Benefits of Drinking Green Tea Include Reduced Risk of Alzheimers Symptoms

New research brings good news – the benefits of drinking green tea now include  some protection against the risk of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms (and other dementias), and might also slow the growth of cancer cells. Green tea has been used for centuries as part of traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for headaches and depression.

Experts will tell you that the benefits to the body are tied directly to how the tea is processed (green tea undergoes less processing than other types) and prepared. Brewing bags or loose tea are the optimum preparation choices, delivering a beverage that has a light, pleasing taste.

Digestion is, of course, a necessary process for the body, but according to study lead Dr. Ed Okello, no one was able to say if the beneficial compounds in green tea (or other good for you foods) were able to survive this process so they could be absorbed by the body. Thanks to this work we now know that the green tea compounds do, in fact, survive.

What the Newcastle University team saw was that when enzymes in the stomach digest green tea, the resulting chemicals are more effective against key triggers of Alzheimer’s development than the undigested form of the tea. The digested compounds were also seen to have anti-cancer properties, slowing down the growth of tumors that were being used in the experiments.

Earlier work has shown that polyphenols (in both green and black tea) have neuroprotective properties, binding with toxic compounds and also protecting brain cells. When these chemicals are ingested they’re broken down into a mixture of compounds that the Newcastle team tested in this most recent work.

The digested tea chemicals were shown to protect cells similar to neurons against varying concentrations of toxins.

The results of the study, while not definitive, do suggest more research on green tea needs to be done. Past work has produced evidence that regular tea drinkers do have lower risks of heart disease… maybe even some forms of cancer.

Continues below…


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This Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s and Slows Growth Of Tumors… Continued…

If green tea could impact Alzheimer’s disease it would be a giant step forward in the fight against this life altering, memory stealing condition, a fact of life for a reported 5.3 million Americans.

As the baby boomer generation ages, Alzheimer’s will claim even more lives. Advocates say that this condition has yet to be given the strategic investment in research that other diseases have gotten over the years.

In fact, there are still many prevailing myths about Alzheimer’s that simply are not true. Memory loss is not a natural part of healthy aging but a serious illness.

Alzheimer’s disease, contrary to popular belief, is disease with no survivors, destroying brain cells and causing memory changes, erratic behavior and loss of bodily functions – slowly taking away a person’s identity and independence.

There are lots of things involved in managing things like cancer and Alzheimer’s symptoms, a balanced diet, regular exercise and having a generally healthy lifestyle are all part of the picture. Or course, gaining the benefits of drinking green tea certainly can’t hurt you, and may just end up being proven a tasty drink that’s good for you too.

Are You Sabotaging Your Resolutions For New Year?

With 2011 well underway, it’s time to ask how you’re doing with those resolutions for New Year? Cutting out junk food… being more active… stopping nail biting… quitting (or cutting down) on smoking… or any resolution is a smart first step toward real change.

What you need to understand when you’re trying to stick with these pledges is that you’re up against a biological mechanism that makes it hard to break bad habits. Bad habits it seems are wired into our brains.

But that’s no reason to give up. In fact, understanding how this works might just present some ways to get good habits to take the place of the bad.

According to the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, an authority on the brain’s pleasure pathway, when addressing bad habits we’re fighting against the power of immediate reward. Being rewarded now is always more powerful than achieving a goal (any goal) sometime in the distant future. And when action and reward are involved, so is the brain chemical dopamine.

This pleasure-sensing chemical conditions the brain to want a reward over and over, reinforcing the connection each time. A dopamine-rich part of the brain, known as the striatum, memorizes rituals or routines that are linked to getting a particular reward. In time, environmental cues are able to trigger the striatum, making some behaviors automatic, not needing any real thought. Just think about how easy it is demolish a whole bar of chocolate in front of TV.

Much of what science knows about dopamine’s role in habit formation comes from studies of alcohol and drug addition, but this chemical is a player in more common bad habits like overeating and smoking.

