Showing posts from August, 2013

Live Longer? Eat Bing Cherries

Yet one more thing we should eat if we want to live to 100 (or thereabouts).  According to, "For those who are at risk of developing an inflammatory disease, eating 45 Bing cherries a day can lower the risk of developing chronic inflammatory diseases," suggests a recent study.

Now, you may think, but I don't have a chronic inflammatory disease.  If you have rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes, you've had one. More than 50 million Americans suffer from these diseases.

But here's an even better reason to pop some cherries into your mouth.  Cancer is now thought to begin as inflammation in the body. If eating Bing cherries can stop or slow it, why not eat them?  And besides, they taste great, too.

The results of the study showed that consuming 45 Bing cherries a day for 63 days can "lower the levels of nine biomarkers for chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arth…

Over 70% of Us Did Not Marry "The One"

I found this pretty discouraging.   A new study has found that almost three-quarters of us did not marry "the one." 

I can safely say that I did -- though, over the years, he's gone from the one to the zero (just kidding, sort of).  Like any marriage, we've had our ups and downs but the tall, skinny guy in the blue jeans I smiled at across a crowded room 30 years ago has morphed into the cranky, sleep-deprived man who refused to help me load a nice wooden bureau by the side of the road, clearly there for the taking, for our son's room, into my car, because he was too embarrassed.  We were out on our nightly walk (something new we now do because our 12-year-old wants nothing to do with us).  And when I went back with my son to get it, who's coming down the road but my husband in his car, asking, "Do you need help?"

We wound up not taking the thing (Phillip didn't like it), but the friend I'd stopped to talk to on the way home said, "He ca…

How Do We Miss The Suicides?

I just don’t get it.  How can you miss that a kid’s suicidal?
But then I think of all the things that I don’t – or can’t – see as a parent, even when it’s staring me in the eye.
Of course, my heart breaks for the parents and sister of Bartlomiej “Bart” Palosz.  But it breaks even more for Bart.
Bullying is said to be a factor in this tragic death.  I think of the darkness this poor young man must have lived in, the shadow limiting his life. 
Maybe he put on a brave front.  Maybe, like my son, he pretended all was well when it wasn’t. Didn’t anybody see this boy’s pain?
I didn’t know Bart but I feel his death in my heart, maybe because my own son is only three years younger, and I so wish I could have been his friend.
I want time to go backwards, for someone to have reached out to Bart in a class or at lunch, to have shown him he was loved and wanted and worth something.
I, too, have struggled with depression and though I’ve never considered taking my own life (except once, when I w…

A Shocking Number of Teens Drink Alcohol, Use Pills or Smoke Tobacco or Marijuana Daily

Another frightening fact about teenagers and alcohol.  "On an average day, 881,684 teenagers aged 12 to 17 smoked cigarettes, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report also says that on an average day 646,707 adolescents smoked marijuana and 457,672 drank alcohol," according to

To put this in (terrifying) perspective: the number of adolescents using marijuana on an average day "could almost fill the Indianapolis Speedway (seating capacity 250,000 seats) two and a half times," the Web site reports.


"This data about adolescents sheds new light on how deeply substance use pervades the lives of many young people and their families," quotes SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “While other studies indicate that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of some forms of substance use among adolescents in the past decade, this report shows that fa…

Certain Breast Cancer Cells Spur Metastasis to Bones

Researchers are coming a little bit closer to determining which breast cancer cells will go on to spread through the body, and which won't, but now a new study has found that certain cancer cells have a way of thriving that helps them move on to other parts of the body, like our bones.

According to, "When a cancer cell sloughs off the edge of a tumor in the breast, it faces a tough road to survive. The cell must not only remain physically intact as it rushes through blood vessels, but it also must find a new organ to lodge itself in, take in enough nutrients and oxygen to stay alive, and begin dividing, all while escaping notice by the body’s immune system."

Scientists in the new study found that some loose breast cancer cells "have a leg up on survival—the genes they express make them more likely to prosper in bone tissue." reports that the team also found that whether or not cancer cells turn on those genes depends on what their surr…

Suffer From Migraines? They May Have Damaged Your Brain

Isn't it bad enough to have a migraine?  Blinding pain, nausea, vomiting, flashing lights. Now new evidence is saying that they may affect brain structures, too. And the damage may not be over the minute a migraine is, according to

“Traditionally, migraine has been considered a benign disorder without long-term consequences for the brain,” the Web site quotes study author Messoud Ashina, MD, PhD, with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. “Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways.”

