October 7th, 2011
By: S. D. Wells
Over 1,000 new synthetic food agents have been approved for consumption in the United States in 2011, and the human liver is the body’s primary detoxifier, bearing the brunt of filtering these chemical agents out so cancer cells don’t develop and multiply. Milk thistle, also known as Silymarin, prevents the metastatic process, stopping the spread of cancer in its tracks.
A powerful antioxidant that protects against nerve damage and abnormal brain aging, milk thistle also fights off Atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
Natural remedies represent the most intelligent and least expensive way to prevent and combat ailments and disease, and milk thistle offers these outstanding functions with zero side effects. It has been used for over 2,000 years to prevent and treat liver disease. Silymarin is actually the extract of the seed-like fruit of the milk thistle plant, which comes in capsules, liquids and teas, but since it doesn’t dissolve well in water, the most popular form is the standardized extract.
Currently, there are two ways to address America’s chronic care management system. The first way is to make sure you have enough health insurance coverage to pay for the ultra-expensive treatments offered by doctors prescribing pharmaceuticals and for surgeons, who charge an arm and a leg (no pun intended) for cutting organs out of your body when they fail.
The second way is to wait until you are sick and possibly dying, and then to scramble to find natural remedies for your ailments, hoping it’s not too late to save you from the massive over-indulgence of chemicals you failed to regulate along life’s path.
Fortunately, there is preventive care, which cuts off disease’s fuel and heads it off at the pass. This method requires consumers to read a few informative articles every week and to head to the local health food store to purchase the proper, effective vitamins, supplements, and yes, milk thistle.
The liver performs hundreds of critical metabolic functions, including filtering out drugs and alcohol. Research shows that antibiotics and pain relievers increase the liver’s stress and damage. In fact, Tylenol is the number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
Today, hormones and antibiotics pollute drinking water. In addition to the ones we take for sicknesses, millions of Americans, who eat meat, consume and then excrete more of these same chemicals because they are given to chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs in order to prevent infection from over-breeding, unkempt quarters, and abnormal growth.
Since the FDA and the CDC have already allowed over 80,000 chemicals to be approved for consumption without testing and without labels to warn consumers, it’s a cold hard fact that at some point, everyone will consume toxic food agents that create acid in the body and foster disease. The battle must be fought on both ends – by consuming organic foods that most likely do not contain chemicals, and then by detoxifying the body on a regular basis using herbs and supplements.
October 6th, 2011
By: John Phillip
Many people are aware that vitamin B12 status declines during aging, as millions of seniors fall prey to a decline in this critical nutrient. Vitamin B12 circulating in the blood declines in the elderly due to absorption problems in the digestive tract leading to poor uptake by body tissues, especially the brain. Researchers publishing in the journal Neurology have established a definitive link between poor vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage, a hallmark of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s dementia. Supplementation with the biologically active form of the B vitamin may help prevent shrinkage and preserve learning capabilities and memory functions as we age.
The study involved 121 participants from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for over a period of four and a half years. Additionally, each member of the study had blood drawn to measure levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The same subjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.
Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Linked to Shrinking Brain Volume and Cognitive Decline Among Elderly
MRI scans were analyzed to measure total brain volume and to look for other signs of brain damage. The tests included seven measures of episodic memory, two measures of visual spatial ability and perceptual organization, two measures of perceptual speed, two measures of semantic memory, and three measures of working memory. Stored blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12 and homocysteine, a byproduct of metabolism associated with dementia, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease.
Researchers determined that having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume. Indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency contributed to poor global cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRI findings compared to those with better B12 status. Higher levels of the vitamin B12 markers were linked to decreased total brain volume. Elevated homocysteine levels were indicative of greater white matter volume and elevated risk of cerebrovascular events.