The thing is, all of us tend to overestimate our ability to resist temptation, and this undermines any attempt to get rid of bad habits according to experimental psychologist Loran Nordgren, an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, who studies the struggle between willpower and temptation.

In one experiment, Nordgren measured whether heavy smokers could watch a movie that romanticized their habit without taking a puff. They’d be paid according to their level of temptation – holding an unlit cigarette while watching? Keeping the pack on the table? Or did the pack need to be out of sight, in another room?

Continues below…


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Weight Loss Expert Loses 70lbs of Ugly Fat…

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How Your Brain Is Sabotaging Those New Year’s Resolutions… Continued…

Subjects who thought they could resist temptation tended to hold the unlit cigarette, and were more likely to light up than those who were smart enough not to have the pack in hand. Studies like this might eventually lead to techniques that help recovering drug addicts face down real world temptations.

What about being paid to change a bad behavior? While this might work to exploit the action/reward connection, it’s not clear just how well a financial incentive substitutes for the reward the brain has come to know and love. In a study of smokers, paying smokers at General Electric up to $750 to kick the habit tripled the number who did. A similar study that involved dollars for weight lost found no difference, and temptations in our environment might explain why.

After all, where can you smoke in public anymore? Yet walk down the street and you’ll see plenty of sources of high calorie, tasty treats that you can buy right now… and eat anywhere you like.

Now that you understand a bit more about how the habits work, here are some tips from the experts that can help you break the hold bad habits have on you…

- Repeat the new behavior, follow your new routine at the same time of day every day, as this makes the striatum recognize the habit. Eventually if you don’t perform the new activity, you feel bad.

- Cut out the rituals linked to your bad habit… no eating while watching TV, no first thing coffee. Sounds simple, but so many make things harder for themselves by not looking for cues in the environment that trigger bad behavior and guarding against them, removing them if you can.

- Exercise as this raises dopamine levels, so your brain feels good, even if your muscles don’t.

- Reward yourself with something you really want once you reach a goal or a milestone.

- Watch your stress as this can reactivate the bad habit circuits and undo all the good of your resolutions for new year. Do all you can to manage yours.

Not Enough Sleep Effects Your Looks

Sleep continues to get the respect it deserves… now the time honored idea of beauty sleep actually has hard science to back it up. This comes from a small Swedish study that found those suffering from not enough sleep were thought to look less attractive afterward. The study appears online in BMJ.

The European team enrolled 23 healthy volunteers between 18 and 31 years old who were photographed on two occasions – once after a good eight hours of sleep, and once after being sleep deprived for 31 hours after only 5 hours of sleep.

The subjects couldn’t wear makeup, though they could wash and groom as usual. They were asked to look relaxed and project a neutral facial expression in each picture.

The 65 untrained viewers (aged 18 to 61) rated the photos, presented in a randomized order, for attractiveness, tiredness and healthy look.

Overall, the viewers saw the sleep deprived faces as less healthy, less attractive and more tired looking than after a normal night’s sleep. A few were rated healthier, more attractive and less tired.

The findings suggest that if you don’t get enough sleep, it will show up on your face.

Sleep is more than just a luxury… today more and more people are coming to understand that to stay healthy, to feel better and to be alert and ready for anything – we need our sleep.

Even just shaving a few hours a night for a while can be trouble, impacting thinking and mood, not to mention setting us up for some pretty nasty health problems – things like heart disease, diabetes, headaches, depression and more. Pain too is worse when you’re tired.

Sleep disorders are increasingly common in our always-on world, though more research is needed on the signals of fatigue and ill health that come from being sleep deprived.

The study author John Axelsson, PhD of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm concedes that while we don’t know which facial features are the signal that you’re not getting enough sleep, there is definitely something in the face that provides a visual clue to tiredness.

Of course sleep deprivation doesn’t just affect how you look. It makes handling everyday stress – flat tires, forgotten lunches and traffic jams – that much harder. It makes it tougher to regulate emotions – so you can flare up, burst into tears, laugh uncontrollably at the wrong time.

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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.

