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Eating Whole Grains Improve Cholesterol with Statins

Combining statins with whole grains in the diet yields significant benefits.

One in four adults over 40 years old are taking a statin medication to improve their cholesterol levels. Tufts University researchers studied almost 4300 adults over 45 years old and found non-HDL levels significantly lower in statin users, but those who consumed more than 16 grams of whole grains per day were even lower. This held true with adjustments for demographics and lifestyle factors.

PositiveTip: Do not rely only on a statin. Consume a healthy diet with plenty of whole grains to maximize the benefit.

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Senior Brains Benefit from Physical Activity

Leisure-time physical activity is beneficial in reducing cognitive decline in seniors.

Researchers with the Northern Manhattan Study have found that low levels of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) in seniors is an independent risk factor for declining cognitive performance compared to moderate to heavy intensity LTPA. More than 1200 participants were followed for 5 years. The data was adjusted for confounders, including vascular disease. 

PositiveTip: It is never too late to begin regular physical activity--it benefits even seniors!

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Does Skipping Breakfast Make You Fatter?

Methodological limitations question the breakfast/healthy weight link.

Numerous studies have found links between eating breakfast and maintaining a healthy weight or skipping it and becoming overweight. But association is not causation. A U.K. study found breakfast seems to be a proxy for other factors like conscientious healthy eating and vigorous exercise. A very large study concluded the breakfast consumption theory was not consistently associated with differences in BMI or overweight--and the authors are consultants to Kellogg's!

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Abrupt Cessation of Cigarettes Best

"Cold turkey" method of quitting yields superior results.

Many smokers think it is easier and less difficult to quit smoking by gradually cutting down on the number of cigarettes they smoke per day. A randomized trial in the U.K. found those who set a quit date and abruptly quit experienced significantly better success rates 6 six months later, compared to those who set a date and then cut back gradually over 2 weeks. All subjects received nicotine replacement therapy and behavioral support.

PositiveTip: Setting a date and then abruptly quitting seems to be the best method.

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MIND Diet May Delay Alzheimer's

MIND dietary pattern good for brain health!

Evidence suggests both the DASH Diet and a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern have significant brain benefits. A dietary pattern that combines the best of both of these may be even more protective. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention of Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline. This was equivalent to 7.5 years of younger age. The MIND diet emphasizes green leafy vegetables, berries and olive oil--each rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

PositiveTip: Plant-based foods and limited intakes of animal products may significantly help delay dementia.

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Stomach Cancer Risk

Convincing evidence shows that alcohol, processed meats and obesity increase risk.

A comprehensive and systematic review of global research shows that drinking alcohol, consuming processed meat and being overweight all increase the risk of stomach cancer. For each 50 grams (1.8 ounces) of processed meat consumed each day--the equivalent of ony one hot dog--increases the risk of stomach cancer by 18%. Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer world wide.

PositiveTip: Nearly 4,000 cases of stomach cancer could be avoided by some simple lifestyle choices.

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Global Cost of Diabetes is Now $825 Billion

The most important risk factor for diabetes is obesity.

When a person loses their ability to regulate their blood sugar, they have  diabetes and are at increased risk for heart and kidney disease, loss of vision, and amputations. There are now 422 million adults in the world with diabetes--four times as many as in 1980. Some amazing diabetes data visualizations can be viewed here!

PositiveTip: While the interaction of genes and environment play a role in diabetes, so do physical activity and a healthy diet.

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Traumatic Brian Injury in Pro Football Players

The more years a player spent in the NFL the higher the risk of traumatic brain injury.

A small, prospective study of 40 retired National Football League (U.S.) players revealed over 40% had MRI evidence of traumatic brain injury. Additionally,  these individuals experienced significant abnormalities in attention and concentration (42%), in executive functions (50%), and learning/memory issues (44.7%). Excellent resources about sports concussions are available here.

PositiveTip:  Growing evidence suggests caution before allowing children or adults to engage in contact sports.

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No Decline in Tobacco Use Among U.S. Teens

Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S.

There has been no decline in overall tobacco use among middle and high school students in the U.S. since 2011. The use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco has declined--while the use of nontraditional products such as e-cigarettes and hookah pipes continues to rise. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among teens today. Sadly these products remain unregulated.

PositiveTip: No form of tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug that may cause permanent harm to brain development.

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Zika Virus and Microcephaly

New research says there is no longer any question that Zika causes microcephaly.

Until now, scientists have been cautious about definitely linking Zika virus infections with the birth defect microcephaly which causes an abnormally small head and damaged brains. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now says there is sufficient evidence to prove this link.

PositiveTip: To prevent Zika infections when in infected areas avoid mosquito bites and prevent sexual transmission by using condoms or do not have sex with those potentially exposed to the virus.