Saturday, December 31, 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

The 7 Most Intriguing Diet and Weight-Loss Findings of 2016

Fat-filled diets and hunger-curbing injections may sound like fads, but in 2016, new research suggested that such interventions could have health and weight-loss benefits. Here are seven studies from 2016 that highlight some of the most intriguing diet and weight-loss findings of the year

Dieting actually improves your mood.

Think you'll be "hangry" if you go on a diet? Think again: A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that when people who were normal weight or overweight (but not obese) cut calories, they slept better, were in a better mood and had better sex lives. In the study, researchers looked at 220 people who were divided into two groups: a calorie-restricted group advised to cut their daily calorie intake by about 25 percent, and a control group that received no dietary advice. Researchers tracked the participants for two years, asking them to periodically fill out questionnaires about their mood, quality of life, sexual function and sleep. "We found that normal-weight and mildly overweight people who wish to lose weight need not worry about decreased quality of life," Corby Martin, director of the Ingestive Behavior Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana and the lead author of the study, told Live Science in May. Instead, "they can actually expect to feel better," Martin said. Another benefit? The participants in the calorie-restricted group lost an average of about 17 lbs. (8 kilograms) over the two-year period, compared with almost no weight change in the control group.

There could be an exercise "sweet spot" for losing weight.

What's the optimal amount of exercise to do if you want to lose weight? A study published in the journal Current Biology may provide some clues: Researchers found that people who engaged in moderate levels of physical activity burned about 200 more calories per day than those who had the lowest levels of physical activity. However, strikingly, the people who were the most physically active burned, on average, the same number of calories as those who were moderately active. This may be because the body adapts to higher levels of activity, study author Herman Pontzer, an associate professor of anthropology at the City University of New York, told Live Science in January. Exercising a lot may actually prompt the body to make adjustments to adapt and actually keep its energy expenditure at the same level as it does when exercising less, the researchers concluded. 

Injections of tiny beads could promote weight loss.

In a small study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's annual meeting this year, researchers described a new procedure that may curb feelings of hunger and promote weight loss. In the procedure, called bariatric arterial embolization, microscopic beads are injected into the blood through a tiny nick in the wrist or groin. The beads travel to a part of the stomach called the fundus, where they decrease the amount of blood flow to that area. The fundus produces most of the body's ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, so by decreasing blood flow to the area, the procedure may limit the amount of ghrelin the fundus secretes, the researchers said. Study lead author Dr. Clifford Weiss, director of interventional radiology research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, noted in a statement that the doctors who completed the study are excited about the possibilities the procedure offers. Compared to weight-loss surgery, this procedure "is significantly less invasive and has a much shorter recovery time," he said. 
However, the findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and much more research will be needed to confirm the procedure's safety and effectiveness.

Eating fat doesn't make you fat.

A study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that men and women who followed a high-fat, Mediterranean diet that was rich in either olive oil or nuts lost more weight and reduced their waist circumference more than people who were instructed to reduce their fat intake. In the study, researchers used data gathered over a five-year period on people in Spain, as part of a study that examined the effects of the Mediterranean diet on heart health. The study included almost 7,500 older adults who were instructed to follow one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet with at least 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil each day, a Mediterranean diet with at least three servings of nuts each week, or a control diet in which the participants were advised to generally avoid consuming fat. After five years, the people in both the olive-oil group and the nut group lost more weight than the control group, and also greater reductions in their waist circumferences when compared with the control group. The key takeaway is that neither fat-rich diet led to weight gain or increases in weight, lead study author Dr. Ramon Estruch, an internal medicine physician at the University of Barcelona in Spain, told Live Science in June.

Plant protein may keep you full longer than meat does.

A recent study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research found that plant protein may be more effective than animal protein at making you feel full and helping you eat less at your next meal. In the study, 43 young male participants ate one of three different breakfast meals, on three different days, each two weeks apart. The first was a high-protein meat patty with a potato mash, the second was a high-protein legume patty with a split-pea mash, and the third was a low-protein legume patty with a potato mash. (Legumes are a plant group that includes beans and lentils.) The men reported feeling fuller after eating the high-protein legume-patty meal than they did after eating each of the other two meals. In addition, the participants who consumed the high-protein legume patty consumed 12 to 13 percent fewer calories at lunch compared with when they had consumed either of the other two patties for breakfast, senior study author Anne Raben, a professor of obesity research at the University of Copenhagen, told Live Science in November. One reason for this may have been the higher amount of fiber in the high-protein legume patty, the researchers noted.

Probiotics help lower blood sugar levels.

Consuming probiotics may help decrease blood sugar levels, according to a small study from Canada. In the study, some people who were following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is recommended for people with high blood pressure, were asked to eat probiotics as well. The people who consumed probiotics over the three-month study period had a larger average decrease in several measures of blood sugar levels than the group that only followed the DASH diet and did not take probiotics. Although more research is needed, the findings suggest that adding probiotics to the DASH diet could help protect against diabetes, said the study's author, Arjun Pandey, a researcher at the Cambridge Cardiac Care Centre in Ontario. One possible explanation for the findings may relate to a compound called butyrate, which is produced in the gut by certain bacteria and plays a role in insulin sensitivity, Pandey told Live Science in November. Increased levels of butyrate may lead to higher insulin sensitivity, thus leading body cells to absorb sugar from the blood more efficiently and, in turn, decrease blood sugar levels, he said. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions annual meeting in November and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Working out before breakfast may help you eat less.

If you're looking to lose weight, try working out before breakfast: A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism suggests that skipping breakfast before your workout may help you consume fewer calories throughout the day. In the study, 12 physically active, young white males were assigned to one of two groups: One group was given oatmeal and orange juice for breakfast, and the other group was given no breakfast. At 10 a.m., the men ran on a treadmill for an hour. Then, the men were given food to take with them and were instructed to eat as much as they wanted for the rest of the day. The researchers measured the amount of food left over. After one week, the men repeated the experiment, but the groups were switched. The researchers found that the men consumed many more calories overall on days when they ate breakfast before exercising: The participants consumed an average of 4,500 calories on days when they ate breakfast before exercising, but an average of only 3,600 calories on days when they fasted before exercising, the study's lead author, Jessica Bachman, an assistant professor of exercise science at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, told Live Science in October. Most of these calories were consumed in the evening, Bachman added. However, the study looked at a very small, homogenous group, so the researchers cautioned that more studies are needed to confirm the findings and apply them to different groups of people.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

This Is the Best Workout for Women

When it comes to exercise, the aerobic kind steals all the glory. All of the fun ways to sweat can help you get the government-recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, like swimming, volleyball, brisk walking—anything that speeds up your blood flow and breath. Less appealing is the other, more neglected kind: strength-training.

While about half of Americans meet the goals for aerobic exercise, only 20% do the recommended muscle-strengthening activities that work major muscle groups. Women, especially, tend to shy away from it. But they neglect it at their own peril. Strength-training significantly lowers the risk for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, finds a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Scientists (and anyone else who’s ever pumped some iron) have long known that strength training makes muscles bigger.

It also protects bones by increasing their density, an important perk for aging women. But more recent evidence shows that it also reduces BMI, which improves how the body uses insulin. A bigger muscle also means that glucose can get around the body better. The researchers wanted to see if the lesser-known benefits of strength training, like these, actually influence a person’s risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Using data from the Women’s Health Study, they followed nearly 36,000 older women who ranged in age from 47-98.

The women filled out questionnaires yearly from 2000-2014 about their health and exercise levels, and one question asked women to estimate how much weight lifting/strength training they’d done per week in the past year. The researchers tracked which of the women got cardiovascular disease—including events like heart attack and stroke—and type-2 diabetes. Whether a woman did these muscle-strengthening exercises or not predicted much about her health.

“Women who reported participating in any amount of strength training were more likely to have a lower BMI, more likely to engage in healthy dietary patterns, and less likely to be a current smoker,” compared with women who avoided it, the authors write. Strength training was also linked to a woman’s risk for the two conditions. Those who said they did any amount of strength training had a type-2 diabetes risk 30% lower and a cardiovascular disease risk 17% lower than those who did none, even after the researchers controlled for other variables like age, vegetable and fruit intake and physical activity.

Not surprisingly, adding in aerobic exercise helped drive both risks down even more. Those who did at least 120 minutes a week of aerobic exercise and some strength training had a type-2 diabetes risk 65% lower than women who didn’t do either. More research is needed to determine the optimum amount of strength training for women and men to reduce their risks.

But the study suggests that both kinds of exercise impart unique benefits—and that strength training has some serious scientific weight to it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What are the most common New Year’s resolutions and how long does the average person keep theirs?

