Teasing Kids About Weight Linked to Gaining More

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — New research illustrates a heartbreaking, vicious cycle: Teasing kids about their weight not only bruises their self-esteem, it also appears to trigger more weight gain.

In fact, middle schoolers who reported high levels of weight-related teasing had a 33% higher jump in their body mass index per year compared to peers who weren’t teased about their weight. The ridiculed kids also had a 91% higher increase in their levels of fat compared to children who didn’t get mocked about their size.

“Kids who had been teased more about their weight gained more weight and fat over time, and they gained at a steeper trajectory,” said study author Natasha Schvey. She’s an assistant professor in the department of medical and clinical psychology at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md.

The latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one in five kids is obese — that’s 18.5% of kids in America.

The study included 110 children who were either overweight or at risk of being overweight because both of their parents were overweight or obese. The average age of the kids was 12 years old when they were recruited (between 1996 and 2009).

When the kids first enrolled in the study, they completed a brief questionnaire about whether they had been teased about their weight. This brief survey didn’t ask about the source of the teasing.

The participants had follow-up visits for the next 15 years.

Kids who were teased gained an average of almost a half a pound per year compared to kids who weren’t teased, the findings showed.

Schvey said that while her study can’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers did consider factors that might have accounted for the additional weight gain.

There are a number of factors that may set these kids up for more weight gain, she said.

“Weight-based teasing is associated with a bunch of unhealthy behaviors. Teasing about weight can prompt unhealthy eating. Kids may also avoid physical activity because of teasing. There might also be some biological mechanisms. Being stigmatized for your weight is a stressful experience, which might lead to an increase in stress hormones, which might make you crave unhealthy foods,” Schvey explained.

Continued

The bottom line is that teasing kids about weight isn’t a way to motivate them to lose weight, the study authors said.

“There is still a lingering degree of thinking that teasing or shaming might help people lose weight. Not only does it not motivate healthy behaviors, but it increases the risk of unhealthy behaviors,” Schvey said.

Michelle Solo, a licensed master social worker at Ascension Eastwood Behavioral Health in Michigan, said she wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“Unhealthy eating habits are often related to comfort or reducing stress,” she said.

Solo said it’s yet another study that shows the need for earlier interventions to teach kids that teasing isn’t OK. Ideally, she said, kids should start learning this in elementary school.

Parents and teachers should help kids understand how teasing can hurt their peers and make them feel isolated.

And, if parents are doing the weight-based teasing, it’s a double-whammy for the kids.

“If they’re already hearing things at school about their weight, and then they hear them at home, it leaves them thinking, ‘Wow, I’m not good enough here either?'” Solo said.

If parents have body weight issues themselves, the kids might internalize negative messages they hear from their parents, and start to feel as if it’s normal to not feel good about your body, she added.

Solo said a better option is to focus on the healthy behaviors the family can engage in, such as getting more physical activity, like a family walk or eating healthier foods. “It’s important that parents model healthy behaviors,” she said.

Schvey said that a child’s pediatrician can also be helpful, especially with teaching a child better ways to cope with stress from teasing.

Schvey’s study, done in conjunction with colleagues at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, was published May 30 in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Natasha Schvey, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of medical and clinical psychology, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Md.; Michelle Solo, L.M.S.W., Ascension Eastwood Behavioral Health, Royal Oak, Mich.; May 30, 2019,Pediatric Obesity, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Trial: Gains Seen on Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A new treatment protocol for locally advanced pancreatic cancer can enable surgical removal of previously inoperable tumors and improve survival rates, according to a new study.

“Locally advanced” pancreatic cancer is confined to the pancreas, but the tumor still involves major abdominal blood vessels and usually cannot be removed by surgery.

It’s one of the worst forms of an already deadly cancer, the Massachusetts General Hospital researchers explained.

However, the results of their clinical trial could offer such patients new hope.

The trial included 49 patients with previously untreated locally advanced pancreatic cancer who received a combination of intensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as the blood pressure drug losartan.

Use of the combo therapy allowed 34 of the 49 participants to go on to have their tumors surgically removed, the team reported May 30 in JAMA Oncology.

And in 30 (61%) of the patients, surgery (“resection”) removed all evidence of cancer around the tumor.

The treatment protocol also significantly improved survival rates, the research team said.

As study co-lead author Dr. Janet Murphy explained, “around 40% of pancreatic cancer patients have either locally advanced or borderline resectable disease, with historically poor rates of successful surgery.” She works in the hospital’s hematology/oncology division.

“To be able to successfully remove the primary tumor in 61% of patients sets a new benchmark and offers much hope,” Murphy said in a hospital news release. “A key part of the success of our approach was our surgeons’ willingness to attempt an operation even in patients who had the appearance of cancer at or near their blood vessels.”

