Note: This article was originally published in the March 2008 issue of the Denver publication Community News.
We've come to expect that each new year will bring scientific breakthroughs in the health field: new drugs, new technologies, and so forth. 2007 was no exception. In addition, the year was remarkable for the number of old beliefs that were shown to be mistaken. From multiple sources, I've compiled an alphabetical list of health findings and developments that I found of interest. Some of the following information is from the previous few years, but still important.
Acupuncture often works better than drug treatment for chronic back pain.
Beer offers the same benefits as red wine when it comes to fighting the free radicals that promote heart disease and cataracts. However, men should keep their drinks to no more than one or two a day, and women need to be aware that any amount of alcohol increases their risk of breast cancer.
Breast-feeding raises the IQs of 90% of babies by an average of seven points.
Cherries, especially Montmorency tart cherries, can help relieve the pain of arthritis and gout. Their antioxidants can help ward off cancer and heart disease.
China has agreed to allow U.S. health inspectors to monitor Chinese production of food and drugs for export.
Coffee can reduce the risk of contracting Parkinson's disease by about 40%. Coffee combined with exercise can help the body discard precancerous skin cells, and it has about four times as many antioxidants as green tea.
Colorado has the fewest obese people of any state in the nation. Mississippi has the most.
Digital mammography and the older film mammography are equally accurate at finding tumors in the breasts of women 50 and over. Digital mammography is significantly more accurate for women under 50, any woman with very dense breasts, and pre- or perimenopausal women of any age.
Dirt contains bacteria that boost serotonin and thus fight depression. So join the toddlers as they make mudpies, or take off those gloves when you garden!
Educational videos for babies may be counterproductive, teaching them to zone out in front of the TV set and retarding their verbal development. Little kids need play, affection, and talking, not TV.
Fucoxanthin, an extract of brown seaweed marketed under names such as Seathin and F�cothin, burns fat and increases the metabolic rate without making you jittery. It's pricey, but probably worth a try for those of you who, like me, keep looking for that magic something that will make losing weight a little easier.
A daily serving of a full-fat dairy product, such as full-fat ice cream or cheese, can help women overcome infertility.
About 27% of laser printers spew particles that are as harmful to the lungs as secondhand smoke.
Monounsaturated fats may help prevent age-related memory loss. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil (extra virgin olive oil is best), chicken, herring, mackerel, pork, turkey, and many nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts (filberts), as well as many other foods. Monounsaturated fats lower the bad LDL cholesterol, but do not change the levels of good HDL cholesterol. The memory-protective effect increases with the increase in the consumption of monounsaturated fats.
Multivitamins at more than the recommended daily dose can double a man's risk of prostate cancer.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should be administered only in cases of drowning, drug overdose, and choking. People who have had heart attacks should get continuous chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth, thereby improving their chances of survival.
Regular napping for about 30 minutes at a time can reduce your risk of heart disease by almost 40%, about as much as regular exercising!
Obesity kills and contributes to problems such as arthritis, but being up to 25 lbs. overweight seems to be good for you. That modest degree of overweight seems to help people fight infections and disease and survive accidents.
Periods can be a thing of the past if a woman so desires. The new drug Lybrel, from Wyeth, is for women who want to eliminate menstrual periods altogether. So far, no ill effects have been found.
Rhodiola rosea increases alertness and concentration, improves memory and mood, combats erectile dysfuntion, greatly increases muscular endurance, and speeds recovery from exercise. Combined with exercise, it can also help you lose weight. It does not make you jittery, and it's not expensive. Look for a brand that contains at least 2% rosavins. The NOW brand, at Vitamin Cottage, costs only about $15 for 60 capsules. Take one or two per day. For details of the benefits, do a Google search on "Science News rhodiola."
Sitting for long periods at a time, such as in front of a computer, can contribute to overweight. The effect goes beyond burning fewer calories due to inaction. The advice is to get up and move around for a minute or two every half hour or so. I find that this simple practice also refreshes the brain, increasing my subsequent ability to concentrate.
Smoking ages skin all over the body, not just on the face. It even damages skin covered by clothing and the connective tissue that supports internal organs.
To conclude: I hope that all of you enjoyed reading my little list. You have my sincere best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2008!