The top 10 resolutions of 2015/16:
1. Lose weight
2. Get organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Stay fit and healthy
6. Learn something exciting
7. Quit smoking
8. Help others achieve their dreams
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family

A 2007 study from University of Bristol found that 88 per cent of people who make New Year's resolutions fail - while the NHS reckon only one in ten of us will be successful. While research by private health company Bupa was slightly more positive, and found that just 63 per cent of people failed in 2015. Of those polled by Bupa, nearly half of Brits (43%) lasted less than a month, and 66 per cent lasted one month or less. While 80 per cent of people didn't make it to the end of March before going back to their old ways.

Top 10 tips to achieving your New Year's resolution:

1. Only make one resolution
2. Don't wait until New Year's Eve to set your goal
3. Don't attempt previously failed resolutions
4. Don't base your goal on what everyone else is doing
5. Break your goal into a series of time-based steps
6. Tell your friends and family what you're aiming for
7. Regularly remind yourself of the benefits
8. Give yourself small rewards for achieving your each step
9. Make your plans and progress concrete by writing it down
10. Expect to have small set-backs, and don't make these a reason to give up altogether.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Wishes from Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness

All of us at Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness wish you and yours a bright holiday season and a New Year of hope, health, and happiness!

Friday, December 23, 2016

This Is The One Thing Keeping You From Truly Enjoying The Holidays

If you’re a self-described perfectionist, chances are the sound of jingle bells makes you a little bit nervous. Whether it’s your quest to find the perfect gift, the need to capture the perfect family moment or the desire to cook the perfect meal, the overwhelming drive to make sure everything goes according to plan is often at its peak during the holidays.

So how do you ease up on your perfectionism during such an important time? The solution isn’t about giving up control but forming a plan that works for you, says Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of the office of work, life and engagement at Johns Hopkins University. “I would never say [to someone focused on perfection] to let go of control entirely, because having control is often what makes perfectionists feel calm,” Carlstrom tells The Huffington Post. “But there are so many moving pieces in the holiday marathon that you cannot have control over, you have to understand what you can manage and what you can’t.” Luckily, there are ways to manage your need for control — without sacrificing your sanity. Below are a few ways to help manage your perfectionism at the holidays:

1. Prioritize and delegate each task. When it comes to a full holiday calendar, Carlstrom says those who have a tendency toward perfectionism need to set boundaries and prioritize. “Whatever it is that you do, put your plan in place by thinking about what’s most important to you,” she said. “Is it socializing and holiday events? Is it family time? If you pick out the most important thing to you during the holiday season and how you work that in, you can remain in control of those parameters you set for yourself.” Delegating responsibilities — whether it’s someone to help with the cooking or with setting up the party — can also help perfectionists let go without losing a sense of control. “Planning for what you’re going to do and not do helps establish boundaries,” she explained. “Often times [perfectionists] manage too many commitments, but this way you still feel like you do maintain some control.”

2. Don’t overdo it. In order to manage holiday stress, it’s important to have a plan in place — but be wary of going overboard. The challenge of putting up the perfect decorations or committing to too many holiday parties can trigger a perfectionist to break down, says Scott Bea, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Avoidance behavior, he says, is common when perfectionists try to picture each task. “Perfectionists have a hard time starting something if they need a perfect outcome,” Bea told The Huffington Post. “If they can’t visualize the perfect end result, they’ll often start avoiding it altogether. Then things start to pile up and tasks mount.” Establishing boundaries and only taking on a reasonable amount of work is the best way to tackle these tasks head on. “Holidays have so much to do with planning but not overcommitting — being able to say no without guilt is important,” Carlstrom said.

3. Mull over the reaction you want to have ― then forget the idea entirely. If finding the ideal gift for your partner, family or friends feels like some sort of test, it can be a sign of perfectionism. Bea suggests mentally identifying what the consequences would be if things don’t end up perfect — chances are, they aren’t so bad. “You can’t screw up giving a gift, if it’s an occasion or a material gift, if it’s coming from your heart you can’t possibly make a mistake,” he said. According to Carlstrom, it’s important to remember that the perfect present — and the reaction to the thought behind that gift — likely isn’t going to make or break your relationship. “You can control your intentions as you look for a gift, but you can never control someone’s response to a gift,” she explained. The same goes for family dynamics. According to Carlstrom, the potential for conflict or negative reactions from loved ones often creates more pressure. The best way to manage those stressors is to face them head on and go into it with an understanding that you’re not alone. “We have in our minds that during the holidays we need to have the perfect family experience — but all of us have dysfunctions,” she said. “Managing relationships is difficult, especially with people you might only see a few times a year.”

4. Acknowledge the good. Another way to get over the idea of perfectionism during the holidays is to focus on gratitude. Expressing what you’re thankful for is an effective way to channel the good surrounding the occasion and can open the mind up for a healthier thought process — both crucial in letting go of stressful feelings commonly associated with perfectionism. Bea suggests writing down what you’re thankful for as a way to train the brain to be more receptive to positive thoughts. “A gratitude journal can help [perfectionists] notice what’s right about their efforts and the world,” he said. “The brain is designed to notice what’s wrong first — even if everything looks right [perfectionists] will notice one thing out of place. Sensitizing to what’s going right can help them lose that sense of perfection.”

5. Try some new traditions. With the same meals and events, it can be difficult to let go of the idea of perfection — especially when you start comparing them to previous years. Incorporating new traditions this year may help ease perfectionism during the holidays. Bea explains that making a change from the usual holiday events can help you shift into a more easy-going mentality. “Perfectionists try to maintain tradition, so they can experiment and train themselves for flexibility [through change],” he said. Bea also advises perfectionists to recall a time that made them feel free — chances are it was a time when they weren’t in control of the moment.

By starting a new tradition and introducing flexibility, overall satisfaction — in holiday planning and beyond — will increase. “Human beings like control but we don’t have much of it — people just like the illusion,” he explained. “Most good times occur when control is loose. Practicing new habits and giving up control can lead to greater feelings of well-being.”

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cancer-stricken 'Jeopardy!' player wins $103K before death

photo provided by Jeopardy Productions Inc.
Faced with a terminal diagnosis in her battle against colon cancer, Cindy Stowell saw an appearance on "Jeopardy!" in her final months as a "good opportunity" to help others struggling against the disease by donating money she might win to cancer research.

She made the most of it by winning six nights in a row and more than $103,000 in a run that ended on Wednesday's episode. The Austin, Texas, woman died Dec. 5 at the age of 41, eight days before her first appearance aired on Dec. 13. "Jeopardy!" sent her advance copies of three of her appearances so she could watch them in the hospital, the show said in a statement .

It also expedited getting her winnings to her. Before her August audition for the show, Stowell emailed a "Jeopardy!" producer that she didn't have long to live and that if she were selected she'd like to donate any winnings to charities involved in cancer research. She passed the audition and was booked for the first available taping on Aug. 31, "Jeopardy!" said. She won four games taped that day and returned for a Sept. 13 taping. She won two more games before finishing second in her final appearance. Alex Trebek paid tribute to Stowell on Wednesday's program.

The "Jeopardy!" host called her appearance "a fulfillment of a lifelong ambition." The show's executive producer, Harry Friedman, added in a statement: "Cindy came on the show with a mission. We gave her the opportunity to fulfill that mission and she made the most of it." In a video released by the show Wednesday night, Stowell called her appearance "a line in the sand" that she drew in her battle against the disease. "I'm dying of cancer," she said. "I really want the money that I win to be used to help others and so this seems like a good opportunity."

The Cancer Research Institute tweeted its thanks to Stowell on Wednesday for donating winnings and inspiring others to do the same. Stowell came from behind to win several times during her run, which she said made the experience stressful, yet fun. "Even when you think the odds are completely against you somehow you know, via luck or something, things can work out."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Foods to combat holiday stress

From travel plans to last-minute shopping, the end of year brings a busy calendar that can lead to stress in the kitchen and beyond. If you’re trying to eat a balanced diet, extra activities coupled with an abundance of holiday sweets can make it seem impossible to keep up with your healthful habits. While there is definitely room to enjoy your holiday favorites in moderation, be sure to stock your kitchen with these time-saving foods for some seasonal stress relief.

Citrus Fruits: It might seem like the only trees of the season are covered in ornaments, but citrus fruits have their best showing in the winter months. Packed with vitamin C, everything from grapefruits to clementines are delicious and affordable this time of year. A powerful antioxidant, studies show that vitamin C can help reduce stress levels and offer immune-boosting qualities. Citrus fruits make quick fiber-filled snacks, as well as tasty additions to salads to add bright colors and a kick of sweetness without a lot of calories.

