Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD – Dark Gloomy Weather Slows Brain

Dreary, dismal days without the sun may do more than dampen our spirits. They might just impact the cognitive skills of those who battle depression, according to some new work that appears in the July 28 online issue of Environmental Health.

This is the first research to try and link light exposure and cognition, though earlier studies have shown that our mood can depend on the amount of sun we see (Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD)

The work involved a team of American researchers led by Shia Kent of the University of Alabama at Birmingham who used cross-sectional data for 14,474 people over 45 years old participating in a project investigating stroke incidence and risk factors, to look for links between depression, cognitive function and sunlight.

The team employed NASA weather data for the United States to check for match-ups between the days of bright sunlight and levels of cognitive functioning in those with, and without, depression.

The cognitive function of the subjects was measured using a validated questionnaire; an accepted depression scale assessed depression. Once the data was collected, advanced statistics were used to assess any link between average sun exposure and cognitive function.

Kent summarized the findings of the team, “We found that among participants with depression, low exposure to sunlight was associated with a significantly higher predicted probability of cognitive impairment. This relationship remained significant after adjustment for season. This new finding that weather may not only affect mood, but also cognition, has significant implications for the treatment of depression, particularly seasonal affective disorder”.

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD, is a relative newcomer to the scene, first referenced in print back in 1985, and is known to bring depressive symptoms as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter, with symptom improvement as spring returns.

At higher latitudes more people are diagnosed with as they are exposed to less sunlight and colder and harsher winters.

Women are more often diagnosed with this form of depression than men. For symptoms to receive an official diagnosis of SAD, they must repeat for two years in a row, without depression at other times of the year.

The researchers speculate that cognitive impairment brought on by depression and lack of sunlight might improve using the same light therapy as with SAD.

Earlier work has shown a strong link between SAD and other lingering forms of depression. It’s also accepted that depression often becomes more pronounced during the darker months of the year.

The study also confirmed melatonin and serotonin, both already implicated in depression, as being involved in cognitive function issues.

These two brain chemicals have been named as factors in serious brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as sleeping disorders. Cerebral blood flow has also been implicated in cognitive functioning; earlier work confirming that such blood flow is affected by light.

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Depressed? Dark, Gloomy Weather Slows Brain Continued…

Also of note, the relationship between sunlight and cognitive function didn’t hold true for those who weren’t depressed, according to the research. This suggests that it may be that the same mechanisms involved in depression might also be involved in cognitive functions.

If you are depressed, or deal with SAD, trying to spend some time in the sun (safely, of course) is a simple way to put the findings of this intriguing research to the test for yourself. You might also consider learning more about light therapy, which would have you sitting comfortably under a full spectrum light for a few hours a day all through the winter months.

Also good is a walk outdoors, even in the cold, as it can be a refreshing, invigorating source of natural sunlight and keep Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD at bay.

Alternative Complementary Medicine Spend 34 Billion

With healthcare being so much in the news of late, a just released government report offers a distinctive picture of spending habits when it comes to care outside the mainstream, that is treatment by alternative complementary  medicine.

The dollar figure is beyond big. The survey, completed in 2007, estimates that Americans spend $34 billion each year on either natural products or alternative treatments.

Experts estimate this amount is about 11% of our total out-of-pocket spending on health care. Taking things one step further, spending for complementary and alternative medicines accounted for 1.5% of the total $2.2 trillion spent in the United States on health care.

No doubt you’ve heard about complementary and alternative medicines, or perhaps investigated them for yourself. The term covers a diverse group of therapies, and is often the last hope for a variety of conditions where conventional treatments fall short.

Any treatment not generally considered part of western medicine like herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, energy work and acupuncture all fall into the category of alternative medicine.

The spending figure and other information are based on replies to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted back in 2007 by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CAM section in the survey was developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) along with the NCHS.

The data collected was intended to give estimates of the costs of alternative therapies, the frequency of visits and how often people are buying complementary or alternative self-care therapies.

The report, released July 30, 2009, offers some compelling insights on American’s spending habits…

- In 2007, 38% of adults (about 4 in 10) and 12% of children under the age of 18 (about 1 in 9) had used some type of alternative medicine during the year.

- In 2007, conditions involving chronic pain (back, neck or joint) occupied nine of the top twenty conditions where alternative therapies might be used.

