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Obesity Increases Risk of Stroke in Younger Adults

Excess weight increases stroke risk.

Researchers compared 1,201 people who had their first stroke between ages 15-49 with a control group who had no strokes. After adjusting for age, race, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure the obese men had a 34% higher risk of stroke and women a 7% higher risk than the normal weight controls. Because this studied relied on self-reported height and weight, it may have underestimated the impact of obesity and stroke.

PositiveTip: Maintain normal weight through a healthy diet and lifestyle to minimize risk of stroke.

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Teenage Drinking Shrinks Gray Matter

Normal development of the teenage brain affected by use of alcohol.

Heavy drinking of alcohol during adolescence appears to lead to the exaggerated loss of gray matter and an increase in white matter compared to non-drinking peers. The study subjects tended to drink in binges on weekends or at parties. At baseline average GPA was 3.5 (of 4), but the drinkers average dropped during the study to 3.2, while the non-drinkers remained the same.

PositiveTip: Encourage adolescents to avoid the use of all alcohol!

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Heart Hope for Obese Children

A plant-based diet may reduce heart disease risk for obese children

Researchers compared a plant-based diet and the American Heart Association (AHA) diet for heart-health effects on 28 obese children. After only four weeks, both diets showed significant improvements but those on a plant-based diet had additional improvements in BMI, blood pressure, insulin, total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. A plant-based diet included plant foods, whole grains, limited avocado and nuts, no-added-fat. The AHA diet included refined grains, low-fat dairy, selected plant oils, and lean meat and fish in moderation. 

PositiveTip: Overweight or not, choose a plant-based diet for you and your children. 

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Weed Whacking Nail in the Eye

Wearing goggles could save your sight when using a string trimmer.

A 27 year old professional landscaper was using his weed whacker (string trimmer) in Boston when it flung a nail into his right eye. He used his cell phone to call 911 and was in the emergency department within 20 minutes. Other than suffering severe pain, he was alert and well. Eight weeks after removal his sight was fully restored. His physicians describe him as being "extremely fortunate."

PositiveTip: Always wear goggles when using power equipment, including weed whackers.

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Teen Age Depression--the "Other" STD

Every day more than 27,000 youth in the U.S. become infected with a STD.

In the U.S. an estimated 20 million new infections of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) occur annually, half of which are shouldered by America's youth. The Centers for Disease Control acknowledge that abstinence is the surest way to prevent these diseases. Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician, suggests teen depression is the "other" STD and urges parents to openly talk with their children about these issues.

PositiveTip: Parents, do not gloss over the dangers of teenage sex. Encourage abstinence instead.

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Your Grip Strength is a Powerful Predictor

Grip strength is a simple and robust predictor of death risk.

A large, international study has revealed that for each 5 kilogram decrease in grip strength, over all mortality risk increased by 16%, cardiovascular mortality by 17%, and a 9% increase in stroke risk. The findings were consistent across nationalities and economic levels.

PositiveTip: Keep up the strength exercises. They could lower your risk of premature death.

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Is the Fox Guarding the Hen House?

If the first cereal ingredient is sugar, it is not part of a healthy breakfast.

In 2009. seventeen of the largest makers of breakfast cereals and fast foods pledged to self-regulate what foods and to whom it advertised those foods. Now researchers have found while technically the food companies have fulfilled their promises, 80% of all food advertisements directed at children are still for junk foods that "taste good." Maybe actual regulation would accomplish more.

PositiveTip: Educate your children and family to better understand the importance of healthy food choices.

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Genetic Symphony

Listening to classical music regularly may give you a genetic advantage.

Finnish researchers examined the effects of classical music on the brain at the molecular level on both musically experienced (48) and inexperienced (15) people. Genetic activity increased for the "feel-good" hormone dopamine, as well as genes involved in memory, learning and synaptic activity. Genes associated with neuro-degeneration were less active. Only musically experienced participants exhibited these effects. 

PositiveTip: Get "musically experienced" and regularly enjoy classical music for both genetic and mental health benefits. You can start with the Mozart concerto used by researchers. 

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Walking Lowers Risk of Stroke

Time spent walking seems more important than the speed of walking.

A British study of over 3000 healthy men ages 60-80 found as their walking increased their risk of stroke decreased. Those who walked 8-14 hours per week had one-third the risk of stroke compared to those who walked 3 hours per week or less. When they upped their walking to 22 hours per week their stroke risk dropped by two-thirds! Walking burns calories, helps the heart and muscles and relieves stress.

PositiveTip: Put on your walking shoes and get moving today--and each day following!

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Hispanics in U.S. Have Lower Mortality Rates

The impact of social support is often underestimated.

Hispanics living in the U.S. experience 24% lower mortality than non-Hispanic whites. More than 40% of Hispanics do not have healthcare versus 15% of whites. What could cause this important advantage? Authors noted less smoking and much stronger family support among Hispanics could explain this difference.

PositiveTip: Strong social support is a very important contributor to robust health and longevity.