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Prolonged shortened sleep increases blood pressure at night - People exposed to prolonged periods of shortened sleep have significant increases in blood pressure during nighttime hours. "We know high blood pressure, particularly during the night, is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, and Americans typically do not get enough sleep," says lead author Naima Covassin, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic cardiovascular diseases research fellow. "For the first time, we demonstrated that insufficient sleep causes increases in nighttime blood pressure and dampens nocturnal blood pressure dipping by using a controlled study that mimics the sleep loss experienced by many people". Mayo Clinic

Pre-diabetes label 'unhelpful and unnecessary' - Labelling people with moderately high blood sugar as pre-diabetic is a drastically premature measure with no medical value and huge financial and social costs. 

"Pre-diabetes is an artificial category with virtually zero clinical relevance," says lead author John S Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at UCL. "There is no proven benefit of giving diabetes treatment drugs to people in this category before they develop diabetes, particularly since many of them would not go on to develop diabetes anyway. "We need to stop looking at this as a clinical problem with pharmaceutical solutions and focus on improving public health. The whole population would benefit from a more healthy diet and more physical activity, so it makes no sense to single out so many people and tell them that they have a disease."

"There are significant financial, social and emotional costs involved with labelling and treating people in this way. And a range of newer and more expensive drugs are being explored as treatments for 'pre-diabetes.' The main beneficiaries of such recommendations would be the drug manufacturers, whose available market suddenly leaps to include significant swathes of the population. This is particularly true in emerging economies such as China and India, where regulating the healthcare market is a significant challenge," explains Professor Yudkin.

"Healthy diet and physical activity remain the best ways to prevent and to tackle diabetes," says co-author Victor Montori, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA. "Unlike drugs they are associated with incredibly positive effects in other aspects of life. We need to keep making efforts to increase the overall health of the population, by measures involving public policy rather than by labelling large sub-sections of the population as having an illness. This is a not a problem to be solved at the bedside or in the doctor's surgery, but rather by communities committed to the health of their citizens." Yudkin, Montori, 'The epidemic of pre-diabetes: the medicine and the politics.' University College London. Mayo Clinic, Minnesota.

Patient awakes from post-traumatic minimally conscious state - A patient who had suffered a traumatic brain injury unexpectedly recovered full consciousness after the administration of midazolam, a mild depressant drug of the GABA A agonists family. This resulted in the first recorded case of an "awakening" from a minimally-conscious state (MCS) using this therapy. The researchers collected extensive EEG scans before, during, and after administration of midazolam. Using sophisticated data analysis, they were able to show the locations within the brain where the drug induced changes and followed the onset and the decline of the effects. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

Anti-smoking policies could save nearly 13 million lives - Almost 13 million lives could be saved by 2050 in China if the country implements comprehensive tobacco control recommendations set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO). If the status quo is maintained, China faces a tremendous health burden in the next four decades that could result in more than 50 million deaths related to smoking," says David T. Levy, PhD, a population scientist at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of GUMC. "If the country completely implemented the WHO FCTC policies, almost 13 million deaths would be averted and smoking rates would be reduced by about 40 percent." Georgetown University Medical Center. British Medical Journal.

Can-do plan gets women trimmer, healthier, and cuts hot flashes - A woman can beat middle-aged spread, her disease risks, and her hot flashes with the help of her healthcare provider. And even a short term program can spell success for women and fit into a busy provider's practice, shows a demonstration obesity-fighting and health risk reduction program. Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society.

Cars, computers, TVs spark obesity  - The spread of obesity and type-2 diabetes could become epidemic in low-income countries, as more individuals are able to own items such as TVs, computers and cars.

"With increasing uptake of modern-day conveniences–TVs, cars, computers–low- and middle-income countries could see the same obesity and diabetes rates as in high-income countries that are the result of too much sitting, less physical activity and increased consumption of calories," says Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Scott Lear, who also holds the SFU Pfizer/Heart & Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul's Hospital.
Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Added sugar, death - Many adults consume more added sugar (added in processing or preparing of foods, not naturally occurring as in fruits and fruit juices) than expert panels recommend for a healthy diet, and consumption of added sugar was associated with increased risk for death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Major sources of added sugar in diets are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts and candy. A can of regular soda contains about 35g of sugar (about 140 calories).
JAMA Internal Medicine.

