November 3, 2011
BY DR. AXE
Sleep is one of the most undervalued essential practices in modern society. In 1910, an average night’s sleep was 9 hours. By 1975, it was down to 7.5 hours. From 2000 to 2002, polls found that it had fallen to 6.9 hours. Today, many people average just 5-6 hours of sleep per night.
At the same time, obesity rates have doubled! Sleep and the neuroendocrine system are intricately entwined. Chronic lack of sleep is thought to be linked to diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss. Lack of sleep increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
A recent study by the University of Chicago found that cutting sleep from 8 hours to 4 hours a night for less than one week produced physiological changes that resembled the effects of advanced aging and early diabetes.
Those changes happened in less than one week!
The study’s participants took 40% longer to regulate their blood-sugar levels after eating and their ability to secrete insulin and respond to it decreased by 30%.
Lack of sleep affects the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone and increased levels of the “stress hormone,” cortisol.
The study found that recovery occurred and above-average functioning occurred when the subjects slept more than 8 hours a night.
June 2nd, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
Changing bad memories into good ones could be just a pill away, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada say that metyrapone, a drug that blocks the “stress hormone” cortisol, also appears to alter patients’ memories and minimizing their recollection of negative events — but is this actually a good thing?
For their study, Marie-France Marin and her team evaluated the effects of metyrapone on a group of young men shown a slide show that documented the serious injury of a young girl. In it, the girl is building a birdhouse with her grandparents until a serious accident lands her in the emergency room. In the end, the girl is okay, but the details of her injury involve lots of blood and other disturbing imagery.
Three days after viewing the images of this story, the team gave either a single 750 milligram (mg) dose of metyrapone, a double dose, or a placebo pill to the men in the group. None of the men knew which pill they received. The team then asked the men to retell the story of the girl as they recalled it, both right after receiving the pill, and again four days after taking the pills.
The team found that the men who took the double dose of meyrapone remembered far less of the negative imagery than did the men taking the single or placebo dose. Men in the placebo group scored between 40 and 50 percent in their negative imagery memory test, while men who took the double dose of metyrapone scored around 30 percent.
In explaining these results to Reuters Health, Marin and her team expressed their belief that because metyrapone artificially lowers cortisol levels, it interferes with the way the brain stores memories. These alterations appear to remove the emotional aspects from negative memories that give them a basis in reality, thus changing actual reality into a type of artificial fantasy world.
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.
November 15th, 2010
Women with high job strain have a 40% increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those in less demanding posts, a US study suggests.
They have an 88% raised risk of a heart attack, and more chance of strokes and damage requiring coronary artery bypass surgery, researchers said.
Researchers from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital followed 17,415 healthy women for more than 10 years.
The study was presented to the American Heart Association.
Job strain, a form of psychological stress, is defined as having a demanding job that provides limited opportunity for decision making or to use one’s creative or individual skills.
The researchers also found job insecurity was also associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and obesity – but not directly with poor cardiovascular health.
Stress can trigger the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which at persistently high levels are thought to damage the cardiovascular system.
It can also raise inflammation levels which are thought to destabilise the fatty plaques which build up in the blood vessels and can cause circulatory problems.
Experts are concerned that heart disease can be overlooked in women, as it is often mistakenly thought of as a male problem.
Women may have less common symptoms, such as back pain, burning in the chest, abdominal discomfort, nausea, or fatigue, which makes diagnosis more difficult.
They are also less likely to seek medical help, and tend to present late in the process of their disease.
Researcher Dr Michelle Albert said the study suggested job stress had both a short and long-term effect on cardiovascular health.
She also said it was crucial for employers to monitor job stress, and take action to try to alleviate it.
“Job stress results in absenteeism, sickness, and disability, which can reduce productivity and competitiveness,” she said.
Previous research has tended to focus on the impact of job stress on men.
Some critics believe it is not stress that causes heart problems – but the unhealthy behaviour, such as smoking and drinking, that some people adopt to try to cope with stress.
Ellen Mason, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the exact mechanism by which stress could change the body’s chemistry to raise the risk of heart disease had still to be pinned down.
But she said there was a growing body of research to suggest that it did have a damaging effect on the lining of the arteries.
January 18, 2010
Getting stressed really is bad for your heart, according to new research.
For years, stress has been linked to heart attacks and other heart complaints but with very little medical evidence to back it up.
Now a major trial by doctors at University College London has proved for the first time that people who get stressed are also likely to have heart disease.
The study involved 514 men and women, with an average age of 62. None had signs of heart disease.
Each underwent stress tests and then levels of cortisol – a chemical produced by the body at times of stress and which causes arteries to narrow – were measured. Their arteries were also scanned for any signs of furring and narrowing.
Those people who were stressed by the tests were twice as likely to have furred arteries as those who remained calm, the study in the European Heart Journal found.
Cardiologist Professor Avijit Lahiri said: ‘This study shows a clear-cut relationship between stress and silent coronary artery disease. This is the first clear proof.’