A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit

A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit

By Leo Babauta

There aren’t many of us who don’t have some bad habit we’d like to quit: smoking, sweets, shopping, nail-biting, porn, excessive checking of phones or social media, other distractions …

The problem is that we think we don’t have the willpower, faced with past evidence of failure after failure when we’ve tried to quit before.

We don’t think we can quit, so we don’t even try. Or if we do try, we give ourselves an “out,” and don’t fully commit ourselves.

Let me tell you this: quitting a bad habit takes everything you’ve got.

It’s hard, but doable — if you put your entire being into it.

If you’re ready to finally quit something, here’s a short guide to doing just that.

10-Steps — Just as Good as the 12-Step Folk

You don’t actually need to follow every single one of these steps to quit a habit, but the more of them you do, the higher your chances. I recommend all of them if you want to be all in.

  1. Have a big motivation. Lots of times people quit things because it sounds nice: “It would be nice to quit caffeine.” But that’s a weak motivation. What you really want is strong motivation: I quit smoking because I knew it was killing me, and I knew my kids would smoke as adults if I didn’t quit. Know your Why, and connect with it throughout your quit. Write it down at the top of a document called your “Quit Plan.”
  2. Make a big commitment. Now that you know your motivation, be fully committed. A common mistake is say, “I’ll do this today,” but then letting yourself off the hook when the urges get strong. Instead, tell everyone about it. Ask for their help. Give them regular updates and be accountable. Have a support partner you can call on when you need help. Ask people not to let you off the hook. Be all in.
  3. Be aware of your triggers. What events trigger your bad habit? The habit doesn’t just happen, but is triggered by something else: you smoke when other people smoke, or you shop when you’re stressed out, or you eat junk food when you’re bored, or you watch porn when you’re lonely, or you check your social media when you feel the need to fill space in your day. Watch yourself for a few days and notice what triggers your habit, make a list of triggers on your Quit Plan, and then develop an awareness of when those triggers happen.
  4. Know what need the habit is meeting. We have bad habits for a reason — they meet some kind of need. For every trigger you wrote down, look at what need the habit might be meeting in that case. The habit might be helping you cope with stress. For some of the other triggers, it might help you to socialize, or cope with sadness, boredom, loneliness, feeling bad about yourself, being sick, dealing with a crisis, needing a break or treat or comfort. Write these needs down on your Quit Plan, and think of other ways you might cope with them.
  5. Have a replacement habit for each trigger. So what will you do when you face the trigger of stress? You can’t just not do your old bad habit — it will leave an unfilled need, a hole that you will fill with your old bad habit if you don’t meet the need somehow. So have a good habit to do when you get stressed, or when someone gets angry at you, etc. Make a list of all your triggers on your Quit Plan, with a new habit for each one (one new, good habit can serve multiple triggers if you like).
  6. Watch the urges, and delay. You will get urges to do your bad habit, when the triggers happen. These urges are dangerous if you just act on them without thinking. Learn to recognize them as they happen, and just sit there watch the urge rise and get stronger, and then and fall. Delay yourself, if you really want to act on the urge. Breathe. Drink some water. Call someone for help. Go for a walk. Get out of the situation. The urge will go away, if you just delay.
  7. Do the new habit each time the trigger happens. This will take a lot of conscious effort — be very aware of when the trigger happens, and very aware of doing the new habit instead of the old automatic one. If you mess up, forgive yourself, but you need to be very conscious of being consistent here, so the new habit will start to become automatic. This is one reason it’s difficult to start with bad habits — if there are multiple triggers that happen randomly throughout the day, it means you need to be conscious of your habit change all day, every day, for weeks or more.
  8. Be aware of your thinking. We justify bad habits with thinking. You have to watch your thoughts and realize when you’re making excuses for doing your old bad habit, or when you start feeling like giving up instead of sticking to your change. Don’t believe your rationalizations.
  9. Quit gradually. Until recently, I was a fan of the Quit Cold Turkey philosophy, but I now believe you can quit gradually. That means cut back from 20 cigarettes to 15, then 10, then 5, then zero. If you do this a week at a time, it won’t seem so difficult, and you might have a better chance of succeeding.
  10. Learn from mistakes. We all mess up sometimes — if you do, be forgiving, and don’t let one mistake derail you. See what happened, accept it, figure out a better plan for next time. Write this on your Quit Plan. Your plan will get better and better as you continually improve it. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve the method.