Lead researcher, Dr. Christine Tangney concluded “Our findings suggest that … vitamin B12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas the effect of homocysteine on cognition may be mediated through increased white matter hyperintensity volume and cerebral infarcts.” Vitamin B12 deficiency among the elderly is a significant cause for concern and may very well be a key contributor to the explosion of Alzheimer’s disease cases over the past 50 years. Nutritionists recommend supplementing with the bioactive form of B12 known as methylcobalamin (1 to 5 mg per day taken sublingually) to regulate circulating levels of this critical brain nutrient.
September 30, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Michael Friedman
Aging brings a number of virtually inevitable psychological challenges. Meeting them is often not easy. Preparing ahead of time can help.
The ultimate goal of old age, developmental psychologists tell us, is to achieve “integrity” and to avoid “despair.” What they mean, roughly speaking, is that, as you near the end of your life, you should be able to look back and feel that the life you lived is truly yours, that it was not a life forced on you, not a life that left behind your greatest potentials, and not a life you now regret. If you look back with an overwhelming sense of betrayed potential, you will not have achieved “integrity,” and you are not likely to be happy.
Achieving integrity also means that you can look back with pride. It does not have to be pride in a great achievement at work or in your community; it can be pride in having earned a living, in having raised a family, in having good friends, in having cared for those you loved, or simply in having led the life you wanted to lead.
Of course, satisfaction with your life when you are old is not only about looking back with pride. It is also about living well now. The essence of this is remaining active and connected with other people.
For many people, having a sense of meaning is also critical. This can come from contributing to your community or to your family. It can come from being creative or from passing on your skills and wisdom. It can come from spiritual experience.
As important as a sense of meaning can be, it appears not to matter to some people who just want to enjoy life. If meaning is the antidote to despair for many, pleasure is the antidote for many others.
Ageist assumptions may make it hard to believe, but there are plenty of opportunities for old people to live well. There is meaningful work — volunteer and paid, opportunities to be creative or to enjoy the creativity of others, relationships to be continued and deepened with time, new relationships that can be developed, and spiritual experiences available either through an array of religions or privately. And of course there are lots of opportunities to have a good time whether on the golf course or in the senior center, at discounted movies or extended education classes, at parties or in social and sexual relationships.
Old age does not have to be a cold and barren time spent mostly waiting for death. It can be a time of pleasure, a time of giving back, or a time of ultimate fulfillment.
Can be, but not necessarily will be.
Physical, mental, and substance use disorders (especially alcohol abuse) can be major barriers to aging well.
And the developmental challenges of old age are difficult to meet. These include retirement, role changes in family and community life, coping with diminished (but not necessarily lost) physical and mental capabilities, learning to live with chronic health conditions and sometimes pain, surviving the loss of more and more family and friends over time, and coming to terms with your own mortality.
In addition, the risk of becoming physically or mentally disabled and dependent on others becomes greater and greater.
Those who are young — or old — and physically and mentally healthy, able, and independent generally look on the possibility of becoming disabled in old age with considerable dread.
That is understandable. From early on most of us have tried to achieve lives of independence. We take pride in taking care of ourselves and those who rely on us. The vision of our own decline into disability and dependency and especially into dementia is usually deeply troubling.
Whether that is the only way to view severe disability in old age is open to considerable debate. Some of us believe that there can be a decent quality of life for old — and young — people with severe disabilities. Others regard it with unmitigated horror.
By taking good care of yourself you can reduce the likelihood of disability in old age, but there is no guaranteed way to avoid it. So, just as you need to face the inevitability of death, you also need to consider the possibility of spending your final years in a physical or mental state that you now think will be intolerable but which may offer enough satisfactions to make life worth living when you get there.
It is not easy to prepare for all this. No doubt the feeling of old age when you experience it will be different in some important way from what you imagined. But much is known about aging, and it is possible to be more or less prepared. Have you begun?
September 30th, 2011
By: John Phillip
Many people make the potentially fatal presumption that aging, chronic diseases and premature aging are natural events that come with advancing years. A plethora of current research studies confirm that nothing could be farther from the truth. In addition to super-nutrient (such as resveratrol, curcumin and vitamin D) optimization, researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Clinical Cardiology provide documented evidence that beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources and supplementation slash the overall risk of an early death. The long-chain fats DHA and EPA elicit a profound effect on the heart and brain to ameliorate chronic diseases that bring an early demise to millions of unsuspecting individuals each year.
