Showing posts from 2013

How Many Times Do We Truly Fall in Love?

Came across this recently.  Supposedly, most people fall in love 2.5 times in their life, according to an essay by Doug Coupland.

That's true for me.  In my early 20s, it was an ill-conceived affair with an older man and in my late 20s, an older (by 4 years), grumpy dentist (or maybe that came later).  Thirty years later, we're still together.

I was always taught that there's only one true love in your life, but, like the stats, I've had two.  (Men believe more in a third love, it's said. )

I sometimes wonder if there's one more (who doesn't when you've been married forever?), but I knew my husband was it, the night I met him. There was just something so right about him.  It may have taken us 10 torturous years to get down the aisle, and another 15 to 20 to get it right, but we'in a good place now, and we even kept it together long enough to conceive a son, 12 years ago, something I could never see happening when we met in the early '80s.

Some p…

Does Eating More Slowly Make You Lose Weight?

We've been encouraged to put our forks down between bites.  To chew more slowly.  To intersperse our eating with sips of water, all to make the food seem like more so we eat less.

Now a disappointing new study has found that, while eating slowly does reduce hunger, it has does nothing to reduce the amount of calories we take in.   According to medicalnewstoday, eating slowly just makes us less hungry when we're done.  It looks like we eat the same.

The Web site reports that a study done at Texas Christian University found that those who ate like someone was going to take the food away consumed just as many calories as those who took their time.  But the second group stayed full longer.

Both groups also demonstrated a higher water consumption throughout the slow-eating condition, with 12 ounces of water consumed, compared with 9 ounces throughout the fast-eating condition. Interestingly, the slow eaters' high consumption of water "may have caused stomach distention in the…

Lose Weight? Forget Diet and Exercise

What if I told you there was a new diet aid out there that eliminated the need to to spend any more $$$$ at Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, or even time exercising?

Already tried it, you might say.  But a brand new "unique combination of Garcinia Cambogia, a fat burning extract from a rare tropical fruit, and Green Coffee Beans is so effective it has become one of the hottest diets in the United States," according to CBS News.

But it does have its critics. Some say the compounds - hydroxycitric acid, or HCA (the extract from the Garcinia Cambogia fruit), and GCA (Green Coffee Chlorogenic Acid Extract) - "cause such dramatic weight loss that they are ripe for abuse by people who only want to lose weight for cosmetic reasons."  Excuse me?  Is there any other reason?

Others claim the nutrients have been proven by scientific studies to be effective and safe, and that banning the natural compounds would be like banning vitamins (but then, we don't know what's in th…

Practice All You Want, But It Won't Make You Perfect

So you make your son practice the violin for two hours every day after school.  Your daughter takes tennis lessons four times a week.  And you've done the Iron Man twice but still can't run a mile faster than nine minutes.

A new study has found, alas, that you can practice all you want, but if you don't have it, you'll never be the next Nadal.   Or even the next Djokovic. "Some people are really just naturals who have the capacity to make the leap from good to great," writes David Worthington at
"The evidence is quite clear that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice," Michigan State psychology professor Zach Hambrick said in a press release.
Hambrick found, studying chess players and musicians, that rigorous practice only accounted for a third of skill level differences, while innate ability, age and intelligence helped people make the grad…

Can Concussions Cause Alzheimer's?

You've seen them on TV.  The former pro football players looking confused and struggling to put a sentence together.  Or boxer Muhammad Ali with that blank look in his eyes.

Researchers are slowly coming to the conclusion that, yes, repeated concussions may lead to Alzheimer's. 

"A new study suggests that a history of concussion involving at least a momentary loss of consciousness may be related to the buildup of Alzheimer’s-associated plaques in the brain," reports.

Study author Michelle Mielke, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher found, however that "in people with a history of concussion, a difference in the amount of brain plaques was found only in those with memory and thinking problems, not in those who were cognitively normal."

In the study, "of the 448 people without any thinking or memory problems, 17 percent reported a brain injury and 18 percent of the 141 with memory and thinking difficulties reported a concussion or head trauma. The …

Danger! Harmful Bacteria May Linger on Baby's Toys, Books, And Crib

So you disinfect your baby's bottles.  Buy his clothes only from manufacturers who use only natural fabrics and processes.  And, of course, pin only cloth diapers, never Pampers, on his bottom.

But did you know your baby is still at high risk?  According to, the bacteria that causes strep throat, ear infections and other serious illnesses lingers on books, toys, even the crib.

