Showing posts from February, 2014

Does Green Tea Really Stop Cancer Dead in its Tracks?

A new study says what our grandmothers ate affects us now.  In fact, the headline of the article reads, "Will your grandmother's diet affect your chances of colon cancer?"

I sure hope not. Mine died of colon cancer.

Apparently the study is underway to see if green tea can help prevent cancer in today's Westernized diets. Researchers developed a diet that mimics typical U.S. nutrition for studies of human cancer using animal models, according to 

"In this case, rodents with cancer will be studied, which will allow (researchers) to look at the effects of the diet on multiple generations in a short period of time." One study author predicts that green tea will have a greater benefit to those mice that are exposed to the Western diet than those on a healthy diet. She also believes that the more generations exposed to the Western diet, the greater the risk of colon cancer in the offspring.

We've been told for years that eating too much red and proc…

Designer Babies? Or Hope?

Designer babies.  We've been reading about them lately.  A lab in the U.S. has found a way to take DNA from three different monkeys -- sperm from one, and unfertilized eggs from a young and older female monkey, extracting the DNA from both eggs, inserting the DNA into the younger, fresher egg, and producing a baby that has the genes of the older monkey in the youthful shell of the younger monkey.
Sound surreal?  It's already happened with humans in a clinic, according to The New York Times, and Fox News reports that 19 babies have been born this way since 2001.  The idea originally was to allow women with known genetic abnormalities to screen for these birth defects in lab-created embryos to find those without the mutations.
Currently something like this can be done through in-vitro fertilization using a method called pre-implant genetic diagnosis (PGD) but it wouldn't help women like me who wanted to have a baby with her own genetics but whose eggs were just too old.
I w…

Ever Eat a Half-Cup of Ice Cream? Now FDA Forcing Food Makers to Calculate Actual Serving Sizes for Calorie Counts

I don't know about you but I can't remember ever eating a half-cup of ice cream. Yet that's what manufacturers have listed on their ingredients list as the serving size for the calorie count.

Now that's going away.  Labels will soon have to reflect actual serving sizes, according to Sabrina Tavernise, "putting calorie counts in large type and adjusting portion sizes to reflect how much Americans actually eat."

Unless you're eating at a fancy restaurant, the size of a bowl of ice cream is usually about two cups these days.

But the Food and Drug Administration has finally recognized just how ridiculous the serving sizes are when calculating calories and is now proposing changes.

“It’s an amazing transformation,” Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the F.D.A., tells Tarvernise. “Things like the size of a muffin have changed so dramatically. It is important that the information on the nutrition fact labels reflect the realities in the world today.”

The propos…

Parents The Only Ones Learning Something Trying To Teach Babies to Read -- It's That They Can't

I had those friends who bought all the Baby Einstein tapes and started using them when their babies were in utero.  And there's that commercial where two-year-olds are reading Shakespeare.

But a new study has found that these parents can no longer feel superior.  Babies cannot learn to read.

“While we cannot say with full assurance that infants at this age cannot learn printed words, our results make clear they did not learn printed words from the baby media product that was tested,” says Susan Neuman, a professor in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching and Learning and the study’s senior author, at

Let's face it. We all want to believe our kids are special, even gifted. (My mother always used to brag I spoke in full sentences at one.) But the truth is that, while they may be, the only ones these products have an influence on are -- parents.

In exit interviews, newswise reports, "There was the belief among parents that their babies were learning to read and th…

Have Cancer? A Paper Strip May Tell You

What would you think if you could find out from a simple paper strip, rather than an expensive and painful biopsy, whether you had cancer?

It's here.  According to, a new test now exists that imitates a pregnancy test.  You simply urinate on the strip and rather than telling you whether you can expect a new family member in nine months, it says you do or don't have cancer. In minutes.

As someone who's been through many (positive) biopsies, this sounds like a dream.

The technology relies on nanoparticles, reports, that interact with tumor proteins, which trigger the release of biomarkers that can be detected in urine. These are tumor proteins which help cancer cells escape by cutting through the proteins that hold the cancer cells in place, smartplanet notes. After these proteins are cut, the fragments accumulate in the kidneys and are then excreted in urine.

But the signals of these tumor proteins can be hard to detect so the team adapted thei…

Oral Cancer Comes Not Just From Intimate Encounters

Ever since Michael Douglas told the world he got oral cancer from oral, well, you know, that's what people think when others develop this kind of cancer.

But that's not entirely true.  Did you know that byproducts from bacteria in the form of small fatty acids from two bacteria prevalent in gum disease also incite the growth of deadly Kaposi’s sarcoma-related (KS) lesions and tumors in the mouth?

According to, recent research has focused on how certain bacteria, which are associated with gum disease, contribute to cancer formation.

Experts said at that high levels of these bacteria are found in the saliva of people with periodontal disease, and at lower levels in those with good oral health—further evidence of the link between oral and overall physical health.

