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.”