Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Take a Break: Breathe in the Fall

Try this Yoga Breathing exercise

Go outside in the sun and try this for five minutes. Nasty weather in your area? Allergic to fall plants? No problems, use the following websites as a timer

• Online Meditation Timer: Starts and ends with a chime. 

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Journal Watch September 2017

Reducing Dependence on Opioids for Pain Management: Chronic pain affects an estimated one in three Americans. This widespread struggle has led to the wide use of pain medications, and a mounting national crisis of opioid addiction and deaths. Most people – including most physicians — think of pain as a physical symptom, but science reveals that emotions also play a big role. In other words –  psychology is integral to the pain experience, and it can make it better or worse. Scientific research in the growing area of pain psychology shows that pain relief is more effective when you address the body and the mind. For people with chronic pain, it is important to identify negative pain thought patterns, and to learn to stop them in their tracks. The good news is that even someone prone to pain catastrophizing can learn to rewire their brain for pain relief – and it doesn’t have to take long. One study suggests a single-session class can teach people the skills they need to change their brains—and their pain. Article provides various research studies along with exercises you can try now. The Washington Post

Guidelines Discourage Using Brain Imaging for Chronic Pain: Recent advances in brain imaging have improved understanding of acute and chronic pain, but have led to an increased in the demand to use this data for insurance and medical legal cases. However, a task force is advising against the use of brain imaging as a “lie detector” test for chronic pain. The new guidelines from the group of global researchers was published in Nature Review: Neurology. The task force consisted of clinicians, brain imaging researchers, and experts in functional magnetic resonance imaging, neuroethics, and law.

• Lower back pain may all be in the mind, study suggests: A new study into the neuroscience of clinical pain suggests that perceptions of stiffness may not reflect the actual state of the spine and joints. The team's findings may pave the way for new therapies that help those with chronic pain in their lower back. Medical News Today

• 2 New Studies Find Little Evidence That Marijuana Helps Treat Chronic Pain and PTSD: According to two similar, but separate, publications in the Annals of Internal Medicine this August, medical cannabis has had few, if any, concretely positive impacts in treating chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience: A new research article investigates the effects of yoga and meditation on people by looking at physiological and immunological markers of stress and inflammation. By studying the participants of an intensive three-month yoga and meditation retreat, the researchers found that the practices positively impacted physiological and immunological markers of stress and inflammation, and in addition improved subjective wellbeing. Frontiers

Yoga, meditation improve brain function and energy levels, study shows: The study found that practicing just 25 minutes of Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation per day can boost the brain's executive functions, cognitive abilities linked to goal-directed behavior and the ability to control knee-jerk emotional responses, habitual thinking patterns and actions. Mindfulness

• Can a Digital Doctor Help You Sleep? If you've been having trouble getting some sleep, a new online therapy program may help ease your insomnia, a new study says. The online program is called "Sleepio." It's an interactive digital cognitive behavioral therapy program that participants could access online. The Lancet Psychiatry 

 Common Cold and Complementary HealthApproaches: From the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the Clinical Digest including zinc, vitamin C, Echinacea, probiotics, saline nasal irrigation, Buckwheat honey, geranium extract, and garlic.

• Marijuana may produce psychotic-like effects in high-riskindividuals: Marijuana may bring on temporary paranoia and other psychosis-related effects in individuals at high risk of developing a psychotic disorder, finds a preliminary study. Psychiatry

Approved the first drug to treat Chagas infection -- "kissing bug" disease
Approved the first gene therapy for patients . Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) genetically tweaks a patient's own immune system cells into what scientists call "a living drug" to battle a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
• Approved Aliqopa (copanlisib) to treat adults with relapsed follicular lymphoma who have received at least two prior treatments with certain other drugs.
• Approved its first mobile app to help treat substance abuse. The Reset application is designed to help treat abuse of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and stimulant medications. But the app is not intended for opioid dependence.
• Approved Mvasi (vevacizumab-awwb) as a biosimilar to Avastin (bevacizumab) for the treatment of adults with certain colon, lung, brain, kidney and cervical cancers