A new study has found that migraine raised the risk of brain lesions, white matter abnormalities and altered brain volume compared to people without the disorder. The association was even stronger in those with migraine with aura.

The results showed that migraine with aura increased the risk of white matter brain lesions by 68 percent and migraine with no aura increased the risk by 34 percent, compared t…

Prevent Autism? It Just May Be -- And Yes, It's the Environment

Could it possibly be true?  Could they have found a cause for autism? A new study could have important implications for ASD detection and prevention.

A new study says so.  According to, "Problems with a key group of enzymes called topoisomerases can have profound effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD)."

The Web site attributed the significant advance in the hunt for environmental factors behind autism to scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, who made this finding which lends new insights into the disorder’s genetic causes.

"Our study shows the magnitude of what can happen if topoisomerases are impaired,” said senior study author Mark Zylka, PhD, associate professor in the Neuroscience Center and the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at UNC. “Inhibiting these enzymes has the potential to profoundly affect neurodevelopment — perhaps even more so than…

New Link: Alcohol and Breast Cancer in Young Girls and Women

Yet something new involving teenage use of alcohol, and critically important to worry about.  School-age girls who drink have a 13% greater risk of breast cancer.

According to, a new study has shown that, for young girls and women heading back to school, "The more alcohol they drink before motherhood, the greater their risk of future breast cancer."

This is the first time research has been able to find links between increased breast cancer risk and drinking between early adolescence and first full-term pregnancy. Previous studies have looked at breast cancer risk and alcohol consumption later in life or at the effect of adolescent drinking on noncancerous breast disease.

"More and more heavy drinking is occurring on college campuses and during adolescence, and not enough people are considering future risk. But, according to our research, the lesson is clear: If a female averages a drink per day between her first period and her first full-term pregnan…

Grocery Shopping with a Mirror? Stay tuned.

Don't know how I feel about this (or you will, when hearing about it).  But nutritionists have found a super new way to get people to eat healthy(ier) in the supermarket.   Put mirrors in their shopping carts.

The point is to steer more people towards the produce aisle, and away from the processed foods, according to The New York Times' Michael Moss.  "The mirror is part of an effort to get Americans to change their eating habits, by two social scientists outmaneuvering the processed-food giants on their own turf, using their own tricks: the distracting little nudges and cues that confront a supermarket shopper at every turn," he writes.

Researchers are trying to find ways to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. But instead of preaching about diabetes or slapping taxes on junk food, they are doing things like adding mirrors to shopping carts so you can see yourself when you reach for the Ben and Jerry's, and "glossy placards that hang inside the ba…

Prevent Prostate Cancer? Drink Coffee, Lots of It

Prostate cancer -- and the avoidance of it -- has become a very confusing, frustrating experience for most men.  Have a prostate specific antigen (PSA). Don't have a PSA. Have a biopsy if something is found. Don't have a biopsy.  What's a guy to do?

Talk to your urologist probably, but a new study says it may all just be solved with coffee.  The study has found that three to four cups of java a day is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer recurrence and progression, according to

Researchers studied whether the bioactive compounds in coffee and tea may prevent prostate cancer recurrence and delay progression of the disease and found that "men who drank four or more cups of coffee per day experienced a 59 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer recurrence and/or progression as compared to those who drank only one or fewer cups per week," reports.

But before you get too excited, the study found no link between drinking more coffe…

Eat+Sleep= Exercise?

I've heard it both ways.  Eat before a workout.  Don't eat before a workout.  Now Gretchen Reynolds weighs in (pun not intended!) on what's better to do.

Reynolds, who herself has run marathons, writes that she was orginally told that "pre-exercise calories would lead to a quick increase in blood sugar — a sugar high — followed by an equally speedy blood-sugar trough, known as 'rebound hypoglycemia,' which would arrive in the middle of our race or workout and wreck performance."

This idea came from decades-old studies showing that blood-sugar levels and performance tended to decline if athletes ate or drank sugary foods or drinks just before exercise, according to Reynolds. But this has since been debunked.

