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Is Coffee Carcinogenic- or a Miracle Drug?

COFFEE CAUSES CANCER!!!Wait, not so fast. You might have seen that CA Judge Elihu Berle has ruled that coffee shops, convenience stores and others selling coffee must publicly post in each location that it contains a carcinogen named acrylamide. Background Here’s the Cliff Notes version of a complex story. In 1986, CA passed Prop 65, which required retailers and others to post a list of any toxic materials that someone might be exposed to while in their store. The list must be easily visible. Since a lot of stuff is toxic in large quantities-e.g-aspirin- or a lot of common household products are toxic if consumed – e.g.- Clorox- the list of dangerous products that could be in a clothing store or coffee shop quickly became enormous. (Probably defeated the original purpose of Prop 65, but that’s a different discussion). What’s “acrylamide”? You probably consume some every day. Any time a starch is cooked at over 250 degrees, acrylamide is produced. French fries. Potato chips. Toast. And, …
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Eat Chocolate: Prevent Heart Disease?

Regular consumers of chocolate are about 42% less likely to develop cardiovascular heart disease. A research team from The University of Manchester and other institutes set out to determine if there is a relationship between chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. (Chocolate is rich in flavonoid catechin.) The researchers included Dr. Chun Shing Kwok, S. Matthijs Boekholdt, Marleen A. H. Lentjes and others from the Medical Schools at the University of Manchester, University of Aberdeen, University of Cambridge, the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam and other research institutes. They used data from the massive European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study. (You may recall that we’ve referred to other research reports stemming from EPIC). They isolated a qualifying group of 21,000 adults in the UK who have participated in the study for about 12 years. The data recorded for that group included frequency of consumption of chocolate (or no co…

Is Too Little Sleep As Bad For Your Brain as Crack?

Sleep is essential to brain health. Dr. Nora Volkow just gave a speech titled Probing the Sleep-Deprived Human Brain. Dr. Volkow is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse-part of the National Institute for Health She gave that speech at Radcliffe College which was reported in the Harvard Gazette.Dr. Volkow is an expert on the effects of addictive drugs on the brain, particularly the effects that cocaine has on the brain. She has found that cocaine disrupts dopamine transmission. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in brain function. In part, it is released by neurons to signal other neurons.Specifically, she found that that using cocaine resulted in brain cells releasing dopamine but being unable to receive it. She has found that lack of sleep can have the same effect on dopamine transmission. Here is a quote from her: “Yet lack of sleep itself produces some of the same effects that drugs do: It disrupts memory, inhibits alertness and can contrib…
The approach that Kan Ding, MD, Takashi Tarumi, PhD, and team used to evaluate brain health in relation to breathing is unique and interesting. They used oxygen uptake as a measure of fitness. You’ve likely seen a tv commercial or video with a professional athlete or perhaps an Olympic hopeful running or biking with a mask and tube strapped to their face. That equipment is measuring “VO2Max” or the use of oxygen by someone exercising. Distance runners, cross country skiers and the like must consume and burn oxygen highly efficiently if they want to be competitive The University of Texas Southwest Medical Center recently opened its new Brain Institute. That’s where Doctors Ding, Tarumi and associates work. They recruited 91 participants diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. Generally, that means they were able to care for themselves but were noticing some memory difficulty. Participants in the study had VO2Max measured, had brain image scans, and various tests of cognition performe…

Lusting for That Standing Desk? Researchers Say Think Twice

Standing desks are the rage. Star coders demand a standing desk, along with a truckload of stock options, to change jobs. TV commercials show these lean, obviously high-achiever types using their stand-up desks. Can’t wait to get one? Think twice. A team at the University of Toronto School of Public Health did a study. Here’s the punch line: Prolonged standing at work doubles heart attack risk. Peter M. Smith, MD, PhD led the study of over 7,000 individuals. The research goal was to get real-world measurement of standing versus sitting in a business setting. They divided the individuals into four groups: mostly standing, mostly sitting, stand and walk, mix of positions like crouching and kneeling. Those who stood the most head a greater risk of heart disease. Importantly, most of the tests were done in a factory setting where workers had less opportunity to move, stretch or sit. Overall conclusion – move around some. If your job allows, sit when you get tired of standing. Link to a r…

Tiger Mom Had This Right For Sure

Parents and Grandparents- Read This! The University of Southern California hosts a Brain and Creativity Institute. It just reported the results of a five-year study on the effect of learning to play a musical instrument on brain development of children. If you’ve reading our newsletters for a while, you won’t be surprised with the results. The young musicians, who practiced an average of seven hours per week, had accelerated brain development in the areas of the brain associated with speech, reading skills, sound perception and more. Remember the PR around Amy Chua’s book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that popularized the term “Tiger Mom”? Sounds (get it, sounds?) like she got the music education part right. Link to a research summary here. We’ve previously noted that learning to play a musical instrument at any age is a great brain builder and is one of the steps we can take to prevent dementia.
We Promised In our last newsletter, we said we’ll revisit alcohol and brain health a…
SuperAgers Live Longer & Retain Better Memory Function The Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern’s University Feinberg School of Medicine has been tracking a group of older adults. They’ve found some of the group have remarkably better memory skills than others. To the extent that their memory and recall is as good or better than most people 20 or more years younger. Northwestern has labeled those individuals “SuperAgers” and has been busy trying to identify characteristics that might explain how they’ve maintained their cognition. Emily Rogalski, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has led some of these research efforts. Here’s some of the scientific findings: ·SuperAgers had greater thickness of the anterior cingulate gyrus. Evolutionary theory postulates that the anterior cingulate was one of the later evolutionary developments. The anterior cingulate is involved in decision-making, ethics, emotion, and perhaps self-contro…