Sweet Potatoes: Not just a Thanksgiving staple, this root vegetable is a smart thing to keep on hand throughout the holiday season. Packed with beta-carotene, vitamin B-6, potassium, and fiber, these root vegetables will satisfy an urge for a carb craving in a nutritious way. For a quick meal, give a sweet potato a good scrub, poke with a fork, and microwave until cooked through. Top with some salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt for a low-stress dinner with plenty of fiber and protein. If you want to include in your big holiday meal, prep and cook your sweet potatoes a day ahead to save yourself some stress—and time—when you’re busy with the main feast. 

Canned Fish: Canned tuna, salmon and sardines offer a no-cook protein option for a nutritious meal when you’re pressed for time. In addition to protein, fish contains B vitamins and iron, and is one of the only natural sources of omega-3s fatty acids, which appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help with blood flow and reduce inflammation, both of which are compromised during times of heightened stress. Just one serving of Bumble Bee Omega-3 albacore tuna contains 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. To help reach the recommended 2 to 3 servings of fish a week, make a kid-friendly tuna sandwich with diced red and green apples for some holiday flair, or go for a hearty tuna nicoise salad that’s refined enough to serve holiday guests.

Pistachios: For a more mindful snack option this holiday season, keep pistachios on hand. A Pennsylvania State University study showed that during times of stress, pistachios helped lower blood pressure and heart rate in a sample of adults with elevated cholesterol. In addition, in-shell pistachios take longer to eat, and may encourage snackers to slow down and be more conscious of what they’ve eaten. A preliminary behavioral eating study found that in-shell snackers ate 41 percent fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts. A good source of protein and fiber, pistachios can help stabilize blood sugar levels for sustained energy, as well as offer a festive green color that’s perfect for the season.

Oatmeal: A popular comfort food, oatmeal provides complex carbohydrates, which produce the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, shown to help calm the signs of stress. Plus, it’s a “sticks to your ribs” kind of grain. Beta-glucan, the type of soluble fiber found in oatmeal, has been shown to promote a feeling of fullness more so than other whole grains. In addition to holding off hunger longer, studies have shown that kids who eat oatmeal for breakfast stay sharper throughout the morning. Make a batch of the steel-cut variety on the weekend, store it in the fridge, and heat it up on busy mornings.

Meal Delivery: For a truly stress-free option, have healthy foods delivered to your doorstep. From pre-packed meals delivered upon request, to full meal plans for the entire week, meal delivery services are becoming more and more popular. Making healthy cooking easier for everyone, companies like HelloFresh provide seasonal farm fresh ingredients with recipe cards that are simple, easy-to-follow, and take no more than 30 minutes to make. Plus they have a full-time registered dietitian on staff to make sure your meals are nutritionally balanced. At about $10 per person per meal, you can choose from weekly menus and most importantly – take the stress out of: “What’s for dinner?”

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The TRUTH about yo-yo diets: Losing and regaining weight rapidly can make your hair fall out, and harms the heart more than obesity

Losing weight rapidly, only to pile it all back on again — yo-yo dieting — is a trap many fall into; a survey in 2014 found 60 per cent of yo-yo dieters will try up to 20 diets in their lifetime. And you don't have to be losing and gaining huge amounts of weight to be a yo-yo dieter (it can be as little as between 7lb and 1st), but the weight gain and loss occurs over weeks and months, rather than years. This way of dieting has been blamed for a range of health issues including hormone imbalances and osteoporosis.

A study presented last week at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions found it could also harm the heart — and the risk increases the more often you try and fail to keep weight off. 'This is particularly worrying since we know many yo-yo dieters have been on multiple failed diets, each time regaining more weight than they lose,' says Rebecca McManamon, of the British Dietetic Association. Studies show the body strives to maintain its weight at a 'set point'. 'The body will protect itself against weight loss during a period of calorie restriction, which is probably an evolved protection mechanism, says Rebecca McManamon.

It also means people don't suddenly gain weight if they overeat for short periods. 'However, in protracted periods of starvation, weight loss does occur and your body gets used to functioning at a lower energy level,' she explains. 'Unfortunately, this resets the metabolism so when you start eating normally again, you will put on weight more quickly.' (Intermittent fasting, as in the popular 5:2 diet, when people fast for two days and eat normally for five, is thought to be too short a period to kick start 'starvation mode'.) Muscle loss is another problem.

We need muscle to burn calories. 'When the intake of calories drops below a certain level, the body will start to digest your muscle cells as well as remaining body fat to make energy,' says Kathryn Freeland, a personal trainer who runs Absolute Fitness in London. 'Less muscle mass can slow down metabolism even further, compounding the problem of rapid fat gain when you start to eat normally again.' In the latest study, presented last week, researchers from the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island analyzed data from 158,000 women over 50. Over 11 years, the women of normal weight who admitted to yo-yo dieting more than four times, were three-and-a-half times as likely to die from a heart attack than women whose weight stayed stable, even if they were obese.

Dr Somail Rasla, lead author of the study, says gaining weight as part of yo-yo dieting increases heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which do not fall back to normal when weight is lost again. If these cycles keep repeating, these health problems worsen over time, putting strain on the heart. Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, says the findings seem to back up previous studies linking yo-yo dieting to cardiovascular disease. Yo-yo dieting increases inflammatory markers in the blood which are associated with lots of diseases, including arthritis. Yo-yo dieting has one obvious effect — constantly losing and regaining weight can leave permanent stretch marks and sagging and drooping skin. 'This depends on how much weight you gain and lose, how often and also your age and the elasticity of the skin, but it is a common issue,' says Dr Nick Lowe, a consultant dermatologist in Harley Street, London. Older women with less elastic skin will be more prone to sagging.

Quick weight gain followed by rapid weight loss puts more strain on skin than gradual weight change. Restrictive diets can also affect the plumpness of the skin, as a lack of protein in the diet can affect the production of collagen, which gives skin its firmness. Famine followed by feast can disrupt the release of hormones from the pituitary gland which drives the menstrual cycle, stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs. If a woman rapidly loses weight this process shuts down because the body goes into starvation mode and concentrates its resources on vital functions, which don't include reproduction, says Gillian Lockwood, a consultant obstetrician, gynecologist and fertility expert based in the Midlands. Unfortunately, according to Dr Lockwood, many overweight women who want IVF on the NHS are told that they have to lose weight in order to qualify for the free treatment, and this can encourage crash dieting. 'If a woman is 6lb overweight, it will take her a year or more to lose that safely, but many women and their partners feel a sense of urgency. 'Not surprisingly, they may dramatically cut their calorie intake, sometimes down to 400 calories a day.'

And women who rapidly lose weight to reach the necessary BMI have very poor outcomes when it comes to getting pregnant, as the IVF is unlikely to work. This applies only to crash dieters. Yo-yo dieting does seem to affect bone density, although the jury is still out as to whether yo-yo dieting or periods of restrictive dieting is the problem. Our bone is constantly being broken down, absorbed into the body and replaced. A recent U.S. study found that women whose weight fluctuated had increased bone resorption when their weight fell, which was not replaced when they regained the pounds. Feasting periods do not make up for bone loss in the fasting times. Trichologist Anabel Kingsley says yo-yo dieting is a common cause of poor hair conditions and hair loss: 'One of the first things we always ask is about people's diet, which is fundamental to healthy hair. 'Yo-yo dieters are stressing their hair.' She says that, at any one time, 90 per cent of head hair is in a growth phase and just 10 per cent is in the resting phase, when it sheds. 'Restricted calorie intake pushes more hairs into the shedding phase because the hair follicles have fewer nutrients to sustain them.' Rapid weight gain also disrupts normal hormone levels and stresses the hair follicles.

'People on restrictive diets are not getting enough key minerals and vitamins such as calcium to keep their teeth and gums healthy,' says Mervyn Druian, of London Cosmetic Dentistry. 'Yo-yo dieters are more prone to gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.' Those who have dramatically cut back on eating also produce less saliva, which is triggered by the chewing action, which helps protect the teeth from acid attack. On the weight gain cycle, people who eat a high carbohydrate diet are at risk from tooth decay. 'Bacteria in the mouth thrive in these conditions and release acid in larger quantities,' adds Dr Druian. Studies have suggested there may be a correlation between yo-yo dieting and some cancers.

One theory is that it may lead to a reduction in the number and effectiveness of immune cells, which are the body's initial line of defence against tumour cells. A 2004 study showed a reduction in these cells the more times post-menopausal women lost weight.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Loneliness may sabotage breast cancer survival, study finds

Loneliness may impede long-term breast cancer survival, a new study suggests. In the years after treatment, women who don’t have strong social ties are more likely to have their cancer return or die from it than women with friends and a support network, the researchers found. Reviewing data on nearly 10,000 breast cancer patients, the researchers linked isolation with a 40 percent higher risk of cancer recurrence compared to socially connected women.

