For Preventing Diseases of Aging, a New Mindset is Needed

Newswise — Medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.

Researchers writing in the journal Nature say that by treating the metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, it may be possible to help people stay healthy into their 70s and 80s.

In a commentary published July 24 in Nature, a trio of aging experts calls for moving forward with preclinical and clinical strategies that have been shown to delay aging in animals. In addition to promoting a healthy diet and regular exercise, these strategies include slowing the metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, such as the incremental accumulation of cellular damage that occurs over time.

The researchers, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Brescia University in Italy, the Buck Institute for Aging and Research and the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, write that economic incentives in biomedical research and health care reward treating disease more than promoting good health.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician or an economist to understand that our current health care approach is not sustainable,” said first author Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and nutrition at Washington University and Brescia University. “As targeting diseases has helped people live longer, they are spending more years being sick with multiple disorders related to aging, and that’s expensive,” said

The diseases of old age — such as heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease — tend to come as a package, the researchers write. More than 70 percent of people over age 65 have two or more chronic diseases. But, they noted, studies of diet, genes and drugs indicate that interventions targeted to specific molecular pathways that delay one age-related disease often stave off others, too.

“Heart failure doesn’t happen all at once,” Fontana said. “It takes 30 or 40 years of an unhealthy lifestyle and activation of aging-related pathways from metabolic abnormalities such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes to give a person heart failure in his 60s. So we propose using lifestyle interventions — such as a personalized healthy diet and exercise program — to down-regulate aging pathways so the patient avoids heart failure in the first place.”

His own research has highlighted potential benefits from dietary restriction in extending healthy life span. He has found that people who eat significantly fewer calories, while still getting optimal nutrition, have “younger,” more flexible hearts. They also have significantly lower blood pressure, much less inflammation in their bodies and their skeletal muscles function in ways similar to muscles in people who are significantly younger.

Fontana and his co-authors also point out that several molecular pathways shown to increase longevity in animals also are affected by approved and experimental drugs, including rapamycin, an anticancer and organ-rejection drug, and metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Numerous natural and synthetic molecules affect pathways shared by aging, diabetes and its related metabolic syndrome. Also, healthy diets and calorie restriction are known to help animals live up to 50 percent longer.

But it’s been difficult to capitalize on research advances to stall aging in people. Fontana and his colleagues write that most clinicians don’t realize how much already is understood about the molecular mechanisms of aging and their link to chronic diseases. And scientists don’t understand precisely how the drugs that affect aging pathways work.

Fontana and his colleagues contend that the time is right for moving forward with preclinical and clinical trials of the most promising findings from animal studies. They also call for developing well-defined endpoints to determine whether work in animals will translate to humans. They are optimistic on that front because it appears that the nutrient-sensing and aging-related pathways in humans are very similar to those that have been targeted to help animals live longer and healthier lives.

But challenges abound. The most important change, they argue, is in mindset. Economic incentives in biomedical research and health care reward treating diseases more than promoting good health, they note.

“But public money must be invested in extending healthy lifespan by slowing aging. Otherwise, we will founder in a demographic crisis of increased disability and escalating health care costs,” they write in Nature.

“The combination of an aging population with an increased burden of chronic diseases and the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes could soon make healthy care unaffordable for all but the richest people,” Fontana added.

Fontana, L. Kennedy BK, Longo V. Treat ageing: prepare for human testing. Nature, vol. 511 (7510), pp. 405-406. July 24, 2014

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Metformin

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Sleep deprivation may increase susceptibility to false memories

Not getting enough sleep may increase the likelihood of forming false memories, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In a study conducted by psychological scientist Steven J. Frenda of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues, sleep-deprived people who viewed photographs of a crime being committed and then read false information about the photos were more likely to report remembering the false details in the photos than were those who got a full night’s sleep.

Research has demonstrated that failing to get your full eight hours interferes with cognitive functioning, but Frenda noticed a gap in the literature when it came to sleep and memory.