She said that prior research had suggested that tumor spread (as evidenced on CT scans), and the ability of surgeons to remove the tumor after chemotherapy and radiation “are no longer clearly correlated.”

That could give surgeons the green light to proceed.

“While we did not see total blood vessel clearance in 61% of patients, 61% achieved a complete removal of their cancer [anyway],” Murphy said.

Continued

“Locally advanced pancreatic cancer has been generally considered an incurable disease, so these results mark a dramatic improvement with respect both to rates of conversion to surgical resectability and to long-term disease outcomes,” study co-lead author Dr. Jennifer Wo said in the news release. She’s from the hospital’s department of radiation oncology.

“Based on these results we have launched a new, multi-institutional clinical trial that will also include the immunotherapy drug nivolumab, since losartan treatment has also been shown to activate several immune system pathways,” Wo said.

One specialist not involved in the trial agreed that the approach could be a new option for these patients.

“Of utmost importance, the results showed that they were able to successfully remove the primary tumor in 61% of patients, which definitely sets a new benchmark,” said Dr. Wasif Saif. He’s deputy physician-in-chief and medical director of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Lake Success, N.Y.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Wasif M. Saif, M.D., deputy physician-in-chief and medical director, Northwell Health Cancer Institute, Lake Success, N.Y.; Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, May 30, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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73% of Oncology Providers See Benefit of Medical Marijuana

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2019 shows that while 73 percent of surveyed oncology providers believe that medical marijuana provides benefits for cancer patients, only 46 percent are comfortable recommending it. Major concerns included uncertain dosing, limited knowledge of available products and where to get them, and possible interactions with other medications.

“I think in some cases we’re missing out on providing a useful tool. Providers think it has benefit, but aren’t comfortable recommending it,” says Ashley E. Glode, PharmD, assistant professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the study’s first author.

Survey respondents included 48 specialized oncologists, 47 physicians, 53 registered nurses, 17 pharmacists, and 7 “other” oncology providers. Seventy-nine percent reported that educational programs both during training and as continuing medical education courses could increase their comfort level with medical marijuana prescribing. Interestingly, 68 percent of providers reported receiving information about medical marijuana from their patients – the next most common sources of information were news media (accessed by 55 percent of providers), and other providers (53 percent).

“We asked and most providers didn’t train in a state where medical marijuana was legal. We need to adapt our healthcare education to include this, and also offer trainings on medical marijuana to current providers,” Glode says.

Providers also reported legal and regulatory concerns, especially providers working in academic medical centers who expressed uncertainty whether recommending medical marijuana could jeopardize federal funding (marijuana remains a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Schedule 1 drug). Providers felt as if additional clinical data describing the effectiveness of medical marijuana and endorsed guidelines describing the conditions and situations in which it should be used would increase their comfort in prescribing.

“Still, the biggest issue that providers saw is the lack of certainty in dosing,” Glode says. “The issue is it’s not regulated – a dispensary might say a product has this much THC and this much CBD, but no one is testing that for sure. Limited data suggest that patients should start low and slow, no more than 10mg of THC in a dose, but we don’t know that’s what patients are really getting. Then from a consumption perspective, inhalation and smoking is the least preferred due to possible damage to the lung. So many doctors recommend edibles, oils, and tinctures, but we still don’t have good data comparing dosage across these forms.”

Glode and study colleagues including Stephen Leong, MD, hope to expand the survey to gather a more nationally representative sample.

“Knowledge is an issue,” Glode says. “If we could do a better job educating our healthcare providers, it might be used more often and potentially more safely.”

Article by University of Colorado.

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Eating Blueberries Every Day Improves Heart Health

Eating a cup of blueberries a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease – according to new research led by the University of East Anglia, in collaboration with colleagues from Harvard and across the UK.

New findings published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that eating 150g of blueberries daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15 per cent.

The research team from UEA’s Department of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, Norwich Medical School, say that blueberries and other berries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease – particularly among at risk groups.

The team set out to see whether eating blueberries had any effect on Metabolic Syndrome – a condition, affecting 1/3 of westernised adults, which comprises at least three of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of ‘good cholesterol’ and high levels of triglycerides.

Lead researcher Prof Aedin Cassidy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Having Metabolic syndrome significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and often statins and other medications are prescribed to help control this risk.

“It’s widely recognised that lifestyle changes, including making simple changes to food choices, can also help.

“Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits.

“We wanted to find out whether eating blueberries could help people who have already been identified as being at risk of developing these sort of conditions.”

