Showing posts from May, 2014

Get Cancer? How Much Money Do You Make?

A new study has found what many would like to know.  If I live in a certain place, what are my chances of developing cancer?

Elise Sole reports at that your chances of having certain types of cancer may depend on how affluent your neighborhood is, and that some cancers tend to seek out the poor, while others, the rich.

"In wealthy areas of the country, more common cancers include testicular, thyroid, melanoma, breast, and cervical," she writes. But in poorer areas, it may not be luck so much as "certain risky" behaviors that make you more vulnerable to cancers in other parts of the body.  In poorer areas, cancers include cancers of the penis and cervix, which are linked to sexually transmitted diseases (but don't forget Michael Douglas, with his cancer of the tongue); cancer of the larynx, which can be caused by smoking, drinking, or HPV; liver cancer, often linked to drinking and hepatitis (which can be contracted by needle sharing); and Kaposi&#…

Cynical? You May Wind Up With Dementia

I really wish my husband would read this.  But he never reads anything I write, afraid I'll mention him in it.

But this time, it would be helpful.  A new study has found that cynicism can harm your brain.  Really.

According to, people with high levels of cynical distrust may be more likely to develop dementia.

Now, my husband's, like most of us, had plenty of reason to develop cynicism about the world.  He's  in a business where patients make an appointment to see you, don't show up, and then try not to pay you.  As I've mentioned before, he's a dentist.

This new study discovered that cynical distrust, defined as the belief that others are mainly motivated by selfish concerns, has been associated with other health problems, such as heart disease. But this is the first study to look at the relationship between cynicism and dementia, the Web site reports.

 "These results add to the evidence that people’s view on life and personality may have…

New Thing to Fear on Planes: MRSA On Your Seatback

You might have some trouble getting on a plane after you read this.  But did you know that microbes on a plane can survive a whole week?

According to, "Researchers have found that disease-causing bacteria can linger for several days within an aircraft cabin"

That means you're on-board with the flu and the measles and for an unlucky few, even MERS.

But there is some good news. "For us to catch bacteria from another traveler through things that we touch, the pathogens must survive environmental conditions in a plane," reports.

Scientists suspended some E.coli and MRSA, the contagious illness hospitals dread because of its easy transference from patient to patient, in a saline solution, then simulated sweat and saliva.

Then, to see where these pathogens lived longest, the team placed the suspensions of the two pathogens onto a sample of commonly touched surfaces: rubber armrests, metal toilet handles, plastic tray tables, plastic wind…

Females Superior to Males? In Health and Longevity, and Here's Why

We've been called the weaker sex.  But did you know we're really the survivors?  And it all has to do with placenta.

A University of Adelaide research team has been studying the underlying genetic and developmental reasons why male babies generally have worse outcomes than females, with significantly increased rates of pregnancy complications and poor health outcomes for males, according to

"Our research has found that there are undeniable genetic and physiological differences between boys and girls that extend beyond just the development of their sexual characteristics," the Web site quotes senior author of the paper Professor Claire Roberts, leader of the fetal growth research priority for the Robinson Research Institute. "We've known for some time that girls are clearly winning in the battle for survival, with markedly better outcomes for female babies for preterm birth, stillbirth, neonatal death, and other complications after birth.…

Gain Weight During Chemo? May Make Your Cancer Grow

We've been told over and over how much being overweight or obese can affect our health. But what if it were to affect your treatment of cancer?

A new study has found that calorie restriction, a kind of dieting in which food intake is decreased by a certain percentage, may improve outcomes for women in breast cancer. "According to a study published May 26th in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, the triple negative subtype of breast cancer – one of the most aggressive forms – is less likely to spread, or metastasize, to new sites in the body when mice were fed a restricted diet," reports.

The Web site notes that when mouse models of triple negative cancer were fed 30 percent less than what they ate when given free access to food, the cancer cells decreased their production of RNA molecules that inhibit tumor growth. Researchers have found that these molecules, or genes, often increased in triple negative cancers that metastasize. 

Breast cancer pa…

To Be Or Not To Be: Is Diet Soda Now Good for Weight Loss?