Health-minded individuals today are used to hearing about the myriad of benefits associated with eating fish and supplementing with Omega-3 fats. A wealth of peer-reviewed studies provide solid evidence that the DHA and EPA fatty acids help to prevent heart disease and sudden death from a heart attack, lower depression incidence and reduce stroke and dementia risks as well. New research shows that optimal Omega-3 blood levels lower the risk of dying from all causes by 85% in high risk patients, who had suffered a prior heart attack.
Omega-3 Fat Supplementation Slashes Risk of All-Cause Mortality in Half
Intrigued by the result of this research, scientists wanted to understand if mortality was affected in individuals with no evident heart disease. A group of men aged 64 to 76 years were supplemented with Omega-3 fats (2.4 grams per day) for a period of 3 years. During that time, the participants showed a 47% reduction in risk of dying from any cause compared to a placebo group. Women experienced a 44% lower risk of death in a similar study.
Researchers from the American Heart Association journal Stroke commented on the ground-breaking conclusions of multiple Omega-3 studies: “Evidence from prospective secondary prevention studies suggests that EPA+DHA supplementation ranging from 0.5 to 1.8 g/d (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduces subsequent cardiac and all-cause mortality.” Omega-3 enriched foods and supplements help to improve the critical balance with Omega-6 fats to lower systemic inflammation. This provides the primary risk-reduction mechanism associated with the long-chain fat.
In addition to fatty fish (salmon, snapper, scallops and shrimp), non-meat food sources of Omega-3′s include walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds. The body does not efficiently process EPA and DHA fats from vegetarian sources, though strong evidence exists that these food sources still provide exceptional health benefits. To be certain you achieve optimal Omega-3 blood saturation levels as referenced in these studies, nutrition experts recommend supplementing with 2.4 grams per day of combined EPA and DHA (read package labels to ensure proper dose). When supplementing, check that the fish oil (krill oil is also an excellent option) is molecularly distilled to avoid contamination.
July 18th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
A study recently published in the journal Nature Genetics explains that nucleoside analog reverse-transcriptase inhibitors, or NRTIs, which are drugs used primarily in Africa and other developing regions of the world to treat HIV and AIDS, are responsible for causing heart disease, dementia, premature aging, and other age-related illnesses.
Originally introduced in the late 1980s, many NRTIs have since been replaced in developed countries by newer, and much more expensive, antiretroviral drug cocktails that may be just as damaging. But the older NRTIs are still being used on the poor with HIV and AIDS, and their devastating side effects are only just now beginning to be realized.
“It takes time for these side effects to become apparent, so there is a question mark about the future and whether or not the newer drugs will cause this problem,” said Patrick Chinnery, lead author of the study from the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University, to Reuters in a telephone interview. “They are probably less likely to, but we don’t know because we haven’t had time to see.”
Scientists observed that the chemical compounds in NRTIs damage DNA in patients’ mitochondria, which are the power producers for cells. When these important structural elements become harmed or destroyed, they are unable to produce energy for cells, which can lead to a host of health problems and eventually death.
“The DNA in our mitochondria gets copied throughout our lifetimes and, as we age, naturally accumulates errors,” added Chinnery. “We believe these HIV drugs accelerate the rate at which these errors build up. So over the space of, say, ten years, a person’s mitochondrial DNA may have accumulated the same amount of errors as a person who has naturally aged 20 or 30 years.”
The findings illustrate the general fact that the unknown, long-term dangers associated with all types of drugs have not been properly identified. Because NRTIs and most other drugs have never been tested for long-term side effects, it is highly likely that a great majority of them will eventually be identified as damaging in much the same way as NRTIs.
June 29th, 2011
By: Chris Iliades, MD
Most of us consider sadness to be the hallmark sign of depression. In truth, some people experience depression without a whole lot of tearfulness and sorrow.