- In 2007, estimates have 354 million visits being made to CAM practitioners such as acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists at an estimated cost of almost $12 billion. Visits to acupuncturists increased over 1997 rates to 79 visits per 1,000 adults.

- In 2007, two-thirds of out-of-pocket spending ($22.0 billion) was for treatments that did not involve a practitioner, including over-the-counter, self care herbal and other therapies (fish oil/omega 3, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed), classes or materials.

- In 2007, adults in the United States spent $121.92 per person for visits to CAM practitioners, and paid $29.37 out of pocket per visit. For most types of CAM therapies most adults spent less than $50 per visit, though at least 20% spend $75 a visit.

- In 2007, the largest single expenditure was in non-vitamin, non-mineral herbal supplements and other products (almost $15 billion) followed by practitioner visits ($12 billion), stretching and meditation-related classes like yoga, tai chi and qigong ($4 billion), homeopathic medicines ($2.9 billion) and relaxation techniques ($0.2 billion).

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$34 Billion Each Year On Alternative Medicine Continued…

” With so many Americans using and spending money on CAM therapies, it is extremely important to know whether the products and practices they use are safe and effective,” points out Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director of NCCAM.

“This underscores the importance of conducting rigorous research and providing evidence-based information on CAM so that health care providers and the public can make well-informed decisions.”

Practitioners on both sides, conventional and alternative, stress that the two types of treatment often work best when used together.

Enhancing Learning Through Getting Things Right

You’ve probably heard that “you learn from your mistakes” but a new study in the journal Neuron disputes this, finding that enhanced learning comes more from our successes than our failures.

Research on monkeys out of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that neurons of the brain involved in learning might process things more effectively after a success, leading to improved behavior.

The work, appearing in the July 30, 2009 issue of the journal looked at neural changes in the monkeys’ brains as they learned.

The monkeys were shown pictures on a computer screen every few seconds and had to look to the left or to the right, depending on the image. With trial-and-error the monkeys learned which image was associated with looking in one direction or the other.

They were rewarded for correct choices instead of being punished for incorrect answers, this being a more effective way to encourage learning.

The team monitored the neurons in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia, both areas in the brain believed to be linked to learning.

Earlier work has shown that there’s some fleeting activity in this area when we learn, perhaps lasting a few milliseconds.

Not only did the Picower research confirm that these are key learning areas, serving to keep track of successes and failures. The work also found that neural signals associated with learning last longer than anyone suspected – perhaps several seconds.

What’s more, after getting a right answer, the researchers saw that the neurons in these learning areas of the monkeys’ brains became more “finely tuned”, processing information more effectively and better able to tell the difference between the two different associations being learned.

If the monkey failed at the task, the cells of the brain showed virtually no change. It was only after successes that the monkey’s brain processing and behavior improved.

The intriguing work offers us a snapshot of the learning process, showing how single cells change responses in real time based on information that tells them the right choice to make.

It’s a fascinating look into how our brains might use feedback from the environment to learn. “We have shown that brain cells keep track of whether recent behaviors were successful or not,” explains research leader Earl K. Miller, a neuroscientist and professor of neuroscience at Picower.

So does learning from our successes instead of our failures explain why we so often repeat mistakes? Perhaps. This study seems to dispute the results of earlier work that had supported the idea that we learn from our mistakes.

“In our study, the situation was a reward versus no reward, success versus the absence of success, but there’s some cases where mistakes can actually lead to very bad negative consequences, like a loss of money, or loss of a scholarship.

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

Ever lain awake at night and counted the hours till dawn? Isn’t frustrating to be in bed and be unable to sleep?

With around 18 million prescriptions written every year for expensive sleeping pills…

…it’s clear that there’s a national epidemic.

So, what do doctors do when they can’t sleep?

Here’s the answer.

Learn how a retired M.D. Laney Chouest from New Orleans broke his 5-year addiction to Ambien, and now sleeps peacefully without medication.

Also, discover how a Licensed Psychologist, Sharon Stein McNamara, Ed.D.fromMinnesota broke her insomnia cycle.

Click through today to discover the 7 mistakes that are killing your sleep, and how overcome them…


New Research Finds We Learn More From What We Get Right Continued…

When the failure actually leads to a negative consequence rather than just the absence of a positive, that might engage learning mechanisms that rely on feedback from that negative consequence, so maybe it’s a different situation,” Miller explains.