It's that old saying?  If you don't like something, wait, and it will change?  Oh, wait.  That's the weather, and Mark Twain.

But today it now applies to diet soda.  Wasn't it about a month ago that reports came out that diet soda made you, if not, gain weight, then not be able to lose it?  I think I wrote about it. 

As much as I hate to give Fox News the credit, they reported that last year.  

NOW a study says that diet soda will help you lose weight.  What?

According to, a new clinical trial says yes, diet sodas do help us lose weight.  

My head is spinning. notes that the results contradict a number of other recent studies that indicated drinking diet soda may actually cause a person to gain weight.

The new study, published in Obesity,  randomly assigned study participants to one of two groups: those who were allowed to drink diet beverages, such as diet sodas, teas and flavored waters, and those who were in a control group that drank water on…

Our Fragile Immune Systems and How Popcorn Bags Can Harm Them

Depends how much you want to be depressed on Memorial Day Weekend, but want to know the foods and things that can really hurt you?

According to Leah Zerbe at, the biggest is microwave popcorn. Now, we've all heard the scare stories about how it will give you lung cancer and stop you from growing (made that one up).  But they're out there, and so are the ones that say it can harm your immune system. reports that the bag almost all microwave popcorn varieties come in is lined with a chemical, the same toxic stuff found in teflon pots and pans. It can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. This chemical when heated has been linked to infertility, cancer and other diseases in lab animals. No long term studies have been conducted on humans, but the EPA lists this substance as a carcinogen.

Zerbe goes further, claiming that what's in the bags of this popcorn (that I and my son can't wait to eat a bag of, every n…

People Like It, Mice Like It -- I Must Not Be Crazy: Running

So I'm not crazy after all.

Even mice agree with me.

Running is fun.  According to James Gorman at The New York Times, "Wheel-running is not a neurotic behavior found only in caged mice.  They like the wheel."
Scientists in the Netherlands did an experiment that it seems nobody had tried before. "They placed exercise wheels outdoors in a yard and in an area of dunes, and monitored the wheels with motion detectors and automatic cameras," he writes.
For the experiment, the wheels were enclosed so that small animals could come and go but so that larger animals could not knock them over. Researchers set up motion sensors and automatic video cameras.
A scientist who observed the mice -- and the wheel -- says the study made it clear that wheel-running is “some type of rewarding behavior” and “probably not driven by stress or anxiety.”
Mice accounted for 88 percent of the wheel-running events, and spent one minute to 18 on the wheel.  (Frogs and slugs were also studied …

Drink Sunscreen? Company Says You Can, Experts, Not So Much

Can you drink sunscreen?  Would you believe some marketers think you can?

Or, at least, they want you to.

According to, there has been media coverage about “drinkable sunscreen” that claims to provide sun protection through the ingestion of water that allegedly has been infused with electromagnetic waves. 

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) wants to alert consumers that this drink should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen or sun-protective clothing. There is currently no scientific evidence that this “drinkable sunscreen” product provides any protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays.  

There is currently no scientific evidence that this “drinkable sunscreen” product provides any protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays, says the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) and warns consumers not to abandon the ritual of slathering on sunscreen when you go outdoors in the summer (or just about any other time).

Broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF o…

Fat Candidate? Don't Expect Many Votes

Larger waistline.  Bigger eater.  Non-exerciser.  At risk of dying earlier.

These are all the things we think when we hear about obesity.  But did you also know it means fewer votes?

That's right.  A new study has found evidence of voter bias against hefty candidates for U.S. Senate after controlling for other factors.

Who comes to mind right away?  For me, Gov. Chris Christie of N.J.  He may be a great governor (jury still out on that), but the first thing his name summons is the image of a fat guy, at least to me.

I know it's not fair but whenever I see him in his yards and yards of white or blue button-down shirts, all I can think about is what it would be like to sit next to him, overflowing into your chair.  Would that stop me from voting for him?  Maybe.  (He's also a Republican, which pretty much would.)

“Heavier candidates tended to receive lower vote share than their thinner counterparts and the larger the size difference between the candidates, the larger the vote sha…

Yay! A Program That Helps Kids Behave Better -- And Do Better -- in School

A program to help kids manage their behavior has also had another astounding result.  The kids do better in their academic subjects too. 