E-Cigs May Help Smokers Quit, But … E-cigarettes can help smokers quit, but only if they discard tobacco in favor of vaping nearly every day, a new study suggests.
Former smokers are nearly three times more likely to abstain from cigarette smoking if they puff on an e-cigarette two out of every three days a month, according to the analysis of a federal survey on smoking. "E-cigarettes are an effective way to get cigarette smokers to quit, but you really need to use those e-cigarettes," said lead researcher David Levy. "Using them a couple days a month isn't going to be anywhere near as effective as if you use them most, if not all, days in a month." Nicotine & Tobacco Research

• Too Much TV May Cost You Your Mobility: Excessive sitting after 50 is tied to disability, study finds which looked at the activity patterns of 134,000 adults, aged 50 to 71. Watching more than five hours of TV daily and getting three or fewer hours of physical activity a week more than tripled the study participants' risk of disability over eight-plus years, the investigators found. The message is move more, and sit less," said DiPietro. "That doesn't mean working out. It means breaking up sitting time. Go for short walks. Climb some stairs. Walk around the house. Walk around the office. If you're watching TV, get up and walk around during commercials." Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences

• Take a Stand Against Sitting too Much: In a new study, people who sat the most had twice the risk of dying over a 4-year period as people who sat the least. But taking a break every 30 minutes to get up and walk around might help decrease the risk, the study authors said. Annals of Internal Medicine


Heavy alcohol use alters brain functioning differently in young men and women: Scientists have found that brain functions in young men and women are changed by long-term alcohol use, but that these changes are significantly different in men and women. This indicates not only that young people might be at increased risk of long-term harm from alcohol use, but also that the risks are probably different in men and in women, with men possibly more at risk. European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

• Sleep Apnea Wreaks Havoc on Your Metabolism: Finding supports use of CPAP therapy for condition, so blood pressure and blood sugar levels don't jump. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism


• Many Moisturizers Aren't What They Claim to Be: Many skin moisturizers that claim to be fragrance-free or hypoallergenic are not, and may aggravate skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, a new study says. Northwestern University researchers examined the top 100 best-selling, whole-body moisturizers sold at Amazon, Target and Walmart for affordability and content. They found that 83 percent of so-called hypoallergenic products had a potentially allergenic chemical. The researchers also discovered that 45 percent of products marketed as fragrance-free contained a botanical ingredient or one that reacts to a fragrance that can cause a skin rash or skin allergy. In addition, moisturizers with "dermatologist-recommended" labels cost an average of 20 cents more per ounce than those that did not have the label. Only 12 percent of the best-selling moisturizers were free of such allergens, according to the report. Looking for allergen-free skin products? Your best bets are white petroleum jelly, some coconut oils that are cold-pressed and not refined, Vanicream's hypoallergenic products and Aveeno Eczema Therapy moisturizing cream. And the three most affordable moisturizers without any NACDG allergens: Ivory raw unrefined shea butter, Vaseline original petroleum jelly and Smellgood African shea butter, the researchers said. JAMA Dermatology.


 What You Can Do to Help Fight the Opioid Epidemic:A surgeon's group offers a blueprint for safer pain management  Proper disposal of prescription painkillers and use of safe alternatives to manage pain could help combat America's opioid abuse epidemic, doctors say. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Eating Feeds 'Feel Good' Hormones in the Brain Eating prompts the brain to release "feel good" hormones, known as endorphins, a new study shows. Researchers found the regulation of these naturally occurring opioids, which can produce a sense of pleasure or euphoria, may help the body know when it's satisfied. On the flip side, overeating associated with the overstimulation of this system may contribute to obesity, the researchers noted. The Journal of Neuroscience

• Diet Study Suggests It's Carbs, Not Fats, That Are Bad for You: A large, 18-country study may turn current nutritional thinking on its head. The new research suggests that it's not the fat in your diet that's raising your risk of premature death, it's too many carbohydrates -- especially the refined, processed kinds of carbs -- that may be the real killer. The research also found that eating fruits, vegetables and legumes can lower your risk of dying prematurely. But three or four servings a day seemed to be plenty. Any additional servings didn't appear to provide more benefit. People with a high fat intake -- about 35 percent of their daily diet -- had a 23 percent lower risk of early death and 18 percent lower risk of stroke compared to people who ate less fat, The researchers also noted that a very low intake of saturated fats (below 3 percent of daily diet) was associated with a higher risk of death in the study, compared to diets containing up to 13 percent daily. "The study showed that contrary to popular belief, increased consumption of dietary fats is associated with a lower risk of death," European Society of Cardiology annual meeting

