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The Sneaky New Tobacco

Don't believe what you hear. Hookah smoking is just as dangerous as cigarette smoking.

Cigarette smoking in the US has declined by 33% in the last decade, but hookah smoking is on the rise, especially amongst educated young adults and high school seniors. Many believe the ancient communal water pipe tobacco ritual is safe but  hookah smoking is linked to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

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Adult Lifestyle Changes Lower Heart Risk

Healthy lifestyle changes during young adulthood pay big dividends.

Five healthy lifestyle changes (not overweight/obese, low alcohol intake, healthy diet, physically active, nonsmoker) have been found to lower risk of heart disease in later life. Researchers found the opposite was true also: adding unhealthy habits or dropping healthy ones increased risks.

PositiveTip: Choosing good lifestyle habits, even in young adulthood, moderates the risk of heart disease during the lifetime.

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Depression Predictor of Alzheimers?

Brain tissue buildup associated with depression may predict Alzheimer's diagnosis later.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. There is little to be done for treatment so prevention is key. Researchers know that a buildup of the brain protein beta-amyloid is predictive of Alzheimer's. When comparing depressed and non-depressed patients amongst 371 people, researchers found that patients classified with severe depression had a 15% increase in beta-amyloid buildup.

PositiveTip: Invest in mental health for yourself and your loved ones. Social support, counseling and learning coping skills will improve your quality of life.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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Sitting Increases Risk of Cancer

Exercise will not undo the harm of sitting all day!

Sitting can be fatal! Researchers in Germany did a meta-analysis of 43 observational studies that included more than 4 million people. They found sitting is associated with a 24% increased risk of colon cancer, 32% increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer. The bad news from this study is you cannot exercise away sitting's harmful effects. When adjustments were made for physical activity it did not erase the impact of sitting.

PositiveTip: Keep moving regularly all day long!

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Soy Safe in Men with Low Testosterone

Soy phytoestrogens lowered triglycerides, C-reactive protein and diastolic BP.

There has been some concern that use of soy products might lower male testosterone levels due to the phytoestrogens mimicking testosterone in the body. However, researchers reported a randomized trial where men 55-70 years old with low testosterone levels ate soy protein bars with or without soy phytoestrogens. Results demonstrated there was no risk and in fact demonstrated positive benefits.

PositiveTip: Low "T" or not, it seems safe to consume soy products--even supplements, though not necessarily recommended.

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Health Risks of Home Care

Unsanitary conditions and poorly trained staff pose hazards for home-based health care.

Home-based health care is often a preferable alternative to costly, uncomfortable long-term hospital care. However, a recent analysis raises concerns to watch for if you or a loved one use home care. Researchers found the infection rates ranged from 5% to 80% in different home settings. Untrained workers and unsterile catheters were common causes, particularly among patients using them for nutrient delivery or urination.

PositiveTip: Make sure you or your home-care aide are well trained to avoid infections.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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All Testosterone Products Carry VTE Risk

General warning about blood clots in veins associated with "T" therapy now required.

"T" (short for testosterone) gets a lot of press today, with millions of men taking some form of supplement. Because of an increasing number of reports of blood clots in testosterone users, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now requiring label changes on approved products to warn of increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) unrelated to polycythemia.

PositiveTip: Unless medically necessary it is probably best to avoid testosterone use.

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Statin Users May Exercise Less

Men using cholesterol controlling drugs may actually exercise less.

Thousands of people use statin medications to control their blood cholesterol levels, but their behavior may reduce the benefits. A recent study of 6000 men aged 65 and older found that after 7 years, statin users engaged in 40 minutes less of moderate exercise per week than non-statin users. Researchers think statin's side effects (muscle pain, fatigue & weakness) may be to blame.

PositiveTip: Stay active and maintain a healthy diet to aid or even avoid statin use later on.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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Fit Kids May Be Faster...at Reading

Physically fit children's brains perform better in reading tests than less fit kids.

They're not sure why, but researchers have found that fit kids have stronger language skills. Researchers measured brain activity for aerobically fit and unfit children while reading both normal and jumbled sentences. The fit kids performed better on both sentences. While they can't prove fitness directly causes improved cognitive performance, it appears fit kids' brains may better allocate brain resources for reading.

PositiveTip: Keep your kids active, reading comprehension appears to be yet another benefit.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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Red Meat Raises Risk of Breast Cancer

Consumption of red meat in young adult women raises risk of breast cancer.

Eating large amounts of red meat in early adulthood increased the risk of breast cancer. Red meat consumption was analyzed for almost 90,000 women in the Nurses Health Study II. Those consuming the largest amount experienced a 22% increase in breast cancer risk compared to those eating the least. Swapping out red meat for legumes or poultry at one daily meal made a significant reduction.

PositiveTip: Replace red meat with legumes and other vegetable proteins to lower the risk of breast cancer.