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Coffee Linked to Lower Death Risk

 Java lovers, take heart. A large prospective study suggests that – far from being bad for your health – that steaming cuppa is actually associated with a lower risk of death.

Analysis of a large prospective study of more than 400,000 people found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of death over a 13-year period by 12 percent, while women’s risk dropped by 16 percent, according to Neal Freedman, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues.

The inverse associations were seen for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer, the researchers found.

On the other hand, a suite of other behaviors that often go hand-in-hand with coffee drinking – smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet – usually combine to mask the benefit, the researchers noted in the May 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Freedman and colleagues cautioned that the study could not prove that coffee is good for you.

“It may be that there’s something that

The Health Benefits of Water

 Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Adequate water

Easy Guide to Good Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene habits such as washing your hands and brushing and flossing your teeth will help keep bacteria, viruses, and illnesses at bay. And there are mental as well as physical benefits. “Practicing good body hygiene helps you feel good about yourself, which is important for your mental health,” notes Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. People who have poor hygiene — disheveled hair and clothes, body odor, bad breath, missing teeth, and the like — often are seen as unhealthy and may face discrimination.

Personal Hygiene: Healthy Habits Include Good Grooming

If you want to minimize your risk of infection and also enhance your overall health, follow these basic personal hygiene habits:

  • Bathe regularly. Wash your body and your hair often. “I’m not saying that you need to shower or bathe every day,” remarks Dr. Novey. “But you should clean your body and shampoo your hair at regular intervals that work for you.” Your body is constantly shedding skin. Novey explains, “That skin needs to come off. Otherwise, it will cake up and can cause illnesses.”
  • Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails

6 Easy Ways to Boost Women’s Health

To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoidosteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re

How to Eat a Healthy Diet

If you are what you eat, it follows that you want to stick to a healthy diet that’s well balanced. “You want to eat a variety of foods,” says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. “You don’t want to be overly restrictive of any one food group or eat too much of another.”

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks

The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4

Common Antibiotics May Cause Severe

When handed a prescription for an antibiotic, a patient eager to feel better as soon as possible might head straight to the nearest pharmacy from the doctor’s office. But recent reports regarding a specific class of antibiotics — fluoroquinolones — call attention to their serious side effects.

The dangers of fluoroquinolones, some experts say, are related to the over-prescription of such drugs.

One researcher from the University of British Columbia, Mahyar Etminan, told the New York Times that fluoroquinolones — which include Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin), and Avelox (moxifloxacin) — have been overused “by lazy doctors who are trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon.”

That’s an analogy that’ll stick with you.

Fluoroquinolones are potent and effective in fighting infections like pneumonia, but doctors often use them to treat less-serious illnesses, such as sinusitis and bronchitis, the Times reports.

Back in April, a study led by Dr. Etminan, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that people taking fluoroquinolones may be at small risk of an eye condition called retinal detachment, which can lead to vision loss and even blindness.

“These are powerful antibiotics, so they

6 Healthy Reasons to Love Spring

Goodbye, long winter! Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. Love is in the air. When spring hits, it’s hard to feel down in the dumps. Add longer days and the return of short sleeves to the mix, and you just might find yourself wishing that spring would last forever. The good news is that all the things we love about spring are surprisingly good for us, too, so as you pack up your winter coat for next year, check out our favorite reasons to be excited about the new season.

  1. Extra daylight. Springing forward for daylight saving time feels rough the day after, but once you’re recovered from a night or two of sleep deprivation, the benefits are far-reaching. In addition to giving us more time to spend outdoors and serving as a natural mood booster, that extra hour of light may help reduce traffic accidents and fatalities. Multiple studies, including one published in the Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, have found that daylight saving time prevents automobile accidents because daylight provides better visibility for motorists.
  2. A healthier home. During warmer weather, open your windows and let the sunshine in while you spring clean, declutter,

You Can Smarter with Drink Water

We get it. Despite the never-ending health benefits, staying hydrated may not top your daily to-do list. If you can’t get yourself to guzzle enough H2O, new findings might offer extra motivation: Drinking water can boost your brain power.

In a study presented Wednesday at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in London, researchers found that students who brought water into exams performed better than those who didn’t. To make sure they hadn’t simply concluded higher-scoring students are more likely to bring water into a test, they used the students’ past coursework grades to set a general ability control. So even among generally poorer-scoring students, bringing water into the exams boosted their grades.

“The results imply that the simple act of bringing water into an exam was linked to an improvement in students’ grades,” says Chris Pawson, a professor at the University of East London and one of the study’s co-authors, in a release from the British Psychological Society. For those of us who’ve graduated from the test-taking world, the same could apply for our cognitive performance and work productivity, in theory.

Smart Water, Naturally

The researchers don’t know if the students actually

Tips for Caregivers Give Yourself a Break

More than 65 million people — 29 percent of the U.S. population — provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member or friend during any given year, according to the National Family Caregivers Association. I always considered being able to care for another person a special privilege. There is a feeling of personal satisfaction, a sense of confidence and a certain closeness that comes from supporting a loved one in a time of need. Psychologists refer to this wonderful combination of feelings as “caregiver gain.”