I’m not saying this is an easy method, but many people have failed because they ignored the ideas here. Don’t be one of them. Put yourself all into this effort, find your motivation, and replace your habit with a better habit for each trigger. You got this.

Help Quitting Your Habit

If you’d like help quitting your habit, join my Sea Change Program as we learn how to quit a habit in August. It’s free to try for a week, so sign up today and do your quit with us!

The program offers:

  1. Articles & videos to teach you about the concept of quitting.
  2. Daily reminder emails if you want them.
  3. A forum for discussion.
  4. A live video webinar with me where you can ask questions.

Sign up here to be a part of the Quit a Bad Habit module.

Posted in Human Behavior: Habits | Leave a comment

How to Bounce Back After Getting Laid Off

Losing your job is hard. It dents your self-esteem; it’s tough on your bank account; and if you’re not smart about your next steps, it can derail your career. Aside from getting back on the horse and looking for a new job, what else should you do to get back on track? How do you maintain your self-confidence? Who should you talk to about the situation? And how should you frame the layoff to future employers?

What the Experts Say

Getting laid off is perhaps the most professionally traumatic experience you’ll ever have.

“The old adage that it’s not about you is nonsense,” says John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and the author of How To Get A Job You Love.

“It’s a rejection — the company is saying, ‘We don’t need you. We can manage without you.’ It feels personal.”

While it’s natural to feel this way, you mustn’t lose perspective. All in all, “getting laid off is a manageable setback on the scale of human experience,” Lees says. And it can even lead to something positive.

“Try to think about it as an opportunity that’s ultimately going to do you some good,” says Priscilla Claman, the president of Career Strategies, a Boston-based consulting firm and a contributor to the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job.

“A lot of people stay in their jobs for too long; they get stuck and can’t move on.”

A layoff gives you a fresh start.

Here are other ways to bounce back from this difficult and often stressful situation.

More

 

Posted in Human Behavior: Rejection, Human Behavior: Shame, Human Behavior: Stress, Unemployment, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment

How to Overcome the Top 5 Fitness Barriers

Sticking to a regular exercise schedule isn’t easy. After all, there are plenty of potential hindrances — time, boredom, injuries, self-confidence. But these issues don’t need to stand in your way.

Darcy Reber, nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, shares practical strategies for overcoming common barriers to fitness.

  1. “I don’t have enough time to exercise.”

Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge. Use a little creativity to get the most out of your time.

Squeeze in exercise throughout the day. If you don’t have time for a full workout, don’t sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too. Additionally, you can try office exercises.

Get up earlier. If your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic, get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.

Drive less, walk more. Park in the back row of the parking lot or a few blocks away and walk to your destination.

Revamp your rituals. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids or best friend could be reborn as your weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool.

  1. “I think exercise is boring.”

More

 

Posted in Commercial Fitness Industry, Human Behavior: Habits, Procrastination | Leave a comment

Treadmill better than Wii Fit free run activity: J Sports Med Phys Fitness

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Is the Wii Fit free run activity a feasible mode of exercise for regular exercisers: a comparison with treadmill running.

Roopchand-Martin SC1, Nelson GA.

Author information

1Section of Physical Therapy, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingson Jamaica – sharmella.roopchandmartin@uwimona.edu.jm.

Abstract

AIM:

This study compared the metabolic responses between treadmill running and the Free Run on the Nintendo Wii when maintaining a constant pace with an aim to see whether this would be a feasible option for exercise in persons who already exercise.

METHODS:

Twenty eight university students, mean age 20.7 ± 1.38 years, participated in a repeated measures study. Subjects completed 10 minutes running on the treadmill at a self selected pace followed by 10 minutes of Free Run on the Nintendo Wii Fit disc. A metronome regulated the running pace during the Free Run activity to match the running pace on the treadmill. Oxygen consumption, caloric expenditure and heart rate were measured with a Cardiocoach Metabolic Cart. Paired t-tests compared the percentage of age predicted maximal oxygen consumption (% VO2max), metabolic equivalents (METs), caloric expenditure and percentage of estimated maximal heart rate (% HRmax) between the two running situations.