KS, which often attacks persons with HIV, first appears as lesions on the surface of the mouth that, if not removed, can grow into malignant tumors. Survival rates are higher when detected and treat…

Know Everything About Your Doctor? Probably Not

So, your kid's about to have his tonsils out and you want to know if your doctor's the right one to do it.  Ask friends?  Look into malpractice suits?  Check those flashy magazine covers that claim to have discovered your state's best doctors list (read: they take out a lot of ads)?  Find out his mortality stats?

Good luck.  According to The Washington Post, it's easier to find out your neighbor's social security number than to get a really reliable forecast of how your child's surgery will turn out, under the doctor you pick.

Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to vet your doctor, physician Michael Carome, director of the health research group at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, tells writer Christie Aschwanden. But there are some basic steps you can take to look into a doctor’s credentials and record. 

She notes that you should first check your state's medical board's Web site, which allows you to search for indi…

Lost Your Keys and Think You Have Alzheimer's? You Just Might

Uh oh.  I knew it.  New studies are showing that people who think they might -- or develop -- Alzheimer's may be right.

According to, "A recent study suggests that self-reported memory complaints might predict clinical memory impairment later in life."

For the study, a researcher asked over 3,000 men 60 and older, "Have you noticed any change in your memory since you last came in?"

Now I'm not 60 yet but if you asked my son how many times I forgot to bring his strawberries after I cut them to him, well, never mind.  Let's just say it's a lot.

"It seems that subjective memory complaint can be predictive of clinical memory impairment," said one of the study authors.

In other words, if you think you do, you just might.

The memory and thinking lapses people notice in themselves could be early markers of risk for Alzheimer’s disease, says experts, adding that perhaps there's hope in that because doctors might be able to intervene ear…

Tomatoes Can Save Your Life (Well, Not Really)

My husband swears by them. At least since he heard they're good for his prostate.  I've never much liked them, even though I grew up in an Italian family and they were on the table just about every night.

We're talking, of course, about tomatoes.

A new study has found that the tomato, often referred to as a "functional food," prevents chronic disease and delivers other health benefits, due to beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene, according to Medical News Daily.
The site notes that, only 200 years ago it was thought to be poisonous in the U.S., probably because the plant belongs to the nightshade family, of which some species are truly poisonous. "One medium tomato (approximately 123 grams) provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate(including 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of protein," the Web site reports. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid and contain a wide array of beneficial nutrient…

Does Entrepreneurial Experience Guarantee Success?

This may surprise you.  Entrepreneurial experience doesn't guarantee success.

According to, a new study has found that, in fact, serial entrepreneurs have a dismal record. The study was based on the success and failure rates of 8,400 entrepreneurial ventures in Germany, and concludes that previous experience in the entrepreneurial realm doesn't really predict success going forward.
Joe McKendrick writes that the study says that previously failed entrepreneurs are less likely to survive and, in common with entrepreneurs with mixed prior experiences, are more likely to experience bankruptcy. "We find that portfolio and serial experience is unrelated to survival or avoiding bankruptcy. Our results showed that venture survival outcomes are unrelated to prior successful entrepreneurial experience and that failed entrepreneurs are more likely to fail again," he writes, from the study.
But not everyone agrees.  Where you get your business education is key, say…

Go Away From the Light -- To Make Good Decisions

We have an assistant principal I adore but who says he is very affected by light and wears these really outlandish glasses at night that look like sunglasses but deaden the light so it's more soothing.  Now I'm thinking he may really be onto something.

A new study has found that light affects our decisions.  "The next time you want to turn down the emotional intensity before making an important decision, you may want to dim the lights first," reports.

Researchers in Canada discovered that human emotion, whether positive or negative, is felt more intensely under bright light.

“Other evidence shows that on sunny days people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher wellbeing and are more helpful while extended exposure to dark, gloomy days can result in seasonal affective disorder,” the Web site quotes Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of management at University of Toronto Scarboroughand the Rotman School of Management and a study author. 


Were Your Best Memories Made By Age 25? Study Says, Probably

Want to hear something truly depressing?  Most of us have made our best memories by age 25.

According to a new study, "By the time most people are 25, they have made the most important memories of their lives, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire." reports that researchers have found that when older adults were asked to tell their life stories, "They overwhelmingly highlighted the central influence of life transitions in their memories. Many of these transitions, such as marriage and having children, occurred early in life."

(Of course, not in my case, when I had my son at 47!).

“When people look back over their lives and recount their most important memories, most divide their life stories into chapters defined by important moments that are universal for many: a physical move, attending college, a first job, marriage, military experience, and having children,” said Kristina Steiner, a doctoral student in psychology at UNH and the…

Is It Really All in Your Head? New Study Says Chronic Pain Is, And That's How You're Helped

How many of us have been told it's all in our heads when it comes to chronic pain?  Now a new study ays that's exactly where it is.  And where it can be cured.