Anxiety, Worry - Previous studies of anxiety in the brain have focused on the amygdala, but a team of researchers led by biologists had a hunch that understanding a different brain area, the lateral septum (LS), could provide more clues into how the brain processes anxiety. The team has found a neural circuit that connects the LS with other brain structures in a manner that directly influences anxiety. California Institute of Technology. Cell.

Lose weight - Certain probiotics could help women lose weight and keep it off. Team of researchers headed by Universite Laval Professor Angelo Tremblay. British Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers motivate diabetics to adopt healthy lifestyle - By means of health coaching, researchers have helped a large group of diabetics to markedly improve their oral health. The patients assume responsibility for their own bodies and boost their self-efficacy through motivational health coaching, taking a different approach to conventional health campaigns and one-way communication. University of Copenhagen. Clinical Oral Investigations.

Physical activity significantly extends lives - Physical activity significantly extends the lives of male cancer survivors, a new study has found. During the period while the men were followed, those who expended more than 12,600 calories per week in physical activity were 48 percent less likely to die than those who burned fewer than 2,100 calories per week. Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

Older brains slow due to greater experience, rather than cognitive decline - What happens to our cognitive abilities as we age? Traditionally it is thought that age leads to a steady deterioration of brain function, but new research argues that older brains may take longer to process ever increasing amounts of knowledge, and this has often been misidentified as declining capacity. Dr. Michael Ramscar of the University of Tuebingen. Topics in Cognitive Science.

Limiting Carbohydrates Could Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence in Women with Positive IGF1 Receptor - Reducing carbohydrate intake could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence among women whose tumor tissue is positive for the IGF-1 receptor.

"There is a growing body of research demonstrating associations between obesity, diabetes, and cancer risk," said lead author Jennifer A. Emond, an instructor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. "There are similarities between the biological pathways that underlie all of these conditions, and there is some evidence to suggest that over-activation of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor axis, which increases the availability of IGF1 in the blood, may relate to a poor prognosis among breast cancer survivors."

Emond notes that breast cancer survivors should not be concerned about dramatically lowering their carbohydrate intake based on this study.

"There are still many unanswered questions regarding this study, including what type of carbohydrate-containing foods may be the most important foods that breast cancer survivors should limit," she said. "Breast cancer survivors should continue to follow a plant-based dietary pattern as suggested by the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Association, which means eating lots of fiber rich vegetables, legumes, and fruits; consuming whole grains and also limiting refined grains, starchy vegetables, and added sugar." Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

The sun lowers blood pressure - Exposing skin to (safe levels of) sunlight may help to reduce blood pressure and thus cut the risk of heart attack and stroke. Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh. Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D status appears to be associated with reduced disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and a slower rate of disease progression, according to a study by Alberto Ascherio, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues. JAMA Neurology.

Secondhand smoke exposure increases odds of hospital readmission  - A new study shows that exposure to secondhand smoke at home or in the car dramatically increases the odds of children being readmitted to the hospital within a year of being admitted for asthma. Pediatrics. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Take a stand! - People who decrease sitting time and increase physical activity have a lower risk of chronic disease.

Even standing throughout the day - instead of sitting for hours at a time - can improve health and quality of life while reducing the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and colon cancer, among others.

The twofold approach - sitting less and moving more - is key to improving health. Professors Sara Rosenkranz and Richard Rosenkranz. Kansas State University. BMC Public Health Journal.

3 risk factors most highly correlated with child obesity - (1) inadequate sleep, (2) a parental BMI that classifies the mom or dad as overweight or obese, and (3) parental restriction of a child's eating in order to control his weight.

"What's exciting here is that these risk factors are malleable and provide a road map for developing interventions that can lead to a possible reduction in children's weight status. We should focus on convincing parents to improve their own health status, to change the food environment of the home so that healthy foods are readily available and unhealthy foods are not, and to encourage an early bedtime," said Brent McBride, a U of I professor of human development and director of the university's Child Development Laboratory. University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Childhood Obesity.

Complementary medicine  - In a study of the range of treatments being employed for young children with autism and other developmental delays, UC Davis MIND Institute researchers have found that families often use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments and that the most frequent users of both conventional and complementary approaches are those with higher levels of parental education and income.

In the search for treatments, families may turn to unconventional approaches such as mind-body medicine.

"In our Northern California study population, it does not appear that families use complementary and alternative treatments due to the lack of availability of conventional services, as has been suggested by other research," Robin Hansen said. "Rather, they use the treatments in addition to conventional approaches."

