Doea Diet Soda Addiction Exist?

There are those who start the day with it, others who have it on hand all day long, or wouldn’t eat a meal without it, now government surveys have found that people who drink diet beverages average over 26 ounces a day – and 3% of diet soda drinkers have four (or more) of these drinks each day. That’s a whole lot of soda, but does it amount to diet soda addiction? Diet sodas don’t seem to have a downside… they taste great, offer no calories, what’s not to like?

Those who drink large amounts of diet sodas every day aren’t all that uncommon, but are they addicts?

One of the obvious ingredients in diet soda is the caffeine, and many drinkers might be hooked on the caffeine, but prefer to get getting their fix in the form of a soda instead of an energy drink or cup of coffee. Diet soda doesn’t give you the same kick in terms of caffeine – in fact, a Diet Coke can has 4-5 times less caffeine than a small coffee at Starbucks.

Sometimes people choose diet only because it becomes associated with some other activity or behavior. Like a drink with a meal or when you get in the car. You crave the diet soda because you’ve conditioned yourself to want it according to Dr. Harold C. Urschel, MD, an addition psychiatrist and author of Healing the Addicted Brain. Those who have dealt (and conquered) earlier addictions, to cigarettes for example, are able to easily replace one thing with another, more accepted behavior.

Psychologists call it addition swapping.

And those who are drinking diet in the hopes of losing weight are finding the sweetness of the soda comforting… especially as they have to give up on real treats. That’s what the artificial sweeteners in these products are intended for. In a 2008 study female subjects who drank water sweetened with either sugar or Splenda couldn’t tell the difference, but their brains did. By using functional MRI scans the researchers saw that the reward system in the brain lit up with both drinks, but the sugar did so more completely.

So your senses tell you it’s something sweet, but your brain tells you it isn’t the reward you expected according to study author Martin P. Paulus, MD psychiatry professor at the University of California San Diego. This might be the reason you drink more… this teasing effect may well lead to dependence. Because artificial sweeteners bring positive reinforcement so we’ll work for them as we do for food, alcohol and drugs that are abused. Experts agree that for some number of people these substances offer a chance of becoming addicted.

Continues below…

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Can You Be “Hooked” On Diet Soda..? Continued…

A major sign of substance dependence, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is using the substance even when you know it causes physical or mental health issues. Some diet soda drinkers do fall into this category. Another feature of substance abuse is the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that happen if you try to quit cold turkey. If you cut back on diet sodas you might notice things like headaches, nausea and irritability.

Drinking too much diet soda might be trouble in the long run, contributing to…

- Low bone mineral density in women

- Type 2 diabetes

- Stroke

- Encourage weight gain due to link between diet soda and unhealthy foods

If you’re worried about diet soda addiction and want to cut back on how much diet soda you’re putting into your body, start by getting rid of all you have in the house. If the temptation isn’t right there, you’ll have to choose another drink. Be sure to have caffeine alternatives on hand and drink water to flush the sodium that’s built up in your system. Take the process slow… one day at a time, medicate for headaches and keep at it. Before you know it, you’re diet soda habit will be a thing of the past and you’ll be feeling great.

Upping Daily Vitamin D Intake Lowers Chances of Getting Cancer

More news on daily vitamin D intake, known for helping strengthen bones and immune system while lowering your risks of some life-altering diseases. New research has discovered it takes far more vitamin D than once thought to really impact the risk of major diseases, including your chances of getting cancer (both breast and colon), multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

This study of vitamin D levels was based on a survey of several thousand subjects who took vitamin D supplements ranging from a low of 1,000 to a high of 10,000 IUs a day. The participants also underwent blood tests to determine levels of vitamin D metabolites in the bloodstream.

A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey finds that only 10% of people in the U.S. have the right level of vitamin D in their blood to prevent serious disease. These are often people who work (or spend lots of time) outdoors so they get a natural boost in those vitamin D levels.

Study co-author Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Diego was surprised to find the levels of vitamin D needed to provide any benefit are so much higher than the 400 IU a day recommended to conquer conditions like rickets.

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Higher Levels of Vitamin Needed To Cut Disease Risk… Continued…

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that’s a natural part of foods like fatty fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, beef or calf liver and mushrooms, as well as being added to milk, orange juice, yogurt, margarine and cereals. One of the best, most natural sources of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight – a half hour a day, two times a week without sunscreen should do the trick.