Depression without sadness sounds like a mental-health oxymoron, but it’s a very real condition that’s especially common in older adults. But because other symptoms of depression are present — trouble concentrating, fatigue, rumination — it too often gets dismissed as “just getting old.”
Overlooking the signs of depression in seniors can be a dangerous mistake. The highest rates of suicide occur in men over the age of 85, and studies show that many of these men had visited their doctors in the month before their suicide — but their depression was not recognized.
“Older people don’t always say ‘I’m depressed.’ They tend to focus on physical symptoms instead of on sadness,” says Vineeth John, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “The diagnosis is frequently missed.”
10 Signs of Depression Sans Sadness
Depression is not a normal part of aging, even though the symptoms are often mistaken as so.
“Although elderly people with depression may have classic depression symptoms such as hopelessness, they may also express their sadness as headache or nonspecific aches and pains,” explains Dr. John. “This may result in them being given pain medications instead of being treated for their depression.”
Signs of depression without sadness include:
- Personality changes
- Isolation and loss of motivation
- Loss of appetite and loss of weight
- Agitation and combativeness
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Poor concentration
- Deterioration in home and self-care
- Who’s at Risk for Depression in Old Age?
“Changes in the brain and illnesses that occur in aging may make it harder for the elderly to cope with stress and adapt to change, but depression is not a normal part of aging,” says John. Still, certain risk factors increase the risk of depression in the elderly — and knowing these risk factors may help doctors and loved ones spot depression (and start treatment).
Risk factors include:
- Loss of a spouse
- Loss of mobility and independence
- Change in living arrangements
- Chronic illness
- Recent heart attack or stroke
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- How Depression Is Diagnosed and Treated
“Sometimes the best person to recognize signs of depression in the elderly is a friend or family member who knows the elderly person’s level of functioning very well and notices a significant change,” explains John.
Mental health professionals may use a diagnostic tool called the Geriatric Depression Scale to help diagnose depression in the elderly. Some of the questions asked on the scale include:
- Have you dropped many of your interests and activities?
- Would you rather stay at home than go out and do new things?
- Do you fear that something bad is going to happen to you?
- Do you feel you have more difficulty with memory than most people?
- Do you feel that you are full of energy?
Doctors must also factor in the effects of all medications being taken and search for medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disorders, or Alzheimer’s disease that increase the risk of depression.
“The good news is that depression in the elderly is very treatable, just as it is in younger adults,” notes John. “And treating depression may also improve the symptoms of other co-existing conditions.”
Depression and aging don’t always go hand in hand, but it is a common problem that often gets missed. Knowing the risk factors and signs of depression (even when sadness isn’t one of them), however, can help prevent a misdiagnosis.
April 11th, 2011
By: Grace Gold
When we first covered the controversy surrounding model Gisele Bündchen’s use of the word “poison” to describe sunscreen (a term her publicist later refuted as an incorrect translation), StyleList was inundated with reader comments that surprisingly shared a similar suspicion about the safety of chemicals in common sunscreens.
Combine that with the results of a study published last year that sparked fears of a cancerous relationship between a form of vitamin A found in sunscreen formulations and sun exposure, and it’s no wonder people are concerned.
That got us thinking: Is there such a thing as natural sunscreen? Why do brands even use chemicals to begin with, and should consumers be wary of any of them? And what is the status on the Food and Drug Administration’s investigation into the retinyl palmitate scare?
As far as natural sunscreens go, there is disagreement between the medical and holistic communities about what constitutes the word “natural.”
On one hand, American Board of Dermatology President Dr. Robert T. Brodell says there is no such thing as a natural sunscreen.
“None of the products that protect the skin significantly would be considered ‘natural,’” Brodell tells StyleList. “The closest thing would be ‘chemical-free’ sunscreens. The white paste you see on a lifeguard’s nose in the summer is zinc oxide… the classic example,” adds the Ohio dermatologist.