More work will need to be done to understand the mechanisms for learning and what can be done to enhance learning. This may also lead to improvements in our understanding of learning disabilities and how to best treat them.

High Calcium Intake In Children Reduces Stroke Death

Dairy foods, milk, cheese, butter and the like, often get a bad rap and are shunned by the health conscious as a source of artery clogging cholesterol and bad-for-you saturated fats.

Some experts have argued that high fat dairy products contribute to heart problems later in life, though new research out of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research might just start to improve dairy’s troubled image, especially for the young.

Appearing in the July 28,2009 online issue of the journal Heart, this 65-year observational study brings us the finding that those who consumed lots of calcium and dairy products as children were more likely to avoid stroke and live longer than those with lower intakes.

The team of Australian researchers collected data on children (4,999 in all) from 1,343 families in England and Scotland, all participants in a survey of diet and health that was conducted in pre WWII Britain from 1937 to 1939.

The team was able to track the health status of 4,374 of the original children through the years 1948 and 2005, looking at two main outcomes, death from stroke or heart disease.

By 2005, 1,468 (34%) of the children had died. Of this number, 378 had succumbed to heart disease and 121 to stroke. The researchers also looked at dairy intake and mortality, as well as associations between specific dairy foods and mortality.

There was no clear evidence that the dairy foods were linked to either heart disease or stroke deaths. What was surprising was the children in the group with the highest intake of calcium (from milk and milk products) had lower overall death rates from stroke than those kids who took in less calcium as youngsters.

“Children whose family diet in the 1930s was high in calcium were at reduced risk of death from stroke. Furthermore, childhood diets rich in dairy or calcium were associated with lower all-cause mortality in adulthood,” the researchers conclude.

Other experts who didn’t participate in the study point out that those children who ate the most dairy probably also had better diets overall, eating more fruits and veggies as well.

Also, income and education levels of the original families may well have played a part in the results.

While we know that a good diet in childhood is important for longevity, no one can say for sure, even after this study, that calcium is solely responsible for this effect. What’s more, increased risks of prostate cancer have been linked to high dairy intake.

Low or non-fat products are a great option for young and old alike, and these were not available to the original pre-WWII populations.

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Calcium Linked To Protection From Stroke Death Continued…

If you want your kids to get more calcium, look for nutritious, low-fat or non-fat options.

“This study shows a modest protective effect of dietary calcium intake in childhood against stroke risk later in life, and a modest protective effect against mortality from any cause from higher intake of milk in childhood,” explains Dr. David L. Katz, who was not part of the work, but does serve as director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

Yet another reason to keep an eye on just what your children are eating, not only to ensure a healthy now, but perhaps a healthier later life as well.

Silent Stroke Caused By High Blood Pressure

The work of Australian researchers, published in the July 28, 2009 issue of the journal Neurology, offers a somber warning. That those over 60 who have high blood pressure are likely to experience what’s known as a “silent stroke” caused potentially by high blood pressure and not even know it.

Despite the name, these types of strokes are of concern because they do unseen damage to the brain, have been suspected of affecting memory and thinking, as well as being potentially linked to a type of dementia.

The study involved 477 healthy subjects from 60 to 64 years old who underwent brain scans by the team.

At the beginning of the research 7.8% of the subjects had evidence of “silent strokes” (known to medicine as silent lacunar infarctions) that hadn’t brought any noticeable symptoms yet still had affected blood flow to arteries deep in the brain.

The damage could be seen on MRI scans, even though the subjects had no outward symptoms. By the end of the study another 1.6% of the participants had experienced these so-called “silent strokes”.

“These strokes are not truly silent, because they have been linked to memory and thinking problems and are a possible cause of a type of dementia,” cautions study author Perminder Sachdev, MD, PhD, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “High blood pressure is very treatable, so this may be a strong target for preventing vascular disease.”

Subjects with high blood pressure had a 60% higher chance of a silent stroke as compared to subjects with a normal blood pressure reading.

Participants with another brain condition known as white matter hyperintensities were just about five times more likely to suffer a silent stroke than those who had no evidence of this condition.

Often the stroke victim was not aware of any cognitive decline.

Yet “silent strokes” might be the real reason behind some of the changes we all mistakenly think of as part of normal aging like increasing forgetfulness, being easily confused or experiencing a noticeable slowdown of reasoning or decision making.

Researchers speculate that the effect of these “silent strokes” might be cumulative and account for slowing of motor functions, a reduction in information processing speed and less memory for detail.

