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A recent study reports more good news about eating a plant-based diet - that is, one rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, but low in meat and dairy foods.

Researchers found that in men who had already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, those eating the most plant-based foods had the least erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, urinary irritation, and had better "hormonal health and vitality" (e.g., symptoms such as low energy, depression, and hot flashes). Consuming more plant-based foods was associated with better sexual and bowel function (this last from the fiber in plant-based foods).

Other research already shows that plant-based diets can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, as well as for prostate cancer recurrence and for the cancer progressing. A reason for this could be because a plant-based diet (e.g., Mediterranean style diet) lowers chronic inflammation.

From Medical Xpress: Plant-based diet tied to improved sexual health in men treated for prostate cancer

A diet that limits meat and dairy but is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts is linked to less erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and other common side effects seen in prostate cancer patients, a new study shows. ...continue reading "Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet For Men With Prostate Cancer"

The bad news about microplastics in the environment and in all of us keeps coming. A recent study found microplastics in all human placentas, with the numbers of microplastics increasing over recent years. This is very concerning because at this point it is unknown what effects the microplastics are having on pregnancies and developing babies.

Microplastics are the teeny, tiny plastic particles (less than 5mm or .20 inches in length) that are a result of plastics breaking up over time.

A recently published study reported how researchers came up with a new method of measuring the number and amount of microplastics found in the placenta. Rather than just examining the placenta under a microscope and counting particles (other studies), they developed a new method (involving pyrolysis-gas chromatography and mass spectrometry) that reveals a more accurate number.

In the study, all 62 placentas tested contained microplastics in varying amounts - from 6.5 to 790 micrograms per gram of tissue. The main types of microplastics found were polyethylene (plastic bags and bottles) in nearly all samples, followed by polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and nylon.

Unfortunately, we know that all of us will have increasing amounts of microplastics in our bodies over time because plastic use is increasing throughout the world. We are ingesting them in our foods and beverages (especially bottled water), absorbing them through our skin, and breathing them in.

What you can do: Try to minimize your use of plastics, especially plastic water bottles. Choose alternatives whenever possible. For example, glass and stainless steel are OK and do not shed microplastics. Think glass bottles and bowls for foods and beverages, not plastic bottles and containers.

From Science Daily: Microplastics found in every human placenta tested

A flurry of recent studies has found that microplastics are present in virtually everything we consume, from bottled water to meat and plant-based food. Now, University of New Mexico Health Sciences researchers have used a new analytical tool to measure the microplastics present in human placentas. ...continue reading "New Method Finds Microplastics In All Placentas"

This comes under the realm of fun fact: A large study of over 21 million births over four decades in Japan found that most births occur during weekdays and not weekends or holidays.

This was especially true among high-risk births such as low birthweight and preterm births. The researchers mention that many deliveries are "controlled" - which could mean they are planned C-sections or induced births during weekdays.

Bet this is also true for other developed countries with high C-section rates.

From Science Daily: Significantly fewer births on weekends and holidays than weekdays, data analysis of over 21 million births from 1979-2018 in Japan shows

Significantly more babies were born on a weekday instead of weekend day or holiday, reveals a large-scale analysis of 21 million births in Japan over almost four decades published February 14, 2024 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Miho Sassa from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues. ...continue reading "More Births Occur During Weekdays"

Tai Chi Credit:Wikipedia

It turns out that doing the series of slow moving movements called Tai Chi reduces blood pressure more than vigorous aerobic exercise. This traditional Chinese exercise also has other benefits: it improves flexibility and balance, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory function.

A recent study found that doing the slow gentle movements and postures of Tai Chi (often called meditation in motion) for one year resulted in greater blood pressure reductions than aerobic exercises in persons with prehypertension. Half of a group of 349 adult volunteers were randomly assigned to Tai Chi for one hour 4 times per week for a year, while persons in the other group were randomly assigned to do aerobic exercises (including climbing stairs, jogging, brisk walking, and cycling) with the same frequency.

After one year, persons in both groups had lower blood pressure than at the start of the study, but in the Tai Chi group it was about 7.01 mmHg lower compared to 4.61 mmHg lower in the aerobic exercise group.

Prehypertension is blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal (between 120/80 and 139/89 mmHg), but not yet hypertension. In the study, the researchers also found that fewer persons from the Tai Chi group progressed to hypertension. A win-win.

The researchers of this study concluded that Tai Chi is a safe, moderate-intensity, mind-body exercise, which is suitable for persons of all ages and physical conditions. By the way, other studies also found that doing Tai Chi reduces blood pressure - as early as 12 weeks.