RESULTS:

For all variables of interest the mean values for treadmill running was found to be significantly higher than those for the Wii Free Run (P < 0.001). The mean %HRmax and METs categorized both activities as vigorous intensity, however, the Free Run was at the lower end of the ranges whilst treadmill running was at the upper. The mean %VO2max classified treadmill running as vigorous intensity and Wii Free Run as moderate. The Wii Free Run activity can be used as an additional form of exercise for persons who are already engaged in physical activity but should not be considered a replacement for treadmill running by those who run.

Source

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For CKD patients, byproduct of intestinal bacteria may jeopardize heart health

Highlights

  • Blood levels of TMAO, a byproduct generated from intestinal bacterial as they metabolize dietary nutrients, progressively increase with advancing severity of kidney disease.
  • TMAO levels are dramatically reduced when kidney function is restored following kidney transplantation.
  • High TMAO levels are linked with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and premature death in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Washington, DC (July 30, 2015) — In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), atherosclerosis is exceedingly common and contributes to the development of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in this group. New research suggests that an organic byproduct generated by intestinal bacteria may be responsible for the formation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries of individuals with decreased kidney function. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), suggest that targeting this byproduct may be a novel strategy for safeguarding the heart health of patients with CKD.

Trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) is generated by certain intestinal bacteria as they metabolize dietary nutrients called choline and L-carnitine. Research has shown that giving TMAO to rodents promotes atherosclerosis and that humans with higher concentrations of TMAO in the bloodstream are at increased risk of developing heart disease. Because TMAO is cleared from the bloodstream almost exclusively by urinary excretion, the kidneys likely play an important role in maintaining low blood levels of the compound.

In a study of 104 patients with CKD, Jason Stubbs, MD, Alan Yu, MB, BChir (The Kidney Institute at the University of Kansas Medical Center), and their colleagues found that blood levels of TMAO increased as kidney function declined. In a subset of 6 patients who underwent kidney transplantation, the procedure led to a significant drop in TMAO levels. Furthermore, in a separate group of 220 CKD patients, high levels of TMAO in the bloodstream were linked with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and death over a 4-year period.

“Based on evidence that TMAO production is dependent on the metabolism of specific dietary constituents by intestinal bacteria, therapies targeting the generation of TMAO precursors by intestinal bacteria may represent a novel strategy for reducing cardiovascular disease and mortality in patients with CKD,” said Dr. Stubbs.

In an accompanying editorial, W.H. Wilson Tang, MD (Cleveland Clinic) noted that dietary sources of TMAO generation, such as some species of deep-sea fish, eggs, and meat, should be reviewed and possibly reduced in the diets of patients with CKD. He also stressed that there is considerable excitement over the prospects of modulating intestinal microbiota as a therapeutic strategy in CKD. “There is much to learn in this complex relationship between ourselves and the microbes living within,” he wrote.

###

Study co-authors include John House, MS, A. Jacob Ocque, MS, Shiqin Zhang, PhD, Cassandra Johnson, Cassandra Kimber, MD, Kyle Schmidt, Aditi Gupta, MD, James Wetmore, MD, Thomas Nolin, PharmD, PhD, and John Spertus, MD, MPH.

Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.

The article, entitled “Serum Trimethylamine-N-oxide is Elevated in CKD and Correlates with Coronary Atherosclerosis Burden,” will appear online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/ on July 30, 2015.

The editorial, entitled “Trimethylamine N-Oxide as a Novel Therapeutic Target in CKD,” will appear online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/.

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Posted in Nephrology: Chronic Kidney Disease | Leave a comment

Paralyzed men move legs with new non-invasive spinal cord stimulation

Five men with complete motor paralysis were able to voluntarily generate step-like movements thanks to a new strategy that non-invasively delivers electrical stimulation to their spinal cords, according to a new study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. The strategy, called transcutaneous stimulation, delivers electrical current to the spinal cord by way of electrodes strategically placed on the skin of the lower back. This expands to nine the number of completely paralyzed individuals who have achieved voluntary movement while receiving spinal stimulation, though this is the first time the stimulation was delivered non-invasively. Previously it was delivered via an electrical stimulation device surgically implanted on the spinal cord.

