Thursday, 7 June 2007

Startling facts on Japanese suicides

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It's interesting to see a culture that does not tolerate failure very much. I mean, we're all human and we learn more from failing than from always succeeding (if that's even possible).

Nowhere that I've seen does failure cost so much in human life as in Japan, where annual suicides have topped 30,000 for nearly a decade. In Japan, failing casts embarrassment over one and an immediate family, and the solution is to kill oneself. This in one of the most industrialized nations on the planet.

Although religion and other factors have been attributed to the prevention of suicides in certain countries, it's not really that way in Japan, where the drive to always succeed places tremendous pressure on many citizens. We should all relax -- we're only here for a short time on this earth, tight? Learning to not be afraid of failing is one of the most important lessons we can take in.

New study finds that Avandia doesn't increase heart attack risk

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Avandia has come under the microscope in the last month as the Cleveland Clinic attributed the diabetes drug to heart problems. As usual (it seems), there is another party that is refuting that evidence and is saying that there is no significant increase in heart attacks by patients using Avandia.

This time, the British study -- which was funded by a"drug company" -- stated that there was no connection between Avandia use and heart attacks. If the "drug company" was Avandia maker GlaxoSmithKline, is the new study to be believed at all?

Without total and complete transparency here, I would not put much stock on a new study unless conducted without bias by an independent lab/researcher. Just my two cents.

How to feed your young athlete

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Around the country, schools are closing their doors for the summer. Keeping kids busy and active in the summertime may mean putting them in a sport like soccer or Little League. At a young age, children need only be rested and well fed to have the energy to participate in their sport, but as children age, sports become more rigorous and more competitive and your young athlete might need more careful preparation.

So how do you feed your young athlete? According to this article, parents should:
  1. Feed a meal or a snack 2-3 hours before a game or match.
  2. Offer plenty of complex carbs like breads and cereals, along with fruit and a moderate amount of low-fat protein.
  3. Avoid oily or greasy foods, because they're too hard to digest.
  4. Encourage kids to stay hydrated. One to two cups at mealtime and another 1-2 cups before an event are important. During the activity, some nutritionists believe kids should drink sports drinks, while others think they should stick to water. What everyone agrees on is that kids drink enough, so consider putting lines on your child's bottle to help them self-regulate how much they are drinking.
Teaching kids to eat and drink properly before a sports event will not only keep them happy and healthy during their game, but also teach them life long habits as they grow.

Beckham's to open veg-friendly restaurant in L.A.

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Martha recently noted that Victoria Beckham was spotted with the somewhat controversial book Skinny Bitch, leading people to believe that the former Spice Girl has gone vegan. Now Beckham and her soccer star husband, David, are pairing up with famous Chef Gordon Ramsey to open a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in L.A. As Joanne at Slashfood pointed out, finding a restaurant that serves vegetarian dishes in L.A. is not hard to do, but seeing as the Beckham's are the new "it" couple in town, I'm guessing their restaurant will be -- at least initially -- a success.

Check out's latest poll and vote for the World's Sexiest Vegetarian.

Elderly death rates raised by certain drugs

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When elderly folks begin showing the signs of dementia or other forms of behavioral problems brought on by disease and age, sometimes the pressure of that scenario causes families to have antipsychotic drugs brought into the picture.

While that may provide some relief from elderly patients whose behavioral problems are too much to cope with, the use of these drugs is being found to raise death rates in these patients.

Although the "risk is small," study authors here are reminding families to ensure that other approaches have been tried before resorting to drugs as a solution. That seems prudent advice in any case with any condition, right?

Men's Health: A week's worth of dinner, less money

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If the opening factoid of this Men's Health article saying that 64 percent of us guys spend practically no time preparing our meals is true, then we have some work to do. That's the premise behind why the magazine has assembled this amazing grocery list of a week's worth of food... for less than 50 bucks!