“Over the years I noticed that whenever I had a bad night’s sleep, my perception and memory seemed to get fuzzy until I had a good recovery sleep,” explains Frenda. “I was surprised to find that there were so few empirical studies connecting sleep deprivation with memory distortion in an eyewitness context. The studies that do exist look mostly at sleep deprived people’s ability to accurately remember lists of words—not real people, places and events.”

A preliminary study conducted by Frenda and colleagues suggested that getting 5 hours of sleep or less was associated with the formation of false memories. The researchers then designed an experiment to investigate whether pulling an all-nighter would increase the likelihood of forming false memories.

Upon arriving to the lab in the late evening, the 104 college-age participants were assigned to one of four groups. Two groups were presented with a series of photos depicting a crime being committed as soon as they arrived to the lab — one group was then allowed to go to sleep, while the other group had to stay awake all night in the lab. The remaining two groups did things in the reverse order — they either slept or stayed awake all night and then viewed the crime photos in the morning.

In the second part of the experiment, the participants read narratives containing statements that contradicted what the photographs actually showed. For instance, a text description might say that the thief put a stolen wallet in his pants pocket, whereas the photo shows him putting it in his jacket.

The researchers found that only those students who had been sleep deprived for all parts of the experiment — that is, they viewed the photos, read the narratives, and took the memory test after having stayed up all night — were more likely to report the false details from the text narrative as having been present in the crime photos.

The students who viewed the photos before staying up all night, however, were no more susceptible to false memories than the students who’d been allowed to sleep.

The researchers believe these findings have important legal applications:

“Recent studies are suggesting that people are getting fewer hours of sleep on average, and chronic sleep deprivation is on the rise,” says Frenda. “Our findings have implications for the reliability of eyewitnesses who may have experienced long periods of restricted or deprived sleep.”

Frenda concludes that more research is necessary before scientists can provide law enforcement with evidence-based guidelines on how to best ensure that eyewitnesses’ memories are accurate:

“We are running new experiments now, in order to better understand the influence of sleep deprivation on processes related to false memory.”

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In addition to Frenda, co-authors on the study include Lawrence Patihis and Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, and Holly Lewis and Kimberly Fenn of Michigan State University.

The article abstract is available online: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/07/15/0956797614534694.abstract

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Monitoring Pulse After Stroke May Prevent a Second Stroke

Newswise — MINNEAPOLIS – New research suggests that regularly monitoring your pulse after a stroke or the pulse of a loved one who has experienced a stroke may be a simple and effective first step in detecting irregular heartbeat, a major cause of having a second stroke. The study is published in the July 23, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Screening pulse is the method of choice for checking for irregular heartbeat for people over age 65 who have never had a stroke. Our study shows it may be a safe, effective, noninvasive and easy way to identify people who might need more thorough monitoring to prevent a second stroke,” said study author Bernd Kallmünzer, MD, with Erlangen University in Erlangen, Germany.

For the study, 256 people who had experienced a type of stroke called an acute ischemic stroke and the patients´ relatives were given instructions on measuring the pulse to detect irregular heartbeat, one type of which is called atrial fibrillation. The measurements taken from the participants and health care professionals were then compared to a recording of electrical activity in the heart, which showed that 57 of the participants had irregular heartbeats.

The study found that pulse measurement taken by health care professionals had a sensitivity of nearly 97 percent and a specificity of 94 percent in detecting irregular heartbeats. Sensitivity is the percentage of actual positives that are correctly identified as positive, and specificity is the percentage of negatives that are correctly identified. For patients’ relatives, the sensitivity was 77 percent and the specificity was 93 percent.

For patients taking their own measurements, 89 percent performed reliable measurements with a sensitivity of 54 percent and specificity of 96 percent. False positive results occurred in six people and false negative results in 17 people.

“The low rate of false positives in this study shows that health care professionals, caregivers and patients can be guided to use this simple tool as a first step in helping to prevent a second stroke,” said Kallmünzer.

