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A recent large study found another great reason for being physically active. The researchers found that physical fitness is linked to  atrial fibrillation (AFib) and stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder, and having it is linked to a much higher risk of having a stroke. The researchers found that being physically fit (exercise! physical activity!) is linked to lower rates of atrial fibrillation, stroke, and MACE (major adverse cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack leading to death).

There was an eleven year follow up of the approximately 15,450 participants, all of whom did not have atrial fibrillation at the start of the study. The study tested the  physical fitness of the participants (average age 55 years) on an exercise treadmill.

Bottom line: Physical activity and physical fitness are important for reducing the risk of developing heart problems, including atrial fibrillation. Yes, even taking walks (brisk is best) will improve physical fitness.

From Science Daily: Keep fit to avoid heart rhythm disorder and stroke

A study in more than 15,000 people has found that physical fitness is linked with a lower likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation and stroke. The research is presented at ESC Congress 2023.
...continue reading "Being Physical Fit Is Linked To A Lower Risk of Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke"

Do you know what chemicals you're exposed to on a daily basis? A recent study found that women with cancers of the breast, uterus, skin (melanoma), or ovaries had significantly higher levels of certain endocrine disrupting chemicals in their bodies than women without any of those cancers.

The researchers looked at levels of some hormone disrupting chemicals: PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), phenols (e.g. BPA), and parabens in both men and women. They found that women had higher levels of endocrine disruptors for 4 types of cancers (breast, uterine, ovarian, and melanoma). However, there was no relationship between the endocrine disruptors and thyroid cancer in men or women, and no relationship in men with prostate cancer.

The reason the researchers looked at breast, prostate, thyroid, ovarian, endometrial, and testicular cancers, and melanoma is because they are "hormone-mediated" cancers. That is, hormones play a role in growth and progression of these cancers.

Bottom line: You cannot totally avoid these chemicals because they are used in so many products, but you can really lower your exposure to them. Read Avoiding Harmful Chemicals for easy tips on reducing your exposure to these harmful chemicals. For example, don't use non-stick pots and pans, don't use plug-in air fresheners, and try to use fragrance-free or unscented products as much as possible. Use paraben and phthalate-free personal care products.

From Medical Xpress: Study finds significant chemical exposures in women with cancer

In a sign that exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be playing a role in cancers of the breast, ovary, skin and uterus, researchers have found that people who developed those cancers have significantly higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies. ...continue reading "Some Cancers In Women Linked to Chemical Exposures"

This site spends a lot of time discussing the nasal passages and sinuses. That's why a study focusing on the average number of hairs in the nose drew my attention.

The study won a 2023 Ig Nobel Award in medicine. The Ig Awards are basically a good-natured parody of Nobel prizes, where studies that at first seem silly, but then make you think, win awards.

The University of California researchers used 20 cadavers (10 male and 10 female dead persons) to study whether a person has the same number of hairs in both nostrils.

They carefully counted the number of hairs in each nostril and found that people generally have between 120 and 122 hairs per nostril. [The article is behind a paywall, so I searched and found that one mention of the study said on average there were 120 nose hairs on the left side and 112 on the right side.]

Another finding: the hair grows in the front of the nostril and only grows to a height of 0.81 to 1.035 centimeters.

From Ars Technica: Meet the winners of the 2023 Ig Nobel Prizes

Medicine Prize ...continue reading "The Number of Hairs In Each Nostril"

Mosquito feeding on human. Credit: Wikipedia

Great news! A good chemical-free way to prevent mosquitoes from bothering you when sitting outside is to just set up a fan nearby and turn it on. Mosquitos are weak flyers and this will keep them away.

The head guy in the fight against mosquitos and West Nile Virus in NYC (Dr. Bajwa, a medical entomologist) turns on a pedestal fan when sitting outside his home. No chemicals needed!

Bottom line: Using a fan can ward off mosquitoes. People differ in the types of fans they like to use (oscillating fan, stationary fan, ceiling fan). By the way, a breezy or windy day is also great in keeping mosquitos away.

He has his own method of dealing with mosquitoes. “When I find myself relaxing in my backyard, I always set up a pedestal fan,” he wrote. “Mosquitoes happen to be weak fliers, unable to contend with even a gentle breeze.” When he does get bitten, he added, “I make a conscious effort not to give in to the temptation of scratching.”

The NY Times wrote about this method already back in 2010: The Claim: To Repel Mosquitoes, Use a House Fan ...continue reading "Wind From A Fan Can Keep Mosquitoes Away"

Over the years I've talked to many people who have had sinus surgeries for chronic sinusitis, many of whom have had more than one surgery. And yet they keep suffering from chronic sinusitis for years . The big question: How many people are actually helped or cured by standard sinus surgery such as FESS (Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery)?

Well, I came across a study from 2016 looking at long-term sinus surgery (FESS) results on 560 adults. Three to 5 years after the FESS surgery, the results were pretty shocking - about 43.7% of persons were still suffering from chronic sinusitis (the researchers called it "uncontrolled"), 36.8% were somewhat better (partly controlled), and only 19.5% were feeling healthy (well controlled). Common sinus symptoms in the "uncontrolled" group were: headache, sleep disturbance, postnasal drip/secretions, and altered sense of smell.

