Showing posts from October, 2013

Why Are You Bald? Blame Gravity!

Guess you can't blame your mother's side of the family anymore for your baldness.  That used to be the old wives' tale about whether or not you'd lose your hair.  If the male relatives on her side lost their hair, chances are, you'd be next.

But a whole new theory is evolving about hair loss. According to, it's gravity.

That's right, gravity.  How much your scalp weighs on your hair follicles.

"In youth, the scalp has sufficient fat tissue under the skin, and it is 'capable of keeping itself well-hydrated,' buffering the pressure on hair follicles," as the Web site reports comments by Dr. Emin Tuncay Ustuner, a plastic surgeon in Ankara, Turkey. But with aging, "the skin and underlying (subcutaneous) fat become thinner, and the pressure on the hair follicles increases. Testosterone contributes to thinning of the subcutaneous fat."

As the cushion of fat decreases, the hair follicle must strive against higher pressure,…

Commuting May Kill You (Well, Not Really)

Well, not really.  But it can certainly affect your health.

According to Jane Brody at The New York Times, commuting causes those who do it to lose "hours a day that would be better spent exercising, socializing with family and friends, preparing home-cooked meals or simply getting enough sleep."

The fact that most of us do not live in cities but in suburbs where cars are necessary to get us to work, school, and other activities makes it an absolute necessity to commute.  It's not just workers who commute, Brody notes, but soccer moms, too, ferrying their kids to ball games, ballet, play dates, after-school clubs, putting the same amount of mileage on their cars sometimes as people who use them just to get to work.

Brody points out that's probably one of the things behind our obesity problem in this country. “In places where people walk more, obesity rates are much lower,” Leigh Gallagher, an editor at Forbes and author of a book on the perils of commuting, told Brod…

Monday Not Your Day? It Is If You Plan to Quit Smoking

Monday, Monday.  Don't trust that day.  For those of you too young to remember, that was the Mamas and the Papas, lamenting Monday, the day that every week seems to have more of than Fridays.

But Monday may be a good day for something.  Quitting smoking.

According to Kim Painter at USA Today, "Monday is a particularly popular day to think about it – or at least Google it."

Google searches for terms such as "quit smoking help" make up a higher proportion of all searches on Mondays than on any other day, Painter reports.  Could be like the diet thing.  OK, I ate like a pig all weekend but on Monday, I'll start watching my portions again.

Call it the Monday Momentum (just made that up).

Searches for help with quitting smoking decline through the week and reach a low point on Saturdays – when they are 145% lower than on Mondays, Painter quotes the American Medical Association.

"People see Mondays as a fresh start, a chance to get their acts together,"…

Is Kissing More Important Than Sex? New Study Says, Maybe

Who'd have thought it? A new study says kissing, not sex, helps romantic partners feel more connected.

According to The New York Times' Jan Hoffman, while sex might be an outcome of kissing,"Researchers did not find sexual arousal to be the primary driver for kissing."

Hoffman reports that participants in the survey were asked about their attitudes toward kissing in different phases of romantic relationships -- before sex, during sex and after sex.  They were also asked whether they were more inclined to have many casual sexual relationships, or more committed ones.

Experts earlier thought kissing had something to do with finding mates.  The kiss could help people decide whether the "kissee" was mating material.

But the truly interesting part (to me, at least) was the stage of a relationship at which kissing was felt to be the most important.  Past research has shown that women, those who rate themselves as highly attractive, and those who favor casual se…

Men Hit, Women Hate

Once again I'm grateful I have a son.  A new study talks about how men and women compete differently (big duh), but what jumped out at me was how the ways women do it hit at what exactly makes you, you, and in that way, is more vicious and destructive.

"Threats and fear of isolation are powerful weapons in situations involving competition or aggression. Girls and women who fail to modify their behavior to fit the norm face social exclusion and loss of friendships rather than physical violence," reports.

Look at the girls committing suicide because of bullying, which usually comes back around to being dislodged from your peer group, along with the mean, hateful words that induce it.