Defined as an “inorganic compound” because it’s formed by chemical bonds that lack a carbon molecule, zinc oxide, and its common cousin titanium dioxide, are earth minerals often found as a physical block in sunscreen. Dermatologists consider both compounds to be safely proven ways of blocking both harmful UVA and UVB sunrays.
Yet organic expert and “The Green Beauty Guide” author Julie Gabriel, says that she is willing to consider an element like zinc oxide as natural, since it’s a mineral.
“The absence of a natural sunscreen is a fairy tale of the conventional beauty industry. I’ve been using a basic handmade blend of beeswax, calendula oil, zinc oxide, green tea and vitamin E during my ski weekends in very high altitudes of 2,500 meters in Davos, Switzerland,” Gabriel tells StyleList.
“I’ve had no sun damage, no tan, no marks, nothing,” says Gabriel, who adds that she came up with the concoction by mixing a zinc oxide-containing diaper balm with the marigold-colored calendula plant to add a glowy finish.
If making your own blend, Gabriel recommends purchasing zinc oxide from either Ingredients to Die For or Texas Natural Supply. The organic expert says she has worked with both retailers, and considers them top, trustworthy sources.
With such nonirritating, noncontroversial sunblocks available, one wonders why brands even go the route of chemical blends. Experts say it’s primarily because consumers find that physical blocks can feel heavy, smell strongly, and cast an unnatural pale tint to skin, especially on deeper skin tones.
“Because zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on the skin’s surface without being absorbed, they are nonirritating and nonallergenic. But this is also the reason why natural sunscreens require a lot more rubbing in, and advance application time to bind with the skin to be effective,” says New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery President, Dr. David Bank.
Some brands turn to chemicals for lighter and seemingly more elegant formulas, which protect skin by first interacting with UV light, and then undergoing a chemical reaction that blocks out dangerous sunrays.
These chemicals are often of the multisyllabic, impossible-to-pronounce variety, with common examples being avobenzone, benzophenonone, triethanolamine, and the easier to say, though no less mired in controversy, ingredient of PABA.
Mexoryl, which enjoyed a highly anticipated debut on the US market after tremendous success in Europe, is gaining recognition as a favored chemical sunscreen. Experts attribute the ingredient’s popularity to its light, easily absorbed texture, nearly non-existent scent and superior block of both UVA and UVB rays.
The newest chemical sunscreens that are currently pending FDA approval are Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M, which offer a trio of powerful actions, including absorbing, reflecting and scattering ultraviolet rays. They’re both very naturally stable, which makes for a more dependable and long-lasting application, shares Bank.
And that means greater protection against the signs of aging.
“These products (chemical ingredients) also protect against the long-term problems associated with sun exposure, including wrinkling, brown spots, yellowing and thickening of the skin, precancers and skin cancers. The weight of the evidence strongly favors routine use of sunscreens, whether chemical or physical,” Brodell strongly advises.
However, it’s what happens during the chemical transformation phase that causes some to speculate on the overall safety of the active ingredients. It’s here where the heart of the chemical sunscreen controversy exists.
“Triethanolamine has been identified as an active in promoting the release of free radicals in our bodies once the UVA and UVB radiations saturate our skin,” says Los Angeles dermatologist, Dr. Ava Shamban, author of “Heal Your Skin.”
Free radicals are considered by many in the beauty industry to be volatile molecules that react explosively and cause the kind of tissue damage that leads to aging and disease.
Another concern with chemical sunscreens is the potential for skin sensitivity issues in those who are suspeptible.
“The chemical most responsible for an allergic reaction to sunscreen is oxybenzone, which is also one of the most commonly used chemicals in broad-spectrum sunscreen,” explains Maryland dermatologist, Dr. Noelle Sherber. “I always tell my patients with sensitive skin to avoid it, because it’s the most common culprit of redness, itchiness and bumps.”
But oxybenzone isn’t just a problem for those who have sensitive skin. Bank says it’s an ingredient that has long been questioned for its safety.