To learn more about stroke, please visit www.aan.com/patients.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 28,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

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Dogs exhibit jealous behavior: UCSD researchers

Dogs exhibit more jealous behaviors, like snapping or pushing their owner, when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog compared to random objects, according to a study published July 23, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Christine Harris and Caroline Prouvost from UC San Diego.

Scientists generally view jealousy as an emotion requiring complex cognition, but some research suggests there may be a more basic form of jealousy, which evolved to protect social bonds from interlopers. Scientists predict that jealousy, at its most basic level, might even exist in other social species, like the cognitively sophisticated dog. To evaluate dogs’ jealous behaviors, scientists modified a test used to assess jealousy in 6-month old infants. Thirty-six dogs were individually tested and videotaped while their owners ignored them and interacted with a series of three different objects: a realistic looking stuffed dog, a jack-o-lantern, and a book. The three tests were set up to test whether dogs’ behaviors were indicative of jealousy or a more general negative affect due to the loss of the owner’s attention. The dogs’ behavior was then analyzed for aggression, attention seeking, and/or interest in the owner or object.

The authors found that dogs exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors, such as snapping, getting between the owner and object, and pushing or touching the object or owner, when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog as compared to the two nonsocial objects. These results support the idea that jealousy may have some primordial form that exists in human infants and in at least one other social species: dogs. The author’s findings support the view that jealousy evolved to secure resources, not just in the context of sexual relationships, but also in any of a wide-range of valued relationships, such as competing for parental resources such as food, attention, care, and affection.

Christine Harris added, “Many people have assumed that jealousy is a social construction of human beings–or that it’s an emotion specifically tied to sexual and romantic relationships. Our results challenge these ideas, showing that animals besides ourselves display strong distress whenever a rival usurps a loved one’s affection.”

 

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Access to the freely available paper: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094597

Citation: Harris CR, Prouvost C (2014) Jealousy in Dogs. PLoS ONE 9(7): e94597. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094597

Funding: This research was not supported by any funding agency. It was performed in CH’s position as a professor at UCSD with volunteer subjects.

Competing Interest: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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For low back pain, paracetamol does not ‘speed recovery or reduce pain’

(Reuters) – Paracetamol, a painkiller universally recommended to treat people with acute low back pain, does not speed recovery or reduce pain from the condition, according to the results of a large trial published on Thursday.

A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that the popular pain medicine was no better than placebo, or dummy pills, for hastening recovery from acute bouts of low back pain or easing pain levels, function, sleep or quality of life.

Researchers said the findings challenge the universal endorsement of paracetamol as the first choice painkiller for lower back pain.

“We need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol as a first-line treatment,” said Christopher Williams, who led the study at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States alone, costs relating to the condition are estimated to be more than $100 billion a year.

Currently, every back pain treatment guideline in the world recommends paracetamol as the first-line analgesic and Williams said this was despite the fact that no previous studies have provided robust evidence that it works in this condition.

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The Top 10 Unhappiest Cities in the US

It’s no surprise that residents of cities on the decline like Detroit and Indianapolis are some of the unhappiest people in the country. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University found that happiness in cities is greater when a city is growing—and one thing that America’s old rust belt cities don’t have is newcomers eager to move in. But the city that tops the list as the most unhappy in America is no bankrupt old steel mill town — It’s New York City.

By using data gathered from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the research team found that New York is the most miserable American city with over 1 million people, despite its denizens being among the highest paid in the country. As the researchers put it, people who live in unhappier cities actually receive higher wages, “presumably as compensation for their misery.”

What about the happiest cities? Well, the Richmond-Petersburg metropolitan area in Virginia ranked as the happiest in the country with over 1 million residents, and many of the most joyful cities appear to be scattered about the south in sunnier climes.

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Urban Environmental Health

 

 

Posted in Environmental Health: Urban, Human Behavior: Anger, Human Behavior: Happiness | 1 Comment

How does Parkinson’s disease affect brain function?