The team investigated the effects of eating blueberries daily in 138 overweight and obese people, aged between 50 and 75, with Metabolic Syndrome. The six-month study was the longest trial of its kind.

They looked at the benefits of eating 150 gram portions (one cup) compared to 75 gram portions (half a cup). The participants consumed the blueberries in freeze-dried form and a placebo group was given a purple-coloured alternative made of artificial colours and flavourings.

Co-lead, Dr Peter Curtis, said: “We found that eating one cup of blueberries per day resulted in sustained improvements in vascular function and arterial stiffness – making enough of a difference to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by between 12 and 15 per cent.

“The simple and attainable message is to consume one cup of blueberries daily to improve cardiovascular health.

“Unexpectedly, we found no benefit of a smaller 75 gram (half cup) daily intake of blueberries in this at-risk group. It is possible that higher daily intakes may be needed for heart health benefits in obese, at-risk populations, compared with the general population.”

Article by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of Southampton, the University of Surrey, and the University of Cambridge. It was funded by the US Highbush Blueberry Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).’Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardio metabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome – results from a 6-month, double blind, randomized controlled trial’ is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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LEDs Have Damaging Health Effects, French Assessment Says

While this article focuses on light-emitting diode (LED) lights please understand that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are far worse. Not only do they have the same digital light problems as LEDs but they also have mercury in them and cause dirty electricity in the 62 KHz range. If you have any fluorescent bulbs in your home you would be strongly advised to carefully replace them because if you break the bulb there are certain precautions you need to take to clean it up.

In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has special rules for cleaning up broken CFLs, which include opening windows, airing out the room and shutting off the heat or air conditioning for several hours, so as not to disturb the leaked mercury. You also are to call your local government about proper disposal of the fragments — and when in doubt to call a poison control center.1

Energy-saving LED lights2 have several detrimental biological effects. For example, as explained by photobiology expert, Dr. Alexander Wunsch, in our 2016 interview (above), LED light:

  • Emits aggressive blue light that can generate high amounts of oxidative stress that contributes to visual deterioration, and is devoid of near-infrared light that would help counteract some of that damage.
  • Negatively affects mitochondrial function and may therefore exacerbate health problems rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction, including metabolic disorder and cancer.
  • If viewed at night can suppress your melatonin production, thereby disrupting sleep, which can have far-reaching consequences for your health, including raising your risk of insulin resistance (which in turn raises your risk of myopia3 and many other conditions and diseases).
  • Can prevent the priming of retinal cells for repair and regeneration (since it does not have any healing near-infrared frequencies), thereby raising your risk of vision problems, including age-related macular degeneration4 (AMD), a leading cause of blindness among people over 50. AMD refers to damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina that’s needed for sharp central vision.

The risks of LEDs to your vision in particular are highlighted in two reports by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES). The first one, a 282-page report5,6,7 issued in 2010 (the full report8 is only available in French, but an opinion summary paper9 is available in English on anses.fr.), and a 400-page report10,11,12 issued April 2019, available only in French.

While separated by nine years, the conclusion of the second report appears to be unchanged from, and supports the opinion of the first. Considering incandescent light bulbs are being phased out both in the U.S. and European Union (EU), it’s important to understand the health ramifications of the replacements, which include LEDs. As noted by ANSES in 2010:13

“LED technology, which has certain advantages compared to other types of lighting (energy efficiency, life span), is changing rapidly. It has a wide range of applications including public, domestic and commercial lighting, sport facilities, indicator lamps (toys, signposting, etc.), vehicle lighting, and therapeutic products (light therapy).

However, the quality of the light emitted by these lamps (color temperature, color rendering index) does not always provide the same level of performance as other sources of lighting.

The intense wavelengths in the blue part of the spectrum of light emitted by some LEDs, and the associated radiation intensity, raise the question of new health risks related to these sources of light. In view of this situation, the Agency issued a formal internal request to assess the health effects of LED-based lighting systems.”

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LED Light Is Photo-Toxic, French Assessment Concludes

According to the ANSES reports, exposure to intense blue LED light — such as that emitted from newer flashlights and car headlights — is phototoxic and capable of causing diminished sharpness of vision due to irreversible loss of retinal cells. “Warm white” LED lighting, however, was found to have weak phototoxicity, which is precisely what you would predict as it has far less blue light.

An American review14 published in 2016 echoes these findings, concluding LEDs with a wavelength below 455 nanometers in the blue light range is damaging to the eyes in the long term. This paper also addresses the impact of blue light on the circadian rhythm. The two issues — your circadian rhythm and vision — are actually closely linked.

