Is Your Sunscreen Effective?

7 07 2008

A report, released on July 1, 2008 done by Environmental Working Group (EWG), Washington-based nonprofit organization, has claimed that up to 84% of commercially available sunscreens have been found not as effective as their labels have claimed. This was arrived at by the group after review of reviewed articles on the effectiveness of active ingredients.

The problems of this supposed ineffectiveness were that ingredients found commonly in sunscreens offer limited protection against a broad spectrum of ultraviolet rays such as UVA and UVB. The group has called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement stricter rules and labeling regulations concerning sunscreens.

It is of note too, that the FDA has been developing guidelines concerning sunscreens since 1978 but since 1999, there has been a standstill until the present, as there has still some issues like this one to warrant an issue of finalization of guidelines.

There is still no other protection to exposed skin from sun damage that can result to the development of skin cancer (melanoma) other than taking preventive measures. These measures are limiting one’s exposure to the sun between 11 am-3 pm in the day (when skin-damaging UVA and UVB rays from the sun are strongest), use of appropriate sunscreen and a healthy lifestyle which can also lessen the risk of having other types of cancer as well.

Prevention is still our best bet against skin cancer.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/

http://www.newsweek.com/id/33384





Have a Healthier Heart and Blood Vessels, Drink Green Tea!

7 07 2008

Here is one beverage that every one praises about these days…Green Tea. Green Tea has been on headlines on major news outlets of late due to the ever-growing list of benefits that scientists and researchers are finding out about it.

Researchers from Europe have have found the mechanism on how the beneficial compounds (flavonoids) of green tea protects the human blood vessels from the changes in blood pressure. The study team, headed by Dr. Nikolaos Alexopoulos of Athens Medical School in Greece, has found out that human subjects had better-functioning blood vessels after just 30 minutes of drinking green tea. This effect is seen to lower the risk of heart disease. The findings were in the latest release of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.

The beneficial compounds in green tea (flavonoids) can also be found in coffee beans, dark chocolate, grapes and red wine. Scientists all over the world have long known the powerful antioxidant effect of flavonoids as evidenced in recent studies concerning the health benefits of coffee, red wine, and dark chocolate.

There is still no real substitute to having healthy food choices, exercise and stress management.

But even then, why not have green tea and other flavonoid-rich food or beverages as a

supplement to your healthy lifestyle?

Further Reading:

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1820250,00.html?xid=rss-health

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20080702/green-tea-lowers-risk-of-heart-disease





Have Your Prostate Gland Checked!

2 07 2008

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the United States. Estimates say that there are 219,000 cases being reported yearly. Sadly, 27,000 annually die from this type of cancer alone.

Recent developments in the war against cancer have shown that there is a bright future for a prostate cancer vaccine. In phase 1 trials, researchers and doctors in University of Iowa have developed a vaccine that could prevent metastatic prostate cancer in men. The vaccine has also showed promise in strengthening the immune response against cancer cells that might develop in the prostate.

The study involved 32 men with metastatic prostate cancer. It was revealed that 68% -70% of the subjects developed immune responses to prostate specific antigen or PSA (an protein that is a marker of the likelihood of prostate cancer). The study also revealed that 57 % survived longer than predicted while 47 % doubled their expected lifespans. The longest survivor had his lifespan extended for 6 more years.

The study was done to test the vaccine’s safety and to find out that if there were no adverse effects for the treatment. The Phase1 trial lasted for 12 months with the findings being reported on May 18, 2008 at the annual American Urological Association meeting in Orlando.

It is of note that this study is not yet conclusive, though the vaccine has been tested on human subjects. All men especially those above 50 years old or younger men who have a family history of prostate cancer should have their prostate exam done.

As with all serious diseases, early detection, lifestyle modification, and reduction or elimination of risk factors are still the primary weapons in the ongoing war against prostate cancer.

Sources:

Here’s a video representation on how prostate cancer can develop and spread throughout the male human body:





Obese Kids and Liver Disease

1 07 2008

Overweight Kids and NAFLD (Nonalchoholic Fatty Liver Disease)

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver ailment among US kids. Researchers have estimated that these kids have now numbered more than 6 million. Overweight (obese) children have a greater risk of having this liver ailment because of the known link between being overweight and the marked increase of blood lipids (fats) in the bloodstream.

If left unchecked, these blood lipids do damage to a child’s liver giving rise to NAFLD. This type of liver disease has become so common that approximately 80% of overweight (obese) children have NAFLD. It is estimated that 5% of these overweight (obese) children develop severe advanced liver disease; giving rise to cardiovascular problems for them even as children and certainly giving them a higher risk of dying at an early age.

There is still no ‘cure’ for childhood obesity but prevention and a healthy lifestyle (parents included) go a long way in minimizing serious diseases





Resveratrol Against Obesity?

1 07 2008

Another revelation on why resveratrol is a promising new compound for the ‘battle against the bulge’.

A new study released in the 90th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Francisco, California revealed the potential of resveratrol as part of treatment for the growing ‘obesity epidemic’.