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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…
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Study: How Sleep Impacts Your Attractiveness… Continued…

Experts tell us there is no “magic number” for how much sleep we need – different ages need different amounts, and even then the right amount is highly individual.

To find how much you need, pay attention to the time you fall off, and what time you wake, without an alarm clock. This number of hours is likely the right amount for your body. Research has also shown us that sleep needs change across populations and as we get older.

If you or someone you love is having trouble sleeping… you need to talk with your doctor. Here are some symptoms to watch for…

- Being sleepy during the day or when you should be awake and alert

- Snoring

- Leg cramps or tingling

- Gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep

- Long term insomnia

- Anything that’s keeping you awake

There are treatments, as well as some simple sleeping-space changes that can help you stop getting not enough sleep and get the rest that’s so important to good health and good looks.

Newly Discovered Effective Gum Disease Remedy

Good news for your gums! A diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs for short, might just be an effective gum disease remedy (periodontitis) according to new research appearing in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Regular brushing and flossing, going to the dentist for checkups, and not smoking are the best things you can to do protect yourself from gum disease, but soon your dentist may be urging you to add more PUFAs to your diet as well.

The most recent research involved 8,182 adults who took part in a nationally representative survey known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004.

The subjects received dental exams and were interviewed about their daily diet to estimate how much polyunsaturated fats they were taking in. This survey also collects extensive demographic, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic data, and this allows researchers to account for other factors that might impact the results.

The team found that those whose diets were rich in PUFAs (due to what they ate or fish oil supplements) were as much as 30% less likely to have gum disease than those who ate little, or none, of this form of fat. Those who had diets rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) had up to a 23% lower risk of periodontitis.

Making changes to the diet to treat this condition might be a less expensive, and safer, way to treat periodontitis than the current methods of mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application according to researcher Asghar Z. Naqvi, MPH, MNS of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. It might also have the added benefit of preventing other chronic conditions associated with inflammation, namely stroke, as well.

Experts do know that polyunsaturated fats have helpful effects on inflammatory conditions like heart disease, so it makes sense that they may also be beneficial elsewhere in the body, maybe fighting the inflammation that causes gum disease.

With periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the tooth to form pockets, and these are places for debris to collect. Infections can get a foothold and the body’s immune system starts fighting the bacteria as the plaque spreads and goes under the gum line.

Toxins produced by the bacteria that are part of plaque as well as the body’s own “good” bacteria start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. As the disease progresses teeth become loose and tooth loss happens. Gum disease is the leading reason for tooth loss in adults.

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Eating a Diet Rich In This Prevents Gum Disease… Continued…

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, researchers have fount potential links between gum disease and other serious health problems. In certain circumstances, the microorganisms from the mouth can be associated with events like stroke and heart disease. Gum disease may also make diabetes worse.

Surprisingly, even modest levels of PUFAs (less than 40 milligrams per day for DHA, 10 milligrams per day for EPA) were enough to bring down the risk of gum disease. What’s more, the reduction in risk didn’t get better the more you took in… so more is not better. And perhaps most unexpected, the research found that supplements worked equally well at bringing the benefit

Some natural food sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids like DHA and EPA are fatty fish like salmon, nuts, margarine and peanut butter. Of course it’s also important to know that some of these foods can be high in sugar, so read labels and choose carefully before you eat them expecting them to be a gum disease remedy.

How To Stop Middle Age Spread In Its Tracks

Most of the research we see today is focused on weight loss, but little attention is paid to preventing weight gain in the first place. Now that’s changing too. Anyone who exercises regularly during their younger years, especially women, will be rewarded later on by not having to face middle age spread according to research appearing in the December 15, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We’re not talking an occasional workout here. The amount of exercise needed to prevent the mid-life weight gain had to be about 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week… things like running, walking briskly, basketball, exercise classes or everyday chores like housework or yard work.

Experts are seeing that it’s important to start young… to stick with a pattern of living an active, healthy lifestyle over many years. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a change and see the benefits when you’re older, it will just be harder for you to keep the weight off than it is for someone who has been active all along.