In an email, lead author Gianluca Tosini told CNN15 “There are blue light photoreceptors in the retina that directly communicate with the brain circadian clock,” and that “exposure to light in the evening affect sleep and circadian rhythms mostly by inhibiting the synthesis of the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.”

As explained by Wunsch, certain retinal cells also produce melatonin that helps regenerate your retina during the night. If you use LED lights after sunset, you actually reduce the natural regenerative and restoring capacities of your eyes. Needless to say, with less regeneration you end up with degeneration. In this case, the degeneration can lead to AMD, which is the primary cause of blindness among the elderly.

On top of that, as you age, your retina accumulates fluorescent molecules called lipofuscin, which are sensitive to blue light. Janet Sparrow,16 Ph.D., professor of ophthalmic sciences at Columbia University, told CNN,17 “Early evidence suggests that this light sensitivity may lead to unhealthy optical responses over the long term.”

Brightness Density and High Proportion of Blue Light Identified as Core Dangers

As noted in ANSES’ English opinion summary from 2010:18

Strong components in the blue part of the spectrum of light emitted by the LEDs, as well as the associated intensity of the radiation, raise the issue of new health risks related to these sources of lighting. Some scientific studies [Dawson et al., 2001, Ueda et al., 2009], based on laboratory experiments with blue LEDs conducted on monkeys, give reason to suspect a danger for the retina related to exposure to light-emitting diodes.

As a result of the analysis of the existing scientific literature and the information collected during the additional hearings, potential health issues related to the use of LEDs were identified.

Those of greatest concern, due to both the severity of the corresponding dangers and the probability of their occurring as a result of the increasingly widespread use of LEDs, relate to the photochemical effects of blue light on the eye and the glare phenomenon. They result from:

the spectral imbalance in LEDs (high proportion of blue light in white LEDs)

the very high luminance of LEDs (high brightness density per surface unit emitted by these very small sources).

The photochemical risk is associated with blue light, and depends on the accumulated dose to which the person has been exposed, which is generally the result of low intensity exposure repeated over long periods. There is a high level of proof of such a risk.

Evidence from human observation and experimental studies on cell cultures and various animal species has converged to demonstrate the specific toxicity of shortwave (blue) light to the retina.

Blue light is therefore recognised as being harmful and dangerous to the retina, as a result of cellular oxidative stress. There is a strong suspicion that blue light aggravates age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), based on converging observations on experimental models.”

The report also noted that the stroboscopic effects in some LED lights may induce headaches and visual fatigue, which could also lead to a higher risk of accidents.

High-Risk Groups Identified

ANSES identified the following population groups as being at particularly high risk from LED exposure, either because they are extra sensitive to the type of light emitted by LEDs, or because of their unusually high levels of exposure:

  • Children, due to the transparency of the lenses in their eyes
  • Those with aphakia, i.e., people who are missing a lens on one or both of their eyes, either due to a wound, ulcer, congenital anomaly or surgical removal
  • Pseudophakics, i.e., those with artificial crystalline lenses, “who consequently either cannot or can only insufficiently filter short wavelengths (particularly blue light)”
  • Light-sensitive individuals, including those with AMD and certain skin diseases, and those taking photosensitizing drugs
  • Workers exposed to extreme levels of blue light, such as lighting installers, theatre and film industry professionals

Standards Need Adjustment

ANSES concluded the EU standard, NF EN 62471,19,20 set in 2009, which addresses the “photobiological safety of lamps and apparatus using lamps” in the wavelength range of 200 nm to 3,000 nm, is inadequate for LEDs for three reasons:21

  1. “The maximum exposure limits … used to define the Risk Groups are not appropriate for repeated exposure to blue light as they were calculated for exposure of one 8-hour day and do not take into account the possibility of exposure over an entire lifetime.
  2. It contains ambiguities concerning the measurement protocols for allocating Risk Groups: the same LED could be assigned to different Risk Groups if considered individually or if integrated in a lighting system, as the evaluation distance imposed by the standard could be different.
  3. It does not take into account the sensitivity of certain specific population groups (children, aphakics, pseudophakics, etc.)”

Among its many recommendations, to protect the general public and the workforce, ANSES suggested:

  • Limiting the sale of LEDs for domestic use to “warm white” LED light bulbs and low-risk LED devices
  • Limiting overall exposure to LEDs and avoiding LED screens before bedtime
  • Reducing the luminosity of car headlights
  • Regulating the installation of certain higher risk lighting systems such that they would be limited to “professional uses, under conditions in which risks can be prevented”

ANSES also suggested manufacturers should “design lighting systems in which beams of light emitted by LEDs cannot be seen directly,” to reduce intensity and glare, and recommended adaptations to the current standard on the photobiological safety of lamps to take the special characteristics of LEDs, their potential hazards and high-risk groups into account.