I remember marathoner friends eating pounds of spaghetti the night before the race.

Eating easily-digestible carbs before working out can help you stay the course longer, though, research has found, and if you run or lift weights, she says, feel free t…

Move Over, Spinach and Fresh Fruit: Chicken Fingers Are Coming Back to School

So they've pooped out already.  The AP reports today that many school districts that opted to replace pizza and chicken fingers with spinach salads and fresh fruit are now going right back to fattening, greasy food because the kids just weren't interested.

Apparently, they lost a lot of money and threw away a lot of food.  And had a lot of kids who didn't eat and were too hungry to concentrate as the day wore on. Writes Carolyn Thompson, "Districts that rejected the program say the reimbursement was not enough to offset losses from students who began avoiding the lunch line and bringing food from home or, in some cases, going hungry."

Many schools are cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food, she reports.

"Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn't eat," Thompson quotes Catlin, Ill., Superintendent Gary Lewis, whose district saw a 10% …

A Different Word and I Wouldn't Have Needed Radical Surgery

Big surprise.  Doctors are only now finding out that if they don't use the word "cancer" in a diagnosis, women are far more likely to opt for watchful waiting and medication than surgery.

That's because recently medical boards have been talking about taking the word out of a common diagnosis for women with noninvasive breast cancer, or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).  It's the word carcinoma that makes us sit up and freak, and it was the word used when I was diagnosed, so I went through treatment to the max.

I wrote about this recently when I first heard about it.  I was diagnosed with stage 0 precancerous breast cancer but I was treated as if I had full-blown invasive cancer.  Nine years ago, that's the way it was done. To be fair, my cancer or abnormal cells or whatever they were, were grade 3, right on the edge of becoming invasive cancer, so decisions were made based  mostly on that. There was no doubt that if I didn't have treatment, in time I would…

Breast Cancer Patients? Stop Taking Calcium For Healthy Bones

I've been told since day one that women needed calcium supplements, especially when older, to prevent osteoporosis and other nasty things you get as you age.  But now researchers are saying that, while women undergoing treatment for breast cancer had been told to take calcium and Vitamin D to keep their bones strong, now it's not looking quite so right.

According to, "New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center finds that the recommended daily doses of these supplements may not prevent loss of bone mineral density (BMD) in these women."

Apparently, women with breast cancer lose BMD at a higher rate than their healthier counterparts, increasing their risk of fractures, "which are associated with significant declines in function and health-related quality of life, and in higher mortality rates," reports.

Now as someone who takes no vitamins -- and who did or didn't have breast cancer, depending on who you talk to -- I f…

Is That A Sleeping Pill or a Sugar Pill?

I don't know whether this is good or bad, but the placebo effect apparently works.

According to, "A growing body of research shows that treatments ranging from sugar pills to the 'ritual of medicine''really do improve patient health."

To Ted Kaptchuk, reports, "the placebo effect is brought about by much more than sugar pills and saline injections. It's about the whole 'drama' or 'theater' of medicine--essentially the context of the encounter between patient and physician--as much as treatment itself."

The Web site credits Kapchuk, who heads Harvard's placebo program, for "investigating placebos . . . and expanding the scope of the field." quotes Kaptchuk, "The placebo effect is the effect of everything surrounding the fake pill, or the real pill. It's the compassion, trust, and care. It's the ritual and symbols. It's the doctor-patient interaction."

Fast Food with Lettuce From the Garden Out Back? It's Here!

Imagine this.  A fast food restaurant that has its own gardens to produce sustainable and healthy foods? But yes, Virginia, there is one.   And it's called b.good.

Sadly, even though it's reportedly a chain in the Northeast, it's not one that's here in Connecticut, where I live.  And I have to say I've never heard of it.  But apparently they're regionally located and they're known for their determination to grow the very lettuce that goes on their hamburger buns.

b.good, projects that it could harvest about 3,000 pounds of tomatoes this year, in addition to 500 pounds of greens, from gardens adjoining two of its store locations, according to

Apparently it all began on the roof of a parking garage in downtown Boston, above the b.good restaurant. And now that it's growing its business from its original 12 locations to offering franchises, we're probably going to be hearing a lot more about it.