These solitary women also had a 60 percent increased risk of dying from breast cancer and a 70 percent increased risk of dying from any cause, the study found. The results weren’t unexpected, the researchers said. “It is well established that women generally and those with breast cancer with greater social ties have a lower risk of death overall,” said lead researcher Candyce Kroenke. She’s with Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

People are social animals, said Kassandra Alcaraz, strategic director for health equity research at the American Cancer Society. “We were not meant to be isolated, so the benefits we get from relationships with others and being part of a community are not surprising,” she said. “We know that social relationships are important to general health and well-being.” Exactly why this is so isn’t entirely clear, Alcaraz said. “Having social ties may provide access to real assistance, like having someone to take you to the doctor or having someone to talk to about your concerns or connecting you with resources that can help you cope with the cancer,” she said. Also, social well-being is correlated with physical well-being, Alcaraz added.

Having connections to others helps reduce stress and depression and thus leads to better health outcomes, she said. “We need to think of health in a more expansive way. Social influences can be just as important as other risk factors, such as obesity and smoking,” Alcaraz said. Kroencke and her colleagues agreed, saying doctors should consider a woman’s social supports when making predictions for her recovery. For this study, the researchers looked at a woman’s social connections in the two years after her breast cancer diagnosis to see how having friends, a spouse, relatives or community ties might affect her survival.

The report was published online Dec. 12 in the journal Cancer. Data was collected on just over 9,000 women. Over an average follow-up of 11 years, more than 1,400 cancers returned. Also, more than 1,500 women died, nearly 1,000 from breast cancer, the researchers found. The links between social connections and prognosis were strongest among women with earlier stage cancer, the researchers said. Also, specific associations differed by age, race, ethnicity and country, Kroenke said. For example, ties to relatives and friends predicted lower breast cancer deaths for nonwhite women. And marriage predicted lower breast cancer deaths only among older white women.

In addition, community ties predicted better outcomes in older white and Asian women. “Our findings demonstrate the generally beneficial influence of women’s social ties on breast cancer outcomes, including recurrence and breast cancer death,” Kroenke said. The results don’t mean that loners are doomed to an early death, nor do they show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between isolation and worse survival. Still, it’s important for doctors and other health care workers to help patients connect with support groups and other programs so they won’t remain socially isolated, Alcaraz said. “Social ties have positive health benefits, and social isolation is detrimental to health,” she said. “And it is not unique to breast cancer or to cancer for that matter.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Six main causes of female hair loss and how to treat them

Although it is far more common for men to lose their hair, women can also begin to lose their own crowning glories. After giving birth, reaching menopause years or experiencing other hormonal imbalances, it’s not uncommon for women to start losing their hair. One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is a change in hormone levels. Fortunately, hair loss in women is usually a temporary state of affairs which can be relatively easy to diagnose and treat.

1. Overactive Thyroid An over active thyroid can trigger a condition called Telogen Effluvium, which changes the hair growth cycle and can result in the thinning of the hair. Treatment Options: There are several treatment options available for this condition, including an antithyroid medication treatment, surgery or radioactive iodine. However, in order to ensure the correct treatment is prescribed it is important that the patient is assessed by their doctor who will explore the severity of the disorder, the patient's age and many other factors.

2. Too much Testosterone Women with higher than normal levels of testosterone, such as women who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), are more likely to experience male-patterned baldness. This condition is not very common in women because they have higher levels of oestrogen, which helps to balance out the effects of the male hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a potent form of testosterone that normally leads to hair loss. Women who produce high levels of male hormones, however, have increased testosterone levels which can convert to DHT, thereby increasing their chances of losing their hair. Treatment Options: The treatment for this condition very much depends on an individuals' case. It may involve oral contraceptives that contain oestrogen and progesterone, metformine, spironolactone, a pill supplement of progesterone or glucocorticosteroids. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and losing weight can also help.

3. Hyper - Oestrogen Progesterone and oestrogen are two dominant female hormones necessary to prepare the uterus for menstruation, however, there are optimal levels in which the hormones should be produced. When progesterone levels are too low, it can lead to the condition of hyper-oestrogen or oestrogen dominance which can trigger excessive hair shedding and ultimately hair loss. Treatment Options: In these cases I would usually recommend a transdermal 2% bioindentical progesterone cream be applied. I would also advise the patient to increase nutrients in the diet by eating a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein etc. It is also important to decrease stress and get a lot of exercise. 

4. Stress Stress can cause hair loss in different ways. In particular it can lead to the build-up of acid-free radicals, which contribute to gradual hair loss. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to changes in hormonal levels, which can also lead to hair loss. Conditions such as trichotillomania (pulling of the hair) are associated with stress. Megan Fox and Victoria Beckham have both both admitted to suffering with this condition. Treatment Options: The good news here is that is that not all stress-related hair loss is permanent. It is important to find the cause of any stress or anxiety firstly, as that will allow the patient to tackle it correctly. This, in most cases, in itself reduces the level of stress related hair loss and allows the lost hair to regrow. It is important to note, however, that your hair loss may not be solely stress related and could also be the result of an underlying medical condition. For this reason, it is always important to consult your GP.

5. Menopause Unlike men, women are protected from hair loss by oestrogen. After the menopause, oestrogen levels drop and therefore most women experience some degree of thinning post menopause. Hair loss which occurs before this, however, can be the result of any of the above factors and can occur at any time. Treatment Options: There are a number of medical treatments that can help reduce hair loss during or after the menopause. These include a specially compounded prescription minoxidil solution, prostaglandin analogs, low-level laser therapy, off-label finasteride (for post-menopausal women only) and nutritional supplements. 

6. Pregnancy and Childbirth Pregnancy and childbirth are known to alter a woman’s hormonal balance which in turn can lead to temporary hair loss. Treatment Options: In most cases the hair will start to re-grow naturally after about 90 days of giving birth and if the hair growth doesn’t return to normal after about a year, it is worth seeing your GP or a trichologist to check for other underlying causes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Living with Lymphedema after breast cancer - Kathy Bates interview

Having her breasts removed after a cancer diagnosis was worse than having ovarian cancer , Kathy Bates has said. The Oscar-winning actress bravely fought ovarian cancer in 2003 and 10 years later she discovered she had breast cancer.

After learning that she had cancer for the second time, she researched treatments and decided to have a double mastectomy. “Breast cancer runs like a river through my family,” Kathy said before explaining how several members of her family have died from breast cancer and how her niece has battled it after having her second breast removed. “It was strange. Ovarian wasn't so bad for some reason, but breasts were worse. It was very emotional and I really felt like my life was over,” she said.

Watch the interview here:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lymphedema and Breast Cancer: When Is Risk Greatest?

The time course for developing lymphedema depends on the type of breast cancer treatment, but the risk peaks between 24 and 36 months post therapy, regardless of treatment type, according to new research. Receipt of radiation therapy (RT) is also a key to the timing. "Lymphedema develops earlier in patients who receive radiation, especially those receiving regional lymph node radiation," said the study's lead author, Susan McDuff, MD, PhD, a resident in radiation oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center in Boston.

Lymphedema can be "an incredibly morbid" complication following treatment for breast cancer and is an ongoing source of anxiety for survivors, she said here at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2016 Annual Meeting. To help patients know when they may be "out of the woods," Dr McDuff and colleagues undertook a cohort study to determine whether there is a period when patients are at greatest risk. First, they looked at cumulative incidence.

The team analyzed the records of 1495 patients seen between 2005 and 2016 in a prospective lymphedema screening program at MGH. The time it took to reach 5% cumulative incidence by treatment group was 32 months for surgery alone and 15 months for RT (P = .02) However, a further look at the data revealed that patients who received regional lymph node radiation (RLNR) reached the 5% cumulative incidence in only 6 months vs 37 months for those who received local RT (P < .0001). There was a median follow-up of 3.9 years and a cumulative lymphedema incidence of 11.4% in the study population. Nearly three quarters (73%) of the patients received RT as a component of their treatment. To pinpoint risk over time, the researchers looked at the percentage of patients in various treatment groups who were diagnosed with lymphedema in each year during the first 5 years post therapy. This was done by plotting the annual hazard rate for the treatment groups. All patients received some mix of axillary surgery and RT.

The groups were as follows: no axillary surgery (n = 180); sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) plus or minus local RT (n = 899); SLNB plus regional lymph node radiation (RLNR) (n = 46); and axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) plus or minus local RT (n = 132); and ALND plus RLNR (n = 264). "The timing of the risk appears to be the most significant within the first 2 to 3 years after treatment," summarized Dr McDuff.