The excuses we use for not doing the meal thing ourselves is not uncommon for some men: no time, and not a lot of money. Couple that with college and you've got yourself the perfect reason for Chinese takeout. However, what if you had the list (and directions) to prepare lean dinners that are high in protein and curb fat intake? For crying out loud, they even have a printable grocery checklist. No excuses anymore.

As a guy who has seen his fair share of dollar menus, I would love nothing more than to prepare rotisserie chicken with roasted veggies. How about shrimp fajitas, totaling 600 calories with over 40 grams of protein? If you're a guy (or even a gal!) who is looking for an excellent list of incredibly healthy meals, look no further. The best part is that the grand total is $47.96. Of course, some of you out there may not need this advice, so pat yourself on the back for being ahead of the game!

Family-friendly summer snack ideas

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Conventional parenting advice says that if your kid won't eat a certain food, you should disguise it with something they do like. I tried that tactic once and learned the hard way that conventional parenting advice doesn't work with every child. With the exception of the occasional broccoli mixed into the spaghetti sauce (we moms get desperate sometimes), I don't hide foods anymore. The best way I've found to get my kids to try something new is to have them help me prepare it.

That's why I love, love, love these fun looking snack ideas from The Fig Newton lollipops, mango popsicles, and ribbon sandwiches all look delicious and easy to prepare with two small children clamoring to help. Not only that, they're all made with nutritious ingredients that you can feel good about serving. In fact, I may have to whip up a batch of their hummus for myself for lunch. What about you? What's your favorite kid-friendly summer snack?

Environmental group seeks ban on common detergent chemicals

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The Sierra club and four other environmental groups petitioned the EPA this week to ban the use of two chemicals commonly found in household detergents. One of the chemicals -- nonylphenol -- acts like a weak estrogen and has been found to cause sex changes in rainbow trout, making male fish part male and part female. Both chemicals show up in lakes and waterways and their effect on long-term health in humans is unknown.

It's unusual for the EPA to be petitioned and it's even more unheard of for the group to actually ban a substance. Recently, however, the EPA was forced by the courts to set standards on the use of lead in children's jewelry, and my guess is that the Sierra Club is hoping to force the EPA into action in a similar way. These particular chemicals are being outlawed and regulated in other countries, but the EPA says they are limited by a 1976 law that prevents them from banning a substance unless it poses an "unreasonable risk" to humans or the environment.

If you'd like to avoid using these types of cleaners in your home, here are some tips for choosing an environmentally-friendly detergent or making your own.

Lowering bad cholesterol: six reasons to do so

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Many of us have heard it before: get that cholesterol level down! Having a high cholesterol level (the "bad" kind) can throw many of us for a loop. Yes, there are statin drugs and other synthetic ways to lower cholesterol, but what are the "best" ways?

While diet changes and lifestyle changes may benefit many sufferers of high cholesterol, those methods don't work for everybody. As is with life, there is no "one size fits all" to almost every medical situation. With the advent of genetic mapping, this is becoming more apparent every day.

Bringing high cholesterol down to manageable levels has a goal of getting something unhealthy under control -- but are there more advantages beyond that? Sure! Reduced chances for arterial hardening and heart disease in general are just a few, and there are many more reasons as well.

How to stop stinky, sweaty feet this summer

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Now that temperatures are creeping into the 80s and 90s, it's time to break out the summer footwear! Flip-flops, clogs, ballet flats -- you name it! If you can wear it without socks, it's fair game for the next three months.

While all these footwear options are great for convenience, they can make your feet sweat -- which means they'll stink.

You might have tried adding odor absorbers to your shoes, or using foot powder -- both of which can be effective. But, according to the Dr. Oz (that guy who's on Oprah all the time), the best cure for smelly feet is simply soaking them in a pot of brewed tea. (Yes, tea -- like Lipton's.) Do for 30 minutes a day, everyday for a week, and the tannic acid in the tea will reduce both sweating and smelling.