A major challenge in biomedical research is to understand brain function and how it is affected in brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. The basic functional unit in the brain is the nerve cell and understanding communication between nerve cells at a fundamental level – and how these connections are damaged – will help us to understand how the brain works, and what goes wrong in disease.

Dr Jones’s research focuses on the properties of dopamine-releasing nerve cells in the brain. These cells are involved in movement control and show the most obvious pathology in Parkinson’s disease. Her team investigates how protein molecules expressed at the cell surface are regulated from inside and outside the nerve cell, and the role of these protein molecules in the survival and death of dopamine-releasing nerve cells. These questions can only be addressed through the use of living, functioning mammalian brain cells and so their experiments are carried out on brain tissue extracted from rats and mice after they have been deeply anaesthetized. Rats and mice are the lowest mammalian species suitable for our studies. Some of the experiments use brain tissue from mice with a genetic modification in a particular protein. These mice have no obvious changes in health and wellbeing compared to mice without genetic modifications.

The findings from these studies should provide new information on the role of specific protein molecules in dopamine nerve cell function and mechanisms of cell survival and death in the mammalian brain. Potentially, they may identify mechanisms of regulation and modulation that could be exploited therapeutically in neurological disorders, notably in Parkinson’s disease.

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Caffeine may worsen menopausal hot flashes, night sweats: Mayo Clinic

Newswise — ROCHESTER, Minn. — A new Mayo Clinic study, published online today by the journal Menopause, found an association between caffeine intake and more bothersome hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. The study also showed an association between caffeine intake and fewer problems with mood, memory and concentration in perimenopausal women, possibly because caffeine is known to enhance arousal, mood and attention. The findings of this largest study to date on caffeine and menopausal symptoms are published on the Menopause website and will also be printed in a future issue of the journal.

For the study, researchers conducted a survey using the Menopause Health Questionnaire, a comprehensive assessment of menopause-related health information that includes personal habits and ratings of menopausal symptom presence and severity. Questionnaires were completed by 2,507 consecutive women who presented with menopausal concerns at the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester between July 25, 2005, and July 25, 2011. Data from 1,806 women who met all inclusion criteria were analyzed. Menopausal symptom ratings were compared between caffeine users and nonusers.

Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population consumes some form of caffeine-containing beverage daily. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) are the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms, occurring in 79 percent of perimenopausal women and 65 percent of postmenopausal women. Although it has long been believed that caffeine intake exacerbates menopausal vasomotor symptoms, research has challenged this assumption, as caffeine has been both positively and negatively linked to hot flashes.

“While these findings are preliminary, our study suggests that limiting caffeine intake may be useful for those postmenopausal women who have bothersome hot flashes and night sweats,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., director of the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “Menopause symptoms can be challenging but there are many management strategies to try.”

Other strategies Dr. Faubion recommends include:
• Be aware of triggers such as spicy foods and hot beverages.
• In addition to caffeine, limit alcohol and tobacco.
• Dress in layers, so you can remove a layer when you’re warm.
• Consider products to stay cool at night such as wicking sheets and sleepwear, fans, and cooling pillows.
• Try stress management strategies such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture and massage.
• Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and stay active.
• Talk with your provider about hormone therapy and non-hormonal prescription medications to alleviate symptoms.

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Caffeine

Menopause

 

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Hormone Balance

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Showers may be linked to Crohn’s disease: Lancaster U researchers

Humans may be exposed to bacteria linked with Crohn’s disease through fine spray from showers and rivers according to research led by Lancaster University.

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map) is a bacterial pathogen that causes Johne’s disease in animals, particularly cattle, and is significantly associated with Crohn’s disease (CD) in humans, both chronic inflammatory conditions, mainly of the intestine.

This is the first study – published in Pathogens – to provide evidence that fine water spray from both domestic showers and rivers is an exposure route for the bacteria to humans and may play a role in the development of Crohn’s Disease.