Robin Hansen, director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute and chief of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics in the UC Davis School of Medicine. University of California - Davis Health System, MIND Institute. Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics.

Brief mental training sessions have long-lasting benefits - Older adults who received as few as 10 sessions of cognitive training showed improvements in reasoning ability and speed-of-processing when compared with untrained controls participants as long as 10 years after the intervention. These gains were even greater for those who got additional "booster" sessions over the next three years. Older adults who received brief cognitive training also reported that they had less difficulty in performing important everyday tasks. 

"Showing that training gains are maintained for up to 10 years is a stunning result because it suggests that a fairly modest intervention in practicing mental skills can have relatively long-term effects beyond what we might reasonably expect," said lead author Dr. George Rebok of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Keys to successful long-term weight loss maintenance - The results show that long-term weight loss maintenance is possible if individuals adhere to key health behaviors.

J. Graham Thomas, Ph.D., says, "On average, participants maintained the majority of their weight loss over this extended follow-up period, and better success was related to continued performance of physical activity, self-weighing, low-fat diets, and avoiding overeating."  American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Type 2 diabetes  - As people's waistlines increase, so does the incidence of type 2 diabetes. J. Leukoc. Biol. January 2014 95:149-160; doi:10.1189/jlb.0213075

How emotions are mapped in the body - Emotions adjust our mental and also bodily states to cope with the challenges detected in the environment. These sensations arising from the bodily changes are an important feature of our emotional experiences. For example, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body. Aalto University. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America.

Complementary Therapy of course deals precisely with this - the Mind Body connection.

Slow paced eating ... - "Slowing the speed of eating * may help to lower energy intake and suppress hunger levels and may even enhance the enjoyment of a meal." Meena Shah, PhD, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  

* "Imagine you have no time constraints, take small bites, chew thoroughly, and pause and put the spoon down between bites."

We teach the above and more in our Mindfulness Meditation.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for migraine improves relief of symptoms - Chronic migraine - the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) resulted in greater reductions in headache frequency and migraine-related disability compared with headache education.

"Now that there is strong evidence for CBT in headache management, it should be routinely offered [to younger people] as a first-line treatment for chronic migraine along with medications and not only as an add-on if medications are not found to be sufficiently effective. Also, CBT should be made more accessible to patients by inclusion as a covered service by health insurance as well as testing of alternate formats of delivery ... which can be offered as an option if in-person visits are a barrier," the authors write. Scott W. Powers, Ph.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues. The JAMA Network Journals.

Want to stop smoking? - Smokers who want to stop smoking are three times more likely to succeed if they see a trained advisor than if they try by themselves.

Just buying nicotine patches, gum or other licensed nicotine products from a shop does not seem to improve the chances of quitting.

The study shows not only that stop smoking services are smokers' best bet for stopping, but also that smokers may not be benefiting in the way they should from buying over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies. Addiction.

Frequent Cell Phone Use Linked to Anxiety, Reduced Happiness - Smartphones are central to college students’ lives, keeping them constantly connected with friends, family and the Internet. Students’ cell phones are rarely out of reach whether the setting is a college classroom, library, recreational centre, cafeteria or dorm room. As cell phone use continues to increase, it is worth considering whether use of the device is related to measurable outcomes important for student success, such as academic performance, anxiety and happiness. 

High frequency cell phone users tended to have lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life (happiness) relative to their peers who used the cell phone less often.

Earlier this year, a team led by Lepp and Barkley also identified a negative relationship between cell phone use and cardiorespiratory fitness. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that students should be encouraged to monitor their cell phone use and reflect upon it critically so that it is not detrimental to their academic performance, mental and physical health, and overall well-being or happiness. Computers in Human Behavior. Kent State University.

Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation - After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.

Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The new results provide a possible biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.

Study funding came from National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and others. Psychoneuroendocrinology.


Increased risk for cardiac ischemia in patients with PTSD - There is growing concern that long-term untreated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms may increase the risk of developing a number of medical problems, particularly compromised cardiovascular health.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for diseases of the heart and blood vessels. There are multiple known risk factors, including age, family history, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

"Persistent PTSD symptoms produce more than psychological distress; they constitute a major adaptive challenge for the entire body," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "Increased risk for cardiac ischemia may turn out to be an important new concern for individuals suffering from long-standing untreated PTSD."