Another popular way to get this vital nutrient is through supplements. The 4,000-8,000 IUs a day recommended intake is still way below the upper limit suggested by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine.

Most every healthy adult in the U.S. will now be advised to take 4,000 IUs daily. While still far under the 10,000 IU a day limit, this level is enough to give the body some of the most important vitamin D benefits.

A December 2010 report from a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine committee recommended that a daily vitamin d intake of 4,000 IUs is safe for any healthy individual over 9 years old. The minimum daily intake from the IOM is 600 IU. Of course there could be some harm tied to taking in too much vitamin D daily for specific patients, even at the amounts that fall under the recommended safe upper limit. It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before you start supplementing to lower chances of getting cancer, to be sure this is right for you.

Diabetes Levels Increasing The World Over

Sobering news on the state of diabetes levels the world over. A study just published is calling attention to the missed opportunity to bring down the burden of disease in all countries by properly diagnosing and treating a condition we hear about all the time – diabetes.

According to study researcher Dr. Stephen Lim from the University of Washington in Seattle, there are too many people not being properly diagnosed, or not being treated effectively, and not just in the U.S.

Doctor’s tell us that diabetes is a chronic disease known for high levels of sugar being in the bloodstream that comes from one of three causes – not enough insulin, resistance to insulin, or both.

Today, diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions with current estimates having 280 million people (6.4% of the world’s population) living with it. Since overweight people have a well-recognized increased risk of diabetes, cases are expected to rise very quickly in the years to come as we are forced to deal with the very real health consequences of what’s come to be called the current obesity epidemic.

The team of researchers used data from nationally representative surveys on health to look at diagnosis rates and treatment of diabetes in seven countries – Columbia, England, Iran, Mexico, Scotland, Thailand and the U.S. Using a technique known as logistic regression, the experts examined socio-economic factors that determine diagnosis and effective management of this disease.

Disappointingly, there was plenty of undiagnosed and poorly treated diabetes to go around.

In the U.S. almost 90% of adult diabetics don’t meet the widely accepted targets for healthy blood sugar levels, considered the cornerstone of proper diabetes management. In Mexico, the picture is far worse, 99% of adult diabetics aren’t at the right numbers. In Thailand, almost 62% of men surveyed were either undiagnosed or untreated for diabetes.

The cost of not treating your condition properly is huge…

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Chronic Disease Now Out Of Control: Are You at Risk..? Continued…

In terms of money and costs to you personally… the permanent loss of your sight, an emergency amputation or serious damage to your internal organs.

Of the diabetics in the research, the number of those meeting the targets for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol went from Mexico’s paltry 1%, to the U.S. at a meager 12% of diabetic patients doing all they can to keep their bodies healthy.

Interesting that personal wealth and level of education weren’t a significant factor in the equation… except in Thailand. In most places it appears to come down to health insurance coverage, as opposed to personal wealth, in terms of who gets the right type of care. The effect was most obvious in the U.S., where adult diabetics who had health insurance were two times as likely to be diagnosed and treated as those who didn’t have insurance. This alone suggests that millions of diabetics are undiagnosed or not getting treatment to help them avoid some of the most serious complications of this disease -heart disease, blindness, chronic kidney disease and amputations.

In October 2010 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control projected that as many as a third of American adults could be dealing with high diabetes levels by the year 2050 if we continue on as we have been. Overeating. Not exercising on a regular basis. Not caring about what we put into our bodies, and what it might be doing to us.

Having a Short Nap Can Keep Blood Pressure Low

Could it be that a short nap during the day is beneficial to the heart? Maybe. A new study has found that a nap during the day of no more than 45 minutes might just help stressed out people keep their blood pressure low and thus protect their hearts.

The work included 85 healthy students who were divided into two groups – those who had an hour in the day to sleep, and those that was given no time to sleep. Both groups got a mental stress test, and while blood pressure and pulse rates went up in all subjects when they were taking the test, the average blood pressure of those who had napped for at least 45 minutes was significantly lower after the stress test than for those who hadn’t slept. The nap seemed to help things.

The daytime nappers were able to recover, in terms of blood pressure, after a mentally stressful task. Everyone agrees that more research is needed to understand what’s going on between daytime sleep and cardiovascular health, but the research raises the question… could daily naps help heart patients?

Trouble is, our nation continues to be more and more sleep deprived. In our 24/7 world it’s hard not to be on, and connected at all hours of the day and night. Long hours on the job, packed schedules, day-to-day anxiety all play a part in what’s keeping us from getting the rest we need. In fact, American’s are sleeping, on average, two hours less a night than we did just 50 years ago.