But I also know that being a caregiver comes with substantial burdens. So, when I hear about someone becoming a caregiver for a loved one, I always ask, “Who is taking care of you?” It is akin to the advice that flight attendants give before takeoff: In the event of an emergency, you must put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. Taking care of yourself is one of the keys to meeting the care needs of your loved one.

While it may feel like no one can assist your loved one exactly the way you can, others are quite capable of providing great relief

A Simple Prevention Strategy for MRSA Infections

Bathing geriatric patients with disposable antimicrobial wipes cut the number of MRSAcases by 82 percent over nearly three years at a geriatric healthcare facility in Toronto, according to new research.

In addition to a cleanser, the “bath-in-a-bag” wipes used in the study contained 2 percent chlorhexidine, the same powerful antibacterial that surgeons use to scrub their hands and arms before operations. It’s also used to disinfect skin before a surgical procedure or injection.

“If you take chlorhexidine and clean the skin, you can go ahead and make an injection, you can do surgery. We knew these were the short-term effects,” said Chingiz Amirov, MPH, director of infection prevention and control at the Baycrest facility, which conducted the study. “We were wondering whether these baths with chlorhexidine can also offer long-term protection.”

The patients each received one bath a day, from the neck down. “Generally chlorhexidine should be used on intact skin only. The skin should be in good condition, and most of our patients met this criteria,” Amirov says.

What Is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, kills about 19,000 people each year in the United States. And while MRSA can develop outside

7 Little Ways to Cut Your Cell Phone Cancer

Does the World Health Organization’s statement that cell phones may cause cancerhave you thinking twice about making that phone call?

Of course it’s alarming to think that something that’s become such a can’t-live-without can be linked to brain cancer, but there’s a lot even the most cell phone-addicted people can do to minimize health risks.

Any potential links to cancer stem from the low levels of radiation cell phones emit. Lower your exposure to the radiation, and you’ll reduce the potential links to cancer or other health problems:

  1. Use a headset. Sounds obvious, but headsets emit much less radiation than cell phones do, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and they keep your cell phone away from your head. The farther away you are from a source of radiation, the less damage it can do.
  2. Text when you can. Your constantly texting teens are onto something: Cell phones use less energy (and emit less radiation) when you text than when you talk, says the EWG. Texting also keeps the radiation source farther away from your brain.
  3. Use cell phones for FYI-only calls. Don’t use your cell phone for that long overdue, hour-long

Cell Phones May Cause Brain Cancer

After reviewing dozens of studies that explored a possible link between cancer and the ubiquitous hand-held phones, the experts classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and placed them in the same category as the pesticide DDT and gasoline engine exhaust.

The panel determined that an increased risk for glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer, appears associated with wireless phone use.

Globally, it’s estimated that 5 billion cell phones are in use. “The number of users is large and growing, particularly among young adults and children,” the International Agency for Research on Cancer said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The IARC made the announcement in Lyons, France, based on the work of 31 scientists from 14 countries. It will present its findings to the WHO, which may then issue its recommendations on safe cell phone use.

Experts said children are especially vulnerable.

“Children’s skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing at a faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger,” Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Cell Phones Affect Brain Activity

Holding a cell phone to your ear for a long period of time increases activity in parts of the brain close to the antenna, researchers have found.

Glucose metabolism — that’s a measurement of how the brain uses energy — in these areas increased significantly when the phone was turned on and muted, compared with when it was off, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Although we cannot determine the clinical significance, our results give evidence that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields from acute cell phone exposures,” co-author Dr. Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, where the study was conducted, told MedPage Today.

What We Know About Cell Phones and Cancer

Although the study can’t draw conclusions about long-term implications, other researchers are calling the findings significant.

“Clearly there is an acute effect, and the important question is whether this acute effect is associated with events that may be damaging to the brain or predispose to the development of future problems such as cancer as suggested by recent

11 Ways to Boost Energy Instantly

Put down that energy shot! There’s no need to chug crazy canned concoctions or buckets of coffee to get through the day. And better still, that doesn’t mean accepting 3 p.m. drowsiness as unavoidable. We found 11 quick and easy tips to up energy levels — no unpronounceable chemicals required.

1. Work out midday. When that mid-afternoon energy slump rolls around, hit the gyminstead of the sack. Studies suggest working out can actually increase productivity enough to counteract that time away from the office.

2. Eat chocolate. Sure chocolate’s got caffeine, but that’s not the only reason it offers a quick pick-me-up. Flavonoids found in cocoa have been shown to boost cognitive skills and improve mood.

3. Power nap. Avoid the temptation to pull a Rip Van Winkle, and take a quick middaypower nap instead. Studies show the optimal amount of sleep is 10 to 20 minutes to get through the day without throwing off the night’s sleep.

