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Foot massage Credit: Lubyanka, Wikipedia.

Could getting foot massages be a way to deal with some of the symptoms bothering women during menopause? A small study found that women getting foot massages during menopause had increased sleep duration (up to 1 hour), and it reduced fatigue and anxiety levels.

Hey, it's a small study with nice results. But thinking about it - wouldn't we all benefit from daily foot massages? After a massage one is typically more relaxed and feeling better. The study results are really not surprising...

From Medical Xpress: Foot massage effective in improving sleep quality and anxiety in postmenopausal women

The therapeutic benefits of massage have long been recognized. A new study suggests that foot massage, in particular, can help minimize a number of common menopause symptoms, including sleep disruption, effectively extending sleep duration by an average of an hour per day. Study results are published online today in Menopause.  ...continue reading "Foot Massages May Help With Menopausal Symptoms"

For a long time we thought that our genes determine how long we will live (longevity). A new study says not so fast - how we live is more important than our genes. Specifically, how much physical activity and sedentary time (time spent sitting) both have an effect on whether we die early or later, no matter our genetic make-up.

Researchers found that among older women - having higher weekly amounts of light, moderate, or vigorous physical activity was associated with a lower risk of early death. Having higher amounts of sedentary (sitting) time was associated with a higher risk of early death. It didn't matter if there was a genetic predisposition for longevity or not - the findings applied to everyone.

Bottom line: Get off the sofa or out of your chair and move, move, move. All types of physical activity are good for longevity and to lower risk of disease. While this study looked at older women, the findings are also thought to apply to older men.

From Science Daily: Physical activity may have a stronger role than genes in longevity

Previous research has shown that low physical activity and greater time spent sitting are associated with a higher risk of death. Does risk change if a person is genetically predisposed to live a long life? ...continue reading "Physical Activity May Be More Important Than Genes In Longevity"

Y chromosome (in red). Credit: Wikipedia

Did you know that a significant percentage of men lose the male sex chromosome in some of their cells as they age? About 40% of 70 year olds! This loss may explain why so many men die several years before women.

The loss of the male Y chromosome in some cells (mosaic loss) has health effects. It is associated with an increased risk of early death and some age-related diseases in men, such as heart disease and heart failure. This loss mainly happens in cells with a rapid turnover, such as blood cells, and does not happen in male reproductive cells.

A recent two part study in both mice and human males found that this Y chromosome loss resulted in heart muscle scarring (fibrosis), which led to increased risk of heart problems and heart failure. The researchers discuss a drug (pirfenidone) that may help with treatment.

Why is this happening? The researchers point out that as we age, more and more gene mutations are occurring, that is, the DNA of our cells accumulate mutations as we age. Some of them are due to our own choices, such as smoking, exposures to toxic chemicals, radiation, our lifestyle. Others are out of our control (e.g., aging).

From Science Daily: Loss of male sex chromosome leads to earlier death for men

The loss of the male sex chromosome as many men age causes the heart muscle to scar and can lead to deadly heart failure, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine shows. The finding may help explain why men die, on average, several years younger than women. ...continue reading "Many Men Lose the Male Sex Chromosome As They Age"

Fabulous news for those persons wanting to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease as they age - get a flu vaccine, especially annually. A recent large study found that with each annual vaccine received in adults 65 years and older, the protective effect increases. That's it! So simple.

The study authors compared 935,887 flu-vaccinated patients and 935,887 non-vaccinated patients. At the start of the study, no one had an Alzheimer's diagnosis. They found a 40% lower risk of an Alzheimer's diagnosis in those receiving flu vaccines compared to individuals not receiving a flu vaccine in the following 4 years.

Other studies have had similar findings, as well as that getting other vaccines in adulthood also reduce the risk of dementia, such as pneumonia, tetanus, polio, and herpes vaccines. Current thinking is that this protective effect from vaccines is due to their immunological effects - that they boost the immune system in a good way.