A new study has found that these germs "do persist on surfaces for far longer than has been appreciated," and researchers suggest that additional precautions might need to be taken, "especially in settings such as schools, daycare centers and hospitals."

And even your home.

“These findings should make us more cautious about bacteria in the environment since (the studies) change our ideas about how these particular bacteria are spread,” quotes senior author Anders Hakansson, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the UB School of Medicine and Biome…

Laughing May Be Harmful to Your Health

Really.  Some experts are saying that laughter can do things to our jaws, cause asthma attacks, make our heads ache, even disrpt cardiac rhythms, writes Jan Hoffman at the NYT.

The pulication where the study appeared,  The British Medical Journal, had not addressed laughter in a serious fashion in over a century, according to Hoffman. "In 1898, it had published a case study of heart failure in a 13-year-old girl following prolonged laughter. The next year, the laughter problem was raised again, when an editorial writer, in response to an Italian doctor’s suggestion that telling jokes could treat bronchitis, dismissively proposed the term “gelototherapy” (Gelos was the Greek god of laughter; in Italian, gelato is ice cream.)."

Laughter has long been advised as a treatment for depression, and a famous magazine editor claimed in the 70's that The Three Stoodges cured him of a serious illness.  

But there's also been criticism of the feel-good prescription.  Hoffman notes s…

Wink! I Took Your Picture!

So you're walking down the street and a cute guy winks at you.  OK, a little creepy but at least he was cute. He just took a picture of you.
The latest Google Glass software update now includes an app called Wink, and yes, it can take your picture. Google Glass, you may recall, is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that is being developed by Google.
The company's actually not the first to do this. "Users had the capability to wink and take a photo months ago," Kirsten Korosec reports at She notes that developer Mike DiGiovanni released a pure Android source code called Winky in May. But it wasn't part of the Google Glass software.
The app may be developed to do more than take photos, Korosec says, including wink at the meter riding in a cab and pay, or, and I like this, wink at a pair of shoes in a shop window and your size will be sent to you.  
But where's the privacy in all this?  Many see it as an invasion of one of our …

Scared Before a Speech? Go Bungee-Jumping!

It's been said we're more afraid of it than death.  People don't sleep for nights before it.  It may even have broken up some marriages.

What is it?

Public speaking.

But now a new study is saying that, instead of calming down -- taking deep breaths, imagining a beach with cooling breezes and gently lapping waves, a margarita beside us -- we should, instead, before a speech -- ride a roller coaster, see a scary movie, find a crowd and start the Harlem Shake.  Get excited, is the new mantra.

People who tell themselves to get excited rather than trying to relax can improve their performance during anxiety-inducing activities such as public speaking and math tests, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association, reports.

"Anxiety is incredibly pervasive. People have a very strong intuition that trying to calm down is the best way to cope with their anxiety, but that can be very difficult and ineffective," the Web site quotes study au…

Drink Up! It Boosts Our Immune Systems.

Can't they ever make up their minds?  Now moderate alcohol consumption may be okay?

Despite just this week seeming to imply that women should drink very little, if at all, compared to men, a new study now says that a glass of wine at dinner may actually boost the immune system and improve its response to vaccination, according to

Scientists vaccinated two sets of monkeys against smallpox.  One group was given 4% alcohol while the other, sugar water. The monkeys were monitored for 14 months, then vaccinated again at seven months. During this time the mice's alcohol intake varied, with some classified as "heavy" drinkers and others, moderate drinkers.

In the end, the heavy drinkers had a more muted response to the vaccine than the ones given sugar water. Those considered moderate drinkers had the best response to the vaccine.

So what does this mean for people? "If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, or are at risk, or have been an ab…

No, Virginia, The Flu Shot Won't Give You The Flu

Did you get a flu shot?  For the first time in eight years, I didn't this year,

I know, I know, you can get the flu from the flu shot and if you're allergic to eggs . . . Say what?

It's just not true, says Dr. Jennifer Caudle, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, at 

“Every year, it’s the same battle,” Caudle writes on her website. “Every year, I urge my patients to get the influenza vaccine. And every year, they come up with a bucketful of excuses.”

Perhaps the most common myth associated with the vaccine is that the shot can actually cause the flu. In her article, Caudle recounts that, when she was a medical student, she became ill a few days after receiving her shot. She notes, however, that it is simply not possible to get influenza from the flu, explaining that, in her case, she may have contracted the virus before the vaccination took full effect or she likely had another type of virus that caused flu-like symptoms, the Web site reports.