The research itself focused on 3,554 men and women from 18 to 30 years old when the study started and followed them for the next 20 years. The subjects lived in one of four places in the U.S. – Chicago, IL, Birmingham AL, Minneapolis, MN and Oakland, CA.

The team asked participants questions on how often they did 13 different moderate to vigorous activities. Things like jogging, housework, construction or playing sports. The highest activity level was defined as 150 (or more) minutes of exercise a week.

Twenty years of follow up is an impressive accomplishment, one not seen in many weight related studies these days.

After adjusting for things like age and energy intake, men who kept a high activity level gained an average of 5.7 fewer pounds. Women with a high activity level gained 13.4 fewer pounds than their less than active counterparts.

When it came to waistline measurements, high activity men gained 3.1 fewer centimeters (1.2 inches) around the middle each year; women 3.8 fewer centimeters (1.5 inches) a year.

The researchers point out that subjects at all activity levels gained weight over the study period – those who were active just didn’t gain as much.

Women especially gained less weight if they made exercise a habit.

Those who were moderately or inconsistently active generally had a similar outcome in terms of weight to those who did little daily activity.

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The Secret to Slowing Middle Age Spread… Continued…

The type of activity probably isn’t as important, researchers say, as is the intensity level and how often you do it. It’s got to be something you can maintain over the long haul… day in, day out.

The difference in weight gain between men and women may be physiological. Females have children and go through menopause, men do not. Menopause is a time when it’s natural for women to gain some weight, and we may need to approach it as if you’re training for a marathon.

Start slow and keep at it… over 20 years you can keep yourself from gaining weight. Staying healthy, according to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital, is about maintaining a lifestyle, not just flipping a switch.

The take home message here to avoid middle age spread is to stay active… not just for a bit but as a lifestyle choice.

20 Ways to Lower Cancer Risk

Living a healthy lifestyle is a smart choice when it comes to protecting against cancer… especially since as many as 70% of known causes of cancers are avoidable, choices we make that impact our bodies. Eating right, exercising regularly and not smoking are always the first steps to lower cancer risk, but there’s new research in the area of cancer prevention that’s uncovered some surprising things you might do to bring even more disease protection into your everyday routine.

So… here they are…

1) Filter your tap water - to reduce your exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals. There’s a new report from the President’s Cancer Panel that suggests filtered water is a safer bet than bottled. Consider products like Culligan, Pur Vertical or the Brita OPFF-100. Store water in either glass or stainless containers to avoid any chemicals that might leach into your water.

2) Stop topping off your tank - that last squirt of gas after the nozzle clicks off can spill fuel and cause problems for the pump’s vapor recovery system that’s intended to keep toxic chemicals (like cancer causing benzene) out of the air. Resist the urge.

3) Marinate meat before you grill - processed, charred and well-done meats might have cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that form when meat is seared at high temperatures, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that get into food that’s been charcoal broiled. Cutting down on grilled meat has a lot of solid science behind it. If you do grill, add rosemary and thyme to your best marinade and soak your meat for an hour before cooking. This is a natural way to let the antioxidant spices cut the HCAs (by as much as 87% according to a Kansas State University study) while they add flavor.

4) Caffeinate – coffee lovers who drank 5 or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 40% decreased risk of brain cancer compared to those who drank the least coffee. A 2010 British study finds that a 5 cups a day habit cuts risks of both oral and throat cancer by nearly the same percentage. It’s the caffeine that gets the credit, so your beverage choice doesn’t have to be coffee… soda or another drink will do just as well.

5) Water down your risk - by drinking lots of water (or other liquids) you dilute the concentration of cancer causing agents in the urine, flushing them through the bladder faster, and this might just reduce the risk of bladder cancer. You need to take in at least 8 cups of liquid a day according to the American Cancer Society.

6) Eat lots of really green greens - try the darkest varieties of greens you can find, the chlorophyll that gives them their incredible color is loaded with magnesium, and this has been found in some large studies to lower the risk of colon cancer in women. Magnesium is involved in cell signaling, and without enough, the cells may do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Just a half-cup of cooked spinach offers 75 mg of magnesium, which is 20% of what you need per day.