In the study, the men’s movements occurred while their legs were suspended in braces that hung from the ceiling, allowing them to move freely without resistance from gravity. Movement in this environment is not comparable to walking; nevertheless, the results signal significant progress towards the eventual goal of developing a therapy for a wide range of individuals with spinal cord injury.

“These encouraging results provide continued evidence that spinal cord injury may no longer mean a life-long sentence of paralysis and support the need for more research,” said Roderic Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at NIH. “The potential to offer a life-changing therapy to patients without requiring surgery would be a major advance; it could greatly expand the number of individuals who might benefit from spinal stimulation. It’s a wonderful example of the power that comes from combining advances in basic biological research with technological innovation.”

The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Francisco; and the Pavlov Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. The team was led by V. Reggie Edgerton, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of integrative biology and physiology at UCLA and Yury Gerasimenko, Ph.D., director of the laboratory of movement physiology at Pavlov Institute and a researcher in UCLA’s Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. They reported their results in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

A man with complete motor paralysis moves his legs voluntarily while receiving electrical stimulation to his spinal cord via electrodes placed on his back. The subject’s legs are supported in braces so that they can move without resistance from gravity. The electrodes on his legs are used for recording muscle activity. Courtesy of Edgerton laboratory/UCLA.

In a study published a little over a year ago, Edgerton — along with Susan Harkema, Ph.D., and Claudia Angeli, Ph.D., from the University of Louisville, Kentucky — reported that four men with complete motor paralysis were able to generate some voluntary movements while receiving electrical stimulation to their spinal cords. The stimulation came from a device called an epidural stimulator that was surgically implanted on the surface of the men’s spinal cords. On the heels of that success, Edgerton and colleagues began developing a strategy for delivering stimulation to the spinal cord non-invasively, believing it could greatly expand the number of paralyzed individuals who could potentially benefit from spinal stimulation.

“There are a lot of individuals with spinal cord injury that have already gone through many surgeries and some of them might not be up to or capable of going through another,” said Edgerton. “The other potentially high impact is that this intervention could be close to one-tenth the cost of an implanted stimulator.”

During this most recent study, five men — each paralyzed for more than two years — underwent a series of 45 minute sessions, once a week, for approximately 18 weeks, to determine the effects of non-invasive electrical stimulation on their ability to move their legs.

In addition to stimulation, the men received several minutes of conditioning each session, during which their legs were moved manually for them in a step-like pattern. The goal of the conditioning was to assess whether physical training combined with electrical stimulation could enhance efforts to move voluntarily. For the final four weeks of the study, the men were given the pharmacological drug buspirone, which mimics the action of serotonin and has been shown to induce locomotion in mice with spinal cord injuries. While receiving the stimulation, the men were instructed at different points to either try to move their legs or to remain passive.

At the initiation of the study, the men’s legs only moved when the stimulation was strong enough to generate involuntary step-like movements. However, when the men attempted to move their legs further while receiving stimulation, their range of movement significantly increased. After just four weeks of receiving stimulation and physical training, the men were able to double their range of motion when voluntarily moving their legs while receiving stimulation. The researchers suggest that this change was due to the ability of electrical stimulation to reawaken dormant connections that may exist between the brain and the spinal cord of patients with complete motor paralysis.

Surprisingly, by the end of the study, and following the addition of buspirone, the men were able to move their legs with no stimulation at all and their range of movement was — on average — the same as when they were moving while receiving stimulation.

“It’s as if we’ve reawakened some networks so that once the individuals learned how to use those networks, they become less dependent and even independent of the stimulation,” said Edgerton.

The researchers also made extensive recordings of electrical signals generated in the calf muscle and the muscle directly below the calf while the men attempted to flex their feet during stimulation. Over time, these signals increased with the same amount of stimulation, further supporting the hypothesis of re-established communication between the brain and spinal cord.