The new study addresses an important clinical question, said Abram Recht, MD, professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who acted as an adviser to the study authors. "If you are going to do surveillance, how long do you have to do it?" he commented to Medscape Medical News. "You can expect that most patients who undergo sentinel lymph node biopsy with or without local RT, which is the largest treatment group, may not need active monitoring past 2 years," he concluded. "The period of the greatest risk is the first 3 years," said Dr Recht, echoing Dr McDuff. "If lymphedema hasn't developed by 5 years, then it probably won't happen," he added. The new results are an argument for "personalizing" a lymphedema monitoring program, said Dr McDuff, adding that more follow-up is needed for high-risk groups.

The goal is early identification and intervention. Shannon MacDonald, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard, who acted as discussant of the study, said that the hope with monitoring is "that an earlier intervention for lymphedema would improve outcome." Dr MacDonald told Medscape Medical News that the new study results will also "allow patients to have some alleviation of anxiety as to when to expect lymphedema if it occurs," she said. The findings could also influence "when clinicians have patients come in for monitoring," Dr MacDonald added. This "very large" study makes a "meaningful contribution" to clinical knowledge, in part because there are "limited" data on timing, she said. Lymphedema is less common than in the past, owing to improvements in surgical management, but inaccuracy of measurements has plagued estimates of the incidence of lymphedema, Dr MacDonald said.

The new MGH study used a perometer, a tool that employs infrared technology to objectively measure the limb, which is "more likely to be accurate than a tape measure or other modalities," she said. The perometer was used to perform prospective arm volume measurements of the study patients preoperatively and then postoperatively and in follow-ups at regular intervals. Lymphedema was defined as a >10% relative volume increase occurring >3 months postoperatively. The treatments for lymphedema in the cohort included compression sleeves (88%), manual decompression (52%), and physical therapy–directed exercise (89%). "Patients worry a lot about lymphedema" concluded Dr Recht. "It's a really hard thing in survivorship," agreed Dr McDuff.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

4 triggers of holiday stress — and how to manage them

There is a memorable exchange in the movie “Christmas Vacation” when a frazzled Clark Griswold laments the stresses of the season and asks his father for coping advice. “How did you get through it?” Clark says. “I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels,” his dad replies. That’s not a recommended mechanism, of course, but Clark’s sentiment gets echoed in countless households each year around this time. Holiday stress is an annual fact of life for many folks. Charity Wilkinson-Truong, a clinical psychologist who works at Rutgers University and Stress & Anxiety Services of New Jersey — a cognitive behavioral therapy group with offices in East Brunswick and Springfield — offered detailed thoughts on the subject in an interview with Gannett New Jersey. Her holiday stress-management tips cover four different triggers that cause anxiety in November and December.

Trigger one: Unreachable ideals “A lot of what I hear is people having this unhelpful idea that things at the holidays need to be perfect, and this results in a great deal of stress because the goal of perfection is not attainable for any of us,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “I’ll often tell my clients that I don’t think I would like a perfect person. Think about all the times you go back and laugh about things that didn’t go exactly right.” The perfection ideal doesn’t magically appear in peoples’ heads. It’s placed there by a steady stream of outside influences. “We get the soft message from the media, from social media and movies and television shows, that this time of year everything should be happy and wonderful, when that doesn’t match up to anybody’s reality,” Wilkinson-Truong said.

A big driver of this: Facebook photos. “People compare themselves to others when they see pictures on Facebook — pictures of great holiday meals or decorations or a loving family,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “We don’t post pictures of people fighting or being upset. So you see a picture of happy, smiling people and tell yourself, ‘Uh-oh I’m supposed to be like that.’ Well, that’s not a helpful thought.”

It’s better to view such things through a realistic prism. “We encourage people to have more helpful thoughts like, ‘You know what? This picture doesn’t represent everyday life, how everybody is supposed to feel,’ ” she said.

Trigger two: Spending sprees “There’s a lot of stress about gift-giving, being able to give something perfect, or doing something that’s really memorable and different,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “I would really encourage people to set limits and budgets before they go into a store. Shop judiciously and not emotionally. Think about the long-term impact of spending.” Beyond the practical, reflect on why you’re giving in the first place. “Think back on gifts you’ve been given that are most meaningful. They’re usually not the most expensive ones,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “So giving somebody a gift is really about knowing that person, caring about them. We really get hung up on dollar amounts, but dollar amounts don’t reflect our affection for people.” A practical tip: Don’t shop online when you’re feeling tired or anxious. “If you’re feeling stressed or upset, you can go online and it can be real easy to click and buy too much,” she said.

Trigger three: Prickly company Family friction is inevitable in a lot of households when relatives get together. But there are ways to minimize it. “My No. 1 advice, especially right now in a heated political time, is no discussion of politics at all on holidays,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “It’s absolutely forbidden because it’s not helpful. It’s so easy for people to get really upset when politics come up.” Beyond that, Wilkinson-Truong cautioned against reading too deeply into any one comment or question. Most people don’t say things with ill intent. “We hear things with an interpretation that might not be there,” she said. “If a well-meaning relative says, ‘You look tired,’ we put our own spin on that and take it as an insult. So try to think about what the intent was of that person.”

Bottom line: Holiday gatherings are not forensics tournaments. “What’s really your goal — to win arguments and be right, or to have a nice experience and a fun time with people you love and care about?” Wilkinson-Truong said. “What do you really want to happen at the end of the day?”

Trigger four: Lack of sleep This might be the trickiest of them all. The first three triggers are largely mental, but sheer exhaustion around the holidays is what happens when there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. “Not getting enough sleep is absolutely linked to stress and depression,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “What is most helpful is sticking to a schedule, going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time.” If you’re facing a short night’s sleep, she said, a simple act can reduce anxiety about it. “One thing we advise people to do if they’re staring at the clock, worried about not getting enough sleep, is to turn the clocks around,” she said. “It’s not helpful to look at the clock.”

Watch your caffeine intake, too. Having coffee or even chocolate at night can mask an exhausted body’s cry for sleep — to your eventual detriment. “We do a lot of unhealthy things around the holidays,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “We may get out of our healthy eating habits, we may drink too much wine with dinner. These things can lead to feeling badly.” One source of relief, if all else fails? The calendar. “What helps me is reminding myself this is temporary and will pass,” Wilkinson-Truong said. “I’m not getting enough sleep, but my schedule will go back to regular again.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

7 things you should know about this 'harmless' habit that's actually a disorder

It can start with just a few strands of hair, an eyelash or two. But before a person knows it, Trichotillomania — the incessant urge to pull one's hair out — can become an all-encompassing disorder. While the condition is remarkably common, even experts say they have more questions than answers about the disease: For example, no one knows why adult women are disproportionately affected by the disorder. "It's extremely embarrassing and self-defeating," a 24-year-old survivor, who still struggles with Trich, told Revelist. "I've thought about shaving my head and starting over, I've tried wigs, but there is no hiding from yourself." Much of the shame survivors feel stems from the lack of education about Trichotillomania — that their illness isn't a moral failing, and that help is available to them.

It can start with just a few strands of hair, an eyelash or two. But before a person knows it, Trichotillomania — the incessant urge to pull one's hair out — can become an all-encompassing disorder. While the condition is remarkably common, even experts say they have more questions than answers about the disease: For example, no one knows why adult women are disproportionately affected by the disorder. "It's extremely embarrassing and self-defeating," a 24-year-old survivor, who still struggles with Trich, told Revelist. "I've thought about shaving my head and starting over, I've tried wigs, but there is no hiding from yourself." Much of the shame survivors feel stems from the lack of education about Trichotillomania — that their illness isn't a moral failing, and that help is available to them. 

1. Trichotillomania is different than the occasional hair pulling. There's a strong distinction between having a "habit" and living with a full-fledged disorder, Raikes told Revelist. "Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder when you have the compulsion to pull out your hair to the point where it’s causing you distress, or where it’s disrupting your life in some way," she said. "It could be your head hair, it could be your eyelashes, it could be your eyebrows. It could be pretty much any hair on your body, the most common being head hair." Many sufferers don't even realize the consequences of the disease.

2. Trich is usually comorbid with other mental health issues. "Trich often coexists with a number of different problems, like anxiety," Raikes said. "Sometimes [it coexists with] depression, sometimes body-focused repetitive disorders, like skin picking disorder, which is very similar to hair pulling."

3. The typical age of onset is between ages 9-13. Many who struggle with Trich start pretty early. "I first started pulling out my hair during high school, I don’t know why I started it just seemed to calm me down when my anxiety would kick in," Maggie (name changed), who is 24, told Revelist. "It’s a strange cycle though because I would start picking my scalp and pull my hair out in one spot — usually where I could easily hide it." Maggie, who still occasionally struggles, said Trich can quickly become a vicious cycle of relief and grief. "I would find one particular hair that had a root on it, and I would feel a sense of release. Then I would realize how much hair I had plucked out and my anxiety would get worse."