7) Enjoy Brazil nuts – as they are a stellar source of selenium, an antioxidant that brings down the risk of bladder cancer in women according to a study from Dartmouth Medical School. Other work has found those with high levels of selenium in their blood have lower rates of dying from lung cancer or colorectal cancer. Experts think selenium protects cells from free radicals and also might enhance immune function and suppress the formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.

8) Burn off your risk - moderate exercise (brisk walking for example) for 2 hours a week cuts your breast cancer risk by 18%. The regular workouts might help by burning fat, which would otherwise be there to produce its own estrogen, a well known contributor to breast cancer.

9) Skip the dry cleaner – a solvent called perc that’s used in traditional dry cleaning may cause liver and kidney cancers and leukemia according to an EPA finding backed by the National Academies of Science. It’s more dangerous to the workers who handle the chemical or treated clothes or use older machines -no one knows what the risk is to consumers. Opt for hand washing clothes when you can, spot clean when it’s possible.

10) Check out your breast density - any woman who’s mammogram has revealed breast density of 75% or more has a 4 to 5 times higher risk of breast cancer than a woman with less dense breasts. Know your own numbers, and your own risk.

11) Be wary of cell phones -
it’s more to preempt any risk than protect yourself, but researchers don’t yet know if there is danger in the radio frequency energy of our cell phones. While the President’s Cancer Panel says the research is neither consistent nor conclusive, there are a number of reviews that suggest a link. Until we know, holding and keeping your cell close to your head might not be the best idea.

12) Dress to prevent skin cancer - you probably didn’t realize that the color of the clothing your wear outside might just help protect you against skin cancer according to Spanish researchers. Blue and red fabrics seem to offer significantly better protection against UV rays than yellow ones. And don’t forget the hat… melanomas of the head and scalp kill at almost two times the rate of those with cancer on other parts of the body.

13) Pick a doctor with experience - you want the doctor you work with to have lots of it, at least 25 years. Ask about the track record of anyone treating you… including the volume of mammograms (or other tests) they read or procedure they perform. You are well within your rights to get a second reading/opinion from someone who has more experience.

14) Eat clean foods - meaning actively search out meat that’s free of antibiotics and added hormones that are suspected of bringing on endocrine problems, including cancer. You want produce grown without pesticides and wash everything thoroughly before eating. At least 40 known cancer-causing agents are in pesticides, so it’s important we all do everything we can to limit our exposure.

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Twenty Ways To Never Get Cancer… Continued…

15) Read labels for folic acid - consuming too much of the synthetic form of this nutrient has been tied to increased risk of colon cancer as well as higher lung cancer and prostate cancer risks. And rethink your multivitamin if you eat a lot of cereal or other fortified foods as you may be taking in more than you should. If you’re not planning on having children, supplements of vitamin D and calcium might be a smarter choice.

16) Up your calcium intake - as this may well protect you against colon cancer. Subjects who took calcium regularly for 4 years had a 36% reduction in the development of new precancerous colon polyps a full 5 years after the study ended. Three 8-ounce glasses of fat-free milk, along with an 8-ounce serving of yogurt or a 2 to 3 ounce serving of low fat cheese are all you’ll need each day.

17) Commit to whole grains – we all know whole wheat is better for us than white, but here’s more reason to make the switch. Women who eat a lot of things with a high glycemic load could run a higher risk of colorectal cancer than women who eat low glycemic load foods according to a Harvard Medical School study of 38,000 subjects.

18) Pay attention to pain – if you have symptoms that appear suddenly (or not so suddenly) like boated belly, pelvic pain or an urgent need to pee, see your doctor at once as these can be symptoms of some cancers, and women (and their doctors) often ignore these symptoms. When caught early, any problem has a better chance of being treated and cured than if you wait until things are advanced.

19) Avoid unnecessary scans – CT scans deliver much more radiation than traditional x-rays and may be overused today, as many as one third being unnecessary. High doses of radiation can cause leukemia, so if you’re undergoing testing, look for other tests (MRI, ultrasound) that might do the job without the added radiation.

