The Value of Embracing Failure

People are often told not to “beat themselves up” over failure, but new study suggests a period of sharp regret helps us learn from our mistakes. Researchers challenged 98 college students to perform an online search or the lowest price on a specific blender, reports Half the participants were asked to dwell on their feelings about possibly losing; the rest were told to think about their performance. The test was rigged to prevent anyone from winning, however, and all of the students were given a second chance. This time, half the participants were given a non-similar task. While the remaining students were instructed to search for a book for their friend at the lowest price. There were no improvements in effort among those given the unrelated task. But among the people searching for the book, those who had reflected on their emotions during the first challenge spent nearly 25 (Read More)

Drink Coffee, Live Longer

People who rely on a cup of joe to wake up or power through the day could be adding years to their lives. Two sweeping new studies reveal that a coffee habit could boost longevity by reducing the risk of death from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease. “If you like to drink coffee, drink up,” researcher Veronica Setiwan of the University of Southern California tells “If you’re not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.” Setiwan’s team examined data on nearly 186,000 adults of various races and ethnicities. The results showed mortality risk dropped 12 percent for those who drank just one cup of coffee each day while two to three cups brought even better odds – 18 percent. Another study analyzed the link between coffee and prolonged life span among more than 500,000 Europeans who were followed for about 16 (Read More)

America’s Growing Alcohol Problem

Americans are drinking more alcohol in recent years than they did 15 years ago, with 12.6 percent of the population -30 million people – binge drinking at least once a week, a new study has found. The study, which compared the drinking habits of 40,000 people in 2001-02 and in 2012-13, showed a big jump in the number of people who regularly engaged in “hazardous”  drinking downing four or more drink for women, and five or more for men. Consuming that much alcohol is associated with a host of dangerous behaviors, including drunk driving and violence, and increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and neurological problems. The study also found that 12.7 percent of the population is alcoholic. Heavy drinking rose most sharply among women, blacks, and seniors. Deborah Hasin, an epidemiologist and author of the study, said a number of factors could be driving the rise of (Read More)

A Deadly Superbug

A rare, drug-resistant super bug impervious to all 26 antibiotics available in the U.S. has claimed the life of a woman in Nevada. The patient, in her 70’s had been hospitalized with a broken leg in India, where drug-resistant bacteria are more common. She developed an infection in her blood, which turned out to be Klebsiella pneumonia, a type of gut bacteria from a family of super bugs. Back in the U.S., doctors found that the bacteria were resistant to all available antibiotics, even those usually reserved as a last resort for multi-drug resistant bacteria. Within two months, the woman had died of multiple organ failure and sepsis. Health officials say her death is a grim reminder that drug-resistant bacteria are evolving, and that common infections could one day become untreatable. “People keep asking me, ‘How close are we to going off the cliff?’” James Johnson, professor of infectious diseases (Read More)

Diet Key to Weight Loss

Exercise has many proven health benefits, but those who dutifully log miles on the treadmill in the hopes of shedding stubborn pounds may want to reconsider their approach to weight loss. In a new study, researchers at Loyola University in Chicago found that healthy eating habits appear to be more important than exercise for long-term weight control, reports The team analyzed the physical activity and weight fluctuations of roughly 2,000 adults from the U.S., Ghana, Jamaica, South Africa, and the Seychelles. In each of the five countries, many of those who did 2.5 hours of moderate weekly exercise actually put on more pounds over two years than their more sedentary peers. The most likely explanation for this? Exercise tends to boost appetite, meaning active people eat more than they otherwise would. The findings suggest that physical activity alone is “not enough to prevent weight gain,” says lead author Lara (Read More)

Runners Live Longer

Running for two hours a week could add about three years to your life, a new study suggests. Analyzing existing literature on the link between exercise and longevity, a research team found that running at any pace is associated with an up to 40 percent lower risk for premature death, The New York Times reports. The researchers suspect that running reduces common risk factors, including high blood pressure and extra body fat, but say it’s also possible that runners are more likely to have other healthy habits, such as eating healthfully and not smoking. For reasons that aren’t clear, the benefits of other forms of exercise, such as walking and biking, weren’t as striking, accounting for a roughly 12 percent drop in risk of early death. Overall, most people who laced up their sneakers for two hours weekly would end up running nearly six months over the course of 40 (Read More)

Midlife Weight Gain

Americans tend to gain a pound of two each year between early adulthood and middle age. That gradual weight gain may not seem to be a cause for concern, but Harvard scientists warn that the extra pounds add up and significantly increase the risk for chronic health issues and early death. The researchers analyzed the health records of about 118,000 people. Women gained an average of 22 pounds between the ages of 18 and 55, while men packed an average of 19 pounds. The study found that a gain of five pounds was the threshold for health problems. For every 11 pounds a person gained, the risk for type 2 diabetes rose by 30 percent, for high blood pressure by 14 percent, and for cancer by 6 percent. Study author Frank Hu tells that “even a modest around of weight gain may have important health consequences.”

Caffeine Cubs Dementia Risk

Coffee lovers probably don’t need any more encouragement to indulge in a cup of joe. But a new study suggests caffeine may help stave off dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment among older women, reports Researchers tracked the brain function and caffeine consumption of 6,476 women ages 65 and older, for 10 years. After considering other risks, including depression, smoking, heart disease, and alcohol intake, they found the women who drank the caffeine equivalent of about three 8 ounce cups of coffee a day reduced their risk for dementia by 36 percent. The findings don’t establish a cause and effect relationship, and it remains unclear how caffeine might help, the stimulant may block certain chemical receptors in the brain that could malfunction and impair learning and memory as people age. But Ira Driscoll, the study’s author, was nevertheless encouraged by the results. “The mounting evidence of caffeine consumption (Read More)

Meditation and Inflammation

While a growing number of people swear by the power of mindfulness meditation to ease anxiety, skeptics question whether the practice offers real physiological benefits. But doubters may want to consider a new study showing that mindfulness has measurable effects on specific markers of stress and inflammation. Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center randomly assigned 89 people with generalized anxiety disorder to take either an eight-week mindfulness-meditation stress-reduction course, or general stress management classes that focused on wellness topics, like healthy eating and good sleep habits. After analyzing blood samples from each participant, the team found people who engaged in mindfulness meditation were better able to cope with stressful situations, reports. Those who learned to meditate had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) and markers of inflammation, called pro-inflammatory cytokines, than the ones who didn’t. “Mindfulness-meditation training is a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma treatment approach,” (Read More)

The Downsides of Secrets

Keeping secrets can lead to stress, sleep loss, and other unhealthy consequences, new research suggests. Psychologists at Columbia Business School asked 1,200 Americans online, and 312 in person, about their secrets. Participants admitted to keeping an average of 13 things to themselves – such as thoughts of infidelity, sexual fantasies, and betrayals of trust including five about which they’d never told anyone. But the researchers found that they spent twice as much time dwelling on their secrets in private then they did actively concealing them from others – and that the more often people ruminated on their secrets, the less healthy they said they were. “Secrets exert a gravitational pull on our attention,” study co-author Malia Mason tells “It’s the cyclical revisiting of our mistakes that explains the harmful effects that secrets can have on our well-being and relationship satisfaction.”