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UN Calls for Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products

Tobacco kills almost 6 million people every year.

On May 31, World No Tobacco Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all governments around the globe to require plain packaging of tobacco products in order to save lives. Restricting or prohibiting  the use of logos, colors and brand images save for brand and product name displayed in a standard color and font would save lives by reducing demand for tobacco products. It would also help families retain more of their income.

PositiveTip: Tobacco use is still one of the largest causes of preventable non-communicable disease. 

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Weight Loss in Obese Young Women Improves Fertility

Reducing calories and increasing physical activity increased the odds of natural conception.

A high body-mass index (BMI) combined with a sedentary lifestyle decreases the likelihood of natural conception. Dutch researchers randomized 574 infertile, obese women to a six month lifestyle program of lowered calories and increased physical activity followed by infertility treatment.  Those in this group experienced 10% higher natural conception than the control group which received infertility treatments immediately.

PositiveTip: Modest weight loss and more exercise can increase the chances of natural conception in young infertile, obese women.

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Another Reason Not to Smoke During Pregnancy

Prenatal exposure to cotinine was associated with increased risk of schizophrenia.

A prospective study in Finland from 1983 to 1998 has found maternal cotinine levels (one of many toxic substances in cigarette smoking), after adjusting for multiple confounders, conveyed a significant excess risk (2.6 to 3.4 times higher) for schizophrenia. When psychiatric disorders were explored for maternal and paternal histories there was no significant additional risk.

PositiveTip: The evidence is clear: maternal cigarette smoking is dangerous for the physical and mental health of the child.

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Eat Less for a Better Life

Nonobese adults who ate less for 2 years lost weight and functioned better.

Researchers randomized 220 healthy, nonobese adults and assigned them to 2 years of 25% calorie restriction (CR) or the usual calorie intake (AL). The CR group received individual and group counseling. At 24 months the CR group had lost 7.6 kg (16.8 pounds) compared to the 0.4 kg (0.9 pounds) of the AL group. The CR group experienced significant improvement in mood, sleep quality, sexual drive, relationship satisfaction, and quality of life.

PositiveTip: Try eating less to enhance your quality of life and maybe extend your lifespan, too.

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Importance of Love and Connections

Health destroying habits are frequently used to numb the pain of depression.

Canadian researchers studied 222 survivors of heart attacks. Six months after the heart attack those who were depressed were 4 times more likely to be dead than those who weren't depressed. These findings were independent of cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight and even smoking. 

PositiveTip: People who are lonely and depressed are much more likely to get sick and die prematurely compared to those with a strong sense of love, connection, and community.

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Lifestyle Modifications Make Big Difference in Cancer Burden

Chance does not drive all cancer risk.

More than 28,000 healthcare professionals who met four healthy-living criteria (never or past smoking, moderate or no alcohol, BMI of 18.5-27.4, and regular physical activity) were compared with over 100,000 participants who did not meet all four criteria. Researchers estimated that 25% of cancers in women and 33% in men could have been prevented. Also, these simple health habits could prevent 48% of cancer deaths in women and 44% in men.

PositiveTip: Don't wait for new medical discoveries. Lower your risk of cancer now by choosing to live healthfully.

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Important Touchy-Feely Stuff

Positive relationships are essential for positive health!

Rabbits were placed on a high-cholesterol diet thinking they would all get heart disease. They were stacked in cages to the ceiling. Those in the higher cages got significantly more heart disease compared to the lower ones. It was found the technician caring for them was short and only played with the lower ones. The study was repeated. This time the group that was touched, petted and loved experienced 60% less heart disease than the ones ignored.

PositiveTip: Connection and community with others is essential to reducing disease risk.

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Nutrition Facts Label to be Modernized

Improved nutrition label coming.

A new and improved Nutrition Facts label will be appearing on your (U.S.) food products. More valuable information will be displayed to help you make wholesome food choices, including:

  • Serving sizes will more accurately reflect what people actually eat.
  • Daily values will now include sodium, dietary fiber, and Vit D.
  • The "calories" and "servings" information will be more prominent. 
  • Information on "added sugars" will be included.
  • "Calories from Fat" will be removed, but total, saturated, and trans fat information is still listed.

PositiveTip: Pay attention to the Nutrition Facts label to be informed!

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Keep Moving Every Day to Lower Cancer Risk

Leisure-time activity lowers the risk of 13 common types of cancer.

Results of 12 prospective U.S. and European cancer studies were pooled (1.44 million participants) to analyze the impact of high vs low physical activity levels. Leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks for 13 common cancers types. Most of these benefits were present regardless of body weight or smoking history (lung cancer excepted). Melanoma was an exception, probably because of more unprotected exposure to sunlight.

PositiveTip: Lower your cancer risk by engaging in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.

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Long-term Risks of Teenage Obesity

Excess BMI in late teens associated with death from cardiovascular disease years later.

Researchers in Israel found when late teens are obese their risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in adulthood increases significantly. Here are a few of the hazard ratios:

  • Coronary heart disease deaths: HR 4.9
  • Total cardiovascular mortality: HR 3.5
  • Death from stroke: HR 2.6
  • Sudden death: HR 2.1

Interestingly, the impact of teenage obesity was seen by middle-age, well before cardiovascular deaths are the greatest.

PositiveTip: Maintaining a healthy weight during the teen years impacts health and well-being years later.