Diet Linked to Arthritis

Having a bad diet may increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis. Scientists have long thought the condition was tied to obesity and excessive stress placed on the joints, reports MedicalDaily.com. But in a new study, a team from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that a high-fat Western diet caused mice not only to gain weight but also to develop systemic inflammation and an imbalance in their gut microbiome: Their colons had high levels of harmful bacteria and hardly any beneficial “probiotic” bacteria. When the researchers tore cartilage in the rodents’ knees to trigger osteoarthritis, the disease progressed more rapidly in the obese mice. When they then treated these mice with a probiotic to restore their gut microbiome, the rodents had less inflammation and their joint health improved. Study author Eric Schott says his team’s findings “set the stage to develop therapies that target the microbiome and actually treat (Read More)

Night Owls May Live Shorter Lives

People who habitually stay up late are more likely to die early, a new study has found, perhaps because their internal body clock is out of sync with a society that favors early risers. Researchers tracked about 430,000 adults between 38 and 73 years old for 6.5 years. They found that night owls had a 10 percent greater risk of early death than those who prefer to wake up early, Vox.com reports. Those who burned the midnight oil were more likely to have chronic health issues, such as diabetes, neurological disorders, and respiratory disease. One possible reason, says study author Kristen Knutson, is that the pressure to conform to other people’s work and social schedules leaves late risers anxious, sleep deprived, and feeling as if they live in a perpetual state of jet lag. “There’s a problem for the night owl who’s trying to live in the morning-lark world,” Knutson (Read More)

Some of the Things They Said Were Good For Us… and Some of the Things We Were Told to Avoid

Some of the things they said were good for us… Nature Walks can make you healthier and happier by driving out obsessive, negative thoughts. A Stanford University study found that strolling in a natural setting decreases activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region particularly active during rumination. “It was pretty striking that a 90-minute walk had this much of an impact,” says author Gregory Bratman. For people with a tendency to brood, interrupting an endless stream of negative thoughts reduces the risk for depression and other mental illnesses. Green spaces may also make kids smarter. A separate study of roughly 2,600 fourth-graders in Barcelona found that those with greater exposure to nature were more attentive and experienced a 5 percent increase in working memory. Awe-inspiring experiences can help you live longer. Gazing out over the Grand Canyon or beholding an artistic masterpiece can trigger positive emotions with immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory effects (Read More)

Americans’ Shortened Life Spans

The life expectancy of Americans is lower than that of people living in other high income countries, and a new study explains why: We’re inflicting earlier death on ourselves with self-destructive behavior. Car accidents, gun violence, and drug overdoses kill 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, which helps explain why American men and women die about 2.2 years earlier than residents of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to a new study by the National Center for Health Statistics. American men and women have a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared with the 78.6 and 83.4 years of their peers abroad. “It seems staggering that we get two fewer years of life just for living here,” study author Andrew Fenelon tells the Associated Press. Gun deaths, car crashes, and overdoses are responsible for half that (Read More)

Colon Cancer in Younger People

Colon cancer is on the rise among young adults, new research reveals. A study of more than 260,000 cases showed that nearly 15 percent of patients were under 50, which is the recommended screening age for the disease, ScienceDaily.com reports. It’s unclear why that form of cancer is increasing among younger people, and more study is needed to determine if screenings should begin earlier in life. But researchers say doctors should not ignore the early warning signs, such as anemia and bleeding, or overlook family history, which is a significant risk factor. The study also found that patients under 50 are more often diagnosed with advanced-stage colon cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs, and that they are more likely to receive aggressive treatment, enabling them to live longer without a recurrence of their disease. That creates another public health issue, says author Samantha Hendren of (Read More)

The Perils of a Wealth Shock

Suffering a major financial loss could lead to an early death, a new study suggests. Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed the financial history and health records of nearly 9,000 Americans between ages 51 and 61, from 1994 to 2014. During that period, about 25 percent of the subjects experienced a negative “wealth shock,” measured as a minimum 75 percent drop in their net worth over a two-year period. The median net-worth decrease was just over $100,000. The researchers found that the people who lost their nest egg were 50 percent more likely to die than their peers during the study period, and had the same risk of premature death as those who were poor or in debt. “This is something millions of people go through,” lead researcher Lindsay Pool tells Time.com. “It’s not really a rare event.” Pool and her team say a sudden reversal of fortune can lead to depression, (Read More)

Controlling Parents, Mean Kids

The toxic effects of helicopter parenting may not end once children head off to college. A new study shows that undergrads who’ve been raised by controlling, manipulative moms and dads may take their anger and stress out on other students. Researchers from the University of Vermont interviewed 180 predominantly female college students about their relationship with their parents as well as their tendency to behave aggressively. Those with domineering parents were more likely to exhibit “relational aggression,” which often involves spreading rumors and backstabbing as well as excluding or publicly embarrassing friends, reports Medical Daily. The students’ physiological response to stress influences how they unleash this hostility on their peers, the study shows. Those who perspired more and grew more agitated while recounting a difficult experience were considered impulsive, while the students who sweated less and reacted calmly were deemed more calculating and manipulative. “If you’re calm, you can be (Read More)

Distracted-Walking Injuries

People who wander through the streets transfixed by their smartphones, utterly unaware of their surroundings, aren’t merely irritating. Research indicates that walking while preoccupied can lead to serious injuries – and even death. An Ohio State University study  found that injuries due to distracted walking doubled between 2004 and 2010, resulting in more than 1,500 emergency room visits for broken pelvises, legs and wrists, and injuries to the head and neck, The New York Times reports. Preoccupied pedestrians are walking off train platforms, falling down stairs, walking into poles or moving cars in crosswalks, or in the recent case of a tourist in San Diego, even stumbling off cliffs. Experts warn that this 21st-century menace may only get worse as handheld gadgets become equipped with even more enticing features. The best safeguard is a simple common sense. “You can’t really pay attention to more than one thing at a  time,” (Read More)

Grilling Causes Inflammation

Regularly eating grilled, broiled, or roasted meat, chicken, or fish may increase the risk for high blood pressure, a new study shows. Harvard researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing the diet and cooking methods of more than 86,000 women and 17,000 men who were followed for up to 16 years. They found those who ate foods cooked by high heat more than 15 times a month were 17 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate them less frequently. The people who preferred their meats well-done were also 15 percent more likely to become hypertensive, reports Reuters.com. “The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” says the study’s lead researcher, Gang Liu. Lowering the heat could help reduce these health (Read More)

Freezing the ‘Hunger Nerve’

Diets often fail as long-term solutions for many people trying to lose weight. But new research suggests that freezing the so-called hunger nerve could suppress hunger and be an effective new treatment for those struggling with obesity. When the stomach is empty, a branch of the vagus nerve called the posterior vagal trunk kicks into action, sending hunger signals to the brain. Guided by CT scan images, researchers used a probe to freeze this nerve in 10 obese women and men, with the aim of dampening its signal. “We’re not trying to eliminate this biological response, only reduce the strength of this signal to the brain,” the study’s lead author, David Prologo, tells ScienceDaily​.com. The preliminary results of the study suggest the nerve-freezing procedure may do just that. None of the subjects experienced side effects, but all of them reported feeling more satisfied and less hungry 90 days later. They also (Read More)