And since lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems… cutting back to finish up something isn’t without consequences.

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Napping For 45 Minutes Might Help Blood Pressure… Continued…

Even the CDC gives sleep its due – pointing out that sufficient sleep isn’t a luxury, it is necessary for good health and might just help to prevent the onset of chronic diseases like depression and diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

You should also know that cutting sleep for more than a night or two builds up a sleep deficit, and this causes significant impairment of reaction time, judgment, vision, processing of information, short term memory, performance, motivation, vigilance and patience. Those who are chronically fatigued also deal with more moodiness, aggressiveness, burnout and stress than those who are getting enough sleep.

Many of us feel that natural dip… an increase in drowsiness in the afternoon… about 8 hours after getting up. This is hardwired into the body, and while you can’t put a stop to it, you can do things to help yourself. Eat a combination of protein and carbs for lunch. A brisk walk (or ten minutes of stretches) can improve blood flow throughout the body and have you feeling more energetic.

While a short nap isn’t going to make up for inadequate nighttime sleep, a quick 20-30 minutes can improve your mood and alertness as well as enhance performance. Sleep any longer than this and it may be harder to wake up, and more difficult to fall off to sleep later that night. A nap that’s just long enough, on the other hand, will restore and revive you for the rest of the day and may help keep your blood pressure low.

Being Obese Can Cause Aggressive Breast Cancer

More news on carrying too many pounds. Being obese is something doctors know ups the risk of estrogen-fueled breast cancer in women who have gone through menopause. There’s new research that suggests a link between obesity after menopause and a form of extra aggressive breast cancer that is particularly hard to treat.

There were an estimated 207,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. during 2010. Just 10-20% of all breast cancers are the triple negative form that’s marked by a lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 protein expression. Though uncommon, this form of breast cancer is far more aggressive, so the outlook is not as rosy as we’d like, mostly due to the lack of targeted treatment for this form of the disease. Biologically, this subtype of breast cancer is very different from other forms.

Researchers looked at data on 155,723 women who were part of the Women’s Health Initiative. This is a large study of women after menopause that started in 1993, and examined diseases like cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. The subjects were aged 50 to 79 years old and supplied information on their exercise habits, height and weight so that BMI numbers could be calculated.

During the lengthy follow up, 2,610 women were diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer (fueled by estrogen) and 307 developed the triple-negative form of the disease. The subjects were divided into four groups based on their BMI; the participants at the top of the scale had BMIs of 31 of higher. As the researchers looked at the risks of obesity, they controlled for factors like age, education, income, ethnicity and family history.

The work found that women who had the highest BMIs had a 35% increased risk of developing the aggressive from of cancer, triple-negative, compared to those who had the lowest BMIs according to study lead Amanda Phipps who is a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The study subjects had a 39% increased risk of other breast cancers as well.

The association was what researchers term “borderline” in terms of statistical significance, though Phipps believes this is explained by the smaller number of cases in the study.

The team also saw a modest link between being more physically active and lower risk of both (estrogen-receptor positive and triple-negative) kinds of breast cancer, suggesting that more exercise might help in terms of risk for these cancers. Being active will also help keep your weight under control, so it’s a win-win.

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Obesity Boosts Risk Of Aggressive Breast Cancer… Continued…

Doctor’s know that after menopause, most of the estrogen in a woman’s body comes from what fat she has, so the more fat, the more exposure the body gets to this hormone. This is why experts have long accepted the link between obesity and estrogen-positive breast cancers.

In fact, experts who reviewed the study, but didn’t participate in it, such as Dr. Joanne Mortimer from the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center believe that this latest research confirms that obesity and cancer risk aren’t just an estrogen problem. It’s more than the estrogen feeding the cancer cells – the fat cells might just create an environment cancer cells really like. Though we all expect that fat is inert in the body, we are coming to find that fat cells do a whole lot more than take up space.

Obesity is also known to raise markers of inflammation, levels of insulin and insulin like growth factor – all perfectly capable of contributing to the growth of a breast tumor.

More work is needed, but the message about not being obese and keeping your weight under control, all through you life, is a smart one, especially if you’re worried about aggressive breast cancer.

Detecting Skin Melanoma Cancers

When it comes to dangerous, deadly skin melanoma cancers, we need every weapon we can get. Now a new test, a simple, noninvasive procedure that uses a special adhesive tape to painlessly gather cells from a skin lesion that looks suspicious can accurately identify melanoma in all stages, from early to advanced.