According to, a program aimed at reducing behavior problems in order to boost academic achievement has improved performance in math and reading among low-income kindergartners and first graders, according to a study by researchers at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

“Supporting young low-income children so they can reach their potential in the classroom and beyond is of vital importance,” the Web site quotes Sandee McClowry, a professor in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Applied Psychology and the study’s senior author. “Our findings show that learning is enhanced when it also addresses the social and emotional development of children.”

Duh.  But how many programs out there do this?

"Previous scholarship has shown that growing up in poverty significantly increases the likelihood that …

Want More Romance? Drive Somewhere Together

When we were first dating, my husband and I decided to take a car trip through Canada.  We sailed, with our car, on a ferry from Maine to New Brunswick and started the drive. The deal was, you drove to a different city each day and stayed overnight, making your way slowly through Canada.

As we started out, it seemed like a great idea.  We were free (no cell phones or iPads in those days) and as we drove, we talked.  I'll admit some of it wasn't so nice, like having to stop by the side of the road every afternoon so he could nap (and he was only 34! but this was befoe we knew he had ADHD), and not wanting to stop, when I did, to shop. 

Looking back on it, I see it could have been a disaster.  We didn't know each other that well yet and hours alone in a car could have been, well, a calamity.  But we got through it, and pretty much enjoyed it (except when I was driving and he slept the whole time).  

And now a new study confirms what we knew.  Your car may be the best place to s…

Want to be CEO? It's Easy. Luck, Talent, and Work Your A*@ Off

What does it take to ratchet your way up to CEO?  Luck?  Skill?  Talent?

Prepare to be disappointed.  It's work.  Work hard.  Work, work.  And never stop.

Or so says Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, at Pfeffer examined the habits of over 150 successful writers, artists and scientists. Pritchett writes in his findings that "the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing," Charlie Osborne writes. In total, most clocked in 60 - 65 hours of work a week.
What's one of the biggest ways to succeed? Learning how to say 'no' is a key skill that most successful people master, according to Osborne.

Guess what? It's luck. What's that old saying? Success is where luck and talent meet? Something like that.

"Hard work and saying no are all good and well, but how do you explain the lucky breaks that successful people seem to have? According to author of 'The Luck Factor,…

High Cholesterol? May Be Harder to Conceive

Women -- and men, too -- who are hoping to conceive may want to have their cholesterol checked.  A new study says that if a man or woman has high cholesterol levels, it will take longer.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. About a third of American adults – 71 million – have high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reports. Only one of every three adults with high LDL cholesterol has the condition under control.

"In addition to raising the risk of cardiovascular disease, our findings suggest cholesterol may contribute to infertility,” newswise quotes one of the study’s authors, Enrique F. Schisterman, MS, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in Bethesda, MD. “Our results suggest prospective parents may want to have their cholesterol checked to ensure thei…

Do You Have Papilloma Virus? Probably

It wasn't so long ago that we'd never heard the word "papilloma," let alone used in conjunction with "virus."

But a shocking new study has found that up to 2/3 of healthy American adults may harbor this virus.

The good news is that only a few of the 109 strains cause cancer, according to

The Web site reports that researchers say that while most of the viral strains so far appear to be harmless and can remain dormant for years, their overwhelming presence suggests a delicate balancing act for HPV infection in the body, in which many viral strains keep each other in check, preventing other strains from spreading out of control. Although infection is increasingly known to happen through skin-to-skin contact, HPV remains the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is so common that experts estimate nearly all men and women contract some strain of it during their lives.

“Our study offers initial and broad evidence of a seemi…

Live a Long Life? Thank Your Taste Buds

What if the way you tasted creme brulee could determine how long you live?

Amazingly, a new study has found that, in fruit flies, taste buds appear to help promote a long, healthy life. Of course, we're not fruit flies.  But they actually have a close resemblance to us.  According to the University of North Carolina, fruit flies share 75% of the genes that cause disease in humans." reports that taste buds "may in fact have a powerful role in a long and healthy life – at least for fruit flies, say two new studies that appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America."