The researchers mentioned another smaller study with similar results that looked at persons 12 years after FESS surgery: 47.4% still had chronic sinusitis (uncontrolled) and only 26.3% were doing well (controlled). They also concluded: "Therefore, better treatment strategies leading to higher disease control are warranted in CRS (chronic rhinosinusitis) care." 

Hello??   Instead of surgery, try focusing on the sinus microbiome by using beneficial bacteria such as L. sakei (in Lanto Sinus, kimchi). Researchers are looking at using beneficial bacteria in the future for sinusitis treatment.

The abstract or study summary from Allergy (the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology): Real-life study showing uncontrolled rhinosinusitis after sinus surgery in a tertiary referral centre

ABSTRACT: Objectives: To study the degree of CRS control using novel EPOS control criteria at 3–5 years after a functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) and correlate these data to symptoms scores. ...continue reading "Study Shows High Levels of Chronic Sinusitis After Sinus Surgery"

Great news! A recent study found that older adults who get routine vaccinations have a  lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Other studies looking at adults over the age of 60  and routine vaccinations (flu, pneumonia) have had similar findings.

The vaccinations that were looked at in this study were: the shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, and tetanus-diphtheria vaccine. Each of the vaccines lowered the risk of getting AD - the tetanus-diphtheria (Tdap/Td) by 30%, the shingles vaccine by 25%, and the pneumococcal vaccine by 27%. The adults were at least 65 years of age at the start of the study.

Why would vaccines be protective? There  are multiple theories, including that infection may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and vaccines reduce the risk for infections. Or that vaccines may activate the immune system in such a way that alters the risk for developing AD.

Bottom line: In persons over the age of 60, getting routine adult vaccinations (including the flu vaccine) may lower the risk of developing AD. So simple!

From Medical Xpress: Several vaccines associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease in adults 65 and older

Prior vaccination against tetanus and diphtheria, with or without pertussis (Tdap/Td); herpes zoster (HZ), better known as shingles; and pneumococcus are all associated with a reduced risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from UTHealth Houston. ...continue reading "Routine Vaccines Associated With A Reduced Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease"

Microplastics in marine environment Credit: Wikipedia

We can not get away from microplastics - the teeny, tiny plastic particles that are a result of plastics breaking up over time. They are everywhere, including the air over polar regions and in the air spewed out in the sea spray from waves.

Researchers sampled and analyzed air off the Norwegian coast up to the Arctic region. They found that all air samples contained microplastics. The plastic particles they found included polyester particles (from textiles), polystyrene, polypropylene, polyurethane, and tire wear particles (from driving and braking). Sources of the plastic particles came from both land (e.g., textiles, tire particles) and sea (e.g., boat paint).

Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 mm (0.20 in) in length. Rain, water (e.g., seas, rivers), wind and air transport the plastic particles throughout the world. This microplastic pollution is of concern to all of us because we are breathing them in, and they are in the products we use (e.g., toothpaste), foods we eat, and the beverages we drink, including bottled water.

The big questions: What are the microplastic particles doing to us and wildlife? Are they getting into our organs? Are they causing chronic inflammation or other problems? Hint: Yes and yes, according to research. Even our lungs and blood.

From Science Daily: Oceans release microplastics into the atmosphere

Tiny plastic particles can be found in the sea air even far from coasts, according to a study recently published in the journal Nature Communications. The microplastics come from partly unexpected sources. ...continue reading "Microplastics Are Even In Ocean Waves and Air"

Thyme Credit: Wikipedia

It turns out that even making minor adjustments to your usual diet can improve the gut microbiome (the community of bacteria, fungi, viruses living in the gut) within a few weeks. Two separate studies found that eating some peanuts daily or adding some herbs or spices to the  foods you eat can improve the numbers of beneficial bacteria living in the gut.

In the peanut study - eating or not eating peanuts didn't change the diversity or main types of bacteria living in the gut. But eating peanuts did increase the numbers of several beneficial species --Roseburia and Ruminococcaceae, which are butyrate producing bacteria (good!). The peanut group ate 28 grams of peanuts (1 ounce or about 33 peanuts) as a night-time snack for 6 weeks.

In the spice and herb study, adding a combination of spices and herbs to the diet for 4 weeks increased microbial diversity in the gut (good!), and also increased beneficial Ruminococcaceae numbers (good!) in persons at risk for heart disease. Faecalibacterium and Agathobacter  numbers also increased (good!). A variety of dried spices and herbs (1/8 tsp, 3/4 tsp. or 1/1/2 tsp) were added to foods in the daily diet, and not taken as a capsule.

Dried spices added to foods in the spice and herb study included coriander, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, onion powder, garlic, ginger, rosemary, thyme, basil, black pepper, paprika, parsley, red pepper, etc. - 24 in all!

Bottom line: These studies agree with other research finding that eating peanuts (and all sorts of nuts, legumes), as well as adding spices and herbs to your foods is beneficial to the gut microbiome. They feed beneficial microbes in your gut, have all sorts of micronutrients, and they also have multitudes of microbes. A win-win.

From Science Daily: Peanuts and herbs and spices may positively impact gut microbiome

Adding a daily ounce of peanuts or about a teaspoon of herbs and spices to your diet may affect the composition of gut bacteria, an indicator of overall health, according to new research from Penn State. In two separate studies, nutritional scientists studied the effects of small changes to the average American diet and found improvements to the gut microbiome. ...continue reading "Adding Herbs and Spices To Your Foods Improves Gut Microbiome"