Today melanoma is often identified by visual exam followed by biopsy, an uncomfortable, somewhat painful procedure that collects cells that are then sent to a pathologist for examination.

A study in the British Journal of Dermatology reports on the new testing method used for a year at 18 sites across the United States, finding that it was able to identify melanomas 100% of the time with a 12% false positive rate.

That’s better than anything in use today. Interestingly, there are studies that suggest 40 biopsies are done for every melanoma detected, and this is important to remember according to dermatologist Mitchell Kline from the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical School. He believes this new test will give dermatologists a tool to assess patients before a biopsy, and with the low false positive rate, should reduce the number of more invasive procedures that need to be performed.

The experimental tape used in the study is able to harvest cells from the skin surface, and was developed by DermTech International, a La Jolla California based biotech company, also the source of funding for the research.

The test uses a patented technology called Epidermal Genetic Information Retrieval to collect RNA from a worrisome skin lesion. During the research, samples of RNA were sent to the lab for genetic analysis; earlier studies had already identified genes that are specific to melanomas. The latest analysis included 17 of these.

According to lead author William Wachsman, MD, PhD, the 17-gene biomarker is able to tell the difference between early and very invasive disease. Wachsman is both an associate professor of medicine and a staff physician and also serves on the scientific advisory board of the creators of the new test.

The DermTech researchers are trying to make this melanoma tape test more affordable, and there’ll be lots more testing before they seek approval by the FDA. They hope (if all goes well) the test will be in the hands of doctors in about two years. Then it will be up to dermatologists to embrace the new procedure.

The new test might be especially appealing to those who don’t want a biopsy scar on their face or another visible part of the body, or for times when a biopsy would cause undue pain.

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Easy, Noninvasive Test For Melanoma… Continued…

Experts tell us that melanoma incidence has increased dramatically over the last two decades. In the U.S., the increases are especially dramatic in specific populations – young women and older men. The National Cancer Institute has numbers that put the invasive melanoma rates up by just about 4% a year for women 15 to 34 years old since 1995. For men over 65, the rates have increased by almost 9% a year.

When it comes to melanoma, or any skin cancer, your best bet is to keep in mind the ABCD system
- Asymmetry (one half different from the other),
- Borders (irregular edges),
- Color (changes from one part to another) and
- Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser).

If you catch skin melanoma cancers early, theyare very treatable. This form of cancer is far more dangerous (deadly) once the cancer cells have the chance to spread beyond the skin. Which is why new testing methods that are easy, noninvasive and accurate will always be a welcome addition.

Not Enough Sleep Can Damage The Heart

Yet another reason to make getting enough sleep a priority. Not enough sleep can do more than leave you dragging the next day, over the long haul it can also damage the heart increasing your risks for dangerous heart attacks and strokes. This comes from a recent analysis conducted by British researchers that used data collected from more than 470,000 people in eight nations, including the United States, and appears in the European Heart Journal.

In the past, we’ve talked about the value of sleep to keeping you healthy. We also know that adults vary greatly in how much sleep they need to feel rested and that your sleep needs change over a lifetime.

The NIH (National Institute of Health) suggests from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night is enough for healthy adults. This is a good place to start, but to find the right amount of sleep for you, plan ahead and let yourself to sleep in, waking naturally. Use this number of hours as what you need to get most nights.

Of course, that’s easier said than done in our 24/7 world. The stress of bills, schedules, relationships and such certainly intrude on the ability to turn off your mind and get to sleep.

The struggle for work/life balance is also forcing many of us to steal time from sleep to get things done. This seems harmless enough… until it becomes a habit and you’re going for prolonged periods being sleep deprived or dealing with disrupted sleep patterns. Doing this over the long term brings an increased risk of many consequences, including some terribly serious medical conditions like stroke or heart attack.

Why the link between sleep and heart health?

The researchers theorize that chronic shortages of sleep produce hormones and other chemicals that increase the risk of strokes and heart disease, not to mention other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

According to the research, if you’re regularly getting less than six hours of sleep a night you run a 48% greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease – a 15% bigger chance of developing or dying from a stroke according to study co-author, Dr. Francesco Cappuccio out of England’s Warwick Medical School.

Of course going the other way, sleeping too long… say 9 hours or more a night, might actually be a signal of oncoming illness.