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Switzerland found that suppressing the animal’s ability to taste its food –regardless of how much it actually eats – can significantly increase or decrease its length of life and potentially promote healthy aging.

Bitter tas…

Now That Stuff You Cook With May Protect Against Air Pollution, Too

It's good for your heart.  It's supposed to help you lose weight.  And it makes a tasty spaghetti aglio e olio.

I'm talking, of course, about olive oil.  My husband takes every vitamin under the sun and now it's going to be olive oil supplements.

A new study has found that these supplements may protect us from air pollution.

“Exposure to airborne particulate matter can lead to (unregulated blood clotting), a condition in which the inner lining of blood vessels does not function normally, which is a risk factor for clinical cardiovascular events and progression of atherosclerosis,” said lead study author Dr. Haiyan Tong, MD, PhD, a research biologist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, at “As olive oil and fish oil are known to have beneficial effects on (this type of) dysfunction, we examined whether use of these supplements would counteract the adverse cardiovascular effects of exposure to concentrated ambient particulate matter in a con…

Don't Sleep Much in Third Trimester? Your Baby May Be Fat, Later in Life

Something new to blame mothers for!  A new study has found that poor-quality sleep during the third trimester of pregnancy can increase the odds of weight gain and metabolic abnormalities in offspring once they reach adulthood, according to

By 24 weeks the sons of sleep-disturbed mothers weighed about 10 percent more than the sons of mice with uninterrupted sleep.

“Disrupted sleep is a common problem during the final trimester of a pregnancy,” the Web site quotes study director, sleep specialist David Gozal, MD, the Herbert T Abelson professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago. “For some women, sleep fragmentation, especially sleep apnea, can be profound. We wanted to devise a system that enabled us to measure the potential impact of fragmented sleep on the fetus, which is uniquely susceptible so early in life.”

The researchers interrupted sleep for half of the mice in the study during days 15 through 19 of pregnancy, the mouse equivalent of the third trimester, ne…

Do We Trust Strangers Out of Obligation?

Now, this is weird.  But it makes sense.  Obligation makes us trust strangers.

Say what?  A  new study has found that "trusting a stranger may have more to do with feeling morally obligated to show respect for someone else's character than actually believing the person is trustworthy,"according to new research published by the American Psychological Association, reports.

I fear I may be that person.  Brought up to show politeness and deference to everyone, I'm the person who says, "oh, I'm sorry" when someone else pushes their way past me.  

"Trust is crucial not just for established relationships, it's also especially vital between strangers within social groups who have no responsibility toward each other outside of a single, transitory interaction. eBay or farmers' markets couldn't exist without trust among strangers," the Web site quotes lead author David Dunning, PhD, of Cornell University. "We wanted to examine…

Take Antidepressants? You May Never Get Alzheimer's

Antidepressants have helped millions feel better about their lives.  And now they may play an even bigger role in making us feel good.  They may prevent Alzheimer's.

A new study has found that a commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer’s brain plaques, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania.

Stopping plaque buildup may halt the disastrous mental decline caused by the disorder. reports that this research supports preliminary mouse studies that evaluated a variety of antidepressants.

The scientists found that the antidepressant citalopram (or Celexa) stopped the growth of plaques in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. And in young adults who were cognitively healthy, a single dose of the antidepressant lowered by 37 percent the production of amyloid beta, the primary ingredient in plaques. "Although the findings are encouraging, the scient…

Child Overweight? Peers Will Pick Skinnier Kids for Friends

After battling all the issues that come with being overweight -- poor health, body image concerns, even mobility problems for some -- a new study has found that overweight kids may have a problem getting friends, too.  The study showed that overweight kids are less likely than their thinner counterparts to be chosen as a friend by their peers. reports that the study, involving data from almost 60,000 students from 88 middle and high schools, used a social networking approach asking adolescent participants, at an average age of 15, to identify their five closest female friends and five closest male friends. "Body mass index was self-reported and participants were categorized as underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese," the Web site notes.. Results from the study indicate that non-overweight youths were more likely to select non-overweight friends than friends who carried extra weight.  But while the heavier students didn't pay much attention to weight …