"Indirect aggression uses minimal energy and usually provides the least risk of injury," the Web site adds. But its power to harm is still considerable -  gossip coming from many members of a group protects the majority but can be devastating to the individual - so…

What's Behind Paying For the Car Behind You

I’ve been doing something weird lately.  Letting people get in front of me at the supermarket.  I’ve also been shocking myself about something else.  I’m even letting cars get ahead of me in merges and go first, turning left in front of at green lights, this from a person who always had to be the fastest car on the road (I once drove all the way to Syracuse passing very car.)
But I’m finding that it’s fairly easy to do, and in the way of karma, a lot of people do it for me.  One day a friend was in a huge rush when we both were in the “10 items or less” line, so I let him go first – no big deal. But he acted like I gave him my winning lottery ticket.
I came across the fact that many people are doing this now from an essay in the Sunday New York Times a couple of weeks ago, which reported that some people are paying for the people behind them at drive-throughs.  The person behind them orders while the car in front’s paying so they know what the other person is having, and then the car in…

Vaginas Rule

This may be hard for you to read.  It was a little hard for me to watch.  But once I got over the initial awkwardness, it was truly beautiful.

I'm talking about a piece a Connecticut College student did on vaginas.

She asked a series of men her age what they thought about vaginas, and the answers ranged from sheer embarrassed silence to "they're very strong" to "cosy" to "they run the world," to "spent some time in a vagina back in '92 and it was homey," to "you don't have the vagina for it," in place of what people usually say, referring to men's genitals.

In the beginning the answers were a little stiff, a little embarrassed, but once the young men got going, you could tell they really were thinking hard and taking it seriously.  Quite a few commented that they wouldn't be here if it weren't for a vagina. notes that BuzzFeed says the “endearing and uplifting” video “forces us to think of wom…

Have a Headache? Go Listen to "Candle in the Wind"

You heard it here first.  Some kinds of music can ease pain.  Not all music, but some.  Beats me.  I never cared much for Elton John but supposedly his "Candle in the Wind" (about Princess Diana's death) may cure your lower back pain.

Well, not really, but a very scientific study of this very thing has been done a number of times, including a study by the University of Utah Pain Management Center, which found roughly four in 10 people living with persistent pain said listening to music helped relieve their symptoms, accordingtoreports, CBS News in New York notes.

Pleasant music triggers the release of the brain chemicaldopamine,” Robert Zatorre, of McGill University, who studies emotion and music, tells This change “is strongly associated with other rewarding and motivating stimuli, such as food, sex, and certain addictive drugs,” Zatorre adds. Scientists believe that music’s ability to make you feel good may be one way it helps to alleviate pain. The story…

Yay! Drink Coffee and You May Not Get Liver Cancer

Coffee lovers of the world unite!  A new study has found that drinking it may lessen your risk of liver cancer.

I don't know about you but my head is spinning from all the studies about this caffeinated beverage.  It causes cancer.  It doesn't cause cancer.  It causes miscarriages.  It's safe to drink during pregnancy.  Makes you sleep.  Keeps you awake all night.  Seems like it's been guilty -- or innocent -- of just about everything except causing planes to crash.

But the study shows that "coffee consumption reduces the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. And some of the results indicate that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%," according to

That could be really good news for the over 100 million people -- or about 56% of the U.S. -- who consume coffee every day.  I know it will make my husband happy!  (He drinks two huge containers of coffee a day, the same size I put smoothies in.)

Coffee has also been p…

Does a Man Slow Down When Walking With You? He's in Love

It wasn't true for me.  The one time I tried to jog with my husband, he took off like he heard the starter's pistol.  But a new study has found that most men slow down when they're walking with a woman to meet her pace -- if she's his romantic partner.

According to, the study tracked men and women walking three different ways -- alone, with their significant other (with and without holding hands), and with a person of the opposite sex.

When the males walked with their female romantic partners, the researchers observed that they slowed down by an average of 7% to match the female's speed.

"However, when men and women who were not romantic partners walked together, the paces did not significantly change. Though the females slightly sped up and the males slightly slowed down, the researchers say that the lack of a significant change suggests that pace adjustments only occur for romantic partners," the Web site reports.
Interestingly, when th…

Get Your Sleep -- Or Get Alzheimer's?

Yet another reason to get your sleep.  Now, too few hours may lead to Alzheimer's.  A new Johns Hopkins study has found shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality is linked to a biomarker for Alzheimer's.

According to, "Poor sleep quality may impact Alzheimer’s disease onset and progression."