It seems a little strange, but it's better than making up an excuse every time someone asks: "What is that smell?"

[via Budget Fashionista]

New risks for old meds

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Science is almost equally as dangerous as it is helpful. Prescription medications, for example, all too often turn out to have deadly side-effects that are seemingly unrelated at all to what they were originally intended to do.

But until we develop other methods, a big part of the learning curve for scientists is watching what happens once a new drug has been approved for general human use. There's just no way they can reproduce that kind of research in a lab setting, and they learn new things about old drugs all the time.

Medications for heartburn, blood pressure, breast cancer, and osteoporosis all have risks that you may not be aware of -- like an increased chance for breaking a hip or developing diabetes.

Do teens know that coffee calories count too?

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When it comes to our concerns about teenagers and obesity, we often blame the problem on poor food choices. Fast food, unhealthy school lunches, and processed snack foods top the list of foods that are at the center of the problem, but Bob Sassone over at Slashfood recently discussed a lesser-known troublemaker: coffee.

Coffee has become hip again and as this article points out, rarely do you see a celebrity without a paper cup filled with the stuff. While black coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, chances are the teenagers you see filing into school with their morning fix aren't ordering their coffee black. Instead, teens are more likely ordering "dessert-type" coffee concoctions that can carry up to 400 calories. Not only that, when kids are loading up on caffeine and skipping breakfast, they can crash and burn mid-morning with a headache and a drop in blood sugar.

So should kids drink coffee? In moderation, a cup of coffee here and there likely won't hurt teens, but loading up on hundreds of calories of sweetened beverages every day may. Talk to your teen and help them make a healthier choice in the morning.

Low testosterone? You may die sooner

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It's well-known that many post-menopausal women have Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to deal with the problems of being past the age t bear children. The relief brought on by HRT gives many women I've talked to a new lease on life -- yes, it's that significant.

But what about Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for men? Sounds a little odd, I know -- but with a new study concluding that men low in the sex hormone being predisposed to dying early, perhaps well see TRT as a normal procedure soon enough.

Men with low amounts of testosterone were found to have a 33% chance of not reaching middle age compared to those men with what is considered normal testosterone levels. Although the researchers stated that TRT may be jumping the gun a bit, don't be surprised if this becomes normal in the decade ahead.

Walking: It's easy, it's convenient, what are you waiting for?

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Wallking is not only awesome for your health, but it's also one of the easiest things you can do as far as healthy habits go -- most of walk around every day anyway. It's just a matter of doing enough of it the right way so you get a good cardiovascular workout.

Whether you're incorporating extra steps into your regular day, have started taking a 3 mile hike every morning before work, or just want to do one of these things but haven't found the motivation yet, this list of 30 days of walking tips may be able to help. My favorites? Taking a dog with you (for me it's just so much more interesting, and satisfying, with my dog along) and taking the phone with you (a great way to multi-task, if the person on the other end of the line doesn't mind you a little out of breath sounding!).

Seven common diseases found to have genetic links

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With more and more understanding coming to the causes of disease, there are links to genes as major causes as time goes by. This makes sense, as the current majority thinking is that the combination of environment, lifestyle choices and genetic predisposition can come together to enable disease.

But in what is considered to be one of the largest studies ever on trying to find a correlation between genes and certain popular diseases, scientists are now saying that there are definite links between genetics and the underlying causes of bipolar disorder, Crohn's disease, heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and high blood pressure.

Is this a significant development? You bet it is -- and as time goes on, new methods for dealing with these diseases outside lifestyle changes are sure to surface.

Nobody is safe from 'Recreational Water Illness'

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If you're headed to a lake or ocean this summer for boating and swimming fun, or if you're lucky enough to live near the water all year round, there's a concern that's bigger now than ever before: Recreational Water Illness (RWI). Caused by bacteria and other microscopic organisms in the water of lakes, oceans, pools, and hot tubs, the usual symptoms of RWI are diarrhea, rashes, and swimmer's ear (although it can exhibit in other ways).