4. Drink some coffee. We can say from experience six back-to-back cups of coffee is a recipe for instant crash-mode. But one cup is usually just right. One study found that just a single cup

Why You Need a Health Emergency Fund

Even with good health insurance, a health emergency or a prolonged illness can be a financial disaster. Health insurance deductibles, co-payments, emergency room costs, and other costs of illness can add up in a hurry.

A health savings account (HSA) is one way you can put aside tax-free money for a health emergency. HSAs were established in 2003. If you are covered by a type of insurance known as a high-deductible insurance plan, you can make tax-deductible contributions to an HSA. Your employer may also make tax-deductible contributions.

11 Weird Body Quirks—Explained!

“An HSA account is very different from having a general emergency fund account,” says Joseph J. Porco, managing member of the Financial Security Group, LLC, in Newtown, Conn. “An emergency fund is about more than just out-of-pocket medical expenses. If possible, it’s a good idea to have both.”

How Much of an Emergency Fund Do You Need?

For an older adult, a health emergency might result in the need for long-term care, possibly for the rest of the senior’s life. For a young adult supporting a family, a medical emergency might be much more than just the cost of illness. Your

Down Syndrome Brings Joy, Not Regrets, for Many Families

Louise Borke learned that her infant son had Down Syndrome when he was just a few days old.

Her reaction? “Shock and surprise, trepidation and anxiety,” she recalls.

Today, 22 years later, Borke can look back at life with her son, Louis Sciuto, and say, “It’s been fun. It’s had its challenges — I won’t deny that — but it’s been fun. It’s been rewarding and I have no regrets.”

Borke is not alone in her views.

In a series of recently completed surveys, 96 percent of parents expressed no regrets about having a child with Down Syndrome and nearly eight out of 10 said the child had enhanced their lives by teaching them patience, acceptance and flexibility, among other things.

Siblings had similar feelings, with 94 percent feeling “pride” about their sibling and 88 percent saying the sibling had made them a “better person.”

And virtually all people with Down Syndrome who were queried said they were happy with their lives and liked who they are.

“The voices we heard were very satisfied and very positive about their lives despite the fact that they have real challenges,” said Dr.

Rats Can Lend a Helping Paw to Others

Rats may have gotten a bum rap.

Far from being self-centered scroungers, a new study found that the rodents showed what looks like real empathy — repeatedly freeing trapped companions, even when they’re given the opportunity to eat chocolate instead.

This first evidence of empathy-motivated behavior in rodents suggests that this type of pro-social helping behavior developed earlier in animal evolution than was previously thought, the University of Chicago researchers added.

Anecdotal observations of empathetic behavior have been noted in non-human primates and some other wild animal species, but it had not been seen in laboratory rodents.

In the study, companion rats that normally shared a cage were put in a separate space where one was under restraint and the other wasn’t. The restrained rat was kept in a tube with a door that could only be opened by a push from outside.

The researchers say the free-ranging rat appeared agitated when the other rat was kept in the tube, a state the scientists called “emotional contagion” — feeling the distress of others.

A few days into the experiment, the free-roaming rat learned how to open the tube door, freeing the

Are Snakes Make Your Skin Crawl ?

The poet Emily Dickinson greatly feared the “narrow fellow in the grass,” writing that she “never met this fellow/Attended or alone/Without a tighter breathing/And zero at the bone.”

Dickinson was not alone in her ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) and, it turns out, humans have good reason to fear the slithering serpent, whether it is found in the grass or elsewhere.

A new study in the Dec. 12-16 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documents frequent python attacks on a tribe of preliterate, hunter-gatherers in the Philippines, one of the first studies to actually quantify the danger that snakes pose to humans.

And the danger, it turns out, is quite real, at least among the Agta Negritos of Luzon Island.

Anthropologist Thomas N. Headland, lead author of the new paper, lived among the Agta Negritos his entire adult life, starting in 1962, and had the opportunity to interview 58 men and 62 women about their experiences with pythons.

Fifteen of the men (26 percent) and one of the women (1.6 percent) had lived to tell of python attacks and many of them bore scars from the encounter.

Caffeine Boosts Enzyme That Could Protect Against Dementia

The protective effect of the enzyme, called NMNAT2, was discovered last year through research conducted at IU Bloomington. The new study appears today in the journalScientific Reports.

“This work could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain, creating a chemical ‘blockade’ against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders,” said Hui-Chen Lu, who led the study. Lu is a Gill Professor in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, a part of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

Previously, Lu and colleagues found that NMNAT2 plays two roles in the brain: a protective function to guard neurons from stress and a “chaperone function” to combat misfolded proteins called tau, which accumulate in the brain as “plaques” due to aging. The study was the first to reveal the “chaperone function” in the enzyme.

Misfolded proteins have been linked to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of these disorders, affects over 5.4 million Americans, with

Blueberry concentrate improves brain function

 In the study, healthy people aged 65-77 who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests.

There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory.

Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: “Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.

“In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.”

Of the 26 healthy adults in the study, 12 were given concentrated blueberry juice — providing the equivalent of 230g of blueberries — once a day, while 14 received a placebo.

Before and after the 12-week period, participants took a range of cognitive