4. Adult women are diagnosed with Trich twice as often as adult men. "Trich tends to start in childhood, especially post-puberty when the highest number seem to be women," Raikes said. "This could be related to hormones...currently, our org is trying to get more answers." Though women are disproportionately affected by Trich, people of all genders can struggle. "I began pulling my eyelashes when I was 8, which later progressed to tweezing body hair," "Jamie," (name changed), a genderqueer person from New Jersey, told Revelist. "I am not sure when it started, but it was around the time that I was molested. [It] intensified after being kidnapped by parent."

5. Parents are typically the ones who find out about their child's struggle with Trich. Because there's so little information about the disorder, many children and preteens have no idea that they're engaging in harmful behavior. A parent or guardian will typically notice a problem before they do. "These problems often start in childhood, so it’s often the parents who are helping the child to find help," Raikes said. "But one of the big barriers to anyone getting help is that [Trich] is not well-known. [Trich is] really common, but it's not well-known." "I think that’s because we feel ashamed…and we think they’re our fault," she added. "Often, it’s people’s biggest secret."

6. Hair pulling is just one battle for those with Trichotillomania fight every day. Trich survivors tend to feel enormous guilt about their disorder and will do anything in their power to "hide" bald spots or missing lashes. This can add another dimension of stress to a person's life. "In addition to all the time a person spends doing the behaviors, there’s also the shame and the hiding…the ways in which we adapt our life in order to not reveal these problems," Raike told Revelist. "Many experts are not trained in these problems, so it’s really up to the parents to educate themselves."

7. Recovery is possible, and help is available. Struggling with Trich — or any mental health issue — doesn't make you a bad person; help is possible, and you are lovable. Visit to find help in your area.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Shannen Doherty begins radiation treatments in breast cancer battle: 'I hate it'

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, Shannen Doherty has shared each step in her battle against the disease — from hair loss, to "chemo days" to the lessons she's learned. On Monday, the actress opened up again, this time telling fans about the latest step and the anxiety that comes with it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Teen Girl with Cancer Makes Chemo Survival Bags for Fellow Patients

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, people will give you gifts – trinkets, blankets, stuffed animals, but most of them aren’t very practical. “You end up using none of it,” 19-year-old Kyla Pokorny told Tuesday. “It’s very nice, but I found stuff that is a lot more helpful.” She should know. At age 14, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. It’s gone into remission and come back twice.

Now, at age 19, it has spread to every bone in her body and she has been receiving her latest blast of radiation since September. It is important to her to take care of others as she takes care of herself. She spends at least three days a week in the hospital, and she usually visits with the babies and the children in the cancer ward. So for Christmas, she wanted to put together survival bags for young cancer sufferers – things that soothe the body and occupy the mind, things that she wished someone had given to her.

Things like a thermometer. Scent-free lotion. A really good heating pad. Coloring books. Pretty, comfortable head scarves. “If you’re a kid with cancer, if you have a temperature, you need to know right away,” Pokorny said. “It’s super dangerous. You need to go to the E.R.” Radiation can burn the skin. “Mine just got like peely, like a sunburn,” she said. “Some people have open wounds.” Thus the importance of a scentless, non-stinging lotion. All of this goes in her care packages. She estimates the bags cost between $100 to $200.

She has started a GoFundMe page to help finance her holiday project. Some of her bags will also be for cancer babies and very young children. She loves spending time with them, and they bask in her presence. “I feel like I have more little friends than big friends, because I’m always at the hospital,” she said. “I’m really good with kids. They like me.” She originally thought she would become a nurse when she grew up. Now she thinks she will become a child-life specialist, a professional who works with hospitalized cancer patients.

The hardest part about being a teenager with cancer, she says, is that all her same-age friends are away at college, working away at their majors. “I can’t make any plans,” she said. “I’m like stuck. Chemo messes with your brain. If I read a chapter, I wouldn’t remember it 20 minutes later.” So she waits. And undergoes her radiation treatments as needed. Her hair is gone and will never come back in its original glory. She just got a new wig – dark brown and waist-length. Life goes on, in its ever-changing way. Pokorny rides it like a wave. “I’m doing pretty good,” she says.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

17 Quick and Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

All holiday celebrations are difficult to navigate when you’re trying to eat healthier, and Thanksgiving is no exception. With mountains of mashed potatoes, tons of turkey, and pies on pies on pies, the average Thanksgiving dinner packs in somewhere between 2,500 and 4,500 calories.

But don’t fear the festive feast! There are plenty of ways to indulge in the flavors of fall without feeling as stuffed as the bird after dinner.When it comes to side dishes, you and your guests can feel good about gobbling up these healthier options that we’ve rounded up from some of our favorite food bloggers around the web.

View the list and recipes here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Prostate cancer risk soars by a quarter if men drink just one or two beers

Having just one or two beers can increase your prostate cancer risk by nearly a quarter, according to new research. Scientists are working on understanding the link between alcohol and cancer say it is a known risk factor for breast cancer and at least seven types of digestive system cancers.

It is also suggested that any type of alcohol may increase the risk of cancers of the skin, pancreas and prostate. Even at low-volume drinking, classed as up to two drinks per day, men had a 23 per cent greater risk of prostate cancer compared to people who have never drunk.

The new collaborative study was done by researchers at the Centre for Addictions Research of BC at the University of Victoria and Australia's National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, and provides new evidence of a significant relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. The article appeared in BMC Cancer, a peer-reviewed online journal. Part of the problem with most previous studies comes from what scientists call "abstainer bias," where former drinkers were lumped together with people who have never touched a drop.

This practice can disguise the association between alcohol intake and health problems like prostate cancer by making drinkers "look good" in comparison with a group containing unhealthy former drinkers. The research team identified all 340 previously published studies on alcohol and prostate cancer and found 27 that attempted to measure the risk at different levels of consumption. Controlling for abstainer bias in their analysis of all those studies, they found a statistically significant relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and risk of prostate cancer among current drinkers, meaning the more you drink, the greater your risk of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in Canada, Australia and Britain, and is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in men worldwide. CARBC director and co-author Dr Tim Stockwell said: ""This new study contributes to the strengthening evidence that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer. "Alcohol consumption will need to be factored in to future estimates of the global burden of disease." Report co-author Dr Tanya Chikritzhs added: "These findings highlight the need for better methods in research on alcohol and health. "Past and future studies that demonstrate protection from disease due to low-level drinking should be treated with caution."

Friday, November 11, 2016

6 Reasons You Actually Do Need to Wash Your Hair

Three days, five days, a week… The number of days one goes without washing their hair and just getting by with dry shampoo has become a point of pride these days. We even hear colleagues brag about how many workouts their most recent blowout has lasted through. (Congrats?)

But even though over-washing is indeed harsh on strands and can strip their natural moisture, experts tell us that, depending on your hair texture, there actually can be such as thing as going too long between suds. Without regular shampooing hair can become lackluster, smelly, and worse. So, today, in honor of National Shampoo Day (which falls on either the twentieth, twenty-first, or twenty-second day of October—the true date of the made-up holiday is a point of contention in the beauty industry), we asked hairstylists, colorists, dermatologists, and hair experts for the quick and dirty on coming clean.

1. Shampoo Is, You Know, Basic Hygiene How do you like the sound of “microfauna” in your hair? Us, neither. “Sebum, which is nature’s hair conditioner, is constantly secreted out of the scalp and onto the hair, and it will build-up without washing. This can leave the hair looking and feeling oily, but worse still, this sebum can act as a food source for microfauna whose action can lead to dandruff and, in extreme cases, can cause hair loss. In addition, product build-up residue from conditioning and styling ingredients will also occur without washing, which collectively can dull the hair and weigh it down. A good cleaning with a good shampoo will prevent all of these issues. In short, this new ‘no poo’ movement really is a crock of …. well, poo.”— Trefor Evans, cosmetic chemist and technical consultant to the hair-care industry

2. It Acts Like Skin Care You know what happens when you don’t wash your face—and the same goes for your scalp. “Dry shampoo will bind and pull the oil away from the scalp, but doesn't remove it and can leave hair dry. That, along with dead skin on the scalp, and hair products, like oils and volumizers, need to be removed intermittently, otherwise they can block follicles and lead to inflammation. Some newer shampoos are even designed to strengthen the hair. My favorite is Julien Farel Hydrate Restore, which includes resveratrol and antioxidants, and sits on the scalp for a few minutes before rinsing.”— Doris Day, a New York City dermatologist 

3. It’s the First Step in Style Every good blowout starts in the same place: the shampoo bowl. “Using the right shampoo for your hair type resets hair and gives you a good foundation for any style. If you have thin hair, a volumizing shampoo cleanses hair of volume-deflating build up, while a shampoo for thick coarse hair is designed to hydrate and coat the cuticle to weigh down flyaways. And if you were to skip shampoo altogether, your hair wouldn’t be prepared to hold the style you’re looking to achieve. Lastly, it’s plain-old good hygiene. No one wants to talk to someone whose B.O. enters the room before they do, and no amount of fragranced dry shampoo is truly going to mask it.”— Greg Ruggeri, stylist, colorist, and owner of Salon Ruggeri in New York City

4. Healthy Hair Starts at the Roots The health of your scalp directly translates to the health of your hair. “Since skin turns over approximately every 28 days, the build up of [dead skin] scales can grow more pronounced if you don’t wash your scalp. Washing hair has been shown to significantly reduce the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in hair follicles and this hormone has been associated with increased hair thinning in women. Female patients often admit they're afraid to wash their scalp because they see hair in the shower drain afterwards. But we normally have about 100 hairs fall out every day and about 100 hairs grow back, so the more days we wait, the larger the number of dislodged hairs grows.