Acid Reflux? Try Going Vegetarian: A mostly vegetarian diet may provide relief similar to widely used medications for people with acid reflux, a new study suggests. The study looked at close to 200 patients at one medical center who had been diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux. Based on research into diet and various chronic ills, Zalvan began advising patients to take up a mostly vegetarian diet that he describes as "Mediterranean style." He encouraged patients to go 90-percent plant-based -- eating mainly vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Meat and dairy were to be limited to two or three modest servings per week. JAMA Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery

 Keep Colon Cancer at Bay: For reducing colon cancer risk, whole grains and regular exercise are a must, while processed meats and alcohol should be limited, a large research review finds. Three servings (about 3 ounces) a day of whole grains -- such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread -- may lower colon cancer risk by 17 percent, according to a new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund International.

• Magnesium Can Reduce Depression: A randomized control trial has found over-the-counter magnesium tablets (248 mg of elemental magnesium per day) can significantly reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in just two weeks. Plos One


• Clear link between heavy vitamin B intake and lung cancer: B vitamins are among the most popular supplements on the market in the United States. Some, like B6 and B12, are marketed and sold as products that can boost your energy. But a new study shows that using too much vitamin B6 and B12 dramatically increases lung cancer in men, particularly those who smoke. Journal of Clinical Oncology

• Coffee/Tea and Diabetes: New research suggests that coffee and tea probably shouldn't be off-limits because each may help prevent an early death. Well, at least if you're a woman with diabetes, that is. European Association for the Study of Diabetes

 Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Diabetes Risk?: A small Australian study suggests that consuming high amounts of artificial sweeteners might affect how the body responds to sugar -- and might raise a person's risk of diabetes. European Association for the Study of Diabetes

• Increased Salt Intake Tied to Diabetes Risk: Odds of both type 2 and latent autoimmune diabetes rose when adults consumed more salt, study shows. European Association for the Study of Diabetes


Common Painkillers May Boost Blood Pressure in Arthritis Patients: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may raise blood pressure in patients with arthritis, a new study suggest. "Patients with osteoarthritis and arthritis should continue to consult their doctor before taking NSAIDs... and clinicians need to weigh the potential hazards of worsening blood pressure control when considering the use of these agents," Ruschitzka added in a European Society of Cardiology news release.

Estrogen Patch Boost Women's Sex Lives in Menopause: Study suggests that, given this way, short-term use of the hormone may help those who report symptoms. JAMA Internal Medicine.

• How Shingles Vaccine Should Be Used in Arthritis Patients:New research indicates that the live varicella-zoster vaccine -- which is given to protect against shingles -- elicits robust immune responses in patients when administered several weeks prior to the start of treatment with the arthritis drug tofacitinib. The Arthritis & Rheumatology findings are encouraging because patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of developing shingles than other adults, and tofacitinib and certain other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are thought to further increase this risk. Importantly, however, the virus should not be given to patients who have not had the chicken pox in the past.

• Asthma medicine halves risk of Parkinson's: Using data gathered from 100 million Norwegian prescriptions, researchers have found that asthma medicine can halve a patient's risk of developing Parkinson´s disease. Science

• Immune Focused Drug May be New Weapon Against Advanced Melanoma: New research suggests that Opdivo -- a drug that works with the immune system to fight melanoma -- is more effective than the current standard of care for patients who've had surgery to remove advanced tumors. NEJM

• Statins May Help People with COPD Live Longer: The study from Canada included nearly 40,000 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One in five patients was taking a statin, and those individuals had a 21 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, and a 45 percent reduced risk of dying from lung-related issues, the researchers found. Chest 

Statins Help Healthy People Lower Their 'Bad' Cholesterol: Study found taking them lowered risk of heart disease, death in those with high LDL levels. Circulation

• Magnetic Brain Stimulation May Quiet 'Voices' in Schizophrenia: Noninvasive treatment worked for a third of patients in study, though effects were temporary. A therapy that stimulates a region of the brain linked to language may help quiet the hallucinatory "voices" that often plague schizophrenia patients, new research suggests. European College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting

 Nerve 'Zap' Treatment Could Be Alternative to CPAP for Sleep Apnea: People with more serious cases of sleep apnea may get lasting relief from an implanted nerve stimulator, a new study finds. One specialist says the device might benefit those who can't tolerate the current standard treatment for sleep apnea: continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP involves wearing a mask over the nose and/or mouth every night, and many people balk at that. The new device, called Inspire, works by sending electrical impulses to a nerve that controls the muscles of the tongue. When the stimulator is turned on before a person goes to sleep, it causes the tongue to protrude forward, which helps keep the airways open. Inspire was approved in the United States in 2014, after a trial showed it was safe and effective over one year. American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery annual meeting


Therapy proves effective in subgroup of COPD patients: An antibody treatment reduces the rate of flare-ups by nearly 20 percent in patients with a subgroup of treatment-resistant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the results of two large international trials presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, Italy, and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Chronic Illness Can Plunge Young Adults into Despair: Young adults with chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes are more than three times as likely to try to kill themselves as their healthy peers, a new Canadian study suggests. They're also 28 percent more likely to think of suicide and 134 percent more likely to have plans to do so. "Evidence suggests risk for suicide attempts is highest soon after young people are diagnosed with a chronic illness. The researchers also found that young people are more likely to have a mental disorder when they suffer from a chronic illness, although it's not clear if one causes the other. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

• Mono virus linked to MS: While "mono consistently increases the risk of developing MS by two- to threefold" among whites, blacks and Hispanics saw a fourfold increased risk in the new study. If exposed in childhood, the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono involves hardly any symptoms. But exposure in adolescence or adulthood can trigger severe symptoms such as fatigue, fever, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. "The main theory is that by delaying infection with this common childhood virus into adulthood, it alters the immune system in a way that propagates MS, But the study did not prove that having mono causes MS risk to rise. Neurology

Autoimmune diseases increase cardiovascular and mortality risk: Confirmed thanks to the monitoring of almost 1 million people over a six-year period. Autoimmune diseases significantly increase cardiovascular risk as well as overall mortality, new research confirms. This is particularly pronounced in people suffering rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. In addition, it has been seen that inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's or ulcerative colitis, increase the risk of stroke and death through any cause. Heart 

• People Picking Up Infection From Pet Store Puppies' Poop:Bacterial infections that have sickened 39 people in seven states have been linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain, U.S. health officials say.  Campylobacter infections have been reported between September 2016 and August 2017 in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nine people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. CDC 

Many Americans Getting Medical Care They Don't Need: Unnecessary medical care is common in the United States, and a fear of malpractice seems to be a main driver for ordering unneeded tests and treatments, a new survey finds. Other factors include patient demand and doctors' desire to boost profits, the researchers said. PLOS One


• Air quality in 'green' housing affected by toxic chemicals in building materials: Indoor air pollution can be a problem in many homes, even in eco-friendly buildings. Thanks to a new innovative study, researchers have a better idea of where these pollutants come from -- which ones come from chemicals leaching out of building materials and which ones from the personal items people bring into their homes. The findings could inform the development of new green building standards and lead to healthier housing, especially for low-income communities. Environment International

Science spin prevalent, researchers warn: More than a quarter of biomedical scientific papers may utilize practices that distort the interpretation of results or mislead readers so that results are viewed more favorably, a new study suggests. PLOS Biology

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Take a Break: Celebrate the Color Red

We didn’t have much of a summer this year in Vermont. A lot of rain, gray and cool days. Wood stoves and heat were turned on for a few days in July to rid homes of the cold and damp. It’s now mid September and “Leaf peeper season” is almost upon us. While beautiful, it makes way for the dreaded “stick season-bare trees and no snow. It’s rather a stark and dreary time. All of this is my rationalization for wanting to savor the warmth of the sun and figure out ways to prepare. Red seemed like the right color to celebrate today.

Below are a number of ways to play with “red.”
• Turn a white flower red. Make colored water by adding red food color to water. Set a white flower inside-Queen Anne’s Lace-and watch it turn red.

• Eat the reddest apple you can fine. Make an apple pie with apple cider in the crust.

Make a red and white paper doll. Could use this on a Christmas tree or a gift tag.

• A donation to the “Red” Cross to help with the damage resulting from Irma and Harvey will not only lift your spirits but will help those in need.