According to, psychologists play a primary role in chronic pain treatment.

When it comes to chronic pain, psychological interventions often provide more relief than prescription drugs or surgery without the risk of side effects, but are used much less frequently than traditional medical treatments, the Web site reports.

"Chronic pain affects 116 million American adults, making it more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined, and traditional medical approaches are inadequate," newswise quotes Mark P. Jensen, PhD, of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington, and lead author. 

That's why it's so important to get the treatment -- and get it right -- as soon as possible.  

Successful treatment approaches for chronic pain include cognitive behaviora…

Better to Be Uninsured If You Need Trauma Care?

When I entered the ER as a patient in December, I wasn't seen for probably close to two hours.  As an uninsured patient at the time, I figured that was why.

But now USA Today reports that uninsured trauma patients may get better care.

A published Wednesday found that uninsured patients with severe injuries – "the kind commonly associated with car crashes, serious falls and gunshots – were significantly more likely than insured patients to be transferred out of hospitals not specializing in trauma care."

Now, I wasn't a trauma patient. I only had a broken wrist.  But I thought that was pretty interesting.

I like to watch all these medical shows -- "Untold Stories of the ER," with its dramatized cases (where everyone always gets well) and on the Oprah channel, the reality show, "New York Med" that shows you everything, the blood and guts and it's all real, not scripted.  Every once in a while a hospital on one of these shows doesn't have the ap…

Angry Birds? Flappy Birds? Enough Birds! But Are They Building our Brains?

I asked him to bring his breakfast dishes in from the family room.  Then I asked him to put his clothes away from the dryer.  Finally I asked him to put down the damn computer game and finish his chores.

And my son said, "But I'm playing 'Flappy Birds.'"

Flappy Birds?  Then I read in The New York Times about how this addictive game -- which is nothing more than trying to keep a cartoon bird in the air -- is taking over America.  It's the new "Candy Crush." 


I'm lucky, I'm not one of those people who gets all caught up in these silly games.  I remember my sister-in-law (who is two months shy of 61) hyperventilating about "Angry Birds" (what's with all these birds?) and thinking, well, that's just menopause. But then I started seeing on Facebook all these other people who buy new sneakers and make fancy meals and go to parties where they wear eye patches on their faces and other normal (boring) things they post about, …

Obese People Exercise Vigorously Less Than One Minute A Day

Isn't this depressing?  According to a new study, obese people get less than one vigorous minute of exercise a day, reports.

Now, I've had to force myself to exercise and even though I do it religiously -- swimming, jogging and sometimes biking almost every day -- I still hate it.  When we get to the vigorous part of Zumba, I really hate it.  I know it's doing good things for me, but, well, I hate it.

So I can completely understand.  When I was 15 pounds heavier, I hated putting on my jogging clothes (they didn't fit) and hugging and puffing around my neighborhood.  I liked the winter because I could wear big bulky pants and sweats -- until someone asked how far along I was.  I wasn't pregnant.

I'm still not that crazy about exercise, so I can understand how difficult it can be for a heavy person to want to jump around and sweat for more than a minute.  As for the gym?  I never went there when I was overweight, either.

“Conventional wisdom and research…

Falling in Love? Blame the Anterior Insula (of Your Brain)

Who thinks about their brains when falling in love?  But a new study has found the actual part of the brain that makes decisions about whether we want to spend the rest of our lives with someone.

According to, the finding, made in an examination of a 48-year-old man who suffered a stroke, provides the first causal clinical evidence that an area of the brain called the anterior insula “plays an instrumental role in love,” said UChicago neuroscientist Stephanie Cacioppo, lead author of the study.

"In this study, the patient made decisions normally about lust but showed slower reaction times when making decisions about love, in contrast to neurologically typical participants matched on age, gender and ethnicity," the Web site reports.

“This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” said Cacioppo, a research associate and assist…

One More Strike Against Women in Debt: They're Usually Obese, Too

We disparage them because they are overweight.  They develop serious diseases and often die younger. And now obese women are paying an even bigger price.  

Researchers in Lafayette College’s department of economics have learned that women who are struggling to pay bills are more likely to be obese, and men who are struggling to pay bills are more likely to be thin. 

“It’s no secret that there is a substantial correlation between household debt and health,” Susan Averett, economics professor at Lafayette is quoted at, “and research has shown that individuals with less healthy lifestyles are more likely to hold debt.”

They studied men and women holding credit card debt and having trouble paying bills, and three outcomes: overweight, obese and Body Mass Index (BMI).

There's no smoking gun but “Individuals with less healthy lifestyles are more likely to hold debt, yet there is little evidence as to whether this is merely a correlation or if financial hardship actually causes …