As far as I can tell, no amendments have been made to the standard in the years since ANSES report came out, which just goes to show how long dangers can be known without any regulatory action being taken, and why safety regulations cannot always be trusted as the final word on safety.

Can Blue-Blocking Glasses Help?

When it comes to the question of whether wearing blue-blocking glasses is a viable solution against all this blue light exposure, research findings are mixed.

A systematic review22 published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics in 2017, which included three studies with 136 participants, concluded there was “a lack of high quality evidence to support using BB [blue-blocking] spectacle lenses for the general population to improve visual performance or sleep quality, alleviate eye fatigue or conserve macular health.”

Others disagree. The Harvard Health Letter, published by Harvard Medical School, recommends the use of blue-blocking glasses in evening hours if you have a lot of bright lighting or use LED screens.23 A number of studies have also found blue-blocking glasses impart valuable benefits, especially with regards to sleep quality. Following are a few examples:

A 2006 study24 that found blue-blocking glasses “represent an elegant means to prevent the light‐induced melatonin suppression, adding that “Further studies are needed to show that these glasses … could facilitate adaptation to night work.”

A pilot study25 published in 2010 did just that, finding the use of blue-blocking glasses during the day, along with blue-green light exposure at night, improved adaptation to night shift work by improving “sleep, vigilance and performance.”

A 2009 study26 in Chronobiology International found wearing amber (blue-blocking) glasses for three hours before sleep for two weeks significantly improved sleep quality and mood compared to controls who used yellow-tinted (UV-blocking only) lenses.

A 2015 study27 in the Journal of Adolescent Health found blue-blockers significantly attenuated LED-induced melatonin suppression in the evening and decreased vigilant attention and subjective alertness before bedtime” in 15- to 17-year-old males, leading the authors to conclude that:

“BB glasses may be useful in adolescents as a countermeasure for alerting effects induced by light exposure through LED screens and therefore potentially impede the negative effects modern lighting imposes on circadian physiology in the evening.”

Blue-Blocking Glasses May Help Relieve Eye Strain

Research28 published in 2017 also contradicts Cochrane’s assessment that no high-quality evidence exists showing blue-blockers can relieve eyestrain. Here, participants who wore short wavelength-blocking glasses during two hours of computer work exhibited less visual fatigue and had fewer symptoms of visual discomfort compared to those wearing clear lenses. As noted in this study:

“Light toxicity to the retina is well established and occurs when excess light exposure causes photochemical, photomechanical, and photothermal damage. Some groups have reported that short-wavelength light may be particularly hazardous to the retina.

For example, Kuse et al. found that visible light-induced damage in photoreceptor-derived cells is wavelength-dependent: short-wavelength light in the blue spectrum had a more severe toxic effect compared to either white or green light.

These findings are consistent with other studies showing that retinal damage induced by LEDs in animal models show similar wavelength dependence. Other groups have shown that this phototoxicity can be attenuated by blocking blue light in cell models6 and in animal models …

Some human studies have shown that chronic subthreshold exposure to blue light may, indeed, have clinically relevant consequences. For example, although short-wavelength light also has been shown to be important for setting circadian rhythms, excessive exposure to blue light also has been suggested to be a major cause of eye strain. Consistently, Isono et al. reported that short wavelength-emitting devices contribute to visual fatigue …

Numerous groups have explored the possibility that lenses that block short-wavelength light may reduce these health hazards. Ayaki et al. demonstrated that wearing short-wavelength light-reducing eyeglasses when using electronic devices at night improves sleep quality and increases overnight melatonin secretion.

Similarly, Ide et al. found that wearing short-wavelength light-blocking eyeglasses during intensive computer tasks reduces eye fatigue and symptoms of eye strain.”

A primary goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that blue-blockers lessen eyestrain in a North American population. High-blocking glasses performed better than low-blocking ones. In fact, “subjects wearing high-blocking eyeglasses had even less fatigue after compared to before the task,” the authors state, adding that:

“Overall, these findings supported our assertion that high-blocking glasses do, indeed, appear to attenuate eye fatigue associated with computer use, even after controlling for confounding variables, such as age, sex, and contact lens use …

These findings not only validated past studies that have reported that short-wavelength light-blocking eyewear may attenuate eye strain, but also extended these findings to a North American population.

In addition, although a formal double-blind study design is impossible given the nature of the experiment, our rigorous study design, including careful control of experimental conditions (e.g., monitoring subjects for the duration of the task, standardizing testing room conditions, testing subjects at roughly the same time of day), minimized the risks of potential confounding factors.”