"Our study found that among older adults, reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with higher levels of (a protein) measured by PET scans of the brain,” quotes Adam Spira, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “These results could have significant public health implications as Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and approximately half of older adults have insomnia symptoms.”

In the study, participants reported sleep that ranged from more than seven hours to no more than five hours. Those who slept the least and …

Have a Supernatural Experience? You'll Probably Give More to Your Church

Chances are, if you've seen an angel, or been visited by someone who has died, or believe that God has talked to you, you're more likely to donate to your church or synagogue or mosque, according to

That's because "supernatural experiences trigger religious donations," it reports. Not hard to figure out why. When good things we can't explain happen to us, we're usually pretty grateful.  And that gratitude sometimes impels us to give back.

While voluntary giving to religious organizations consistently makes up the largest share of America’s philanthropy, little research has been done on why that is until now, notes, crediting Katie Corcoran, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, with a new study that looks into it.

"The study shows that the less religious doubt people have, the more they are willing to give," the Web site notes.

In her study, respondents who gave to religious organ…

What Helps Grades? Surprisingly, Phys Ed

Can phys ed make our kids smarter?  Some say yes.

According to, "Researchers at the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found an increase in performance for every 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls,” the BBC reported, noting that,”children who carried out regular exercise not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16, the study suggested.”

“Physical activity is more than just important for your physical health," quotes Dr. Josie Booth, a co-leader of the study. "There are other benefits and that is something that should be especially important to parents, policy-makers and people involved in education.”

Gretchen Reynolds at the NYT agrees, reporting that "Children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than children who are out of shape, a new study finds, raising timely questions about the wisdom of slashing physical education programs at schools…

Studies Conflict: Does Red Wine Cause Azheimer's -- or Cure It?

I have some REALLY bad news for some of my friends.  Red wine has been found to be a risk factor for Alheimer's Disease (AD).

According to, "Researchers at the Buck Institute found a link between . . ApoE4, a cholesterol-carrying protein" present in 25% of us, and another, SirT1, an "anti-aging protein that is targeted by resveratrol, present in red wine."

"The biochemical mechanisms that link ApoE4 to Alzheimer's disease have been something of a black box. However, recent work from a number of labs, including our own, has begun to open the box," quotes Dale Bredesen, MD, founding CEO of the Buck Institute.

But some of the abnormalities for AD could be avoided by increasing the SirT1 proteins, scientists found, and this finding could lead to a new type of screening for AD prevention and treatment, experts say.
AD affects over 5 million Americans -- there are no treatments that are known to cure, or even halt the pro…

On the Web a Lot? You May Be Protecting Yourself Against Cancer

Now here's an interesting thought: Internet users are more likely to engage in cancer-preventive behaviors than intermittent users or those who never go online at all.

According to, a recent study found that "Older men and women who used the Internet were more likely to participate in screening for colorectal cancer, participate in physical activities, eat healthily, and smoke less, compared with those who did not use the internet."

I guess that's not a surprise.  People of a certain age are usually more likely to be hypochondriacs, too! But a large, population-based study of adults 50 and older in England, found that men and women who were consistent Internet users "were twice as likely to participate in colorectal screening than nonusers."

Now, before you start thinking, well, what else are they going to do with their time, both men and women who were on the Web consistently were also "50 percent more likely to take part in regular physi…

Brown-bagging it. How To Do it Better For Our Kids.

I don't know about you but my kid's a brown-bagger (and a fussy eater, to boot) and I struggle every day with what to put in his lunch.  

The WSJ had a funny take on it today, noting that, with all the instructions and regulations -- no peanut butter, nut products, candy bars, soda -- what's a parent to do?

Fortunately for me, my son pretty much sticks to routine -- a baggie full of saltine mini crackers, another of graham crackers, and maybe, if I'm lucky, some carrots.  Period.

Then there's all the media pressure about making our kids a healthy lunch.  "I pack [my son] a lunch every day and I hate it," Amy Hood, a stay-at-home mother of three from Charlestown, R.I., tells the WSJ's Andrea Petersen.  "It is like laundry. You're never done."

I, too, hate making lunch.  The minute my son comes in the door from school, I'm obsessing about it until I can make it and just shove it in the fridge.  Don't qui…