Edgerton has already initiated a new study to see whether these same men can be trained with non-invasive spinal stimulation to fully bear their weight, a feat that the four men with surgically implanted stimulators have already achieved. In addition, he is interested in determining whether, similar to epidural stimulation, non-invasive stimulation can help individuals regain some autonomic functions lost due to paralysis such as the ability to sweat, regulate blood pressure, and control bladder, bowel, and sexual function.

The hope is that further research can help determine whether non-invasive stimulation can restore function that will truly impact patient lives.

Edgerton also wants to test non-invasive stimulation on individuals who have partial paralysis. “We have focused on individuals with complete paralysis throughout this whole process because we knew that was going to be the toughest patient population to see changes in. We’ve always thought, and we have every reason to believe, that those individuals with partial injuries have even more room for improvement,” said Edgerton.

Though a non-invasive stimulation could offer advantages over a surgically implanted device, Edgerton says both need to continue to be developed. For example, a non-invasive stimulator might be useful in determining whether a patient will be receptive to neuromodulation, which could then help determine whether undergoing surgery to implant a stimulator is warranted. Alternatively, Edgerton speculates it may be possible early after an injury for non-invasive stimulation to help patients achieve a certain level of motor control that then allows them to continue to improve with physical rehabilitation and avoid surgery altogether.

“All patients are going to need something slightly different, and maybe non-invasive stimulation is going to be best in some cases and epidural stimulation in others,” said Edgerton. “What we need to do is maximize the clinical tool box that we have so that the physician and the patient can select a therapy that is best for them.”

This research was supported in part by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at NIH under award numbers EB015521, EB007615, and TR000124, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the Walkabout Foundation, and the F. M. Kirby Foundation, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research grant №13-04-12030, the Russian Scientific Fund project № 14-45-00024, the J. Yang and Family Foundation, and the Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellowship.

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Posted in Spinal Cord Injuries | Leave a comment

Aquariums deliver health and wellbeing benefits: University of Exeter

People who spend time watching aquariums and fish tanks could see improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing, according to new research published in the journal Environment & Behavior.

In the first study of its kind, experts from the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University and the University of Exeter assessed people’s physical and mental responses to tanks containing varying levels of fish.

The team found that viewing aquarium displays led to noticeable reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, and that higher numbers of fish helped to hold people’s attention for longer and improve their moods.

Whilst spending time in ‘natural’ environments has been shown to provide calming effects on humans, there has been very little research into the role that underwater settings could have on health and wellbeing. Deborah Cracknell, PhD Student and Lead Researcher at the National Marine Aquarium, conducted the study and believes it provides an important first step in our understanding: “Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms. This study has, for the first time, provided robust evidence that ‘doses’ of exposure to underwater settings could actually have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.”

The researchers benefited from a unique opportunity in order to conduct their study when the National Marine Aquarium refurbished one of its main exhibits – in a large 550,000 litre tank – and began a phased introduction of different fish species.

They were able to assess the mood, heart rate and blood pressure of study participants in precisely the same setting as fish numbers in the exhibit gradually increased.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor in Psychology at Plymouth University, said: “While large public aquariums typically focus on their educational mission, our study suggests they could offer a number of previously undiscovered benefits. In times of higher work stress and crowded urban living, perhaps aquariums can step in and provide an oasis of calm and relaxation.”

Dr Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter, said: “Our findings have shown improvements for health and wellbeing in highly managed settings, providing an exciting possibility for people who aren’t able to access outdoor natural environments. If we can identify the mechanisms that underpin the benefits we’re seeing, we can effectively bring some of the ‘outside inside’ and improve the wellbeing of people without ready access to nature.”

Source

Posted in Human Behavior: Calm, Meditation, Mindfulness, Well Being | Leave a comment

Hormones Influence Unethical Behavior: University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

AUSTIN, Texas — Hormones play a two-part role in encouraging and reinforcing cheating and other unethical behavior, according to research from Harvard University and The University of Texas at Austin.

With cheating scandals a persistent threat on college campuses and financial fraud costing businesses more than $3.7 trillion annually, UT Austin and Harvard researchers looked to hormones for more answers, specifically the reproductive hormone testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol.

According to the study, the endocrine system plays a dual role in unethical acts. First, elevated hormone levels predict likelihood of cheating. Then, a change of hormone levels during the act reinforces the behavior.