From NPR: Tai chi reduces blood pressure better than aerobic exercise, study finds

Tai chi, a traditional, slow-moving form of Chinese martial art, is known to increase flexibility and improve balance. Now, new research suggests it's better than more vigorous aerobic exercises for lowering blood pressure in people with prehypertension. ...continue reading "Study Found Tai Chi Reduces Blood Pressure Better Than Aerobic Exercises"

People don't realize the incredibly large amounts of pesticides applied to crops and soil in the US each year. Hundreds of millions of pounds! Which is the reason pesticides are found in our air, rain, water, soil, our foods, and in our bodies.

One of the pesticides that scientists are getting increasingly concerned with is the weed-killer glyphosate. It is the most used herbicide (weed-killer) in the world! It is found in Roundup, in non-organic crops, and even in genetically modified crops that are glyphosate resistant. Especially used on corn and soybeans, but also in a variety of crops (e.g., wheat, oats, cranberries, grapes, apples, beans).

The following story lays out the great amounts used in some states, especially in the midwest and southern states. Overall, an average of almost 130 pounds of glyphosate were sprayed per square mile in US counties each year.

But some counties had incredibly high amounts, such as Nueces County, Texas which has the highest use of glyphosate: more than 1,100 pounds sprayed per square mile. Iowa and Illinois (corn and soybean crops) accounted for 15% of national usage. The least was in northeastern (e.g., Massachusetts) and southwestern states (e.g., Nevada).

Evidence for health harms are increasing each year, such as an increased risk of cancer (e.g., non-Hodgkin lymphoma), premature births, endocrine disruption, and even disruptions of the gut microbiome (it kills beneficial microbes in the gut). The percentage of people with glyphosate detected in their urine, and the amount (concentration) has been rising over time. It can now be detected in almost all of us.

By the way, the EPA has raised "allowable limits" of glyphosate in foods over the years - when the pesticide industry asked for it. The US limits are much higher than those allowed in Europe - twice the levels! (Once again, in the US the EPA favors industry, not the people it's supposed to be protecting.)

This article is from October 2022, but it highlights  the incredibly high amounts of glyphosate applied in the US (see the good interactive map). Excerpts from NBC News: A potentially cancer-causing chemical is sprayed on much of America’s farmland. Here is where it is used the most.

Every day, farms across the country use a potentially cancer-causing chemical that is in the world’s most common weedkillers. And data shows that it’s most used in the Midwest and parts of the South. ...continue reading "Enormous Amounts of One Pesticide Used In the US"

It turns out that another nasty pesticide is found in almost all of us, which we get from the foods we eat. This is the pesticide chlormequat, which is known to have harmful health effects. The use of chlormequat is on the rise in North America and Europe, where it is applied to non-organic grain crops as a plant growth regulator.

A recent study found that the percentage of persons with detectable chlormequat in their urine, as well as the levels (concentrations) of chlormequat, have been increasing yearly since 2017 (start of the study), but with a significant increase in 2023. It was found in the urine of 90% of the people tested in 2023.

This is concerning because studies find that it can reduce fertility and harm the developing fetus - even at doses lower than what regulatory agencies view as "allowable daily intake levels". Unfortunately, the CDC does not do biomonitoring of chlormequat in humans - thus it is an under the radar pesticide (found in humans, but no one is officially monitoring it).

Currently it is only allowed on ornamental plants in the US, but in 2023 the EPA proposed allowing the use of chlormequat on barley, oats, triticale, and wheat grown in the US. It is already allowed on imported grain crops from Canada and Europe. One study found it in Quaker oats and oat products, and Cheerios.

In 2020 the US EPA also raised "allowable levels" of chlormequat in food (from 10 ppm to 30 ppm), which is reflected in the study results - 90% of people tested in 2023 had detectable levels of the pesticide in their urine, and in greater amounts (concentrations) than in prior years. Once again the EPA is "looking out for us" - NOT!

Bottom line: Eat as many organic foods as possible, including oats, barley, and wheat. This pesticide is not allowed to be used on organic crops. Changing to an organic diet quickly lowers chlormequat levels in the body.

From New study finds little-known toxic crop chemical in four out of five people tested

A new Environmental Working Group study has found chlormequat, a little-known pesticide, in four out of five people tested. Because the chemical is linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animal studies, the findings suggest the potential for similar harm to humans. ...continue reading "Another Harmful Pesticide In Our Foods"

Chemicals known as "forever chemicals" or PFAS have been in the news a lot recently. This is because PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are in so many products that we all use, yet research is showing more and more health harms from them. Including to pregnant women and developing babies.