Professor Roger Pickup from Lancaster University’s Faculty of Health and Medicine led the collaborative research partnership together with the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Lancaster, Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Cardiff University and Kings College London.

The team examined domestic showers from different regions in the U.K. and detected Map in three out of 30 independent samples, providing a route for human exposure by fine water spray.

Professor Pickup said: “We recommend that in line with precautions against Legionnaires’ Disease, that showers should be run for a short period before use, particularly those that have not been used for a while.”

Previous studies by the same team have shown the Map bacteria to be present in UK rivers due to land deposition from chronic livestock infection and runoff driven by rainfall.

They also found Map bacteria in five aerosol samples collected above the River Taff in Wales.

The researchers said it was possible that that the significant clusters of Crohn’s Disease patients in Cardiff are, in part, due to inhalation of Map in fine water spray generated from the river and presented by the prevailing winds.

Inhalation has been shown as a route for the infection of cattle and lung involvement is well described in adults with Crohn’s disease; the disease in children often begins with a cough and a mild inflammation of the throat and lungs. Initial invasion via the oral route followed by Map’s substantial tissue tropism for the gut may result in chronic inflammation of the intestine.

Although Map is difficult in to detect humans and even more difficult to culture, recent data has shown it to be significantly associated with Crohn’s disease and, if appropriate tests are done correctly, that almost everyone with chronic inflammation of the gut of the Crohn’s disease type is found to be infected with this chronic enteric pathogen.

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Crohn’s Disease

Indfoor Pollution

 


Earth Friendly Products Shower Cleaner with Tea Tree Oil, 22-Ounce (Pack of 2)

 

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TIME magazine: Have the Feds Made School Food Worse with Government-Approved Junk?

By Michelle Simon

Last week I attended the School Nutrition Association’s annual meeting in Boston, a gathering of the nation’s school food service workers. While most of the controversy lately has focused on the federally-required improvements to nutrition standards for school lunches, getting lost in the shuffle are new standards coming online this fall for school snacks and beverages.

These foods are known collectively as “competitive foods” because they compete with the school meal program; think kids eating their lunches out of vending machines. With schools desperate for extra cash, the likes of Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay take full advantage by hawking their unhealthy products to schoolchildren.

This problem caused Congress and the White House to include in its 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requirements that U.S. Department of Agriculture set nutrition guidelines for foods sold outside the school meal program. (Thanks to a lawsuit filed by the soda lobby some thirty years ago, a court found that USDA had no authority over soda and junk food, and it’s taken this long to correct that decision.)

To help guide USDA, the Institute of Medicine made science-based recommendations to the agency for the best nutritional approach. But as often happens in Washington, what starts out as a public health policy comes out the other end as industry-friendly, watered down rules.

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MyPlate.gov

Limit junk food marketing, expand free school meals: US First Lady

Fed school lunch program cuts child obesity by 17 percent: Iowa State

Limit junk food marketing, expand free school meals: US First Lady – See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/limit-junk-food-marketing-expanding-free-school-meals-us-first-lady/nutrition-marketing/#sthash.ydWwT5Tw.dpuf

 

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Obesity linked to low endurance, increased fatigue in the workplace: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — U.S. workplaces may need to consider innovative methods to prevent fatigue from developing in employees who are obese. Based on results from a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH), workers who are obese may have significantly shorter endurance times when performing workplace tasks, compared with their non-obese counterparts.

The study, conducted at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., examined the endurance of 32 individuals in four categories (non-obese young, obese young, non-obese older, and obese older) who completed three distinct tasks that involved a range of upper extremity demands — hand grip, intermittent shoulder elevation, and a simulated assembly operation. Each task involved periods of work and rest, and included pacing demands similar to those experienced by workers in manufacturing settings.

“Our findings indicated that on average, approximately 40 percent shorter endurance times were found in the obese group, with the largest differences in the hand grip and simulated assembly tasks. During those tasks, individuals in the obese group also exhibited greater declines in task performance, though this difference was only evident among females,” said Lora A. Cavuoto, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, in Buffalo, New York.