For Optimal Health, Address Your Daily Light Exposure

In my view, there’s ample evidence and sound science showing cool white LED lighting is a bad idea, from a health standpoint. While it may save you a few dollars on your electric bill, it could significantly impact your medical costs, not to mention quality of life, in the long run.

However they should be fine in areas that are infrequently used. The majority of bulbs in my home are LED but the ones in areas that I use all the time — my bedroom, kitchen and bathroom — are all incandescent. The LEDs in other rooms are frequently left on accidentally by guests and cleaners and when they are they don’t cause loads of lost energy. 

To learn more about the ins and outs of LEDs and what makes this type of light so detrimental, please listen to my interview with Wunsch, embedded at the top, or read through the original article. Light is a vastly underestimated health factor. It’s more important than people realize, especially for healthy vision and sleep.

The good news is this is an area where most people still have a great deal of control — at least until you can no longer purchase incandescent light bulbs. To optimize your daily light exposure, keep these four key considerations in mind:

1. Replace LEDs in key areas that have night lighting with incandescent light bulbs In areas where you spend most of your time during the day and evening, such as your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, swap out your LEDs for regular incandescent light bulbs, and leave the LEDs for areas such as hallways, closets, garage and porch, where your exposure to them is minimal.

2. Get bright, natural light exposure during the day — To get good sleep, you need properly aligned circadian rhythms, and step No. 1 is to make sure you get a sufficient dose of bright light exposure during the daytime. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night.

If you’re in darkness all day long, your body can’t appreciate the difference and will not optimize melatonin production. Ideally, to help your circadian system reset itself, get at least 10 to 15 minutes of light first thing in the morning.

This will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals later on. Then, around solar noon, get another 30 to 60 minutes’ worth of sunlight.

3. Avoid blue enriched light at night — Melatonin acts as a marker of your circadian phase or biological timing. Normally, your brain starts progressively increasing the hormone melatonin around 9 or 10 p.m., which makes you sleepy. Somewhere between 50 and 1,000 lux is the activation range within which light will begin to suppress melatonin production.

However, wavelength is also important. Red and amber lights will not suppress melatonin while blue, green and white lights will. So, be sure to avoid the blue light wavelength after sunset. This includes artificial light, and light emitted by electronics such as your TV, computer and other electronic screens.

There are a number of ways to avoid blue enriched light in the evening depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences, including the following suggestions. You can also learn more by reviewing my 2014 interview with researcher Dan Pardi.

  • Turn off or dim all lights after sunset, and avoid watching TV or using light emitting electronics for at least one hour before bedtime (ideally two hours or more).
  • After sundown, shift to a low-wattage bulb with yellow, orange or red light if you need illumination. A salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb is an ideal solution that will not interfere with your melatonin production.
  • If using a computer, smartphone or tablet, install blue light-blocking software like Iris,29 or use amber colored glasses that block blue light.30

4. Sleep in complete darkness — Once it’s time to go to sleep, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. Exposure to room light during sleep has been shown to suppress melatonin by more than 50 percent,31 but even a small amount of light can decrease your melatonin. Simply closing your eyes is not enough as light can penetrate your eyelids.

If blackout shades are too great an investment, a sleep mask can do the job for far less money. Also keep in mind that digital alarm clocks with an LED display could have a detrimental effect, so either swap out your clock, or cover the display.

Alternatives include a sun alarm clock, which wakes you up by gradually increasing the intensity of light, thereby simulating sunrise, or a talking alarm clock,32 designed for the visually impaired.

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Paprika: Spice Up Your Meals and Your Health With This Extraordinary Seasoning

Peppers are highly appreciated in many cuisines for their many benefits and uses. They’re one of the most common cooking ingredients used around the world, mainly because of the flavor they add to dishes. These spices can be used fresh or dried, and come in powdered form – one example of which is paprika.

Whether it’s for seasoning or garnishing, paprika has cemented itself as one of today’s most well-loved spices. Discover just what paprika spice can offer for your health, plus get tips on how to use it for cooking.

What Is Paprika?