Regular cleaning with well-formulated shampoo will not damage hair. In fact, some studies show that it may help fragile hair by decreasing grooming force.”— Carlos K. Wesley, a New York City-based cosmetic surgeon specializing in men's and women's hair loss

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Breast Cancer: The First Sign Isn't Always a Lump

Around 1 in 6 women eventually diagnosed with breast cancer initially go to their doctors with a symptom other than a lump, according to a new study conducted in England. Women who have a symptom of breast cancer other than lumps are also more likely to wait to see a doctor, compared with women who do have lumps, the researchers found.

That might put them at risk of worse outcomes if the cancer isn't caught quickly. "It's crucial that women are aware that a lump is not the only symptom of breast cancer," study leader Monica Koo, a doctoral candidate at University College London, said in a statement. "If they are worried about any breast symptoms, the best thing to do is to get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible."

Breast cancer symptoms Koo and her colleagues used data from the English National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care involving about 2,300 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2009 and 2010. They classified each patient by the symptoms that brought her to the doctor, which could include more than one. In total, 83 percent of these women had a breast lump, the most well-known symptom of breast cancer. Seven percent had nipple abnormalities, 6 percent had breast pain, 2 percent had breast skin abnormalities and 1 percent had breast ulceration. Less than 1 percent each had abnormalities of the contour of the breast or breast infections.

A small number of women also reported symptoms that weren't related to the breast itself. One percent had a lump in the armpit, 1 percent experienced back pain and less than 1 percent experienced muscle pain or breathlessness. The researchers then grouped the patients together by symptom clusters. The vast majority of the women fell into one of four groups: The researchers found that 76 percent of all the women had a breast lump as their only symptom, and 11 percent had a breast symptom that was not a lump as their only symptom, and 5 percent had only a non-breast symptom. Six percent had a breast lump as well as at least one additional breast symptom.

Getting care The researchers then looked at how long it took the women to get to the doctor after their symptoms started. They focused on those who waited more than 90 days, because a three-month delay in seeking a diagnosis is linked to lower five-year survival rates. They found that although only 7 percent of women with a breast lump waited that long, 15 percent of women with symptoms other than a lump, and 20 percent of women with both a lump and other types of symptoms, waited 90 days.
"This research shows that, all too often, women are delaying going to their doctor with symptoms of breast cancer," Karen Kennedy, director of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in the U.K., said in a statement. "This could be because people are simply unaware that breast cancer can present in many different ways, not just through the presence of a lump.

With a disease like breast cancer, it's essential to be diagnosed as early as possible so that a treatment plan can be developed and started. Awareness campaigns need to raise awareness of all of the potential symptoms of breast cancer so that people know how to spot the signs and when to go to a doctor."

Friday, November 4, 2016

Edema during pregnancy — Should you drink less water?

Most women feel that one should limit their intake of fluids in case of swelling of legs due to accumulation of water in the cells during pregnancy. It is caused when the water leaks from the cells into the extracellular space leading to edema.

This in turn causes many physiological changes in the body, of which swelling of the face, arms and legs is quite common. And hence, it is believed that lowering fluid intake might help, which is not the case. Here are 10 ways pregnancy changes your body that nobody tells you about. According to Dr Y S Nandanwar, Professor and Head of Department, Gynecology, Lokmanya Tilak Medical College and Sion Hospital, Mumbai, ‘Almost 80% of our body contains water, which is needed for maintaining normal functioning of the body.

But, excess or less intake of water can hinder with the pumping of blood which in turn puts you at risk of oedema. Moreover, release of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy causes water retention, which is the cause of edema. This clearly indicates that lowering your intake of water will only worsen the condition rather than improving it.’

Here are some expert tips to deal with swollen feet or edema during pregnancy. However, this is not the only reason of fluid accumulation in body. Other causes that might lead to edema include protein deficiency (abnormal ratio of albumin/globulin), anaemia, heart disease, thrombus and elephantiasis. Hence, it is a good idea to consult your gynecologist at the earliest as soon as you experience swelling of the legs or edema during pregnancy rather than opting for self-care or home care.

And as far as intake of water (fluids) is concerned, Dr Nandanwar recommends that every pregnant woman should consume at least 10 – 12 glasses of water (which accounts to around three to four litres) per day on a daily basis. And keep in mind that lowering your fluid intake won’t help you in dealing with edema. Also read about weight gain during pregnancy — what’s good and what’s not.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

$26 Million Settlement Moves Forward Over Hair Loss From Wen Cleansing Conditioner

A federal judge in Los Angeles gave preliminary approval to a $26.25 million settlement for a class-action lawsuit against Wen by Chaz Dean and distributor Guthy-Renker.

The more than 200 members of the lawsuit say that the brand’s cleansing conditioner led to hair loss, scalp irritation, and balding. If approved by a U.S. district judge, the suit would pay $25 to anyone who bought a bottle of the cleansing conditioner (total capped at $5 million) and up to $20,000 to people who experienced adverse reactions; that figure includes reimbursement for treatment as well as injury awards.

Attorney Amy Davis told CBS Los Angeles: “From what we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser. It’s like using lotion to wash your hair. So instead of removing the product when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle.” Wen disputes this claim and said in a statement that the product is safe.

“We continue to provide our hundreds of thousands of customers with the Wen by Chaz Dean products that they know and love. Since the process of litigation is time consuming and costly, we made a business decision to pursue a settlement and put this behind us so that we can focus on delivering quality products.”

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert for the cleansing conditioner after it received 127 complaints of “hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash” associated with the product. The FDA is also investigating thousands of complaints made directly to Chaz Dean, Inc. and Guthy-Renker.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cold cap can combat hair loss from chemo for breast cancer

A cooling cap that prevents hair loss during chemotherapy has come through its clinical trials and can make a huge difference to the quality of life of patients, Dr. Paula Klein, medical director, Breast Cancer Clinical Trials, Mount Sinai Health System in New York told NY1.

One such happy patient was Donna Tookes, a patient who was treated with the cap during her breast cancer therapy and had been resigned to hair loss. She told the station, “I accepted it.” In fact, she did not have to. Thanks to her participation in a trial of the Dignicap from Dignitana headed by Klein, she didn't lose any hair at all. The cap “literally freezes the scalp so that it shuts down blood vessels,” Klein told NY1. “Less chemotherapy is delivered to the scalp.”

The cap Klein used pumps coolant through it. The patient's hair is wet and this keeps the temperature of scalp and hair near freezing during therapy. This constricts the blood vessels in the region, and thus reduces the amount of anti-cancer drugs that reach hair follicles. The scalp-cooling technique has been in use for years in Europe, but is only now gaining FDA approval and greater use in the U.S. There had been fears that sparing the scalp from treatment might allow cancer to spread to that area. But clinical evidence from Europe has now suggested that this is not the case.

“In Europe they do not show a significant increase in scalp metastases,” said Klein. The cooling system which chills the hair and scalp to just above freezing during therapy received the agency's okay for a multicenter clinical trial in 2015. “Some of today’s most powerful, lifesaving chemotherapy treatments still cause complete hair loss, a side effect that many women consider to be emotionally devastating,” Dr. Hope S. Rugo, principal investigator for the study and Director of Breast Oncology and Clinical Trials Education at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center noted in a 2015 statement about the trials.

In the Mt. Sinai trials about seven out of 10 early-stage breast cancer patients kept at least half their hair without any negative events linked to the cooling cap. The FDA approval is, for the present, limited to early-stage breast cancer, but Klein stated that she thinks it will eventually find more widespread use. “I am extremely excited to finally be able to offer patients scalp cooling during chemotherapy, which allows them to retain normalcy and privacy in their lives,” she stressed.