“Oxybenzone is of most concern to many scientists. In a study by the Center for Disease Control, it was proven to be absorbed into the blood stream systemically, and excreted in the urine of 97 percent of study participants. More studies are needed to give us a comprehensive understanding of how these chemicals behave in skin cells,” says Bank.
Fortunately, most experts agree that the new technology found in micronized mineral sunscreen is both safer and more enjoyable to apply and wear. These nano particles block rays with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, yet apply less white and with a sheerer finish than their traditional forms. Protection works by bouncing sun radiation waves off skin.
You should especially consider micronized mineral sunscreen for babies and children, says Sherber.
“The amount of surface area compared to body mass is very different between a baby and an adult. Whatever you apply all over a baby’s skin will be absorbed more, because they have so much more skin than body mass. For example, a topical eczema-treatment cream can be given to adults without a problem, but the active ingredients are absorbed at such a high rate by children, that it can actually stunt their growth,” says Sherber.
While the collective consensus between the natural and dermatology worlds seems to skew toward physical blocks, the debate on the safety of retinyl palmitate in sunscreen has moved little since the Environmental Working Group raised concerns this past year over an FDA study that showed an increase in cancer cells of mice exposed to sunlight while wearing a retinyl palmitate-containing cream.
“Retinols and retinoids in general have been a nighttime preparation, as it makes the skin sun sensitive. Some manufacturers believed that since retinols are antioxidants, then adding them to sunscreen would be beneficial,” explains Bank.
However, the study in question surprised experts when it was shown that vitamin A could possibly turn photocarcinogenic under sunrays.
Yet evidence pointing to retinyl palmitate as a cause of cancer remains unproven, as the original study examined the form of vitamin A in plain skin cream, not sunscreen. Further review by the FDA this winter shed no additional light on the situation.
Sherber cautions against jumping to conclusions when other mitigating factors may have colored the results of the study.
“The possibility that the shininess of the cream could have magnified their UV exposure — like putting on old-school baby oil in the sun — is one of several potential confounders,” says Sherber.
“It’s also important to note that the mice used in NTP (National Toxology Program) studies are highly susceptible to UV radiation. They can get skin cancer within weeks of UV exposure. While this makes studies of skin cancer in these mice feasible because they can show effects within weeks rather than years of UV exposure, we have to be very careful not to assume that these mice respond to UV or other skin-directed treatments in the same way that humans do,” adds Sherber.
Experts also caution consumers that just because a substance may be naturally derived, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe.
“The FDA looks at vitamins and minerals in a less stringent way than other drugs, so I am always nervous about the safety of such products,” admits Brodell. Citing that the study was done on mice, and never with sunscreen, Brodell adds, “I do not worry, for myself or my family, about retinyl palmitate, but reserve the right to change my mind if more information would become available.”
February 18th, 2011
By: Marianne Leigh
Everyone fears aging to some extent, even if they age well. But well beyond wrinkles and sagging skin, the most intimidating loss associated with aging is that of memory and cognition. These functions rely heavily on a part of the brain called the hippocampus and have recently been the focus of study by a team of American researchers. The study found that, in a group of adults over 65 years of age, regular aerobic exercise accompanies increases in hippocampal volume, and these gains were related to marked improvements in memory.
This most recent American study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms and expands upon the findings of a previous, more extensive study done in Italy and published in 2008 in the journal Neurology.
The Italian study followed a group of subjects aged 65 years and older for four years, using cognitive assessment tests to gauge the health of participants, and correlating the findings to information about participants’ exercise habits. The study was significant not only because it found dramatic reductions in development of dementia for those who exercised regularly (a 73% decrease), it also showed that the intensity of exercise had almost no bearing on results: exercises like walking, climbing stairs and gardening were just as effective at staving off dementia as more strenuous activities.
The American study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess changes in hippocampal volume in a group of participants over age 65, who performed regular aerobic exercise, and in a control group, who did not. Despite the fact that adults of this age lose 1% to 2% of their hippocampal volume per year, this study found an average gain of 2% in hippocampal volume among participants who engaged in regular aerobic walking, and the expected average loss of 1.4% in the control group. The study additionally found that increases in hippocampal volume accompanied increases in memory function.