20) Lose ten pounds - being overweight or obese accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths among women, 14% among men according the American Cancer Society. Losing extra weight reduces the body’s production of female hormones that might impact breast cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. Even if you’re not technically overweight, gaining just 10 pounds after 30 increases your risk of breast, pancreatic and cervical cancers, among others. So, losing those extra pounds may just lower cancer risk.

High HDL Cholesterol Levels Reduce Dementia Risk

Good news… new research finds that high HDL cholesterol levels may also offer protection from dementia risk, including Alzheimer’s disease. The work appears in the Archives of Neurology and suggests a link between heart disease and dementia.

If this finding is backed by added research, experts think it might indicate that we can reduce the risk of both brain and heart problems by working to raise good cholesterol.

Your doctor will tell you that cholesterol is a natural part of the body, a soft, waxy substance that’s found the fats in your bloodstream and in all body cells. It’s used to form cell membranes, to create some hormones and for other important body functions.

Your body makes about 75% (can be more depending on your family history) of its cholesterol on its own, the rest comes from the animal products you eat.

The relationship between HDL and Alzheimer’s hasn’t been all that easy to pin down. Some work has found an association, while other studies have not.

The latest research follows subjects for a longer period of time than any of the earlier work, and this gives a more accurate picture in terms of who ends up with Alzheimer’s disease.

For this latest study, researchers at Columbia University followed 1,130 seniors who had no history of dementia or memory problems. Every 18 months for an average of 4 years, the subjects underwent a battery of blood, brain and memory tests.

By the end of the research, doctors had diagnosed 101 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. When the team compared the cholesterol levels of participants with and without Alzheimer’s, they found those with the higher HDL counts (55 mg/dL) had about a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those with the lowest numbers (under 39 mg/dL).

Lead researcher Christiane Reitz, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University’s Taub Institute, and her team also saw that subjects with high LDL (bad) cholesterol and high total cholesterol numbers had a lower risk of developing dementia, but when they considered other problems known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, genetic predisposition), LDL and total cholesterol were no longer significant predictors by themselves.

HDL cholesterol is one of the major carriers of protein to the brain according to Lenore Launer, PhD. of the National Institute on Aging. In 2001, Launer published work in the journal Neurology that came to the opposite conclusion of the most recent Columbia research. She saw that Japanese-American men with higher HDL numbers were more likely to have Alzheimer’s related plaques and tangles in their brain.

Until the research is giving consistent results in terms of HDL numbers, no one is going to recommend any levels of HDL for most people.

Continues below…


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Announcing: Doctor Approved Store Cupboard Remedies that Really Work…

Do you buy over the counter drugs?

Stop right now and don’t waste any more money.

Did you know that you can easily treat illness without side effects, using only natural herbs, vitamins and nutrients?

Charles Silverman N.D. Certified Naturopathic and Herbalist Doctor has taken his 18 years research and experience and condensed it into a home remedy encyclopeida of the most powerful, and more importantly proven, home remedies.

You can eliminate the Flu virus, boost your immune system, and recover faster from colds using these doctor-approved home remedies…

As well as sleep better, look younger and treat any skin problem with your own skin care home remedies and recipes.

Click through now to discover the “hidden” kitchen cupboard cures – proven by clinical trials.
*Disclosure: compensated affiliate*


This Can Reduce Your Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease… Continued…

But it is important to understand that higher levels of HDL have been shown to be protective to the heart, so for this reason alone the brain would benefit.

Many doctors believe that if you get those cholesterol numbers under control by making diet and lifestyle changes (or taking medication if needed), you’ll do both vital organs a lot of good.

Guidelines recommend that men get their HDL cholesterol levels over 40 mg/dL and women increase numbers to over 50 mg/dL. An HDL level of 60 mg/dL (or even higher) is the optimal level experts would like to see. If you haven’t been tested, or it’s been a while, have a cholesterol test to see where you stand.