For patients, the loss of hair is among the most important chemo side effects, according to a 2008 article published in the journal Psycho-Oncology by Julie Lemieux, Elizabeth Maunsell and Louise Provencher. They found that “chemotherapy-induced hair loss is considered to be the most important side effect of chemotherapy, frequently ranking among the first three for breast cancer patients, and can lead to refusal of chemotherapy. Secondly, it is described by breast cancer women as causing distress and as being traumatizing. Thirdly, there might be an impact on body image, although not all studies reported this association.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Health insurance shirks its duty to women with breast cancer complications

Karen Chavez

When I wear sleeveless tops, there isn’t a day when I’m not asked about my lymphedema garments. These are a full-length sleeve and a fingerless glove on my left arm. “Do you golf?” “Are you a bowler?” “What’s wrong with your arm?” and even, “Cool sleeve, where did you get it?” Um, the Asheville Orthopedic Appliance Co.

I wear the garments, not as a fashion statement, not to bowl, but to control the non-stop pain and swelling in my left arm and hand, known as lymphedema. Over the past three years of wearing the garments, I now use the questions as a teaching moment. Lymphedema is a chronic disease that results in a backup of lymph fluid (which carries away the waste from the blood stream). It occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged, said Emily Jones, an occupational therapist at CarePartners. In my case, the damage was caused by breast cancer surgery and the removal of lymph nodes from under my arm. There is no cure for lymphedema.

Once you have it, you have it forever. An estimated 3 million-5 million people Americans suffer from lymphedema. Two out of five breast cancer patients will develop lymphedema within five years of surgery. With lymphedema, I cannot type. I wouldn’t be able to write this story, which is my livelihood. But there is treatment. The two most effective are manual lymphatic drainage, performed by a physical therapist specializing in lymphedema, and compression garments. The garments require a doctor’s prescription and are custom made. They are about $328 for one sleeve and one glove. I need two at a time, $656 – one to wear while the other is being washed. (They are tight to the skin, get sweaty and dirty and need to be changed daily, kind of like underwear). I need new pairs twice a year because they stretch out, get damaged and then are no longer effective. That’s about $1,312 a year. It is cost prohibitive. My former health insurance paid for them.

My new insurance company – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas – does not cover compression garments. When I told the BCBS customer service person that I have breast cancer and cannot function without them and can’t afford them, on top of my ever-growing mountain of breast cancer-related debt, she said “those are the rules.’’ Well, North Carolina has its own rules. Actually, it has a law. Passed by the General Assembly in 2009, HB 535 states that every health benefit plan in the state must provide coverage for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of lymphedema, including benefits for equipment, supplies, complex decongestive therapy, and gradient compression garments. North Carolina and Virginia and the only two states in the country with such laws. Bravo.

I told the BCBS rep about that and that the N.C. law should cover me. She said it did not, since the company is based in Texas. Sound barbaric? Heather Ferguson thought so. A mom of two from Charlotte, one of her sons was born with primary lymphedema in both legs. He was prescribed his first compression garment at age 7 months. Ferguson’s insurance denied it. Not a woman to be messed with, Ferguson reached out to her state representative, Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg. Cotham helped Ferguson with the appeal, which only gave her one year of payment. Now 10, he needs to wear the knee-high socks every day. He will need them for life. Ferguson continued to work with state representatives until the lymphedema law passed.

She formed the Lymphedema Advocacy Group. Now she has taken her cause to Congress. Introduced in 2010, the Lymphedema Treatment Act would amend a section of the Social Security act to provide for Medicare coverage for lymphedema compression items. That would extend to all states, even Texas. The bill has 249 House co-sponsors, including Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Jackson, and 28 senators, including Thom Tillis. Sen. Richard Burr has not signed on. “It already has a large amount of bipartisan support,” Ferguson told me. “It’s a win-win for everyone. It improves patient care and quality of life, and provides a net saving to Medicare. We’re paying for so many things that can be prevented if we manage the disease from the start.” Even with my sleeve and glove, I often have to raise my arm to further control the swelling. Then people ask, “Do you have a question?” Yes. Why won’t my health insurance pay for my lymphedema sleeves?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

No Cure Yet for Breast Cancer, but 3 Big Advances in 2016

In the U.S., one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. I became one of those eight women a decade ago and endured the go-to treatment at the time for breast cancer -- chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, with ensuing hair loss and constant nausea. But there's great news for all women. That toxic regimen may be headed out the door, because breast cancer treatment is rapidly moving to a more personalized and targeted paradigm that could save millions of lives and drastically change the quality of life of patients. Here are three dramatic advances that are leading to more effective treatments, as well as brand new ways to think about what causes the deadly disease. 

Targeted combo therapy completely obliterates signs of cancer

The biggest advance of 2016 in breast cancer has to be how a combination of targeted cancer drugs completely obliterated all signs of breast cancer in 11% of patients in only 11 days.

The UK-based study involved 257 women with particularly virulent type of breast cancer (HER2-positive), and combined two drugs from GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Roche Holdings (NASDAQOTH:RHHBY). While 11% may not seem that impressive, for even one breast cancer tumor to be completely eradicated by a drug in less than two weeks is electrifying. Cancer tumors develop resistance to chemotherapy agents so rapidly, these drugs often have no impact on a tumor even after many months of treatment. Instead, tumors are removed surgically first. Chemotherapy comes afterwards -- to mop up stray cancer cells that might have spread elsewhere in the body.

In the past few years, a small minority of women have been having chemotherapy first. While that regimen sometimes shrinks the size of tumors, typically the order is reversed because the oncologist is more concerned about where the cancer could be going rather than the primary tumor. But Glaxo and Roche's drugs -- Herceptin and Tykerb -- are not infused chemotherapies, but simple oral pills. In addition, these drugs are highly targeted treatments, and attack cancer cells specifically. That's a huge plus because patients do not have to deal with the severe side effects of chemotherapy, which kills all rapidly dividing cells in the body like hair follicles and healthy bone marrow cells. Better yet, there is a large arsenal of these new therapies already on the market, including monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin and Tykerb, checkpoint products such as PD-1, and other treatments that unleash the power of the patient's immune system.

As was seen in the Glaxo/Roche drug trial, pairing these drugs together in a one-two punch is raising the success level of treatment and may eventually point the way to a cure.

93 genes causing breast cancer identified

This May, UK-based researchers at Cambridge Research Institute, unpacked the whole picture of what genetic events could be causing breast cancer. Thanks to their efforts, we should soon have a much better idea why the disease strikes certain individuals. Specifically, the scientists found 93 genes whose mutations convert a normal breast cell into a cancer cell. Professor Mike Straton, who led the study, said the list "would be handed over to the universities, the pharmaceuticals, the biotech companies to start developing new drugs."

It's hard to overstate how big this win is. The more we know about the genetics of cancer, the more we will know about what treatments will work for an individual women, paving the way to much higher survival rates.

Blood test could replace mammograms

Another huge breakthrough this year brought us much closer to a blood test for breast cancer. Specifically, researchers in France and Australiareported that a change in the isotopic proportions of carbon-13 and nitrogen-15 can reveal the presence of the disease. With this new way of detecting breast cancer, the project's lead researcher Professor Guillaume Tcherkez said we could have a simple blood test in a few years. That's terrific news for women, because mammograms, the best method currently available, are inaccurate 16% of the time. The resulting misdiagnosis includes highly stressful false positives, where the screening incorrectly shows breast cancer, and potentially fatal false negatives, where the mammogram fails to detect cancer. An innovative breast cancer blood test is already being developed in France, while here in the U.S. gene sequencing powerhouse Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) is working on all-in-one liquid cancer biopsy that can detect virtually any cancer. Illumina has said an early version of that test should be on the market in three years. If that goal is achieved, many forms of cancer will be found earlier, when it tends to be treatable, which should massively decrease the world's cancer mortality. 

How to take advantage of cancer breakthroughs

Anyone at risk of breast cancer -- which includes all women, and although much more rarely, all men -- strongly benefits from being informed about breast cancer breakthroughs. The disease strikes without warning, and with the flood of new treatments reaching the market, many doctors have never prescribed some of them and may be hesitant, or even uniformed, about their possible benefits. In fact, taking charge of your own health is the best way to beat this disease. That doesn't mean you should ignore your doctors' advice, but that you should diligently practice ways to prevent cancer such as eating a healthy diet and exercise, make sure you get necessary screenings, ask questions if you are diagnosed, and seek a second opinion if you are not satisfied with the answers.

While survival rates have doubled over the past 20 years, a women still dies from breast cancer every 12 minutes in the United States. So never forget, this disease presents a serious threat to your life and no one cares about your life more than you do. But there's no reason to end on a somber note, because research is now showing how powerfully our own bodies can be mobilized to fight it. That's not only improving the odds for survival; it's also bringing us closer to the day when we can finally claim a cure.