Getting too little sleep, for too long isn’t just bad for the heart; it also brings other awful consequences…

Continues below…

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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?

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Prolonged Lack of Sleep Endangers Your Heart… Continued…

- Significant reductions in performance – losing 1.5 hours on one night could bring a 32% reduction in daytime alertness.

- Impairing your memory and cognitive ability, to think and process data.

- Stress on relationships – conflicts due to moodiness, distance due to separate bedrooms.

- Injury at work – twice the risk of being hurt on the job.

- Injury in the car - the NHTSA offers a conservative estimate that drowsy driving brings at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,555 deaths each year.

The good news is that these consequences can be put in their place by deciding that sleep is a necessary part of life… as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

If you’re regularly coping with not enough sleep, passing it off as the fault of everyday stress or just the way “it’s always been”, you might actually be dealing with an unrecognized sleep disorder. Talk with your doctor, and consider undergoing sleep studies if you’re dragging during the day, even after what should have been a good night’s sleep. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to get the rest you need, and perhaps prevent some troublesome problems in the process, than to damage the heart and have to deal with these problems later on.

Benefit of Berries Include Reducing Parkinsons Disease Risk

The benefits of berries are numerous; dark, delicious tasting berries, rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids, might just protect you from developing Parkinsons disease according to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Flavonoids are also found in apples, chocolate and citrus fruits, though not all are created equal. A subset of these nutrients known as anthocyanins (found in berries and other red/purple veggies and fruits) offer protection for both men and women.

Several earlier studies have found the benefits of berries to the body – one being lowering the risk of high blood pressure according to Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Xiang Gao. Certainly eating lots of berries can surely do no harm.

To conduct the study, the team collected information on just about 49,000 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and over 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study.

The subjects completed detailed questionnaires about what they ate. Using this, the researchers calculated the flavonoids amount people ate by examining the amounts of tea, berries, apples, red wine, oranges and orange juice in the subjects’ diets.

After follow up of 22 years, 805 of the subjects had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. When the research team combined all individual flavonoids, the total intake was tied to a significantly lower Parkinson’s disease risk in men, but no reduced risk for women.

For men, those who ate the most flavonoids were 40% less likely to develop this neurodegenerative condition compared to men who ate the least flavonoids.

For women there wasn’t any relationship between total flavonoids consumption and the risk of Parkinson’s. But, that subset of flavonoids known as anthocyanins were tied to a lower risk of Parkinson’s in both men and women.

If these results are confirmed by more studies, anthocyanins could be considered protective against Parkinson’s.

A well known Parkinson’s expert, and professor of neurology at the University of Miami Dr. Carlos Singer, believes the protective effect comes from the antioxidants. So much of the mechanism of Parkinson’s has to do with the nerve cells and how they handle oxidative stress. That’s just what flavonoids might be able to do, boost the ability of those nerve cells to handle this type of stress.

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Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease With Berries… Continued…

The causes of Parkinson’s disease are not known, though the latest thinking considers both genetic and environmental components as pieces to the puzzle according to Singer.

So if you are genetically predisposed, and are exposed to the right environmental trigger, the difference between getting Parkinson’s or not may well come down to how many, and what type, or flavonoids are in your diet at the time.

A chronic, progressive condition, Parkinson’s disease usually strikes those over 50, with early symptoms being subtle and progressing gradually over time. The primary symptoms are trembling, rigidity, slowness of movement and impairments to balance and coordination. When the symptoms, in most cases tremor, begin to interfere with daily activities, there are treatments available that can help.

If you’re worried about Parkinsons Disease symptoms, talk to your doctor. While there isn’t a blood test to conform your diagnosis, your medical history and getting a proper neurological exam can certainly help. Understand that this work shows an association, but not cause and effect, between Parkinson’s and flavonoids.

A Diet High in Fiber Could Increase Longevity of Life

Yet another reason for eating a diet high in fiber. Researchers out of the National Cancer Institute report in the Archives of Internal Medicine that a diet rich in fiber could increase longevity of life by cutting your risk of death from heart disease, respiratory disease or any cause by 22%.

Experts know that fiber has been tied to a lower risk of some cancers, heart disease, diabetes and may prevent obesity because it helps keep digestion moving while keeping cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure low. It also promotes weight loss and brings down inflammation.

Fiber is given its due in the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines that urge us to eat lots of fiber-rich fruits, veggies and whole grains every day as part of a healthy eating plan.