From Science Daily: Flu vaccination linked to 40% reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

People who received at least one influenza vaccine were 40% less likely than their non-vaccinated peers to develop Alzheimer's disease over the course of four years, according to a new study from UTHealth Houston. ...continue reading "The Flu Vaccine is Linked to a Lower Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease"

Walking for exercise has another great health benefit - this time for the knees. A study found that frequent walking reduces frequent knee pain in people already diagnosed with knee arthritis (osteoarthritis), but not yet experiencing daily knee pain. It may also be a good way to slow damage from arthritis that occurs within the joint.

Frequent walkers reported 40% less new frequent knee pain (compared to persons who didn't walk for exercise). All the 1212 study participants were 50 years or older.

In other words, get out there and walk, preferably every day - it helps the knees!

From Science Daily: Walking Towards Healthier Knees

A new study published today in Arthritis & Rheumatology led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reveals that walking for exercise can reduce new frequent knee pain among people age 50 and older diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Additionally, findings from the study indicate that walking for exercise may be an effective treatment to slow the damage that occurs within the joint. ...continue reading "Walking Benefits the Knees"

Liver and other organs. Credit: Wikipedia

The liver is an organ that clears the body of toxins and can actually regenerate itself if injured. A recent study found that the liver's ability to regenerate itself does not diminish with age. Good news!

A recent study analyzed livers of persons (20 to 84 years old) who had died and found that everyone's liver cells looked to be about the same age - just under 3 years old! There is constant replenishment of liver cells in the body, no matter the person's age.

There is also a subgroup of liver cells containing more DNA, that live up to a decade. But they also get replaced. Anyway you look at it - your liver is young!

From Medical Xpress: Your liver is just under three years old

The liver is an essential organ that takes care of clearing toxins in our bodies. Because it constantly deals with toxic substances, it is likely to be regularly injured. To overcome this, the liver has a unique capacity among organs to regenerate itself after damage. Because a lot of the body's ability to heal itself and regenerate decreases as we age, scientists were wondering if the liver's capacity to renew also diminishes with age. ...continue reading "No Matter Your Age, Your Liver is Young"

Eating berries frequently or daily has all sorts of health benefits. Two recent studies have focused on daily consumption of cranberries and found them to be beneficial for memory and neural functioning, and also for heart health.

Both studies had persons ingest whole cranberry powder (equivalent to 100 grams or 1 cup of whole cranberries) daily for 12 weeks (memory study) or 1 month (heart study).

While studies usually focus on just one type of berry to try to figure out how and what health benefits are occurring, there is no one berry a person should eat. Eat them all! Studies show they all offer something a little different, and all also have lots of fiber (very important for health!).

Also, eat real foods, not supplements. Again: studies do not find that there is one food or supplement that will prevent health problems or dementia. Eat more fruits, berries, vegetables, and cut back on ultra-processed foods. [See Medscape article below.]

From Medscape: A Cup of Cranberries a Day Tied to Better Memory

For healthy middle-aged and older adults, adding cranberries to the diet may help improve memory and brain function, in addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, new research suggests. ...continue reading "Good Reasons to Eat Cranberries"

Blueberries. Credit: Wikipedia

We have known for a while that frequently eating berries has health benefits. A recent study found that overweight middle-aged persons eating blueberries daily for 12 weeks resulted in both metabolic and memory improvements.

The researchers stated that the results suggest that frequently eating blueberries could be protective against cognitive decline and lower the risk of dementia later on in life.

The study involved thirty-three overweight prediabetic middle-aged adults who already felt that their memory was not as good as in years past. They were randomly assigned to either the blueberry (whole freeze-dried blueberry powder) group or the placebo group (a similar looking powder that did not contain blueberries). The blueberry powder was equivalent to 1/2 cup whole blueberries and was eaten once a day for 12 weeks. The benefits of blueberries are thought to be from micronutrients and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants.