Low Vitamin D Levels Identified as Breast Cancer Risk Factor

While the most well known benefit of this vitamin is helping to build strong bones, that’s just the beginning of what experts are discovering. More than half of those with breast cancer have low vitamin D levels according to British researchers. Sonia Li, MD of the Mount Vernon Cancer Center in England believes that those with breast cancer should be tested for vitamin D deficiency and given supplements if needed as part of their overall treatment.

The intriguing findings were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium this past December.

There have been studies that suggest a link between low vitamin levels and cancer of the breast and its progression, but other research hasn’t backed up the findings. Li believes that earlier work supports a biological rationale for vitamin D offering some protection from breast cancer development and spread.

Breast cancer cells have vitamin D receptors, and when they’re triggered by vitamin D, a series of molecular changes slow cell growth and cause cell death. Even if it doesn’t have a direct impact on the tumor itself, vitamin D is important for women with breast cancer due to the increasing use of aromatase inhibitors that also bring a higher risk of fractures.

For the current study, Li and her team collected blood samples from 166 women with breast cancer to measure the levels of vitamin D in the blood. They found that 46% had insufficiency of vitamin D, levels between 12.5 and 50 nanomoles per liter of blood. Another 6% had vitamin D deficiency with levels under 12.56 nmol/L.

When ethnicity was taken into account, vitamin D levels were lower in Asian women than in whites or others.

Vitamin D is found naturally in foods like fatty fish (herring, catfish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna or eel), cod liver oil, egg yolks, beef or calf liver and mushrooms, and in fortified milk, orange juice, yogurt, margarine and cereals. If these foods aren’t for you, one of the best natural sources of this nutrient is exposure to sunlight – a half hour a day, two times a week without sunscreen.

The researchers theorize that vitamin D levels would be higher in the summertime, when there are more hours of daylight and we’re out and about more often. The study did not find an association between vitamin D levels and the season of the year.

Just last month, the U.S. Institute of Medicine released updated guidelines on calcium and vitamin D intake that suggest that a blood level of 50 nmol/L (or 20 nanograms/milliliter) is enough for 97% of us.

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Low Vitamin Levels Common In Breast Cancer… Continued…

If you’ve been tested and your levels are lower than this, it might make sense to ask your doctor about vitamin D supplements. Remember not to start supplementing before you speak with your doctor – this isn’t a good choice for some people.

Troubling many medical professionals is that over the last 20 years Americans levels of vitamin D have dropped dramatically and deficiencies are a common problem among the aging populations.

Research continues to support the idea that getting enough of this powerhouse nutrient is super helpful to the body, not just as a potential protection against breast cancer, but also for improved bone health as well.

If you’re worried about having low vitamin D levels, or other breast cancer risks, there are things you can do today to help yourself. Get out in the sunlight… and learn all you can about breast cancer risk factors so you can do what you can to minimize your risk.

Is Our Food Safe? Toxic Chemicals in Food Discovered

The need for better monitoring of this nation’s food supply is demonstrated by toxic chemicals in food being discovered. Extremely high levels of the flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) has been found in, of all things, butter bought at a U.S. supermarket.

The incident is the worst documented case of PBDE contamination in food ever reported in the United States and comes as the result of a study that appears in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published by the National Institutes of Health.

The just-published investigation was part of a study of chemical contamination in U.S. foods, funded by Pfeiffer Research Foundation. The food samples studied included several hundred foods bought at five Dallas area markets on two different occasions in 2009, including ten samples of butter.

Specifically, the levels of contamination found in one sample of butter were 135 times higher than the average for the nine other tested samples. How could this happen?

The contamination appears to have come from the paper wrapper on the butter, which had levels that were more than 16 times greater than levels in the butter itself, but its unclear if the paper was tainted before or after it got to the butter packaging plant. This is the first time food contamination was thought to come from PBDEs in the packaging of the food itself.

It’s not clear yet if the contamination was an anomaly or the tip of a much bigger problem.