This work supports earlier studies linking high blood pressure and stroke risk.

Some of the other risk factors for “silent stroke”, besides high blood pressure, include diabetes, heart disease, smoking and old age.

If you’re worried about your risk, start by talking with your doctor to see what kind of changes you might make to reduce your risk.

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This Doctor Dropped 10 Sizes – Discover Her Shocking Secret

There’s an overwhelming body of research that shows most diets aren’t effective in the long term because they work AGAINST the body…

In fact most people who diet end up putting ON more weight than when they started.

It’s because most diets deprive you of the foods you enjoy, stop you getting the nutrients you need…basically forcing your body into ‘starvation mode’…

Joy Siegrist MD developed a diet that works WITH your body…one that has a 96% success rate.

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Risk of “Silent Stroke” Linked To High Blood Pressure Continued…

The encouraging news, according to the National Stroke Association, is that nearly 80% of all strokes are preventable.

Don’t put off a regular checkup so that you know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Smoking and heavy drinking are no-no’s, while other risks like high cholesterol, diabetes or lack of exercise can be modified just by making changes in your diet and activity levels.

SunBeds and Cancer – Tanning Beds Cancer Dangers

According to a new report out of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Tanning beds / Sunbeds cancer danger is equal to that of cigarettes and asbestos.

Where once it was “probable”, the risk today is rated more seriously – the agency is now calling for these devices to be labeled “carcinogenic to humans”. Those who use them risk becoming bronzed, healthy looking cancer patients

This comes after a review of research conducted by experts from nine countries that found the risk of melanoma was increased 75% in those who routinely used tanning beds before the age of 30.

Melanoma of the eye has also been linked to the use of these devices. Melanoma is the second most common cancer in twenty-something females, this according to the America Melanoma Foundation.

Experts have noticed a rise in melanoma diagnosis, especially for young women, over the last few years.

A National Institute of Health study found that melanoma rates among young women in the US, nearly tripled from 1973 to 2004. Research conducted over the last 10 years offers lots of evidence that tanning beds, as well as direct sun exposure, have played their part in this dramatic increase.

“The use of tanning beds can be deleterious to your health and we hope to encourage governments to formulate restrictions and regulations for the use of tanning beds,” said report coauthor Beatrice Secretan, from the Cancer Monograph Working Group at the IARC, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Estimates from the WHO suggest that perhaps as many as 60,000 people worldwide die from too much sun each year, with most of this number comes from malignant skin cancers.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. and tanning beds are commonly used by many, especially the young.

“This new report confirms and extends the prior recommendation of the American Cancer Society that the use of tanning beds is dangerous to your health, and should be avoided,” agrees U.S. expert Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

Many doctors see the latest report as confirmation of what they’ve long believed – overexposure to tanning beds is just as dangerous as sunbathing in natural sunlight.

The report appears in the August 2009 issue of The Lancet Oncology and also confirms that ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation cause cancer in animals.

This is important as the tanning bed industry has long claimed that the beds are safe because of the type of radiation they offer – more UVA than UVB. This new report tells us that all three types are dangerous.

As for the tanning bed industry, the International Tanning Association (ITA) representing indoor tanning manufacturers and others in the $5 billion a year industry, acknowledge that the UV exposure you get from a tanning bed isn’t discernibly different from what you get from the sun.

The ITA is quick to point out that even natural sun exposure has been given the carcinogenic classification since 1992, sharing this category with salted fish, red wine and beer.

Moving forward, the WHO will work to restrict the use of tanning beds by those under 18. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates labeling of the devices while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the advertising claims made by tanning beds.

Salons are required to tell customers to wear protective goggles over their eyes, and there are warnings on aging, skin cancer and eye injury.

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WARNING: The truth about Moles, Warts and Skintags…

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Tanning Beds Have Highest Cancer Risk Category Continued…

Since 2007 the FDA has been considering making those warnings stronger, though experts would like to see laws that restrict tanning bed use by minors and a black box warning to users.

In the meantime if you choose to take a trip to the tanning salon, at least you’ll know more about the risk you’re taking.

If you still want the bronzed, glowing look, consider UV-free spray tanning as an option that can give you the look rather than the using a tanning bed and exposing yourself to these sunbed related cancer risks.

A Rigorous Daily Workout – Way To Prevent Cancer

Is exercise one of the ways to prevent cancer?

