IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date: June 1, 2007
Brain produces brawn?
You've heard of the placebo effect with medications.
That is, if people believe a fake pill is real, they sometimes get the
same benefit as with a real pill.
It's possible that your mind can fool your body about
exercise in the same way. Researchers studying mind-body connections at
Harvard University have found that believing you got a workout might
lead to some healthy results.
Writing in the journal Psychological Science,
researcher Ellen Langer reported a study involving a group of hotel
housekeepers who were told they were getting excellent aerobic exercise
cleaning rooms. This group lost weight and improved blood pressure,
compared to a group that were told nothing.
Langer reported that the results were similar to 1998
studies showing the power of the mind. People exposed to what they
thought was poison ivy developed a rash. Giving people what they thought
was a caffeinated drink caused the same rise in heart rates as the real
Believing you have had a good aerobic workout may
bring some physiological improvements such as better sleep.
Walk, garden, bike
The great weather of May has finally come. It's time
to play, have fun, and get in shape no matter what your age or present
The payoffs are many, including a longer, healthier
life, more alert mind, a stronger heart, and a general overall feeling
that life is good.
Walk. It's the easiest and most natural form of exercise in the world. While you are doing it, you can visit with a friend, "get away from it all," and have the nice feeling that you are doing something just for you. Put a daily walk on your schedule, and you'll find you can make time to do it.
Work in the yard. You should do that anyway, but researchers say yard work and gardening are among the best forms of exercise.
Target activities you love. Dance, hike in the woods, or play outside with your children. Instead of doing the same thing, schedule a different activity for each day. Make the time for it, and you'll be glad you did.
Ride your bike. If you haven't ridden for a while, take shorter rides at first. Riding a bike to work on a nice day makes you feel good and saves money on car expenses.
You don't have to be an athlete to personally participate in physical
fitness and sports activities. Here are some easy ways to start:
If you are already in pretty good shape, but want to
Get friends together for some pickup basketball games.
Go back to your favorite racquet sport, tennis or racquetball.
Swim. It exercises all your muscles. Take advantage of good weather and go to the lake or a swimming pool.
Lift weights. When it rains, make that the day you stay inside and lift, either at home or in the gym.
Remember the saying, "Move it or lose it." You can
enjoy yourself and get fit at the same time. If you don't start now, you
could lose the ability to perform such activities in the future.
Naproxen: best pain reliever?
A new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research
and Quality shows that the pain reliever naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn)
offers pain relief that is similar to COX-2 drugs and other NSAIDs (such
as aspirin and ibuprofen)
In addition, naproxen may actually lower risk of
heart attack for some patients. The report was based on 360 studies.
Fat-blocking pill OK'd for over-the-counter sale
In June, the first prescription weight-loss pill will
be sold over the counter to any adult who wants it.
Glaxo-SmithKline's Alli (pronounced Al-eye) is a
nonprescription version of the drug orlistat, sold under the
prescription brand Xenical. The prescription version is 120 mg. The
over-the-counter pill is 60 mg. Alli will retail for $50 for 90 pills, a
month's supply. It should be taken with meals three times a day.
The fat-blocking medication blocks enzyme action in
the stomach and small intestine. It keeps some fatty acids and
triglycerides from breaking apart, making them too large to be absorbed.
They pass through the digestive system and are excreted. It may result
in loose bowels, especially if too much is taken.
Business analysts say Alli should be one of the more
important over-the-counter products in history.
Experts at Temple University Center for Obesity
Research and Education in Philadelphia say consumers should recognize
that Alli is a weight-loss aid, not a cure.
They recommend that those taking it take
multivitamins and focus on changing their behavior.
According to the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and
Research, being overweight has consequences, including an increased risk
of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The over-the counter Alli, along with diet and
exercise, may aid overweight adults who seek to lose excess weight to
improve their health.
At the Obesity Society, weight-loss professionals say
it will help some people, but it's not a magic bullet.
If it has been a while since you considered what you
would do if someone had a heart attack in your presence, please review
the current technique.
1. Tilt the head back and lift the chin. Look and
listen for breathing.
2. If not breathing, pinch the nose and cover the
mouth with yours. Give two full breaths lasting one second each until
you see the chest rise.
3. Begin chest compressions. Using both hands, (one
on top of the other) push the chest down 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Press 30
times. Pump at the rate of 100 compressions per minute.
4. Continue with two breaths, then 30 pushes, until
Arm exercises help circulation in the legs
Arm exercises can increase the amount of time people
with peripheral artery disease (PAD) can walk without pain. Doctors at
the University of Minnesota had PAD patients do arm exercises, treadmill
exercise, or no exercise at all.
While those exercising on the treadmill showed the
greatest improvement in the distance they could walk without pain, those
doing arms-only exercises had significant benefits when compared to
those who did no exercise at all.
Participants exercised for one hour, three times a
week, for 12 weeks. Those doing arms-only exercise used an arm-powered
pedal device, according to the American Heart Association.
Test may detect dementia
A new, noninvasive test that can determine mental
decline in elderly people was recently described at the International
Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders held in Madrid,
Spain. It is superior to other forms of testing, including verbal
The electroencephalogram-based technology, known in
its new application as BIS-AD, involves a sensor placed on the patient's
forehead, which monitors brain activity.
The standard BIS is used to monitor consciousness
during surgery. It ensures that overmedication does not occur.
New treatment for COPD
Until now, only smoking cessation and oxygen therapy
were known to improve survival rates for chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Recently, a two-drug combination (salmeterol and fluticasone propionate)
has been found to reduce deaths from COPD by a significant 17.5 percent.
The study was presented to the American College of
Climate increases gout risk
High temperatures and high humidity both increase the
risk of experiencing a recurrent gout attack, according to the American
College of Rheumatology.
Temperatures from 87 to 105 degrees increased risk. A
similar magnitude of increased risk was found when the humidity
increased from 64 to 77 percent.
Oral health/pancreatic cancer
A Harvard study of 51,000 male doctors showed that
the men with a history of gum disease were at 64 percent greater risk
for pancreatic cancer compared with those who had healthy gums.
The study is the test in a series of reports showing
that the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums may have a powerful
impact on your health. Gum disease is also linked to heart disease,
stroke, diabetes, and pregnancy problems.
Lowering Alzheimer's risk
You may have wondered if eating a healthy diet would
reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease even if you already have such
conditions as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.
According to research reported in the Archives of
Neurology, adopting a Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk
for several diseases including cancer.
Researchers at Columbia University gave test subjects
ratings of one through nine, depending on how closely they followed the
Mediterranean diet. Those in the top third of the rating had 68 percent
lower odds of getting the disease. Those in the middle had 53 percent
Eat fruits, vegetables, cereals, potatoes, beans,
nuts, and seeds. Use olive oil for cooking, frying, baking, and in
salads. Eat small amounts of red meat and butter and limited fish and
Cured meat, COPD linked
Researchers at Columbia University say a study of
7,500 surveys suggest that people who eat cured meats at least 14 times
a month are 71 percent more likely to have symptoms of chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cured meats include bacon, salami,
and deli meats.
They speculated that cured meats contain nitrites,
which produce nitrogen that causes emphysema-type changes in the lungs.
The connection was based on two lung function scores but they stressed
they could not say that cured meats actually caused COPD. However, some
this could be one step in explaining why some nonsmokers develop COPD.
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