“Although the science of hormones and behavior dates back to the early 19th century, only recently has research revealed just how powerful and pervasive the influence of the endocrine system is on human behavior,” said the corresponding author and UT Austin professor of psychology Robert Josephs.

Researchers asked 117 participants to complete a math test, grade it themselves and self-report the number of correctly completed problems. The more problems they got correct, the more money they would earn.

From salivary samples collected before and after the test, researchers found that individuals with elevated levels of testosterone and cortisol were more likely to overstate the number of correctly solved problems.

“Elevated testosterone decreases the fear of punishment while increasing sensitivity to reward. Elevated cortisol is linked to an uncomfortable state of chronic stress that can be extremely debilitating,” Josephs said. “Testosterone furnishes the courage to cheat, and elevated cortisol provides a reason to cheat.”

Additionally, participants who cheated showed lowered levels of cortisol and reported reductions in emotional distress after the test, as if cheating provided some sort of stress relief.

”The stress reduction is accompanied by a powerful stimulation of the reward centers in the brain, so these physiological psychological changes have the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing the unethical behavior,” Josephs said.

Because neither hormone without the other predicted unethical behavior, lowering levels of either hormone may prevent unethical episodes. Prior research shows that tasks that reward groups rather than individuals can eliminate the influence of testosterone on performance; and, many stress relieving techniques such as yoga, meditation and exercise reduce levels of cortisol, Josephs said.

“The take-home message from our studies is that appeals based on ethics and morality — the carrot approach — and those based on threats of punishment — the stick approach — may not be effective in preventing cheating,” Josephs said. “By understanding the underlying causal mechanism of cheating, we might be able to design interventions that are both novel and effective.”

The UT Austin and Harvard study “Hormones and ethics: Understanding the biological basis of unethical conduct” will be published in the August 2015 edition of Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Posted in Health Care: Ethics, Hormones, Human Behavior: Ethics | Leave a comment

Black men are at double the risk of prostate cancer compared to white men

Black men in England are at double the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with, and dying from, prostate cancer compared with white men in England, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

The study also finds that Asian men have around half the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with, and dying from, prostate cancer compared with white men in England. The new figures could help individuals better understand their risk of developing prostate cancer and make an informed decision about whether or not to have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with 41,736 diagnoses in 2011, and it is predicted to become the UK’s most commonly diagnosed cancer overall by 2030.

Researchers from Prostate Cancer UK and Public Health England estimated that the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer in England is approximately 1 in 8 (13.3%) for white men, 1 in 4 (29.3%) for black men (including Black African, Black Caribbean and Other Black) and 1 in 13 (7.9%) for Asian men (including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Other Asian).

The lifetime risk of dying from prostate cancer in England is estimated to be approximately 1 in 24 (4.2%) for white men, 1 in 12 (8.7%) for black men and 1 in 44 (2.3%) for Asian men.

Lead author Alison Cooper from Prostate Cancer UK said: “We already knew that black men were more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men, however, the data we had was fast becoming out of date. The study also provides important absolute risk figures to help black men better understand their risk of developing prostate cancer. These figures can be used for targeted awareness-raising and to help them make an informed decision about whether or not to have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.”

The researchers studied prostate cancer incidence and mortality data for England for the period 2008-2010 from a combination of sources including Public Health England, Office for National Statistics, and the national census, yielding a total sample size of 25,635,649 men, including 102,252 prostate cancer diagnoses and 26,521 deaths due to prostate cancer.

When comparing the lifetime risk of dying from prostate cancer with the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, within each ethnic group, the results show that white, black and Asian men with a prostate cancer diagnosis all have a one third chance of dying from the disease, independent of their ethnicity. Nonetheless, proportionally more black men are dying from prostate cancer in England, since proportionally more are diagnosed in the first place.

The authors caution that each individual man’s risk is different and will vary based on a combination of factors in addition to ethnicity, such as age, family history of prostate cancer, and body weight.

The study does not provide reasons for the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men, and the authors say further work is needed to understand the mechanisms behind this higher than average risk.