Men who workout at least 30 minutes a day, at a moderate to high intensity level were half as likely to get cancer according to new research, the first of its kind to look at cancer mortality and intensity of exercise.

It seems that the increased oxygen consumption associated with moderate to high intensity workouts is involved in lowering the risk of cancer. The study appeared online July 28, 2009 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The Finnish study included a population-based sample of 2,560 men aged 42-61, assessing the subjects’ physical activity and the rate of cancer death. None of the men who participated in the research had any history of cancer.

Participants filled out the 12-Month Leisure-Time Physical Activity Questionnaire and were then followed for a 16-year period. During that time there were 181 cancer deaths among the subjects.

The team saw that those who did moderate to high intensity exercise for at least a half hour a day were 50% less likely to develop cancer compared to the other men.

Moderate intensity exercise increases your breathing and heart rate. You’ll sweat but be able to talk and carry on a conversation.

Examples include brisk walking, slow jogging, bike riding, swimming, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, softball or baseball, volleyball, doubles tennis or gardening.

High intensity workouts are often shorter, though they burn more calories. They aren’t an option for everyone, especially if you’re new to exercise – you’ll want to make slow, steady progress using longer sessions of less intense exercise.

High intensity workouts are harder to keep up, and should be used sparingly. Tailor the workout to your fitness goals and build up over time and be sure to follow the appropriate training program for your sport.

For this latest research, exercise intensity was calculated in metabolic equivalents of oxygen consumption (METs). Exercises with an average of 4 MET are considered moderate intensity. Some examples here might help.

The average intensity of jogging is 10.1 MET, for cycling it’s 5.1 MET and 4.2 MET for walking. The average intensity level for fishing is 2.4 MET and hunting is 3.6 MET.

The team found that as the intensity levels of the exercise increased, the risk of cancer death went down.

In fact, an increase of 1.2 metabolic units of oxygen consumption was related to a decreased risk of cancer death, especially in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, even after all other factors were accounted for in the analysis.

“The intensity of leisure-time physical activity should be at least moderate so that beneficial effect of physical activity for reducing overall cancer mortality can be achieved,” recommend the study authors in a news release.

Today there are many risk factors that have been associated with cancer. Some we can control, others we can’t.

Smoking is an example of a behavior known to increase your risk for cancer that you can control.

Your genetics, traits that came from your mother and father, are beyond your control though you may be able to help yourself by making lifestyle changes that offer some protective benefit.

Research continues to show that things you do every day, can have a huge impact on your risk of cancer.

You’ll want to pay special attention to…

· Diet – fruits and nonstarch veggies may offer some cancer protection, as might a diet low in fat, high in fiber.

· Alcohol Intake – drinking in moderation (2 drinks/day for men; 1 drink/day for women) is thought to be safe, but more than this can increase the risks of liver cancer; colorectal cancer in women.

Continues below…


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WARNING: The truth about Moles, Warts and Skintags…

There are so many “scare” stories that it’s sometimes hard to know what to believe. Which is why this is so timely…

Announcing the breakthrough solution by Chris Gibson, a respected natural health practitioner, that gets rid of moles, warts and skin tags without any expensive medical procedures or over-the-counter products.

Chris has written several books on alternative health and wellness and appeared on various TV channels like Fox 26 News and CBS.

Find out how you, too, can:

- Have freedom from the pain and irritation of your unsightly moles, warts, or skin tags

- Naturally REMOVE moles, warts, or skin tags at the root without any scarring

- Enjoy having clear skin, free from unsightly and painful moles, warts or skin tags

Click through now to discover safe, painless and effective ways to permanently remove moles, warts or skin tags in three days…


A Rigorous Daily Workout Might Reduce Men’s Cancer Risk Continued…

· Activity – those who are physically active, typically at least 30 minutes a day, have a lower risk of some cancers than those who aren’t active.

· Obesity – is a risk factor for several cancers, while losing the extra weight can reduce your risk of these same cancers. Even a little weight loss helps.

The dangers of cancer are real and hard to ignore… however, the good news delivered to us from this latest research is that if a person is active — even moderately so – he has already embraced a habit that helps prevent cancer and enjoy many healthy years.

Teens With Overweight Friends Develop Teenage Obesity

As any parent of a teen can tell you, friends are all-important to this age group – Bit did you know overweight friends could increase the chance of teenage obesity.

