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The Obvious Assumption

There are two kinds of dietary information: simple and complex. Simple information categorizes everything into a few groups, either stigmatizing the bad groups or promoting a particular good group. Complex information breaks everything down into multiple options that require a chemistry/physiology degree to understand.

This seems especially true when trying to understand fatty acids: their intake, their functions in the body, and their proper balance in the diet. Let’s try a middle ground – a little complex information without too much chemistry and a little simple information without too much stigmatizing.

Soda Clogs Arteries Even in Skinny Women

Sugary drinks create heart risks for women even if they are normal weight. This is the finding of a study presented at the American Heart Association meetings in Florida by Dr. Christina Shay.

In this study, 4000 women from 45-84 years of age were followed for 5 years. Women who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day were compared to women who drank one or less daily. 

Women drinking two or more sugary drinks per day were four times as likely to develop high triglycerides. This was true for skinny women as well as those who were overweight. Elevated triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease. So, sodas in the daily diet can clog your arteries, leading to heart attacks and death. 

Family Connectedness

Adolescent risk behaviors have been a focus of research for many years as scientists try to understand what influences are important, and what can be done to prevent risks.

One focus of recent literature is the impact of family connectedness on teenage health.

Research tells us that family connectedness has a positive influence on adolescent risk behaviors such as substance use, interpersonal violence, emotional distress, and sexual behaviors. Many factors that can effect a teenager's development, health, and behavior -- but one major factor is their social environment.

Studies have shown again and again the significance of family connectedness and the tremendous influence it can have on adolescent health. With parental support, communication, and interaction between teens and parents, youth have an increased opportunity to live healthier, more productive lives and are less likely to participate in health risk behaviors.

Outdoor Play Prevents Nearsighted Vision

If you let your children get plenty of play outdoors they may never need glasses for nearsightedness. Nearsightedness, (myopia), is very common. Nearsighted school children are often assigned seats in the front of the classroom and usually need to wear glasses to see distant objects clearly. It is estimated that nearsightedness affects 42 percent of the people in the United States.

A research team in Cambridge England analyzed data from eight other studies that examined the amount of time children spent playing outside and correlated that with the prevalence of myopia. More than 10,000 children were examined in these studies.

Nature or Nurture?

Which has the greatest effect when it comes to the cause of disease? Although only a few statistical studies try to answer this question, one recent study suggests that about 5% of obesity is caused by genetics. That means 95% of the overweight problem is a result of environment – cultural patterns, economic constraints, formal and informal educational levels, health intervention awareness, parental modeling, social pressures, advertising and personal choices.

This is an amazing statistic - especially when so many overweight people tend to say: “It runs in my family.” So we have to ask: “What runs in the family? Genetics or habit patterns? Are these problems from the gene pool or from cultivated cultural/familial choice patterns?”

Clearly, most of the problem lies with the habits we have learned, not the DNA we were born with.

Teenage Suicide Risk is Real

Teenage suicide is not a pleasant topic to consider, but it is necessary. This is the first of two posts addressing this subject with information from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Suicides among young people continue to be a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds.

Obesity Gene Switched Off by Exercise

In 2007, the FTO (fat, mass, and obesity) gene was discovered which predisposes humans to develop obesity. This obesity gene is found in about 75% of people from Europe, and African Americans but only 44% of Asians.

People with one copy of the FTO gene have an increased risk of obesity of 30%. A person with two copies of the FTO gene have a risk of obesity of 70%. Dr. Ruth Loos recently did an analysis of dozens of studies that included over 200,000 individuals. 

Some of the people who exercised regularly—the equivalent of walking for 30 minutes 5 days a week—turned off their obesity genes. There was an across the board 30% reduction in obesity for those who exercised, no matter how many copies of the FTO gene they had. 

The Truth about Prostate Cancer

Martin Ware sat on the edge of the exam table, dressed only in his underwear, barely covered by a paper thin examination gown. “I hope we get this over with soon,” he thought. Martin was worried.

Dr. Doren breezed into the room, a patient chart in his hand and a smile on his face. “Good morning, Martin. How are we doing today?” The doctor’s eyes took in the stiff posture and the worried facial expression of his patient.

“I’m a little worried about what’s going to happen today.” Martin fidgeted on the end of the table.

Dr. Doren sat down on the little roll around stool and crossed his legs. “What about?” he asked.

“I’ve been reading in the papers about prostate cancer and I know you had them draw my PSA last week.” Martin was talking rapidly, anxiously. “And I saw that some doctors want to do digital exams every year and some don’t think you need to. And my friends said that I was in for it today. And I just wondered . . . what would happen.”

Diet Controls Genes for Heart Attacks

Heart disease kills more people than any other disease. Major causes of heart attacks include cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. You can also inherit defective genes from your father or mother that will increase your risk of having a heart attack. 

You can control what you eat but your genetic make up is beyond your control. This turns out NOT to be true. 

A large study screened a population of 8000 Europeans, Chinese, South Asians, Arabs, and Latin Americans for genetic defects on chromosome 9 in the p21 region. They looked for four specific defects in a single DNA building block (single nucleotide polymorphisms).