Studies that look at exercise’s effect on the brain during aging are ongoing and very popular, with all signs pointing to the same conclusion: regular moderate exercise, especially aerobic walking, is an excellent way to fight cognitive decline. It is similarly associated with a significant decrease in the development of Alzheimer’s, and it has even been shown to slow the progression of the disease in individuals already affected.
So with all this evidence pointing to the inescapable conclusion that aerobic exercise is essential for aging well, there’s more reason than ever to do your body this favor. Go take that 30-minute walk today, and then tomorrow, get up and do it again. Your brain will inevitably thank you.
February 11th, 2011
With such an abundance of health-related information and oft-repeated advice out there, which tidbits are mere myths and which are actual facts? Here, Prevention magazine provides clarity about common questions related to skin and skin care.
Myth or fact? The way your skin ages is largely determined by your genetics.
MYTH. A recent study that analyzed identical twins found that your lifestyle significantly trumps your DNA when it comes to facial aging. Experts estimate that daily habits account for up to 80 percent of the changes in appearance that occur over time. The good news is that with a few precautions, like wearing an SPF 30 sunscreen every day, you can look vibrant and youthful no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake.
Myth or fact? High stress levels can cause your skin to age more quickly.
FACT. Emotional upheavals can make your skin look five years older than your chronological age. Constant anxiety increases the stress hormone cortisol, which causes inflammation that breaks down collagen. It also triggers a chain of responses that can lead to facial redness and acne flare-ups. Try to exercise and meditate a little every day, which have been shown to lower stress-hormone levels. To quell inflammation, eat antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, oranges and asparagus.
Myth or fact? All babies are born without freckles.
FACT. Babies, of course, can be born with birthmarks and “beauty marks,” but it’s true that upon entering the world they have no freckles, which the skin produces (using excess pigment) in response to sun exposure. As babies get out in the sun, those with fair complexions and light eyes will be especially prone to developing freckles (and will have a higher likelihood of skin cancer and melanoma later in life). Those freckles on the redheaded kid’s cheeks aren’t cute — they’re sun damage! And freckles probably also indicate damage to the DNA in your skin cells. Children and adults alike should have their freckles monitored regularly by a dermatologist and vigilantly use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
Myth or fact? The most important time to wash your face is when you first wake up in the morning.
MYTH. The most important time to wash your face is before you head to bed. Dirt, bacteria and makeup left on overnight can irritate skin, clog pores and trigger breakouts. Remove this top layer of grime with a gentle face wash (skin should feel pleasantly tight for 10 to 15 minutes post-cleansing), which also allows anti-agers to penetrate deeper for better results. Because oil production dips with hormonal changes in your 40s, cleansing twice daily can dry out your complexion and make wrinkles look more pronounced. To refresh skin in the morning, splash with lukewarm water.
Myth or fact? Drink more water if you have dry skin.
MYTH. Unless you’re severely dehydrated, the amount of water you consume has no effect on how dry your skin is. Overhydrating may even take a toll on skin by flushing electrolytes out of your bloodstream. Aim to meet the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommendation to consume 91 ounces of fluid a day (around 11 cups). Remember, choosing food (like fruits and veggies) with a high water content helps you meet your quota.
Myth or fact? Your ears are still growing.
FACT. Your outer ears are. Starting at birth, the ears are, proportionally, the body’s largest feature, with a Spock-like prominence. They grow rapidly until about age 10, then slow to the languid pace of about 0.22 millimeter per year, according to a study by Britain’s Royal College of General Practitioners. Other studies show that the earlobe itself also lengthens throughout life (men have longer lobes than women). However, the size of the ear canal, which is formed by bone and cartilage, does not increase into old age.
Myth or fact? Eating tomatoes can help prevent sunburn.