Now there’s increasing evidence that the company a teen keeps might affect more than just their taste in clothes and music. It may also impact their weight and eating habits.

New U.S. research out of the University of Hawaii uncovered a strong link between the weight of teens and their closest peers.

While teens are still likely to eat some of their meals with it’s the meals with peers that researchers suspect offer chances to influence each other’s food choices and eating patterns.

Levels of activity are likely to be acquired in the same way, and we all know how limited exercise is in the teen world of video games and TV. A recent survey has a startling 25% of young people aged 12-21 reporting no rigorous activity as part of their day.

The work, appearing in the journal Economics and Human Biology raises the idea of imitative obesity.

Data on just about 5,000 teens reveals that friendships tended to be grouped according to weight. Overweight kids hung out with others of the same weight and slimmer teens did the same.

Many of the teens took part in a follow up after two years that found that having a fat friend could lead to weight gain as time went on.

This study can’t say for certain whether overweight teens encourage friends to be heavier, or if heavier teens just naturally find each other. Lots of times teens carrying more weight are scorned by thinner peers, leaving them to befriend each other.

Either way, the shared bad habits of eating unhealthy foods and not exercising are dangerous trends for anyone, especially the young.

“Other work has shown that you take on the weight attributes of your friends more than other people surrounding you… even if your friends live many miles away,” explains Tam Fry of the U.K. based National Obesity Forum. “If you go to dinner with your friends who are fat you are liable to eat the same foods that made them fat.”

Finding out if a teen is overweight is more of a challenge than you might think as kids at this age are still growing and changing.

Body types are different, even those of the same height can be more or less muscular or further developed, and this discrepancy is perfectly normal. BMI charts for teens (one for guys, one for girls) use percentile lines to let you compare your own BMI with those of a very large group of the same age and gender.

Continues below…


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This Doctor Dropped 10 Sizes – Discover Her Shocking Secret

There’s an overwhelming body of research that shows most diets aren’t effective in the long term because they work AGAINST the body…

In fact most people who diet end up putting ON more weight than when they started.

It’s because most diets deprive you of the foods you enjoy, stop you getting the nutrients you need…basically forcing your body into ‘starvation mode’…

Joy Siegrist MD developed a diet that works WITH your body…one that has a 96% success rate.

And to prove it she used it to drop 10 dress sizes.

Click through now to discover how Dr Joy dropped 10 dress sizes…


Teens With Overweight Friends Develop Weight Problems Of Their Own Continued…

Still, being overweight, even at this age, isn’t just about how you look, it’s also about how you feel and the health of your body. Teens often feel like nothing bad can ever happen to them, but being overweight can affect your joints, breathing, mood, energy levels and sleep – virtually every area of your life. And not in a good way.

What’s worse, teenage obesity increases the risk of being diagnosed with problems that used to be found only in adults. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes to name a few.

The Mixed News On Green Tea And Cancer

If you’re drinking green tea solely for the cancer protection, you may be interested in the results of a systematic review of studies that involved more than 1.6 million subjects looking at the benefits of green tea.

The review finds “limited” evidence that green tea offers any protective benefits… though it remains a natural, delicious beverage just the same.

Green tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, as black and oolong teas -each type is created using different processing methods, and all forms are typically brewed and drunk as a beverage.

Tea extracts can be taken in capsules, or you may find them in skin care products. Green tea is safe for most people if you drink it in moderation, though it does have some caffeine (not without its own side effects), and a small amount of vitamin K (an issue if you’re taking anticoagulants like warfarin) per cup.

There’s been a lot of research over the years on green tea and its benefits to the body, and some evidence that regular drinkers do have lower risks of heart disease and maybe even some forms of cancer.

In China this delicious beverage is routinely used to treat ailments like headaches and depression. There are lots of varieties of green tea grown in places all over the globe, which allows for natural differences in taste and color due to growing conditions, harvesting and the type of processing.

The team of researchers who conducted the latest work evaluated existing scientific literature on green tea – drinking or taking extracts – and identified 51 suitable studies.

Twenty-seven of them were case-control studies, 23 cohort studies and one (on prostate cancer) a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of clinical evidence.

The studies assessed green tea consumption and cancer of the digestive tract, gynecological cancers including breast cancer, urological cancer including prostate cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the mouth. The studies used were judged to be of medium to high methodological quality.