You have to admit, rooftop gardening and f…

Are You Having Trouble Reading My Posts?

Some people have told me they can't seem to click on the links so here's an alternative: go straight to and you should be able to click on anything you want.



Maybe No Caregivers for Aging Baby Boomers

It's not something I like to think about, even though my father needs one.  But as we Baby Boomers age, there's going to be a growing shortage of caregivers, according to Tara Bahrampour of The Washington Post.

And let's face it, much as we do everything we can to retard the activity of Father Time, it's coming for all of us, if we're lucky.

"Americans should expect an enormous shortage in caregivers for older people in the coming decades, with a dearth of friends and family members available to care for the baby-boom generation as it ages, according to a report released Monday by AARP," Bahrampour writes.

She points out that, by 2030, there will be only four potential caregivers available for each person 80 or older, down from a high of more than seven in 2010. By 2050, when boomers are between 86 and 104, the ratio will drop below 3 to 1. Currently, about 14 percent of potential caregivers — defined as people 45 to 64 — provide care for someone 80 or o…

Conscientious? You Could Have Trouble Getting Pregnant

You'd think conscientiousness and openness would be wonderful personality features.  And most of the time, they are.  Just, not if you want to have a baby.

A new study has found that:

Conscientiousness decreased female fertility Openness decreased male fertility, and Extraversion raised fertility for both men and women According to, researchers saw a decline in producing children in neurotic (moody or emotional) men, but oddly, only for those born after 1957.  Maybe it was in the water.

Some of it, for the men, may have something to do with waiting longer to have children.  Research has recently indicated that children born of men over age 50 are more likely to develop schizophrenia as young adults, concerning for us as my husband was 51 when our son was born.  

The study, done in Norway, was part of an examination of falling birth rates. 

But don't despair, if you're conscientious.  Chances are, you could live to 100.  That's because, according…

Cheaper Test Tube Babies?

You're not going to believe this (I barely did).  But researchers in London say it may be possible to do IVF procedures for a little over $200 for women in developing countries.

That's because embryos apparently require very little care, according to Maria Cheng at the AP.  "A human embryo doesn't need much beyond some basic solutions, a steady pH level and constant temperature," she quotes Jonathan Van Blerkom, a fertility expert at the University of Colorado,  who developed the new procedure..

"My first reaction was, 'You've got to be kidding,'" he says to Cheng in the article.  The simpler approach allows women to take cheaper fertility tablets to stimulate their ovaries to release more than one egg per month. In conventional IVF, expensive, potent drugs that are injected can produce more than 20 eggs, Cheng notes.

With just two test tubes and special solutions, "it's possible to generate the exact same conditions, or very similar,…

Maybe DON'T Talk to Your Kids About Weight

Your daughter's eating habits drive you crazy.  A yogurt for breakfast, a pear for lunch, and a salad for dinner.  But you know what?  Bugging her about it, even just talking to her about it, can make for even more unhealthy behavior, a new study has found.

According to, "Conversations between parents and adolescents that focus on weight and size are associated with an increased risk for unhealthy adolescent weight-control behaviors."

The study also found that overweight or obese adolescents whose mothers talked only healthful eating behaviors were less likely to diet and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors and a significantly lower chance of dieting (40 percent to over 53 percent, respectively).

“Because adolescence is a time when more youths engage in disordered eating behaviors, it is important for parents to understand what types of conversations may be helpful or harmful in regard to disordered eating behaviors and how to have these conversations wit…

Is Suicide in Your Genes?

The DNA and RNA in your genes can reveal your chances of getting breast cancer, your child's father, and now, scientists have found it can even tell the likelihood that someone's thinking of committing suicide.

According to, researchers have discovered a series of RNA biomarkers in blood that could be used to develop a test to predict the risk of a person committing suicide.

Let's be clear, though.  The participants in the study all had bipolar disease, but it's still something that might be applied to anyone, at some point.  And they were all male.

Blood was taken from patients at three-month intervals and results of the analysis revealed significant gene differences between the patients who experienced high states of suicidal thinking and the people with low states of suicidal feeling.

"There are people who will not reveal they are having suicidal thoughts when you ask them, who then commit it and there's nothing you can do about it.  We nee…