Paprika is a spice made from grounding up different varieties of Capsicum annuum peppers — these can include sweet bell peppers, hot red and/or peppers and other varieties in between.1 Although some websites might beg to differ, according to The Kitchn, it’s the fourth most-used spice around the world.2

Paprika is widely used in different cuisines, such as Bulgarian, Spanish and Moroccan, with each one having its own distinct type of paprika.3 However, Hungary stands out among all these cuisines — their climate is favorable for growing high-quality paprika, which is why Hungarian paprika is one of the finest quality spices today.4

But is paprika spicy? It depends on the variety of paprika and the type of peppers used to make it. For example, Hungarian paprika is known as the “hot” variety, adding a spicy and peppery flavor to any dish.5 American paprika, on the other hand, can be both sweet and mildly pungent. In the U.S., California is the largest supplier of this spice.6

Paprika also comes in various colors, ranging from bright red to brown. Surprisingly, red paprika is said to be sweeter and milder, while those that are pale-red or brown are often the spiciest.7

Some people complain on occasion that the paprika they bought is tasteless. The secret to this spice actually lies in the cooking process — you need to heat it to unlock its natural flavor.8 Try cooking it with a little coconut oil or butter over low heat for a minute.9 You can also add it at the end of the cooking process and you’ll get the deep, sweet-spicy and earthy aroma and taste.10

5 Health Benefits of Paprika

Adding a dash (or two) of paprika to your meals can, surprisingly, offer advantages to your health, including some essential vitamins and minerals, carotenoids and antioxidants11 that can deliver many benefits to your body. Here are some of those benefits:

It can help maintain eye and skin health — Four carotenoids in paprika, namely lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene,12 function as antioxidants that may help inhibit DNA damage.13

Lutein and zeaxanthin in particular are essential for preventing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.14 Other nutrients include cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene, which are converted into vitamin A,15 which works in the retina to preserve eyesight16 and is also known for helping improve the appearance of aging skin.17

Paprika may help promote blood formation and healthy circulation — The copper and iron in paprika are essential for the formation of new blood cells.18 The potassium in this spice can also act as a vasodilator, and may help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.19

You may improve your sleep with paprika — The vitamin B6 in paprika may promote melatonin production20 and enhance your levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, hormones that are linked to mood and happiness.21

This spice may even help heal wounds — The vitamin E in paprika can aid in red blood cell production and even in forming clots to promote faster healing of cuts, scrapes and wounds.22

May help relieve pain — Capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers that gives them their spiciness, can relax blood vessels23 and relieve pain. It’s even used in topical creams.24

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Growing Paprika: Tips to Remember

If you want to have paprika on hand, you can opt to grow your own paprika instead of buying the ready-to-use paprika powders in groceries. According to Gardening Know How, paprika’s growing requirements are similar to other pepper varieties. They prefer fertile, well-draining soil and thrive best in a sunny area.

You can grow paprika from seed, directly in soil — this is recommended for warm climates. If you live in a cold place plant them indoors in pots first. Peppers are sensitive to cold weather.

When transferring potted peppers outdoors, make sure to put 12 inches in between each plant, in rows that are 3 feet apart. You can harvest the peppers anytime between summer and fall. When they’ve turned a bright red, that’s a sign that they’re ready for harvesting.

To dry the peppers, place them in a mesh bag and hang them in your attic or a room that reaches around 130 to 150 degrees F. You can also use a commercial dehydrator. Once 85% of the pod’s weight has been lost, the paprika can be ground into a powder.25

How to Store Paprika and Prolong Its Shelf Life

Like other ground spices, paprika loses its flavor and potency after some time. The Spruce recommends using paprika within six months to maximize its taste and aroma.

It’s also crucial to store it properly. Place the spice in an airtight container, in a cool or dark place. Instead of a clear glass container, place the spice in a dark tin container that will keep it away from direct light.26

Paprika Uses: One of the Most Versatile Kitchen Ingredients Out There

Many people are only familiar with paprika because it’s usually added as a garnish to dishes. Hummus looks fancy and presentable with a dash of red paprika. The same goes for deviled eggs. Paprika adds a red tint to sauces, stews and meats, too.

But don’t limit yourself to these uses. Paprika is a versatile spice that can bring new depths to your favorite meals. Here are some of the uses of paprika around the world:

  • Hungary — Perhaps no other country in the world loves paprika more than Hungary. It’s featured in their (unofficial) national dish, goulash. Other dishes that feature paprika include hortobagyi palacsinta, savory pancake with stewed meat and paprikas csirke, or “paprika chicken.”27 Eva Morton, the renowned Hungarian opera singer, even dubbed it their national spice.28
  • Spain — Rice dishes are enhanced with this seasoning.29
  • Thailand — Aside from being added to Pad Thai,30 it can be used to make red curry paste.31

One important tip when cooking with paprika: Avoid burning it. Even accidentally leaving it for a few seconds over heat will make it bitter and unpalatable, so make sure to pay attention when using it. Ideally, paprika should be lightly cooked, fried in a little coconut oil or added at the end of the cooking process so it will release its enticing aroma and flavor.32

Paprika Recipes You Can Try

Paprika goes well in many marinades and sauces, and it can certainly complement meats and different types of produce. Here are a couple of delicious recipes you can try:

Paprika and Cumin Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 cups turnips, cubed
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the vegetables with coconut oil, paprika, salt, cumin and pepper.
  2. Place the veggies on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, shaking a few times during cooking, until vegetables are tender and cooked through.