Some of the foods we buy all the time may, in fact, be contaminated with these flame-retardants, and in some cases at levels that are remarkably high. The problem might be particularly bad in high fat foods like butter according to University of California, Berkeley assistant professor Kim Harley, PhD. Her earlier work, published in January 2010, found a link between high levels of PBDE and impaired fertility in women.

Research suggests that as many as 97% of Americans have some PBDEs in their bloodstream. No one is sure how they get there – house dust and foods are two possible culprits.

The contamination was uncovered during a routine sampling of different foods in an effort to better understand how prevalent PBDEs and other chemicals are in the foods we eat every day.

These compounds have been used since the 1970s to make plastics, electronics, fabrics and foam used in upholstery, wire and cable insulation, auto and airplane parts. They’re stored in the body… and have been found in human breast milk, fish and birds.

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Flame Retardant Found In Common Foodstuffs… Continued…

While health effects of such exposure aren’t well understood yet, studies have linked PBDEs to liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, developmental delays and infertility.

They are being phased out by 2014.

Experts are concerned that while inspectors are out there looking for E coli, there’s no real system for monitoring chemicals in our food supply. It’s something that researcher Arnold Schecter, MD, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Texas School of Public Health, finds worrisome – no one is looking for flame retardant (or other such chemicals) in butter, or any other food we’re eating. Could we be taking in contaminants without knowing?

Experts do know that PBDEs are fat soluble, so those who eat fewer animal products probably have lower exposure. Cutting fat on meat or fish, drinking skimmed milk instead of whole might also help reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in food.

Excess Belly Fat Can Increase Breast Cancer Risks

New research reveals that premenopausal women who carry excess belly fat, or have a larger waist to hip size, may have an increased risk of a specific type of breast cancer, estrogen receptor (ER) negative. Having body fat in this area was linked more strongly to the risk of this specific type of cancer than it was for the ER-positive variety or to breast cancer itself according to the work that appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In 2010, an estimated 207,090 U.S. women will be told they have invasive breast cancer. Another 54,010 cases of non-invasive breast cancer will also be diagnosed. The good news is that rates of breast cancer have been decreasing by almost 2% a year, as have death rates from the disease.

Doctor’s know that many breast tumors are sensitive to the hormone estrogen, and pathology reports typically identify which type of cancer a patient has.

Estrogen receptor negative breast cancer is diagnosed when the cancer lacks receptors for the female hormone estrogen, so this hormone doesn’t stimulate cancer growth.

Estrogen receptor positive cancers are those where cell growth is influenced by estrogen, and are responsive to treatment with tamoxifen because this drug blocks the interaction between estrogen and the estrogen receptor.

The research team, lead by Holly R. Harris of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, acknowledged that body fat composition has a complicated relationship with the risk of cancer. Having a higher BMI for example, has been linked to a rise in the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, but not premenopausal breast cancers.

In the latest bit of research, Harris and her team focused on data from over 116,000 women who were enrolled in the Nurses Health Study II who had waist and hip circumference recorded.

It seems that premenopausal women who carry extra fat around the organs in the abdominal region are more likely to develop hyperinsulinemia (a pre-diabetic condition). Experiments in the lab have shown that insulin receptors can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

The fact that ER-negative breast cancer was more strongly linked to fat in the abdomen and the waist-hip ratio than ER-positive breast cancer makes experts think that the means by which body fat distribution somehow gets around the sex hormone pathways. The findings are the first to point out that an insulin related pathway related to belly fat may be involved in the development of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

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Belly Fat Increases Risk of Some Breast Cancers… Continued…

Many women notice an abundance of belly fat as they get older, especially after menopause. As you’ve heard, putting the pounds in this area is particularly unhealthy as compared to other parts of the body, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. It seems that the fat cells in the abdomen don’t just sit there adding extra bulk; they are active and produce hormones and other substances that can impact your health.

If you’re concerned about your breast cancer risks, and know you’re carrying excess belly fat, now’s the time to make changes in your diet and fitness routine. You may not see it all on the outside, but losing even a few pounds can have many positive impacts on your body and your health.