Resveratrol restricted the hoarding of calories, triggering weight loss, thus resulting in leaner body masses of laboratory mice. Resveratrol mimicked the effect of ‘calorie restriction’ on the lab mice. The study was done by researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany.

The actual mechanism of this effect of calorie restriction was seen in the pre-fat cells of laboratory mice. These kinds of fat cells (pre-adipocytes) never became mature fat cells when exposed to resveratrol. The result: leaner study subjects.

Further studies are being done, on the positive effects of Resveratrol, that can also be seen in humans. Resveratrol, a compound naturally found in grape skins, is touted by some researchers as “the most promising natural compound of the 21st century”.

Sources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/111604.php

http://www.resveratrolnews.com/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20080617/red-wine-a-weapon-in-battle-of-the-bulge?





Does Resveratrol Slow the Aging Process?

26 06 2008

Red wine is being touted as a health drink nowadays. Aside from being a great drink with your favorite meats, be that beef, chicken or even fish, researchers and scientists are now finding new and amazing things about red wine which has been around for thousands of years.

The compound, naturally present in red wine and grapes, that has been grabbing headlines lately is Resveratrol. Resveratrol has been subjected to a lot of studies lately. One study being done with animal subjects, specifically that of middle-aged lab mice, has seen Resveratrol influencing the genes responsible for aging. These genes are responsible for the rate of cells growing old. These preliminary findings are encouraging for it appears that the aging process had been slowed for these animal subjects.

The same study also found that Resveratrol seems to protect the cardiac muscles. In addition, the compound, in lower doses, induced a calorie-restricting effect on the lab mice.

For Us Humans:

We would have to drink at least 200-300 glasses of red wine a day to achieve the same effect that impacted the lab mice, which is not practical and very unhealthy especially for people who are on an alcohol restricted diet or are forbidden to drink alcohol due to their age, or other considerations.

There is great news for us who want to get great health benefits, like weight loss and younger skin, from red wine without the alcohol. The compound Resveratrol, naturally-occurring in red wine, is now readily available in pill form.

Here is a video done by Barbara Walters on Resveratrol:

As with all supplements, taking this is not and never a substitute, but a supplement for leading a healthy lifestyle, which is reducing or eliminating risk factors for serious diseases like eating food heavy with saturated fat, tobacco use, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol consumption.

*We will be having a series on Resveratrol and the health benefits that are being researched currently.





Eating Breakfast Helps Weight Loss

24 06 2008

I came across this article about eating breakfast to aid in weight loss. I used to skip breakfast due to time constraints and aside from the fact that I am too sleepy while preparing it; nearly burning my hands while preparing corned beef hash browns.

As a “plus-sized person”, I really want to lose weight safely. There are enough ‘horror stories’ concerning surgery gone awry and some supplements being downright unsafe (do you recall some ‘metabolism boosters’ containing regulated ingredients like ma huang; found to cause or contribute dangerous cardiac and liver side effects) that I have come across in my favorite health and fitness magazines.

I am glad to report though that after two months of starting a “lifestyle” program, which uses food portion control and regular brisk walking, I lost around two inches on my waist and 14 pounds on the scale. I am still halfway in my battle against the bulge, and I need to lose around 10 more pounds to have a ‘healthy’ target weight of 150 lbs. (for my height of 5’5”). The program I am on, by the way, was prescribed to me by a college friend who is now a licensed internist in the medical field.

Yes, I still do have cravings for ‘fatty food’ like chocolate chip ice cream (yummy!) and barbecued baby back ribs (the aroma is divine!) but being mindful of food portion control really works. I get to eat my favorite foods, and never feel ‘deprived’. I always keep in my mind that whatever I would do or eat (however small) would definitely be seen and felt on my waist in the long run.

Let me share what worked for me so far (aside from eating breakfast):

1. Really, get moving. Do housework like cleaning windows and laundry.

2. Don’t drive your car or any other vehicle for short distances (less than 300 meters for me), instead, if time permits; walk around the mall. Start a brisk walking program (30 minutes a day or as prescribed by your health care provider).

3. Read and be informed about the latest health new

4. Skip the extra gravy for your favorite grilled meat; grill lower fat cuts of meat too

5. Eat fruits and vegetables more often than not; learn to cook them the ‘healthy’ way.

6. Be mindful of your portions; of any food or ‘sugary’ beverages (this really worked for me).

7. Read the labels and ingredient declarations before buying processed food; these are printed for a reason.

8. If you are feeling ‘blue’, talk to your friends on the phone or through IM and SMS. This keeps my hands from reaching for the ‘fattening’ snacks; drink plain or bottled water often (article coming on this).

9. Yes, men do lose weight faster than women due to our muscle proportion and distribution. But for the ladies, don’t be daunted by this; you can do it!

That’s it and I have practiced these tips as good habits for the past two months now. The only downside: I have to buy me some new belts…my jeans and trousers are getting loose!

I researched a product that I am going to post an article about, it is CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid (phew, long word to remember, glad they abreaviated it). Coupled with some excersize this is a natural way to lose fat without the side-effects. Here is a link to one of the sites I found to check it out, they have quality stuff.