology. Despite numerous theories posited in the past few decades, very little experimental research has been done to uncover the biological function of yawning, and there is still no consensus about its purpose among the dozen or so researchers studying the topic today,” study leader Andrew Gallup, a

TV May Take Years Off Your Life if it Too Much

Spending your days in front of the television may contribute to a shortened lifespan, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Australia found that people who averaged six hours a day of TV lived, on average, nearly five years less than people who watched no TV.

For every hour of television watched after age 25, lifespan fell by 22 minutes, according to the research led by Dr. J. Lennert Veerman of the University of Queensland.

But other experts cautioned that the study did not show that TV watching caused people to die sooner, only that there was an association between watching lots of TV and a shorter lifespan.

Though a direct link between watching TV and a shortened lifespan is highly provocative, the harms of TV are almost certainly indirect, said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

“As a rule, the more time we spend watching TV, the more time we spend eatingmindlessly in front of the TV, and the less time we spend being physically active,” Katz said. “More eating and less physical activity, in turn, mean greater risk for obesity, and

Cell Phones May Cause Brain Cancer

Cell phones may cause brain cancer, a panel of experts reporting to the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday.

After reviewing dozens of studies that explored a possible link between cancer and the ubiquitous hand-held phones, the experts classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and placed them in the same category as the pesticide DDT and gasoline engine exhaust.

The panel determined that an increased risk for glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer, appears associated with wireless phone use.

Globally, it’s estimated that 5 billion cell phones are in use. “The number of users is large and growing, particularly among young adults and children,” the International Agency for Research on Cancer said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The IARC made the announcement in Lyons, France, based on the work of 31 scientists from 14 countries. It will present its findings to the WHO, which may then issue its recommendations on safe cell phone use.

Experts said children are especially vulnerable.

“Children’s skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing at a faster

The Truth About Radiation Exposure

Japan’s ongoing nuclear crisis understandably has people around the world worried about radiation exposure and the potential health risks it may pose. According to the latest reports, radiation from Japan was detected in Southern California late this week, but experts are quick to point out that the levels are far from dangerous. The readings were “about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening,” a diplomat with access to United Nations’ radiation tracking told the Associated Press.

Nor is it unexpected. “Whenever radioactive particles get in the atmosphere, they have the potential to spread around the world,” says James Thrall, MD, president of the American College of Radiology. “But they get diluted as they travel, so they’re unlikely to pose any real health problem.”

In fact, we’re probably exposed to significantly more radiation every day than the miniscule fallout arriving from Japan. Here’s a quick tutorial on radiation to put our collective anxiety in perspective:

What Is Radiation?

Radiation is a form of energy in waves. It exists on a spectrum, with low-frequency radiation (from radio waves and microwaves) on the low end and high-frequency radiation (from gamma rays and x-rays)