Can Texting Save Your Life?

Hey.  Did you know, texting can be good for you?

After all the stuff about how the Internet could feed a drug habit, or make us drive off the road and kill someone (actually, I'm not kidding about that) or gain weight or lose our sex drive (made those last two up!), how refreshing to finally find something good it does.

True, it's not like curing cancer or stamping out hepatitis C, but it's helping diabetics take better care of themselves. It might also decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes -- you know, the one we get for eating too much, as one out of three does?

"An overwhelming majority of surveyed people who enrolled in customized texting service txt4health piloted in Detroit and Cincinnati last year said the free mobile education program made them more aware of their diabetes risk and more likely to make diet-related behavior changes and lose weight," reports. 

Sadly, though, well less than half made it through the whole 14-week program.


Antibacterial=Safe Soap? Maybe Not So Much

Guess what?  Those antibacterial soaps we use so much -- and feel so safe about?  Maybe not so much.

The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and there is some evidence they may pose health risks, according to The Washington Post.

The agency said it is revisiting the safety of chemicals like triclosan in light of recent studies suggesting they can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, the  AP reports. In fact, the very chemicals supposed to prevent us from getting sick may actually make us sick.  The AP notes that, under its proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. If companies cannot demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, they would have to be reformulated, relabeled or possibly r…

Internet and Drugs. Linked Addictions?

So now if you're a college student and a heavy user of the Internet, you could be a junkie, too?

That's what a new study is saying, newswise,com reports.

It makes sense, I guess.  Addiction is addiction. “The findings provide significant new insights into the association between Internet use and addictive behavior,” the Web site quotes Dr. Sriram Chellappan, an assistant professor of computer science at Missouri S&T and the lead researcher in the study.

In the study, the subjects’ Internet usage was divided into several categories, including gaming, chatting, file downloading, email, browsing and social networking (Facebook and Twitter). Total scores "exhibited the highest correlations with gaming, chatting and browsing, and the lowest with email and social networking," newswise relates.

The researchers also observed that specific symptoms measured by the scale correlated with specific categories of Internet usage. "They found that introversion was closely tie…

Tomatoes Aren't Just For Cancer Prevention in Men

So now I've heard everything.  Stay lean and fit to avoid breast cancer.  Take statins if your cholesterol is high.  Now, eat plenty of tomatoes if you want to stave it off.

A new study has found that a tomato-rich diet may help protect at-risk postmenopausal women from breast cancer, according to  And I thought tomatoes were only good for the prostate!

"Breast cancer risk rises in postmenopausal women as their body mass index climbs," the Web site notes. "The study found eating a diet high in tomatoes had a positive effect on the level of hormones that play a role in regulating fat and sugar metabolism."

“Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits," newswise quotes the study’s first author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Rutgers University, who completed the research while she was a postdoctora…

So It's Winter? Get Out There and Exercise, Anyway!

Probably not everyone is as crazy as I am, going jogging in an ice storm (broke my wrist yesterday), but experts say, don't drop your

Granted, it takes much more energy to roll out of bed early on a cold dark day to get your routine going, but there's something about crisp bite of the air on your face after a night of dry heat.  But it's even more important than that.

Says, “Once chilly weather arrives, the temptaton to skip your outdoor exercise routine can often be very strong,” quoting Dr. Heidi Freeman, PhD, at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, who has compiled seasonal fitness tips to keep individuals fit, inspired, and warm during the winter. months. “However, the cold weather does not have to mean an end to outdoor exercise, and it certainly shouldn’t intimidate exercisers," says the program director of exercise science and wellness management at USciences.

The  first tip is obvious.  Dr…

Drinking More Harmful to Women Than Men

Just our luck.  Wouldn't you know it?  Women's livers are more at risk from drinking than men's.

According to, that's because we're smaller and have less body water than men (but, just to make everything even, of course, we get the lion's share of fat).

“As a result, women who are already predisposed by genetics to have liver disease should limit their alcohol consumption or stay away from alcohol altogether,” the Web site quotes Dr. Howard Monsour, chief of hepatology at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Say what?  

He adds, "There is a misconception that you have to be an alcoholic to develop serious liver disease. Not true. In fact, if you have a genetic disposition, drinking more than a moderate amount could be very damaging, especially for women."