Even chlorinated pools can harbor microorganisms for several days before they die, so everybody is at risk of RWI if they spend any time in the water. The good news? RWI is fairly easy to prevent by simply never swallowing water, by drying your ears out immediately after you get out, and by taking a quick shower before and after swimming.

Lose two pounds this week

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As your online fitness trainer, I'm giving you homework for the week. No eating after 8:00 PM. Easy enough right? Late night snacking is the downfall of millions of people trying to lose weight, so let's all do it together. It may even be an issue for those who don't actually think it's an issue. So start tonight.

Make sure you have a satisfying dinner and then turn your attention elsewhere. Exercise, read, play games, pay bills....whatever! Just don't chow. Step on the scale tomorrow morning to find out exactly what you weigh...and then step back on the scale a week from now. It'll be fun! Short term test which may lead to long term results. If you lose significant weight this'll know that late night snacking is an issue for you. Continue the late night snacking ban, and you'll continue to lose!

Of course, frequent challenging exercise along with eating healthy is the way to lose weight. Late night snacking is a unique habit though, which may be responsible for any extra pounds you're dragging around. Seven days. 8:00 PM. Give it a go, and fill us in on your success!

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Stem cells from skin?

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The debate about stem cells and associated cloning continues to be debated in some areas of the world a little more heavily than in others. While come countries seek to keep the sanctity of life intact, other countries wish to advance medical knowledge to the point of reigning in disease and suffering.

According to recent research by U.S. and Japanese scientists, stem cells (which can come from human embryos -- a source of hot contention) may be able to be harvested from skin soon.

This is a potential breakthrough that could lead to the use of stem cells but without destroying human embryos in the process. Significant? I'd say so -- as this would quash stem cell opposition that currently exists (most likely).

Eating to reduce inflammation

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My dad struggled with terrible Rheumatoid arthritis of his wrists and knees, so bad sometimes that he couldn't write his own signature or walk up and down stairs without cringing. But he'd be darned if he was going to start doing something crazy like eating healthier. That was just a load of you-know-what. But my mother and I truly believed that if he made some changes in his life he would feel better overall and his Arthritis might not trouble him so much. Turns out we were on to something, as this article points out that diets high in fat, sugar, salt and other unhealthy stuff are definitely not helping relieve the pain of inflammation.

Other factors that contribute to inflammation? Stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and basically everything else that's characteristic of an unhealthy lifestyle. That isn't to say you have total control over your aches and pains, but apparently some healthy changes can make life more bearable.

What's your experience with inflammation?

Human cloning debate in front of lawmakers again

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Human cloning has been up in front of the U.S. legislature before, and in general, the voting and bill writing goes right down the middle of party lines. Those lines were redrawn this week, as a group of mostly Republicans lawmakers sent a human cloning bill down the chute based on it having too many holes.

In fact, a "real ban on human cloning" was suggested instead of one that would still allow for the use of human embryos used in stem cell research.

The vote ended up being 204-213 against the proposed human cloning bill, as 31 Democrats joined 182 Republicans in voting against it. That tipping point caused the needed two-thirds of the House to not happen, as is required for a bill to pass onto the U.S. Senate. Of course, this is not the end of anything related to human cloning as far as U.S. federal laws are concerned. And the debate rages on...

GMO food: not a good thing for any consumer

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Chances are some of the food you eat these days have been grown using genetic modification. I've always wondered why apples, strawberries and bananas from regular grocery stores are so large these days. My solution? Buy organic.

Anyway, informed Americans are not the only ones concerned about genetic modification in the foods being eaten, as Chinese consumers are not welcoming genetically modified (GMO) food on their table either.

Once you're read about how current foods are "made" using modified genes and with hormones and other nastiness, your appetite would probably plummet. It's great to see citizens of multiple nations recognize that this standard food manufacturing process should not be tolerated in any way.