“Despite the large number of included studies, the jury still seems to be out on the question of whether green tea can in fact prevent the development of various cancer types,” explains lead reviewer Dr. Katja Boehm, a member of the Unconventional and Complementary Methods in Oncology Study Group out of Nuremburg, Germany,

When it came to digestive cancers and green teas the results were “highly contradictory”. Boehm and the team found “limited evidence” in terms of liver cancer risk and conflicting evidence on digestive cancers.

Evidence for bladder and lung cancers was “limited to moderate”, with a discovery that green tea might actually increase the risk of bladder cancer. Green tea appeared to offer no protection for stomach cancers, with results termed “moderate to strong” by the team.

Green tea salvages its good-for-you reputation when it comes to prostate cancer. Studies that are considered higher quality do support a link between green tea (in beverage or extract) and lower risk of disease.

At best, right now the link between green tea and cancer remains unproven though you may have heard reports on studies that link green tea to some impressive health benefits.

Benefits like improving heart health, lowering high cholesterol, reducing the damage caused by free radicals, stopping the abnormal formation of blood clots as well as slowing the progression of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

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The Mixed News On Green Tea And Cancer Continued…

Further research is needed – a large, carefully designed study that involves subjects who truly drink enough green tea as part of their daily intake.

Of course such work is time consuming and expensive – unnecessary if you’re drinking green tea for the taste and refreshment of it.

At intakes of 5 to 6 cups a day (about 1,200 milliliters) it is a safe, delicious beverage and although the benefits of green tea have not been unconditionally confirmed, there is still evidence to show it helps with some conditions.

Black Tea Benefits – Lower Blood Sugar Levels

When next you have the chance to try black tea… forget the 5,000 years of use in China and think instead about the many health benefits the Black Tea might bring to your body, which now include lower blood sugar levels.

You’ve probably heard about black tea improves immunity and heart health, now research appearing in the June 30, 2009 issue of the Journal of Food Science, adds diabetes treatment to the list of ailments where a cup of dark tea (without milk or sugar) could be just what you need.

The recent work out of Tianjin University in China found that black tea contains a substance that works just like oral medications Precose and Glyset – prescription drugs currently used to control blood sugar levels for patients with type 2 diabetes.

The naturally occurring polysaccharide compound in black tea is at levels higher than in either green or oolong tea.

Haixia Chen and colleagues report that the polysaccharides found in black tea restrict the activity of an enzyme known as alpha-glucosidase that changes starches to sugar.

This is how the prescription drugs work also.

“Many efforts have been made to search for effective glucose inhibitors from natural materials,” Chen explains. “There is a potential for exploitation of black tea polysaccharide in managing diabetes.”

Research has shown for some time that polysaccharides might be of value to those with diabetes because they help stop the absorption of sugar. According to the team, black tea was also found to have the best scavenging effect on free radicals, those worrisome compounds believed by many to be involved in the development of cancer and other diseases.

So can you drink black tea in place of an oral diabetic medication?

No – Never make a change like this in your treatment without talking with your own doctor.

Chen’s team can’t say for sure that just drinking the tea would be enough. The study used chemical extraction techniques, not the brewing as you might at home, to get the polysaccharides from the teas they’d bought at local markets.

Both black teas and green teas come from the same plant. It’s actually the amount of processing that makes the difference in the color, the black tea having oxidized (interacted with oxygen until the leaves darkened) as it goes through all the steps in the tea making process. Traditional processing of black tea is not anything like fermenting, there’s no yeast involved, just the tea leaves and oxygen.

It’s important to know that because of the way black tea is processed, it does have a much higher caffeine content than the other teas – green, white or oolong. One cup of black tea has about 50 milligrams of caffeine compared to coffee, which has from 65 to 175 milligrams of caffeine per cup.

In fact, in many parts of the world black tea, not coffee is used as the wake-me-up at the start of the day.

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Black Tea Works Like Diabetes Drugs On Blood Sugar Continued…

You can buy black teas at most grocery stores, or try the organic brands from online (or local) natural health food sources.

Black teas can be packaged as a single tea or as part of a blend – you’ll be amazed at the many choices. You’ll want to try several brands to find the flavor and depth of color you like best, and be sure to brew the leaves lose in a nice, pot-bellied teapot so they can unfurl all the way to create a drink that’s robust and delicious, and very likely good for you too!

The black tea benefits are certainly impressive, and with this research we could be close to another breakthrough for regulating blood sugar levels.