September 24, 2017, 6:50 am PDT
You’ll Never Guess #24
A study by nutritional scientists at the University of Michigan has factored those attributes that make food items irresistible and has issued a list of the 35 most “addictive” foods. The top ten items, to the surprise of few, are pizza, chocolate, snack chips, cookies, ice cream, French fries, cheeseburgers, non-diet sodas, cake and cheese. The only somewhat unexpected result is that bacon, at number 11 failed to make the top ten list. Also noticeably absent are buttered popcorn at 14, and breakfast cereal at 15. The five least addictive on the list, in descending order: brown rice, apples, beans, carrots and cucumber. And one counterintuitive finding: out of the most addictive 35, simple water came in at 24. The study was published in the US National Library of Medicine.
Faster Recovery, Stronger Bone
A new study conducted by Tel Aviv University scientists and reported in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research has found that one of the ingredients in marijuana significantly speeds up and enhances the healing process in broken bones. The key element, cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) provided measurable improvements in healing mid-femoral leg fractures within eight weeks, even when isolated from other cannabis chemicals. In addition, according to one study author, after treatment with CBD "the healed bone will be harder to break in the future." CBD is not psychoactive, thus is neither disorienting nor in itself illegal, and has been shown to be safe for medical use in previous studies, which determined that it also benefits from anti-inflammatory properties.
Only in Moderation, Mind You
Advice that alcohol is harmful for type 2 diabetics turns out to be wrong, according to a study that followed some 225 people with elevated blood sugar levels for two years. In the study, just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, all the subjects followed a Mediterranean diet, but drank either red wine, white wine or mineral water with meals. Ultimately, all the wine drinkers wound up with better blood sugar control than the water drinkers, and the red wine drinkers also experienced increased levels of good cholesterol. The blood sugar improvement, called “modest but worthwhile,” was greatest among those who metabolize alcohol slowly. The lead researcher’s conclusion: "A glass of red wine with dinner can improve the cardiovascular health of people with Type 2 diabetes."
40 Fewer Calories Per Slice
LabDoor.com, a watchdog website that analyzes and evaluates vitamins and herbal supplements for safety and efficacy, conducted an unusual experiment to test a current dieter's tip: that you can reduce the calories in a slice of pizza by dabbing it with a paper napkin before eating. Their finding: indeed you can. According to their results, blotting the grease from the surface of a single slice of Domino's pepperoni pizza reduces the amount of fat therein from 13 grams to 8.5, a hefty 35 percent decrease, which works out to a reduction in calories per slice from 117 to 76.5. Based on the total amount of pizza the average American consumes annually -- 23 pounds -- the dabbing procedure could eliminate some 6,611 calories per year, the equivalent of 1.9 pounds of ungained weight.
Grim News for the NBA
A Swedish mega-study that tracked five million people over a fifty year period has all but verified earlier research that found links between physical height and cancer. Conducted by Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, the study found that for every four inches above average height, the risk of any cancer rises by 18 percent for women and 11 percent for men. Women who are taller than the norm are 20 percent more liable to develop breast cancer, while taller individuals of both sexes have a 30 percent higher rate of skin cancer. The researchers note that the link is statistical, not causal, and may be the result of different growth factors at play during adolescence or simply due to the fact that taller peoples' greater size means they have more cells that may become cancerous.
Hide Their Phones & Laptops
Mamas, don't let your daughters grow up without exercising. That's the advice from researchers at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, who analyzed the health records of almost 75,000 women ages 40 to 70 and found that those who reported having engaged in exercise as teenagers significantly cut their risk of early death later in life compared to non-exercisers. Specifically, women who exercised regularly each week when they were 16 to 19 years old ran a 16 percent lower risk of dying from cancer as middle-aged adults or older, and a 20 percent lower risk if they still exercised. There were similarly reduced rates of death from all causes. The study did not distinguish between types of exercise, and found that survival benefits seemed to peak at 80 minutes per week.
And Taking Fewer Medzzzz
Want to lower your high blood pressure without boosting your intake of anti- hypertension meds? Simple: take a nice refreshing nap each afternoon. A Greek study that involved 386 adults who were being treated for hypertension found that those who took midday naps recorded daytime blood pressure readings that were five percent lower than those of non-nappers over 24 hours. The reduction held when controlled for age, sex, BMI, smoking status and exercise level, as well as salt, alcohol and coffee consumption. While the five percent figure seems modest, reducing systolic blood pressure by as little as one percent can cut the risk of cardiovascular illness by up to ten percent. The hypertension patients who napped were also getting by with fewer medications than the non-nappers.