"Objective Evidence of Myocardial Ischemia in Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" by Jesse H. Turner, Thomas C. Neylan, Nelson B. Schiller, Yongmei Li, and Beth E. Cohen (doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.07.012). John H. Krystal, M.D., is Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, Chief of Psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and a research psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.


Low Vitamin D Causes Damage to Brain 

In addition to being essential for maintaining bone health, newer evidence shows that vitamin D serves important roles in other organs and tissue, including the brain.

"Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how during aging from middle-age to old-age how low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain," said lead author on the paper Allan Butterfield, professor in the UK Department of Chemistry, director of the Center of Membrane Sciences, faculty of Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and director of the Free Radical Biology in Cancer Core of the Markey Cancer Center. “Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in brain and subsequent deleterious consequences."

Butterfield recommends persons consult their physicians to have their vitamin D levels determined, and if low that they eat foods rich in vitamin D, take vitamin D supplements, and/or get at least 10-15 minutes of sun exposure each day to ensure that vitamin D levels are normalized and remain so to help protect the brain. University of Kentucky. Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Mental stress + heart disease ... - Women younger than 50 with a recent heart attack are more likely to experience restricted blood flow to the heart (myocardial ischemia) in response to psychological stress.

"This is the first study to examine the cardiovascular effects of psychological stress as a possible mechanism for the greater mortality after myocardial infarction among younger women," says study leader Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health.

"This could be an added stimulus to the medical community to pay more attention to the emotional factors in cardiac patients. We are now taking a closer look at potential physiological factors that account for the additional susceptibility in younger women."

Interleukin-6 is a marker of inflammation that goes up and down quickly depending on someone's environmental exposures including mental stress, even in healthy individuals. American Heart Association.

Stress management counselling in the primary care setting is rare ... - While stress may be a factor in 60 to 80 percent of all visits to primary care physicians, only 3 percent of patients actually receive stress management counselling.

"Stress is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it's there, but physicians rarely talk to patients about it," says lead author, Aditi Nerurkar, MD, MPH a primary care physician and the Assistant Medical Director of BIDMC's Cheng & Tsui Center for Integrative Care. 

"Our research suggests that physicians are not providing stress management counseling as prevention, but rather, as a downstream intervention for their sickest patients," says Nerurkar. "Considering what we know about stress and disease, this clearly points to missed opportunities."
BIDMC.


Ways to improve access to mental health services ...

Professor Chris Dowrick, from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: "Many people with mental health problems don't get the help and support they need …

"Crucially, we found that there is a wealth of mental health expertise and knowledge in communities but it needs to be better nurtured and better coordinated.

"Although GP surgeries are often the main point of access to mental health care services they are not the only point. They need to be augmented by specialist well-being therapists and community and voluntary groups.”
Universities of Liverpool and Manchester.


The stress and cancer link - Researchers say the study suggests this gene, called ATF3, may be the crucial link between stress and cancer, including the major cause of cancer death – its spread, or metastasis. Previous public health studies have shown that stress is a risk factor for cancer.

"It's like what Pogo said: 'We have met the enemy, and he is us,'" said Tsonwin Hai, professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study. "If your body does not help cancer cells, they cannot spread as far. So really, the rest of the cells in the body help cancer cells to move, to set up shop at distant sites. And one of the unifying themes here is stress." Ohio State University. Journal of Clinical Investigation.



Stress: It should never be ignored

When people say that they are stressed, particularly if they believe that stress is affecting their health, stress should not be ignored. According to the study, such people have twice as much risk of a heart attack, compared with others.

They may experience several physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms (anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, skin problems, migraines, etc.). Previous studies confirm that the physiological changes associated with stress can have an adverse effect on health.
INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale). European Heart Journal.


Preventing chronic pain with stress management

For chronic pain sufferers, such as people who develop back pain after a car accident, avoiding the harmful effects of stress may be key to managing their condition.

As Dr. Pierre Rainville described, "Our research sheds more light on the neurobiological mechanisms of this important relationship between stress and pain. Whether the result of an accident, illness or surgery, pain is often associated with high levels of stress Our findings are useful in that they open up avenues for people who suffer from pain to find treatments that may decrease its impact and perhaps even prevent chronicity. To complement their medical treatment, pain sufferers can also work on their stress management and fear of pain by getting help from a psychologist and trying relaxation or meditation techniques." 

This study also supports stress management interventions as a treatment option for chronic pain sufferers.
University of Montreal. Brain.

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