In addition to examining how obesity affected physical demands and capacity, Cavuoto and her colleagues looked at the interactive effect of obesity and age on endurance times.

“Previous studies have indicated that both age and obesity lead to decreased mobility, particularly when it comes to walking and performing lower extremity tasks. However, we found no evidence of an interactive effect of obesity and age on endurance times, which is contrary to previous findings,” said Maury A. Nussbaum, PhD, a professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech, who also worked on the study.

Obesity is associated with physiological changes at the muscular level, including a decrease in blood flow, thereby limiting the supply of oxygen and energy sources. When performing sustained contractions, these physiological changes may lead to a faster onset of muscle fatigue. The prevalence of obesity has doubled over the past three decades, and this increase has been associated with more healthcare costs, higher rates of workplace injury, and a greater number of lost workdays.

According to Cavuoto and Nussbaum, the results from this and related studies will contribute to a better understanding of the ergonomic impacts of obesity and age, which is important for describing the link between personal factors and the risk of workplace injury.

“Workers who are obese may need longer rest breaks to return to their initial state of muscle function. Based on the increased fatigue found among workers who are obese, workplace designers may need to consider adding fixtures and supports to minimize the amount of time that body mass segments need to be supported. We believe our results will help to develop more inclusive ergonomic guidelines,” said Cavuoto.

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Read the full study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15459624.2014.887848#.UvFEe2JdWTM

JOEH is published jointly by the American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists® (ACGIH). JOEH enhances the knowledge and practice of occupational and environmental hygiene and safety. It provides a written medium for the communication of ideas, methods, processes, and research in the areas of occupational, industrial, and environmental hygiene; exposure assessment; engineering controls; occupational and environmental epidemiology, medicine, and toxicology; ergonomics; and other related disciplines.

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Obesity and the Workplace

Other Workplace Issues


Workplace Wellness: Performance with a Purpose: Achieving Health Dividends for Employers and Employees

Posted in Human Behavior: Fatigue, Obesity, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment

10 of the most under-appreciated professions

Your job may not be as thankless as you think it is—at least maybe not when you compare it to this list. All of these professions have one thing in common: no one usually notices them until something goes wrong.

According to a new book by David Zweig, Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, the most successful people with these careers share three common traits: “ambivalence toward recognition,” “meticulousness,” and “savoring of responsibility.” In other words, people who do these jobs well don’t care that you don’t know their names because they take pride in their work being done well. What a concept.

Thanks to their shared ambivalence, here are 10 under-appreciated professions that you might never have heard of:

Graphic designers

The importance of this profession made national headlines in 2000, when the poor design of Florida’s presidential ballot confused voters and likely cost Al Gore the election. Theresa LePore, who created the misleading ballot, received hate mail and death threats, but she also brought attention to the silent art and brilliance of many successful graphic designers.

See the other nine.

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Quarantine after China plague death

Part of a city in north-west China has been sealed off and dozens of people placed in quarantine after a man died of bubonic plague, state media say.

The man died in Yumen city, Gansu province, on 16 July.

A total of 151 people have been placed under observation, Xinhua news agency says. Authorities have isolated a part of the city centre and three sections of Chijin town which is an hour away.

The man was believed to have caught the infection after contact with a marmot.

Marmots are large, squirrel-type rodents that live in mountainous areas.

The victim is reported to be a 38-year-old man who had fed a dead marmot to his dog.

The deputy head of the hospital where the man died told reporters that the victim had arrived with an increased heart-rate and seemed to be slipping into shock. The hospital has since been quarantined.

It is not clear from reports how big the four quarantine zones are. Ten checkpoints have been set up around Yumen and Chijin.

Those in quarantine all had contact with the man, Xinhua said. None was showing signs of infection, it said.