About 20 to 30 percent of the population has a genetic disposition to cirrhosis of the liver and Monsour said it is important for people to know if they have a family history of cirrhosis before maki…

Guess Which Day You're Most Productive?

So what's the most productive workday?  Monday, when everyone's fresh from two days off? 

 Wednesday, hump day, when the week's half-over?  If you guessed Tuesday, you'd be right.

That's because, Tyler Falk quotes Max Messmer, Accountemps chairman,"Many workers spend Monday catching up from the previous week and planning the one ahead. On Tuesday, employees may begin to have time to focus on individual tasks and become more productive."

Falk notes that Tuesday was thought to be the most productive day by 39 percent of HR managers, while Thursday and Friday tied as the least productive days with three percent each (Monday received 24 percent and Wednesday received 14 percent).

Now I don't know about you but Tuesday's not my best day of the week.  I'm still in a slump from Monday, which I find depressing.  By hump day, I'm starting to recover.  Thursday is a happy day because it's only one day away from Friday -- and the whole weekend stretc…

Live, Don't Document

Which side are you on?  Texting at the table or not?  Taking a call while eating dinner or should that be forbidden?  According to a recent study, 84 percent of Americans say both are a no-no, and 87 percent say never, with guests.  Yet, why do we still see so many people doing it?

Out to dinner not long ago, we sat near a couple, so intent on their smartphones, they only spoke to the waiter, telling him what they wanted. 

Sherry Turkle writes today at The New York Times that we are so busy documenting our lives, with our selfies and blogs and Facebook posts about everything we do from brushing our teeth to listening to certain songs to what we ate for dinner (who cares?), that we don't live.  

Turkle says we just don't talk any more.  "We interrupt conversations for documentation all the time," she writes. Or worse, observe.  Reflect.  Think.

"A selfie, like any photograph, interrupts experience to mark the moment. In this, it shares something with all the other wa…

With Sugar and Fat, Brains -- Not Bellies -- Are In Control

Quick.  Would you pick a creamy milkshake over a Big Mac?  A bag of M&Ms over macaroni and cheese? A red velvet cupcake with gobs of icing over a hotdog loaded with sauerkraut?

If so, you've just proved a new theory.  Sugar wins out over fat every time.

According to Anahad O'Connor at The New York Times, "An intriguing new study suggests that what really draws people to such treats, and prompts them to eat much more than perhaps they know they should, is not the fat that they contain, but primarily the sugar."

She notes that new research tracked brain activity in more than 100 high school students as they drank chocolate-flavored milkshakes that had the same amount of calories but were either high in sugar and low in fat, or vice versa. "While both kinds of shakes lit up pleasure centers in the brain, those that were high in sugar did so far more effectively, firing up a food-reward network that plays a role in compulsive eating," she reports.


Do You Live in One of the Healthiest States in the Union?

I usually stay away from lists -- the states with the highest mountains, or official buildings, or fat people.  But this caught my eye.  The 10 healthiest states in the U.S., from the America Health Rankings report.  Are you in here?

The list actually starts at the bottom, with the 25 least healthy states (though Louisana, Arkansas and Mississippi are at the real bottom, at 48, 49 and 50, respectively).  Lowest on the list for the 25?  Alaska.

That's because, according to Christine Matthies at, the state has low levels of air pollution and a low prevalence of low birth weight. But surprisingly, there's a high violent crime rate, and the level of immunization of children is low.

Maryland comes next as the 24th healthiest state, though, last year it was ranked 20th.  A high crime rate here, too, gave it a low score, and a high infant mortality rate (probably because it also has a high prevalence of low birth weight).  Next came Montana, which surprised me.  I think o…

Get Your Sleep -- or Diabetes, or Maybe Even Alzheimer's or Parkinson's

We all know sleep deprivation (SD) can lead to fuzzy thinking, traffic accidents, even weight gain.  But did you know scientists are now finding that it can cause us to age, and maybe even develop diabetes and other serious diseases, as well?

A new study has looked at how our organs are affected by SD, which sometimes may even lead to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's in the elderly, who often suffer from disrupted sleep.  

The findings suggest that "inadequate sleep in the elderly, who normally experience sleep disturbances, could exacerbate an already-impaired protective response to protein misfolding that happens in aging cells," according to

Protein misfolding -- a process where proteins get degraded -- and clumping is what is associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, along with many other diseases, the Web site reports. 

“The combined effect of aging and sleep deprivation resulted in a loss of control of blood sugar reminiscent of pre-diabetes in m…