A recent study found that pregnant women who ate more ultra-processed  or fast foods had higher levels of a type of forever chemicals (PFAS) called phthalates in their bodies. The food wrappers and packaging of ultra-processed and fast food, and even the gloves worn by food handlers, are a source of the harmful chemicals.

The chemicals migrate from the packaging or wrapping into the food, which is then ingested by the person. They then get into the pregnant woman's bloodstream, and eventually the placenta and fetus. They are endocrine (hormone) disruptors. Studies find that pregnant women with higher levels of phthalates have an increased risk of preterm birth, babies with low birth weight, and other problems (e.g., autism spectrum disorder).

The researchers found that diets high in vegetables, fruits, yogurt, fish, and nuts during pregnancy were associated with lower phthalate levels (measured in the urine of the pregnant women). Ultra-processed foods were between 9.8 to 59.% of the pregnant women's diets, with the average being 38.6%.

Unfortunately, unprocessed and minimally processed foods are more expensive than ultra-processed foods. So it wasn't surprising that socioeconomic levels (including income levels) made a difference - the lower the household income, the greater the average ultra-processed food intake.

Bottom line: Try to eat less fast food and pre-made packaged food. Read labels and avoid foods with ingredients that are not found normally in a home kitchen, but are chemicals (e.g., soy lecithin, carrageenan, high-fructose corn syrup, colors). We can't totally avoid all PFAS, but we can lower our exposure to them.

From Medical Xpress: Study: Pregnant women should avoid ultraprocessed, fast foods

If you're pregnant, you may want to think twice before making a hamburger run or reaching for a prepackaged pastry, according to research published last month in the journal Environmental International. ...continue reading "Pregnant Women Ingest Forever Chemicals In Ultra-Processed and Fast Foods"

Small intestine Credit: Wikipedia

A new study highlights the importance of eating a variety of foods for good health. Researchers found that humans have 5 distinct regions in the small intestine, and each region absorbs different nutrients and has different cellular functions. And each zone responds to changes in the diet.

The researchers said that this helps understand how the small intestine successfully regenerates over the life span, as well as clues as to the development of some intestinal diseases. They also discovered that there are 3 regions in the small intestine that are each home to distinct intestinal stem cell types.

Bottom line: Be good to your intestines (and in doing so, promote good health) by eating a variety of real foods. That means a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes (beans). Try to eat as many organic foods as possible (non-organic foods contain pesticide residues that can disrupt gut microbiome). Try to avoid ultra-processed foods as much as possible.

From Medical Xpress: Scientists gain new insights into how small intestine works

However, the organ may finally be ready for an update: U.S. researchers say the small intestine is actually comprised of five distinct segments, each being responsible for the absorption of various nutrients. ...continue reading "The Five Regions of the Small Intestine"

It truly is a warming world. Scientists normally label hurricanes according to their strength from Category 1 to Category 5 (wind speeds 158 mph or greater). Some climate scientists are now proposing adding a Category 6 due to the increased strength of recent hurricanes.

The new Category 6 would be storms with wind speeds greater than 192 mph. When the researchers examined wind speeds from past storms, they found 5 storms that would have been reclassified as Category 6. And they all occurred in the past decade.

The researchers expect that as the world warms, the number of Category 6 storms will increase. Stronger storms = more destruction. Yikes!

By the way, hurricanes, tropical storms, and typhoons are essentially the same kind of storm. They are just called different names in different parts of the world.

From Science Daily: In a warming world, climate scientists consider category 6 hurricanes

For more than 50 years, the National Hurricane Center has used the Saffir-Simpson Windscale to communicate the risk of property damage; it labels a hurricane on a scale from Category 1 (wind speeds between 74 -- 95 mph) to Category 5 (wind speeds of 158 mph or greater). ...continue reading "Hurricanes Are Getting Stronger"

It has long been known that dogs get cancers, from similar chemical exposures as humans (e.g., lymphoma from exposure to weed-killer 2,4-D on lawns). A recent study found that Scottish terriers exposed to cigarette smoke develop bladder cancer about 6 times more than terriers not exposed to cigarette smoke.

Dogs can be viewed as "sentinel species" or early warning systems for harmful chemical exposures. This is because they show risks or dangers due to chemical exposures in the environment earlier than humans. They live alongside humans and so are exposed to the same things as humans.

By the way, smoking is also considered a major risk factor in human urinary bladder cancers.

From Futurity (site that publishes research news from universities): CIGARETTE SMOKE MAY SPIKE DOGS’ BLADDER CANCER RISK

By assessing individual dogs and studying their medical history, scientists are beginning to untangle the question of who gets cancer and why, and how best to detect, treat, and prevent it. ...continue reading "Cigarette Smoke and Bladder Cancer In Dogs"