FACT. This is true, thanks to tomatoes’ high lycopene content. Volunteers in one study who consumed 5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily for three months had 25 percent more protection against sunburn. Even better, skin had more collagen, which prevents sagging. German scientists also report that higher skin levels of this antioxidant correlate to fewer fine lines and furrows. Toss some on top of some romaine lettuce for the perfect skin-health salad: six leaves of romaine lettuce provide more than 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, which revitalizes skin by increasing cell turnover.
Myth or fact? When it comes to beauty products, expensive brands work better than mass-market products.
MYTH. Mass lines make more money, so they can afford more research and development. Among the best: Unilever (which does Dove and Ponds), L’Oréal (Vichy and La Roche-Posay), and Johnson & Johnson (maker of Neutrogena and Aveeno, which has its own research institute). A recent study found that 80 percent of women who followed a skin care regimen with mass-market products showed fewer wrinkles and healthier skin than when they used pricier lines.
February 1st, 2011
By: Andrew Schneider
For almost two years, molecular biologist Bénédicte Trouiller doused the drinking water of scores of lab mice with nano-titanium dioxide, the most common nanomaterial used in consumer products today.
She knew that earlier studies conducted in test tubes and petri dishes had shown the same particle could cause disease. But her tests at a lab at UCLA’s School of Public Health were in vivo — conducted in living organisms — and thus regarded by some scientists as more relevant in assessing potential human harm.
Halfway through, Trouiller became alarmed: Consuming the nano-titanium dioxide was damaging or destroying the animals’ DNA and chromosomes. The biological havoc continued as she repeated the studies again and again. It was a significant finding: The degrees of DNA damage and genetic instability that the 32-year-old investigator documented can be “linked to all the big killers of man, namely cancer, heart disease, neurological disease and aging,” says Professor Robert Schiestl, a genetic toxicologist who ran the lab at UCLA’s School of Public Health where Trouiller did her research.
Nano-titanium dioxide is so pervasive that the Environmental Working Group says it has calculated that close to 10,000 over-the-counter products use it in one form or another. Other public health specialists put the number even higher. It’s “in everything from medicine capsules and nutritional supplements, to food icing and additives, to skin creams, oils and toothpaste,” Schiestl says. He adds that at least 2 million pounds of nanosized titanium dioxide are produced and used in the U.S. each year.
What’s more, the particles Trouiller gave the mice to drink are just one of an endless number of engineered, atom-size structures that have been or can be made. And a number of those nanomaterials have also been shown in published, peer-reviewed studies (more than 170 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health alone) to potentially cause harm as well. Researchers have found, for instance, that carbon nanotubes — widely used in many industrial applications — can penetrate the lungs more deeply than asbestos and appear to cause asbestos-like, often-fatal damage more rapidly. Other nanoparticles, especially those composed of metal-chemical combinations, can cause cancer and birth defects; lead to harmful buildups in the circulatory system; and damage the heart, liver and other organs of lab animals.
Yet despite those findings, most federal agencies are doing little to nothing to ensure public safety. Consumers have virtually no way of knowing whether the products they purchase contain nanomaterials, as under current U.S. laws it is completely up to manufacturers what to put on their labels. And hundreds of interviews conducted by AOL News’ senior public health correspondent over the past 15 months make it clear that movement in the government’s efforts to institute safety rules and regulations for use of nanomaterials is often as flat as the read-out on a snowman’s heart monitor.
“How long should the public have to wait before the government takes protective action?” says Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. “Must the bodies stack up first?”
Big Promise Comes With Potential Perils
“Nano” comes from the Greek word for dwarf, though that falls short of conveying the true scale of this new world: Draw a line 1 inch long, and 25 million nanoparticles can fit between its beginning and end.
Apart from the materials’ size, everything about nanotechnology is huge. According to the federal government and investment analysts, more than 1,300 U.S. businesses and universities are involved in related research and development. The National Science Foundation says that $60 billion to $70 billion of nano-containing products are sold in this country annually, with the majority going to the energy and electronics industries.