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Concrete Acts of Kindness Boost Happiness, Shows Research from Stanford Graduate School of Business

STANFORD, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Almost everyone wants to be happy, but surprisingly few people know exactly how to make themselves so.

A growing body of research has identified one reliable path to greater personal happiness: engaging in a rewarding activity — particularly one that involves doing something nice for someone else. Acts of kindness not only benefit the recipient but also “create a pleasurable ‘helper’s high’ that benefits the giver,” says Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Jennifer Aaker, who has studied the phenomenon with University of Houston’s Melanie Rudd and Michael I. Norton of the Harvard Business School.

Indeed, studies show that people who regularly do volunteer work report greater happiness and less depression than those who don’t; performing five random acts of kindness a day for six weeks has been shown to boost happiness, as has spending money on others rather than on oneself. “Telling people to do good things for others appears to be a good strategy for personal happiness,” says Aaker. “But what is less clear is the best way to create that ‘helper’s high.’”

To pinpoint what kinds of generous acts produce the biggest spike in happiness, Aaker and her coauthors looked at the types of feelings generated by various good deeds. Their new research shows that the way people approach performing acts of kindness can have a dramatic effect on the happiness they experience. In a nutshell: It’s much better to frame philanthropic goals in concrete terms than in abstract ones.

The authors demonstrate that givers with a specific, concrete agenda — trying to make someone smile, for instance — experience greater happiness than those pursuing a more abstract goal, like trying to make someone “happy.”

“This insight is important because nearly all of us are trying to make other people in our lives happy. Parents often say they just want their kids to be happy. Equally common is a desire to make our partners, family members, and friends happy,” says Aaker. “But few of us know exactly how to bring happiness to the people in our lives. Our new research sheds light on what we can do.”

The Value of Concrete Philanthropic Goals

The paper, forthcoming in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, details the experiments the researchers ran to test their main hypothesis: That concrete philanthropic goals increase the giver’s happiness more than abstract ones.

To test that premise, the researchers recruited 50 participants and gave them a $5 Amazon gift card in exchange for performing one of two assigned tasks: to make someone happy, or to make someone smile. The participants had 24 hours to complete the task. Then they were asked to describe how they approached their assignment, and how happy it made them.

The results showed that no matter what method the participants used to achieve their goal — giving someone food or a gift, telling a funny story, lending a helping hand — the participants instructed to elicit a smile reported greater personal happiness than those asked to bestow happiness. These results confirmed the benefit of pursuing concrete goals over abstract ones.

Next the researchers explored why this effect occurs. They hypothesized that concrete goals create a smaller gap between the expected and actual impact of one’s actions. In other words, framing a goal in concrete terms makes a giver more realistic about their prospects of success. When expectations are too high, it can lead to disappointment and less happiness. But when you frame a goal concretely, you become more focused on how to achieve that goal. Also, when a goal is framed concretely, the standards of success are clearer.

In this case, you actually can see someone smile — whereas whether you actually made someone happy is often a mystery. So in a second experiment, the researchers repeated the conditions of the first — but asked one additional question: How well did the outcome of the performed act meet the participant’s expectations going into it? In this case, the “smile” group reported not only more happiness than the “happy” group, but also a closer correlation between what they expected and what actually transpired.

Cultivating Personal Happiness

Other experiments showed that these outcomes were not affected by the relationship between the giver and the recipient — it made no difference whether they were friends, or for how long they’d known each other — or by the perceived “size” of the kind act; those working for a smile and those working for happiness saw their gestures as equivalent in value. And they made their recipients equally happy. Neither did changing the substance or nature of the goals alter the results; participants asked to perform the concrete act of recycling more materials reported greater happiness — and a closer match between expectation and reality — than those tasked with the vaguer goal of “supporting environmental sustainability.”

Likewise, those asked to help patients requiring a bone-narrow transplant through a concrete act — finding a suitable donor — experienced more personal fulfillment than those asked to help by giving them “greater hope.”