The analyses were based on a number of assumptions and considerations, most of which were required to address the lack of available data by ethnicity. The authors say that this highlights the urgent need for more routine collection of data that captures ethnicity. Some records were also based on self-reported ethnicity data, and the study does not provide information on men of mixed ethnicity.

Source

Posted in Cancer: Prostate, Health Care: Disparities | Leave a comment

A Framework for Understanding Poverty

People in poverty face challenges virtually unknown to those in middle class or wealth–challenges from both obvious and hidden sources. The reality of being poor brings out a survival mentality, and turns attention away from opportunities taken for granted by everyone else.

If you work with people from poverty, some understanding of how different their world is from yours will be invaluable. Whether you’re an educator–or a social, health, or legal services professional–this breakthrough book gives you practical, real-world support and guidance to improve your effectiveness in working with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Since 1995 A Framework for Understanding Poverty has guided hundreds of thousands of educators and other professionals through the pitfalls and barriers faced by all classes, especially the poor.

Carefully researched and packed with charts, tables, and questionaires, Framework not only documents the facts of poverty, it provides practical yet compassionate strategies for addressing its impact on people’s lives.

Author Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. is founder of aha! Process and an author, speaker, publisher, and career educator. Recognized internationally for A Framework for Understanding Poverty, her foundational book and workshop, Dr. Payne has helped students and adults of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success. As an expert on the mindsets of economic classes and overcoming the hurdles of poverty, she has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals who work with people from poverty, from educators and school administrators to community, church, and business leaders. She has presented to groups in every state in the U.S. and more than 10 countries.

Source: Amazon

Posted in Homelessness, Poverty | Leave a comment

Juvenile arthritis: why genetic risk is not in the genes

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Scientists have been finding that genetic risk for many diseases lies primarily in noncoding parts of the genome, which used to be called “junk DNA,” and not in the genes themselves. But that finding naturally begs more questions about what these noncoding regions do to cause a disease and how.

Now, University at Buffalo medical researchers who study juvenile idiopathic arthritis (also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) have figured out some important answers.

The paper, was published in June, online before print, in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

“Juvenile arthritis is often thought of as an autoimmune disease,” said James N. Jarvis, MD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “That would mean a disease that emerges because the immune system gets mixed up in its ability to distinguish from itself what’s foreign, for example, a bacteria or a virus. The trouble is, no one could ever figure out why so many areas of the genome that seemed to convey genetic risk for juvenile arthritis weren’t located in genes that control that process.”

The new data suggest a more nuanced paradigm, involving human neutrophils, the white blood cells that fight infections and which are part of the innate immune system, which instantly responds to an injury or infection. Jarvis is one of the few researchers who has been studying their role in JIA.

“Neutrophils are actually the most abundant cell in the inflamed joints of children with juvenile arthritis,” explained Jarvis, who also sees patients through UBMD Pediatrics.

Jarvis and his colleagues sequenced ribonucleic acid (RNA) from the neutrophils of 16 children with a form of JIA. In addition, they looked at gene control switches in both neutrophils and CD4+ T cells, which also fight infections, from healthy adults.

“Different cell types have slightly different ‘control switches,’ located in and around the DNA, to regulate and coordinate the turning on and off of specific genes,” Jarvis said. “We show that there are important ‘control switches’ in neutrophils that lie right in the middle of the regions where other investigators have identified genetic risk for this disease.”

He explained that finding that neutrophils play a key role in juvenile arthritis demonstrates that the disease involves the innate immune system, which operates almost instantly when someone experiences an injury or infection.

“It’s the innate immune system that causes, for example, the redness and swelling that you get around a cut or a bruise,” Jarvis explained. “People have assumed that because JIA is a chronic disease, that innate immunity must not be very important. We have shown that it is. The new paper reinforces some of our previous findings showing that genetic risk for JIA resides in neutrophils, some of the most important elements in the innate immune system.”

These regions also happen to be strongly affected by epigenetic changes, DNA changes that don’t alter DNA sequencing, but which are influenced by factors in both the genomic environment and the individual’s environment, including lifestyle, behavior, exposure to pollutants and many other factors.

“Our paper shows that genetic risk and epigenetic risk are closely linked in JIA, as most of the genetic risk occurs in regions of the genome where epigenetic influences also are operating,” he said.