• Go for a walk and take pictures of red things you see. Print out your favorite and frame it. Check your local thrift store for inexpensive frames

• Add a touch of red to your home. A red throw pillow can make your favorite reading chair seem a bit more inviting. Red with a touch of brown or purple will feel warmer than pure red with hints of pink. Orange-tinged reds will make you feel energized, while purple-red shades can make a space feel more intimate and quiet.

 Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Take a Break: Celebrate September’s Bright Blue Weather

Oops I have it wrong. Helen Hunt Jackson’s poem was about October-“O suns and skies and clouds of June, And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour October’s bright blue weather.” However, since we can have snow in October, and the heat is already on in our house-it was 39 when I got up a few days ago-I think of September as having the incredible blue skies and vibrant colors of fall.

With that in mind, here are a lot of ways to celebrate the change of season from summer to fall.

• Make something with apples-pie, cake, sauce, butters,
• Go to your state or county fair
• Drink hot cider
• Roast veggies that are in season
• Visit your local farmer’s market
• Make something with pumpkin-bread, soup, pie
• Think about a Halloween costume
• Take deep breathes of the fall air
• Enjoy a walk
• Watch geese flying south
• If you live in the south, welcome them home
• Attend a fall festival
• Go out and pick fall foliage
• Bring plants in that will bloom during the colder months
• Go thrift shopping. Never know what treasurers you’ll find that can brighten the winter days ahead.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Living with Chronic Disease: Take a Stand for Better Health

I’ve been reading various research articles about the benefits of walking around for 2 minutes after sitting for an hour. Since I spend a lot of time at the computer-I write a lot-I thought I’d give it a try.

I started in mid June and am amazed at the benefits.
• I’m getting a lot more exercise beyond what I get going to the gym or walking the dog.
• Fearful it would break my train of though (a big issue for writers),  it turns out to have the opposite effect. It helps me get a lot clearer in my writing.
• Wasn’t sure if I’d like reducing my lying on the couch and reading time to an hour, but that too has had benefits-less eye strain.
• If I have to give a talk, practicing while walking around my house has turned out to improve my public speaking.
• I tend to straighten things as I walk so the house is cleaner.
• I use my “hour” at the computer a lot more efficiently.
• It’s significantly reduced the stress and aches of my chest and neck.
• Using my Smartphone to track how many steps I’m taking has been an additional positive reinforcement.
• With fall approaching, I’m finding it improves my mood, as the switch from summer to fall in Vermont isn’t my favorite time of year. I also seem to have more energy. Guess there is something to be said for Newton’s first law of motion-a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

All in all, definitely something I’m going to continue. I should also note that though I love walking, I also will stand and stretch, do a few yoga poses, some Qigong or whatever else I think my body could use. I’m now a confirmed pacer when I’m on the phone.

Need some more convincing to try it? Check out the following:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Take a Break: Enjoy Morning Light

As we head into fall, take sometime to really enjoy the first light of the morning. Go outside, for as long as you can, and savor the light between 6:30 and 9 AM, which seems to have the most benefit. Don’t stare at the sun though, which is not only bad for your eyes, but it will make you squint. Because mood and facial muscles are linked, if you squint, it signals your brain that you are irritated. So wear some sunglasses and bask in the glow. 

Great time to enjoy a “cuppa,” as the Brits say, of something soothing/enjoyable-tea, coffee, juice. Whatever strikes your fancy.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Life With Chronic Disease: A Happy Life

 Being sick for most of his life, it didn’t keep Sam Berns from having a happy life. His approach to dealing with long term chronic illness was very straightforward:

• I’m okay with what I ultimately can’t do because there is so much I can do.

• I surround myself with people I want to be with, people of high quality.

• Keep moving forward. I always try to have something to look forward to. Something to strive for to make my life richer. It doesn’t have to be big.

• I try hard not to waste energy feeling badly for myself, because when I do, I get stuck in a paradox, where there’s no room for any happiness or any other emotion. It’s not that I ignore when I’m feeling badly, I kind of accept it, I let it in, so that I can acknowledge it, and do what I need to do to move past it.

• Never miss a party if you can help it.

Watch Sam's TED Talk. Hard to believe he had this much wisdom as a 17 year old.