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Alcohol Use While Breastfeeding

Offspring of mothers who drank alcohol while breastfeeding had lower cognition.

An Australian observational study followed more than 5000 children from infancy to 11 years old--approximately 4700 were ever breast fed. Infants whose mothers drank alcohol while breast-feeding had lower cognitive scores by age 6. These differences were no longer significant by age 10-11, and were independent of prenatal alcohol use.

PositiveTip: Alcohol use while breastfeeding can significantly impair the mother's ability to self-regulate and make safe choices for herself and/or her child.

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Multivitamins Not Effective for Reducing Heart Disease

Multivitamin supplements fail to boost cardiovascular health.

A large meta-analysis of over 2 million adults with a mean follow-up of 12 years found taking a daily multivitamin supplement was not associated with lower risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, or heart disease.

PositiveTip: Eating a healthy diet that varies from day-day-day will provide adequate nutrition, making it unlikely a daily supplement will confer any additional health benefit.

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Obesity Risk Tied to Mother's Lifestyle Choices

Mom's influence may trump kid's own habits.

An observational study of nearly 25,000 children whose mothers adhered to five healthy lifestyle factors were found to have a 75% lower risk for obesity when compared to children of mothers who did not adhere to any of these habits.  The beneficial lifestyle comprised a healthy diet, regular exercise, BMI less than 25, no smoking, low alcohol intake. Even when the kid's own lifestyle habits were poor, if their mother's led a low risk lifestyle they had a lower risk for obesity!

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Cancer Risks Higher for Flight Attendants

Flight attendants get more cancers.

The glamour of being a flight attendant may wear thin as more research uncovers health risks. Scientists compared the self-reported cancer diagnosis from a group of over 4000 flight attendants with a similar contemporary control group. The flight attendants had a higher prevalence of every cancer examined--especially breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Job tenure was a significant factor in risk. Loss of sleep, jet lag and exposure to carcinogenic chemicals may be to blame.

PositiveTip: Regularity in life, including adequate sleep and avoidance of environmental exposures may reduce cancer risk.

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Moderate Alcohol Use Linked to High Blood Pressure

Even minimal levels of alcohol may influence both short- and long-term health.

A large meta-analysis of over 360,000 adults and 90,000 newly diagnosed hypertensives found that men who averaged 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day had an increased risk for high blood pressure (RR 1.2). As their alcohol intake increased, so did their hypertension risk. In the women, risk began to increase at 3 or more drinks per day.

PositiveTip: Evidence is growing that any level of alcohol is not safe.

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NIH Pulls Funding on Alcohol Study

This study was inadequately powered to assess long-term safety of alcohol.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has withdrawn funding for the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial (MACH15) because of a possible pro-alcohol primary endpoint and inadequate attention to alcohol hazards like some cancers. Industry funding was also solicited by NIH employees in violation of policy. Bravo, for NIH's willingness to stop supporting this study!

PositiveTip: Good, solid studies leave little question there is any safe level of alcohol use.

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Religious People Live Longer

Self-reported attendance at religious services is linked with longevity.

Ohio State University scientists have examined two samples of more than 1600 obituaries looking for religion, marital status and social activities. They found religious people lived an average of 5.64 years longer than nonbelievers. When controlled for gender and marital status the advantage was 3.82 years. Religious values, prayer and mediation, and volunteerism may all help contribute to this advantage.

PositiveTip: Involvement in religious groups may extend your life!

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Marijuana Addiction Growing

It is estimated that 2.7 million Americans are dependent on marijuana.

A Pew Charitable Trust investigation found that marijuana addiction does exist and is growing. While hard numbers are hard to come by, data suggests about 9% of all users become addicted to marijuana (17% among those who start as adolescents). Some treatment centers report increases in those requesting help which may be due to higher concentrations of THC levels. Selective breeding has increased the potency today to 20-30%, up from 2-4% of several decades ago.

PositiveTip: The best policy is to never start, but if you are dependent, get qualified help immediately.

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Suicide Rates Rising

Forty-nine states saw significant increases in suicide rates in the last two decades.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report the suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by almost 25% between 1999 and 2016. North Dakota and Vermont saw the highest increases and Delaware the lowest. Nevada was the outlier with a slight decrease. Rates for both men and women are increasing, and more than 50% of people who committed suicide had no known mental health conditions.

PositiveTip: Know someone depressed, anxious, and abusing substances? Please encourage them to see a mental health professional immediately.

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Sad Facts of Opioids

Opioid deaths are higher than those due to hypertension, pneumonia and HIV/AIDS combined.

You hear a lot about this on the news. Deaths attributable to opioids have increased by 292% in the last 15 years. These amounted to 1.68 million person-years of life in 2016 alone--higher than those due to hypertension, pneumonia and HIV/AIDS. During 2016, 20% of young adult (aged 24-35 years) deaths involved opioids

PositiveTip: There are good medical reasons to use opioids in certain circumstances for short time periods, but using them recreationally in combination with other substances can be deadly.