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Longevity and Healthcare Expenditure

The U.S. spends $2000 per person more than Switzerland but life expectancy is almost 4 years less.

Oxford University economists Ortiz-Ospina and Roser have put together a comprehensive document on healthcare financing (data geeks will love this). When they plot per-capita healthcare spending against life expectancy for the wealthiest countries, the U.S. comes up wanting (see the last graph in section II.) This does not fully address causality because there are many factors that influence this such as exercise, eating habits, culture and lifestyle, etc. 

PositiveTip: Remember, medical care may be second-to-none, but your lifestyle choices have a profound influence on your longevity!

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"T" Therapy May Speed Up Atherosclerosis

Older men should be cautious about testosterone therapy.

Is testosterone treatment of older men with low testosterone levels good for the heart? Apparently not, based on a randomized clinical trial of 170 men aged 65 or older. The experimental group received testosterone gel for a year to attain youthful testosterone levels and had a 20% increase in buildup of noncalcified plaque in their coronary arteries compared to those who received a placebo gel. More research is warranted.

PositiveTip: Plaque progression is not good. Older men, especially those with atherosclerosis should think twice about taking "T" therapy.

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Alcohol and Marijuana Affect College Grades

Use of alcohol and marijuana does impact academic performance.

The two most commonly used substances on college campuses are alcohol and marijuana. Researchers followed freshmen from two collages for two years, tracking academic performance and monthly use of alcohol and cannabis. The lowest users of both substances maintained the highest GPAs, and had the lowest depression scores when compared to those with moderate to high alcohol but no marijuana use or moderate to high users of both. Grades improved with lower substance abuse!

PositiveTip: Going for the gold academically? Stay away from alcohol and marijuana.

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Restaurant Meals Heavy in Calories

Making healthy choices while eating out continues to be a challenge!

A research team found when assessing 364 meals from 123 different restaurants in three average American cities that 92% exceeded the recommended calorie level for a single meal. They studied both large-chain and local restaurants. The researchers also found that a single serving, before appetizers, beverages, and dessert, often exceeded the caloric needs for a whole day!

PositiveTip: If you eat out often it may be very hard to maintain ideal weight. Beware of excessive serving sizes!

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Suboptimal Dietary Factors Associated with Death from Heart Disease

The highest proportion of cardiometabolic deaths were estimated to be related to excess salt.

A comparative risk assessment model has estimated that 45.4% of all cardiometabolic (heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes) deaths in U.S. adults was associated with suboptimal consumption of the following specific dietary factors:

  1. High sodium intake (9.5%).
  2. Low consumption of nuts and seeds (8.5%).
  3. High consumption of processed meats (8.2%).
  4. Low omega-3 fatty acids (7.8%).
  5. Low vegetable intake 7.6%).
  6. Low fruit intake (7.5%).
  7. High intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (7.4%).

PositiveTip: Optimizing the consumption of the items above could reduce the risk of premature cardiometabolic deaths significantly.

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Methods to Encourage Healthier Hearts

Small increases in fruit, vegetable, and whole grain intake occurred in all four groups.

Encouraging people to follow a heart-healthy diet continues to be a challenge. Researchers assessed the benefits of 6 months of dietary advice  on 919 healthy, but obese, participants. They were randomized to receive telephone-delivered advice plus a weekly food basket, advice only, food basket only, and diet as usual. After 6 months it was found a food basket resulted in the same small benefits as providing a pamphlet of information.

PositiveTip: Even small measures may lead to lasting positive dietary changes.

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The I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter Blues

SoyNut Butter contaminated with Escherichia coli.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now attributes the consumption of  I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter to at least 16 cases of E Coli infection in 9 states. Half of those infected have been hospitalized, and 5 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (blood in the urine). The SoyNut Butter Co. has recalled all varieties of its products due to possible contamination.

PositiveTip: If you purchased this SoyNut Butter or any of the I.M. Healthy granola products, do not consume them. Return them to the place of purchase. Call the company at 1-800-288-1012 if you have questions.

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Colorectal Cancer Increasing Among Young Adults

Obesity in young adults increases risk of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer appears to be increasing in younger adults after decades of declining rates. Between 1974 and 2013 colon cancer rates increased by 2.4% each year for adults in their 20s and by 1% among those in the 30s. The increase in the same population for rectal cancer was even greater. It is suspected that high obesity rates may play a significant role in this increase.

PositiveTip: While we often repeat this, maintaining ideal body weight through a balanced diet and physical activity reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.

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Excess Weight Increases Risk of Eleven Cancers

The absence of excess body fat lowers the risk of most cancers,

Scientists have found 11 types of cancer show a strong association with excess body fat, according to a systematic review of the literature. The strongest evidence was seen for gastric, colon, rectum, bile duct system, pancreas, breast, endometrial, ovary, kidney, esophageal adenocarcinoma, and multiple myeloma.

PositiveTip: Avoid consuming excess calories and engage in physical activity daily to maintain ideal weight and reduce your risk of these common cancers.

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AAP Issues Guidelines to Parents About Marijuana Use

Average cannabis potency has surged and many adolescents have overdosed.

While cannabis acceptance in society is increasing, there are significant issues parents need to be aware of:

  • the developing adolescent brain can be harmed by regular marijuana use
  • vaporizing cannabis may introduce toxic chemicals into young bodies
  • parents should not use marijuana in front of their children to avoid inadvertently encouraging its use
  • marijuana edibles should be carefully stored away from children

PositiveTip: Remember, the younger an adolescent begins using drugs, the more likely that adult drug dependence or addiction will develop.