July 23, 2014

The Feel-Good Report

Keep Moving, Keep LivingKeep Moving, Keep Living

Sometimes we need to hear things over and over again before they sink in. So here we go again: Another new study provides more evidence that physically active seniors outlive their sedentary counterparts. A four-year study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago measured the daily activity of 893 seniors approximately 80 years old. Participants wore devices—much like the Nike+ Fuelband we talked about last month—that recorded all movement for a period of 10 days. Researchers then followed the group for four years—during which 25 percent of the participants (212) died. Those who were most active had a 25 percent lower chance of dying compared to those who were least active. Of course, statistically your chance of dying is still 100 percent. But why not put it off as long as possible? Get moving.

 

An Aspirin a Day …An Aspirin a Day …

They call it the wonder drug. And the more we learn the more we wonder what else it can do. We already knew of its ability to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks, but a recent study by The Lancet medical journal says that people who took a daily dose of aspirin had a 24 percent lower rate of developing cancer after three years and were 37 percent less likely to die from the disease than those who didn’t take it daily. That’s pretty impressive. “There have been multiple studies in the past that have all hinted at this,” says Dr. Jay Wang, a hematologist/medical oncologist with Premiere Oncology in Naples. “(The Lancet) looked at about 77,000 patients over 50 clinical trials… they found that after three years it helps prevent colon polyp formation, helps prevent breast cancer from coming back and prevents colon cancer from coming back.”

Dr. Wang jokes, if someone held the patent to aspirin that person would become very, very rich as “the benefits are immense.” But clinical trials haven’t been done because trials take 10 to 20 years and there is no financial incentive to explore it. After all, it costs all of three cents per pill. So we may be left to wonder. By the way, low-dose aspirin is all you need but consult your doctor before taking aspirin regularly.

 

Cold Hands, Healthy HeartCold Hands, Healthy Heart

Just play it cool, boy. Real cool. That’s the suggestion based on a recent study by the American Heart Association that found exercising with cool palms helped increase exercise tolerance and cardiovascular fitness in obese women.

When you’re overweight, that extra insulation makes a person feel overheated and uncomfortable during workouts, which in turn causes them to shorten their workout. During the study, subjects were given a device that cooled the palms and, in turn, the circulating blood, pulling heat from the body. These devices are not small enough to be worn during any activities other than walking or running on a treadmill or using an elliptical, but the concept suggests if any of us hold cold bottles of water during our workouts (when appropriate and convenient), we could expect to feel cooler, less sweaty and less fatigued—giving us the opportunity to work out longer. And all of those things will help you stick to your workout and have greater success. Very cool, indeed.

 

App for EmergenciesApp for Emergencies

Did you just step on a nail/get bitten by a rattlesnake/accidentally swallow a children’s toy? If so, you might feel the need to research certain medical conditions, learn about various treatment options or get turn-by-turn directions to the nearest ER. (If this is the case, we applaud your ability to remain calm. In fact, feel free to update your Facebook status.) Coincidentally, smartphone users who’ve downloaded the new iTriage app can do all of those things. Physicians Regional in Naples is the first area hospital to partner with the app, which allows iTriage to access live average emergency room wait times at both Physicians Regional locations (Pine Ridge Road and Collier Boulevard). When we wrote this, the wait times were 10 and 19 minutes, respectively. Your waits may vary. So far, the free app has been downloaded four million times and is available for both iPhone and Android mobile devices. You can download it at itriagehealth.com.

 

Tanning Can Be Addictive

It would appear that George Hamilton should join the cast of Celebrity Rehab because he is a hardcore addict. The man loves a tan like a baby loves a bottle. And now, it seems that people who frequently use tanning beds experience changes in brain activity that mimic the patterns of drug addiction. New findings published in the journal Addiction Biology say the brain responds to UV light and it responds in the areas associated with reward. That helps explain why, even though plenty of studies link it to skin cancer, tanning remains as popular
as ever.

“I see it every day,” says Dr. Kimberly Davidson, a dermatologist with Riverchase Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. “Patients with a shocking amount of skin cancer or a history of melanoma who come in to their appointments with bronze skin and a tan. It flabbergasts me. Seriously, every single day… That’s the very definition of addiction—when you know the negative consequences and you still keep doing it.”

This study suggests they can’t help themselves. Subjects of the test were injected with a radioisotope that allowed researchers to monitor how tanning affected their brain activity. During regular tanning sessions, parts of the brain lit up like a Christmas tree. During the filtered sessions—where only the UV light was filtered out—subjects did not get their fix and were not satiated. Looks like we might be an entire state of junkies.

 

Healthy Plants for a Healthy HomeHealthy Plants for a Healthy Home

Literal green thumbs could be cause for concern. Figurative green thumbs are a welcome gift. And if you’ve been blessed with the ability to keep houseplants alive, you might just be helping to keep yourself alive as well. How, you ask? It turns out that some houseplants are air filtration mechanisms, meaning they have the ability to remove toxins from our air.

“Houseplants have been shown in controlled laboratory experiments to be effective at removing both carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air,” says Chad Washburn, the director of conservation and education at the Naples Botanical Garden. VOCs include formaldehyde, benzene and acetone. Studies were conducted by NASA in the 1980s and showed that several species could effectively remove common indoor air pollutants. These pollutants are continually off-gassed into our homes from carpeting, particle board, paints, caulks, upholstery fabrics, vinyl flooring and a bunch of other items. (Makes you think it might be better to sleep in the yard.)

Of course, some plants are better than others at removing toxins. Washburn recommends areca palms, Boston ferns, peace lilies, lady palms and philodendrons. He also says to keep the soil clear of dead leaves. “The roots and microorganisms in the soil proved to be important factors in the NASA study,” says Washburn. “(They) found that increasing the amount of soil in contact with the air increased the overall air quality and toxin removal.”

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