By the way, all berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.) are slightly different in micronutrients and are viewed as beneficial to health and lowering the risk of chronic diseases, including the risk of dementia. As are colorful fruits and vegetables. Don't focus on just one type of berry - eat them all!

From Medical Xpress: Regular blueberry consumption may reduce risk of dementia, study finds

Researchers led by UC's Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., found that adding blueberries to the daily diets of certain middle-aged populations may lower the chances of developing late-life dementia. ...continue reading "Eating Blueberries Has Health Benefits"

For years people have searched for ways to prevent cancer, which occurs significantly more with age. A recent study conducted in 5 European countries offers hope that some simple steps could reduce the incidence of invasive cancer up to 61 % in older adults (over 70 years of age).

The 3 year long study tested individual and combinations of vitamin D3, marine omega-3, and a simple home strength exercise program and found that the combination of all 3 (vitamin D3 + marine omega-3 supplements + exercise) reduced the incidence of invasive cancer by 61 percent. In other words, it prevented cancer.

What they took: Persons in the double-blind (no one knew who was in what group) study were randomly assigned to one of 8 groups with the intervention alone or combined: daily supplements of 2000 IU of vitamin D3, and/or daily 1 g of marine omega-3s, and/or a simple home strength exercise program compared to a placebo/control group. NOTE: The marine omega-3s supplements used were algae-based (EPA + DHA ratio: 1:2), and not fish oil.

Even though there were over 2000 participants in the study, the numbers were too low to see if there were effects on certain types of cancers. Can only say there was a reduction in invasive cancers when all 3 interventions were combined. Looking at the study report, it is unclear how frequently and how many of the home-strengthening exercises were done each week.

Other studies: As the researchers note - other studies have had mixed results on vitamin D3 and omega-3 supplements, which are typically fish oil. A major review in 2020 of 27 studies using fish oil supplements (for a total of 113,557 participants) found little or no benefit regarding cancer or cancer death, and a 2021 review of 5 studies found increased risk of atrial fibrillation. So once again, we'll see... Three years (the length of this study) is a short time regarding cancer.

Bottom line: While vitamin D3 and fish oil supplements are being debated over their health effects, all studies find health benefits from exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, some fish, and olive oil. Also, vitamin D3 is superior to vitamin D2, and that taking it daily is better than a mega-dose occasionally (e.g., once a month). Getting some sunlight (vitamin D) is also recommended.

From Medical Xpress: A combination of three simple treatments may reduce invasive cancer risk by 61% among adults aged 70+

A new study published in Frontiers in Aging found that a combination of high-dose vitamin D, omega-3s, and a simple home strength exercise program (SHEP) showed a cumulative reduction by 61% in cancer risk in healthy adults aged 70 or older.  ...continue reading "Study Suggests Simple Steps To Reduce Cancer Risk In Older Adults"

The studies are coming fast and furious about how all daily physical activity has health benefits. Ordinary daily activities that cause a person to move, such as housework, vacuuming, washing dishes, gardening, walking, cooking, even showering - all count. (On the other hand, reading and computer use do not.)

A recent study by University of California researchers found a higher rate of heart disease, stroke, and death in older women who have less than 2 hours each day of "daily life movement" (daily physical activities) compared to those who have more than 4 hours per day. At the start of the study 5416 women (63 years or older, and without heart disease) wore an accelerometer to measure their daily movements for 1 week, and then their health was followed for more than 6 years.

The researchers found that higher amounts of daily life movement or "being up and about" were associated with a lower risk of major cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular death in older women. In other words - all movement (and not just exercise) counts towards cardiovascular disease prevention.

From Science Daily: Daily activities like washing dishes reduced heart disease risk in senior women

Seniors take note, running or brisk walking is not the only way to reduce the risk of heart disease. Simply being "up and about" performing routine activities, referred to as daily life movement, including housework, gardening, cooking and self-care activities like showering can significantly benefit cardiovascular health. ...continue reading "Ordinary Daily Activities Can Have Health Benefits"