Lastly, the researchers tested their supposition that people are poor predictors of which charitable acts will bring them the greatest happiness. They revisited the “smile” versus “happy” experiment but this time asked participants to predict how happy they would feel 24 hours later, after they had completed their task.

Two interesting results emerged. First, participants evaluating just their own condition — either concrete or abstract — inaccurately predicted the same degree of happiness as those pursuing the other. Second, those weighing both conditions incorrectly anticipated that the abstract goal of making someone happy would create greater personal happiness than making someone smile. “People do not recognize that acts performed in service of a prosocial goal that is framed concretely (versus abstractedly) will more effectively cultivate personal happiness,” they write.

The authors hope their paper can offer practical solutions to the growing problem of donor fatigue or “helper burnout.” Volunteers who seek amorphous goals such as changing the lives of others are destined to experience disappointment and frustration, “making helping a negative rather than a positive influence on givers’ happiness,” they write. “Encouraging givers to re-frame their prosocial goals in more concrete terms might generally reduce helper burnout.”

Furthermore, it can inspire a cycle of doing good deeds for others. As Rudd explains, “When we experience a bigger helper’s high, we not only feel greater happiness in the moment, we may also be more likely to give again in the future.”

View the research

Getting the Most Out of Giving: Concretely Framing a Prosocial Goal Maximizes Happiness, Melanie Rudd, Jennifer Aaker, Michael I. Norton. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (forthcoming).

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Posted in Human Behavior: Happiness, Human Behavior: Kindness | Leave a comment

High-Salt Diet Doubles Threat of Cardiovascular Disease in People with Diabetes

Newswise — Washington, DC—People with Type 2 diabetes who eat a diet high in salt face twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as those who consume less sodium, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream. People develop Type 2 diabetes when their bodies become resistant to the hormone insulin, which carries sugar from the blood to cells.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million Americans have some form of diabetes. This population is at risk for heart disease. Between 2003 and 2006, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults diagnosed with diabetes than those who were not, according to the CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

“The study’s findings provide clear scientific evidence supporting low-sodium diets to reduce the rate of heart disease among people with diabetes,” said the study’s first author, Chika Horikawa, RD, MSc, CDE, of the University of Niigata Prefecture in Niigata, Japan. “Although many guidelines recommend people with diabetes reduce their salt intake to lower the risk of complications, this study is among the first large longitudinal studies to demonstrate the benefits of a low-sodium diet in this population.”

The nationwide cohort study surveyed participants in the Japan Diabetes Complications Study who were between the ages of 40 and 70 and had been diagnosed with diabetes. Participants were identified at 59 outpatient centers and universities across Japan. In all, 1,588 people responded to a survey about their diets, including sodium intake. The researchers reviewed data on cardiovascular complications participants experienced over the course of eight years.

Researchers divided the participants into four groups based on their sodium intake. The analysis found people who ate an average of 5.9 grams of sodium daily had double the risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who ate, on average, 2.8 grams of sodium daily.

The effects of a high-sodium diet were exacerbated by poor blood sugar control.

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” Horikawa said. “Our findings demonstrate that restricting salt in the diet could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes.”

Other authors of the study include: Yukio Yoshimura and Chiemi Kamada of Shikoku University; Shiro Tanaka and Sachiko Tanaka of Kyoto University School of Medicine; Osamu Hanyu and Hirohito Sone of the University of Niigata; Atsushi Araki and Hideki Ito of Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital; Akira Tanaka of Kagawa Nutrition University in Tokyo, Japan; Yasuo Ohashi of the University of Tokyo; Yasuo Akanuma of the Asahi Life Foundation; and Nobuhiro Yamada of the University of Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine.

The study, “Dietary Sodium Intake and Incidence of Diabetes Complications in Japanese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes,” was published online, ahead of print.

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Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, the Endocrine Society’s membership consists of over 17,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Washington, DC. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EndoMedia.

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Posted in Diabetes, Nutrition: Salt | Leave a comment