UB co-authors with Jarvis are Kaiya Jiang, research scientist in pediatrics; Lisha Zhu, PhD, post-doctoral associate in biochemistry; Michael J. Buck, PhD, assistant professor in biochemistry; Yanmin Chen, research technician in pediatrics; Bradley Carrier, a medical student; and Tao Liu, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Arthritis Foundation.

Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is beginning a new chapter in its history with the largest medical education building under construction in the nation. The eight-story, 628,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2017. The new location puts superior medical education, clinical care and pioneering research in close proximity, anchoring Buffalo’s evolving comprehensive academic health center in a vibrant downtown setting. These new facilities will better enable the school to advance health and wellness across the life span for the people of New York and the world through research, clinical care and the education of tomorrow’s leaders in health care and biomedical sciences. The school’s faculty and residents provide care for the community’s diverse populations through strong clinical partnerships and the school’s practice plan, UBMD.

– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/07/040.html#sthash.ZnSnp0Hv.dpuf

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3,300,000 Magnetic and Dry Erase Boards Recalled Due to Laceration Hazard

Recall Summary

Name of product: Quartet Magnetic and Dry Erase Boards

Hazard:

Sharp metal edges on the back of the boards can become exposed while removing mounted boards, posing a laceration hazard.

Consumer Contact: ACCO Brands at (800) 611-6654 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or online at www.Quartet.com and click the link “Important Safety Information – Wall Mounted Dry Erase Boards” for more information.

Report an Incident Involving this Product

Recall Details

Units

About 3.3 Million

Description

This recall involves eight styles of Quartet magnetic and dry erase boards, including calendar styles and combination boards with push pins. The boards were sold between January 2005 and December 2013, in eight sizes: 5 ½ x 14, 8 ½ x 11, 11 ½ x 11 ½, 11 x 17, 12 x 12, 14 x14, 17 x 17 and 17 x 23, and in various colors including white, silver, black, blue, green, pink, purple, grey and multicolor. The Quartet logo is printed on the bottom of the boards.

Incidents/Injuries

The firm has received seven reports of hand, finger and foot laceration injuries, including four that required stitches.

Remedy

Consumers should immediately contact ACCO for a caution label that instructs consumers to wear heavy gloves when removing the boards. This recall does not require that consumers remove the mounted boards. Consumers should affix the caution label with safe removal instructions for when needed.

Sold at

Ace Hardware, Fred Meyer, Menards, Office Depot and other stores nationwide and online from January 2005 through December 2013 for between $5 and $10.

Importer(s)

ACCO Brands Corp., of Lake Zurich, Ill.

Manufactured in

China

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18,500 crib mattresses recalled for flammability

Recall Summary

Name of product: Foam crib mattresses

Hazard:

The crib mattresses fail to meet the mandatory federal mattress flammability standard for open flames, posing a fire hazard.

Consumer Contact: Stork Craft at (800) 274-0277 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. PT, by email at parts@storkcraft.com, or online at http://storkcraftdirect.com and click on Product Recall near the bottom of the page for more information.

Report an Incident Involving this Product

Recall Details

Units

About 18,500

Description

This recall involves Stork Craft foam crib and crib/toddler mattresses with model numbers 06710-100 and 06710-200 and a date of manufacture between August 2014 and January 2015. The mattresses have a zippered white fabric cover and measure about 28 inches wide, 52 inches long and have a 5 inch thick foam core. The model number, date of manufacture and “Stork Craft Manufacturing (USA) Inc.” are printed on white federal label attached to the white mattress cover. The mattresses’ box has a Graco logo.

Incidents/Injuries

None reported

Remedy

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled crib mattresses and contact Stork Craft for a free, zippered mattress barrier cover to be placed over the mattress foam core and under the white mattress cover provided with the mattress.

Sold at

Walmart stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, EChannel.com, ToysRUs.com, Walmart.com and Wayfair.com from August 2014 through April 2015 for between $38 and $50.

Importer(s)

Stork Craft Manufacturing USA Inc., of Las Vegas, Nev.

Manufactured in

China

Posted in Pediatric Health: Day Care, Pediatric Health: Infants, Recalls | Leave a comment