The most recent guidelines call for adults to get 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories in the diet. Most Americans get less than half that much. Fiber is probably best known for its ability to ease constipation and keep digestion moving along, but science knows this nutrient does a whole lot more.

For this latest NCI study, a team lead by Yikyung Park gathered data on 388,122 adults who took part in the large, prospective cohort National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

The participants completed a questionnaire about what they ate – the amount of fiber ranged from 13 to 29 grams a day for men; 11 to 26 grams a day for women. The subjects who ate the most fiber were 22% less likely to die over the follow up period than those who got the least amount of fiber. The risk of heart and respiratory conditions was cut from 24-56% among men; 34 to 59% for women who ate the most fiber according to the researchers.

Fiber from grains seemed most beneficial in terms of reduced risk of death.

There haven’t been a lot of studies to look at this association. Most of the research has focused on the tie between fiber intake and heart disease, and this work also supports those earlier conclusions, but adds to the body of evidence by showing that dietary fiber intake is linked to a decreased likelihood of death.

Makes getting enough fiber every day seem a whole lot more important now, doesn’t it?

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Latest: Diet High In Fiber May Mean Longer Life… Continued…

In a commentary that accompanies the NCI study, other experts applaud the careful control performed by the team and believe it enhances the validity of the findings. Fiber may very well be important in terms of longevity. But the inverse (one thing goes up, the other goes down) association between fiber intake and death from infectious or respiratory disease might indicate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well.

It’s important to understand that the reduced death risk could be due to those with high fiber intakes also leading an overall healthier lifestyle. Perhaps they’re also more active, more aware of contaminants in their environment and willing to make getting enough quality sleep a priority.

All you have to do is make the choice… a simple step really, to (slowly) move towards a diet high in fiber by choosing higher fiber alternatives and getting plenty of fluids along the way. You’ll be giving your body a beneficial nutrient while also possibly increasing your longevity of life by avoiding some very scary, very serious health conditions, today and for years to come.

Early Hair Loss May Double Prostate Cancer Risk

More bad news for men who suffered early hair loss by age 20 – a new study finds that these mens’ prostate cancer risk is twice that in their later years than those who don’t lose their hair at an early age.

The prostate is a walnut size gland close to the bladder that plays a crucial role in a man’s reproductive system. Prostate cancer happens most often among men in their 60s, and is the most common non-skin cancer in men the world over. In the U.S., this form of cancer is second only to lung tumors as a cause of death; an estimated 217,730 new cases were diagnosed last year.

Earlier work found that sex hormones known as androgens play a part in both conditions, hair loss early in life (known as pattern baldness) and prostate cancer. The link between these two is murky. One study found that early hair loss was linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer so the picture is far from clear.

To get at the truth, a team led by Philippe Giraud out of Georges Pompidou European Hospital interviewed 669 men, 338 who had a history of prostate cancer, about their hair at ages 20, 30 and 40.

The subjects used standardized images as points of reference. Those who didn’t start losing hair until age 30 or 40 were seen to have no increased risk compared to the prostate cancer free controls.

The men who lost their hair around age 20, a condition known to your doctor as androgenetic alopecia, had double the prostate cancer risk.

Continues below…

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Early Baldness Might Double Risk Of Prostate Cancer… Continued…

If this is you, experts say not to panic, just because you are losing your hair, does not mean you’ll automatically get cancer of the prostate. These results are preliminary and still need to be verified by future studies.

Thing is, one out of two men end up losing their hair, but of the group that go either partially or totally bald, just 10-15% actually have androgenic alopecia. This condition affects both men and women, but is far more common in men.

Early balding might prove to be a useful marker, giving men a valuable heads up on a potential health danger. Prostate cancer screening methods in use today are controversial, because screening is begun at 50 years old, without thinking about other criteria, might cause overtreatment. What’s more, the 20-year-old PSA antigen test cannot tell low risk from more aggressive cancers. Doctors now know that antigen levels can fluctuate from man to man, and might be skewed by inflammation of the prostate gland. A biopsy is the only test that can confirm a diagnosis.

Another study on prostate cancer risk, published last year, found that finger patterns might prove beneficial in choosing men who should be regularly screened. If your index finger is longer than the ring finger, you may have a significantly lower risk of cancer of the prostate.

If you’re worried about the prostate cancer risk of a man in your life who suffered early hair loss, stay informed. Consider adopting a low fat eating plan (think traditional Japanese diet) that includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids as a way to lower his risk.