The Goodness, It Burns
A massive ten-year study of over 487,000 Chinese adults conducted by Harvard, Oxford and Peking University researchers indicates that eating one or two spicy meals per week reduces one's risk of death from any cause by ten percent compared to those who eat spicy foods less frequently. And the more spicy meals eaten, the greater the benefit; consuming spicy foods six or seven times a week lowers the death rate by another 14 percent. The death risk is lower still for spicy food eaters who drink little or no alcohol. Scientists attribute the benefit, which men and women experience equally, to capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers and in many spicy foods, which is known to reduce unhealthy inflammation and may also neutralize harmful bacteria in the gut.
New York University researchers report that men who take a certain class of drugs to deal with erectile dysfunction are significantly more likely to develop a malignant form of skin cancer than non-users. Based on medical data for 20,000 Swedish men from 2006 to 2012, they determined that those who had gotten even one prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs that contain phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, one of which is Viagra, were 21 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a malignant melanoma than those who never had. How the drug and the disease are linked is unknown, and because more frequent use of the drug does not raise the melanoma risk, the researchers caution against avoiding such erectile medications unless further studies establish actual causality.
For Burning Calories, Anyway
A Mayo Clinic study has determined that over any given timespan, using an elliptical machine burns about 16 percent more calories than walking. Moreover, the elliptical machine subjects the exerciser's joints to less impact stress. Specifically, a 160-pound individual would typically burn 365 calories per hour on the elliptical, compared to 314 calories while walking, and would also generate a force equal to 75 percent of the user's body weight on his or her knees and hips, compared to a force of 110 percent from walking. (A stair-stepping machine, by comparison, would burn 657 calories per hour.) In general, ellipticals help strengthen the user’s hip joints, lower back and midsection, while walking provides a better workout for the hamstrings, calves and ankles.
Over 55 Per Week, Look Out
A new mega-analysis of 17 different studies involving nearly 530,000 men and women tracked for an average 7.2 years has concluded that people who work 55 hours per week or more are 33 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those who work a more standard 35 to 40 hours per week. The risk of coronary heart disease also rises, by 13 percent. The analysis, conducted by epidemiologists at University College London and published recently in The Lancet, found the increased stroke risk even when controlling for smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and amount of physical activity. Regardless of sex, age or economic status, the risk of stroke rose along with the number of excess hours worked. Almost 40 percent of full-time US workers report putting in at least 50 hours a week.
OK, Many Injections, but Still
Removing fat from most areas of the body involves either costly surgery or liposuction, but fatty double chins can now be eliminated merely through a series of noninvasive, in-office injections. The procedure uses a form of deoxycholic acid, a molecule that the body uses naturally to burst and destroy fat cells, which is introduced in clusters of 0.2 c.c. injections under the chin. Each treatment can be completed in as little as five minutes, and the pinpricks heal in two or three days with no need of bandaging. The desired chin reduction usually takes no more than six months of once-weekly injections. Side effects are limited to swelling, bruising and temporary numbness. Dermatologists now using the procedure claim excellent results.
It’s the bane in Spain, anyway
A new study by researchers at Spain’s Rovira i Virgili University has concluded that persons who are considered to be at high risk for developing heart disease, especially those who are also overweight, should avoid Atkins-style diets that emphasize heavy protein intake and low consumption of carbohydrates. An analysis of data that tracked the health of high-risk individuals for nearly five years found that those who ate lots of protein and few carbs were not only twice as likely to gain weight -- more than ten percent of their initial body weight, on average -- than those on a balanced diet, but were also 59 percent more likely to die during the study period. And high-protein-low-carb dieters who also limited their intake of fats were 66 percent more likely to die.
New Products They Like, Flop
The assumption that a consumer focus group can be relied on to accurately predict a proposed new food product’s acceptance may be complicated by a new study which found that roughly one in every eight consumers is actually a "harbinger of failure," whose fondness for a new product is more kiss of death than blessing. The study, conducted by researchers from MIT and Northwestern and published in the Journal of Marketing Research, covered nearly 130,000 retail customers from 2003 to 2009 and concluded that about 13 percent of consumers "systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful. Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that it will fail." And the more often these failure harbingers purchase an item, the more likely it will prove to be a sales dud.
More Problems Are Now "Autism"
The marked increase in U.S. autism diagnoses that began to show up around 1996, and which some have blamed on childhood vaccination, may in fact be based not on an increase in autism per se, but on an increase in other, similar intellectual disabilities that are now classified as autism by those making the diagnosis. A Penn State study of eleven years of special-ed enrollment statistics that were compiled on over 6,000,000 children per year found that the rise in autism diagnoses over that time was almost entirely balanced off by a decrease in diagnoses of other autism-like conditions. The report concluded that simple reclassification could have produced two-thirds of the rise in autism cases overall, and a striking 97 percent of those involving older children.