This recipe makes four servings.

(Adapted from Slender Kitchen33)

Chicken With Paprika Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Cut chicken into strips (according to your preferred size).
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with half the paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of pepper.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Add chicken, cook, tossing occasionally, until opaque throughout, about four to five minutes. Transfer to plate.
  5. Heat the remaining coconut oil in the same skillet.
  6. Add onion, cook until browned and softened. Add remaining tablespoon paprika and stir, cooking, about 30 seconds.
  7. Add tomatoes and 3/4 cup water, and cook until saucy.
  8. Return chicken to skillet. Add in sour cream and cook until just heated through, without boiling.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

This recipe makes four servings.

(Adapted from Food.com34)

If you don’t have paprika powder on hand, don’t worry: You can simply substitute with other spices. Cajun spice, made from a blend of cayenne, black and white peppers, is a wonderful paprika substitute, especially since it’s not as spicy as cayenne.35 Ground cayenne pepper and black pepper powder can both work as substitutes for paprika as well, but you have to take note of the quantities.36

Paprika Oil: Another Great Way to Enjoy This Spice

If you want to preserve the flavor of paprika and ensure that it’s always on hand, you can simply make paprika oil. Here’s a simple technique from Food.com to make paprika oil:37

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 cups coconut oil

Procedure

  1. Place two teaspoons of paprika in a clear bottle or jar and pour in the coconut oil. Seal the container and place in a cool and dark place for a week. Make sure to shake the bottle occasionally.
  2. Put a double layer of cheesecloth over a funnel and then transfer the oil into another bottle, straining out the powder.

Paprika is one of the most versatile spices out there, so don’t just use it for decoration! Explore its potential by using it in your favorite recipes. You’ll never know, this may become your new favorite spice.

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Sensor-Laden Glove Helps Robotic Hands ‘Feel’

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Holding an egg is a lot different from holding an apple or a tomato, and humans are naturally able to adjust their grip to avoid crushing or dropping each object.

Artificial hands installed on prosthetic limbs and robots don’t have that natural ability — yet.

An inexpensive, sensor-laden glove could lay the groundwork for advanced prosthetic hands that are better able to grasp and manipulate day-to-day objects, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers report.

The glove costs just $10 but contains a network of 548 sensors that gather detailed information about objects being manipulated by the hand inside the glove, they said.

Using the glove, the researchers are creating “tactile maps” that could be used to improve the dexterity of artificial hands, said lead scientist Subramanian Sundaram, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT.

“You can look at these tactile maps and begin to understand what kind of objects you’re interacting with. We also show you can use these tactile maps to estimate the weight of the object you’re carrying,” Sundaram said. “We can clearly unravel or quantify how the different regions of the hand come together to perform a grasping task.”

Sundaram and his colleagues developed the glove to help improve the fine motor skills of robot hands.

“This has really been a grand challenge in all of robotics — how do you build dexterous robots, robots that can manipulate objects much in the way humans do?” Sundaram said.

Their solution involves a simple knitted glove that has a force-sensitive film applied along the touching surfaces of the palm and fingers, feeding data to hundreds of sensors.

Researchers wearing the glove interacted with a set of 26 different objects with a single hand for more than five hours, creating a huge amount of tactile data.

They then fed the data into a computer, training it to identify each object from the way it was held.

“We can look at a collective set of interactions and we can say with generality how different regions of the hand are used together,” Sundaram said. “You can understand how likely you are to use each region in combination with the others to grasp an object.”

Continued

Using this data, robots fitted with similar sensors could be taught to handle and manipulate fine objects without squeezing them too hard or handling them with butterfingers, Sundaram said.

But the data from these gloves also could be used to vastly improve the intelligence of prosthetic hands, said David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

“When you look at this technology, the first thing that pops to mind is this is an extraordinarily low-cost training platform for creating a repository of grip strategies,” said Putrino, who wasn’t involved with the study.

As recently as five years ago, this sort of technology would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, he noted.

“What these guys have achieved is an order-of-magnitude drop in the cost of what they can do with these flexible, stitched in electrodes, so it’s very exciting,” Putrino said.

It would probably be too much to expect a person to deal with all of the feedback from a prosthetic hand fitted with the same amount of sensors as the glove, Putrino said.

“Given how many sensors that they have, it would be like learning a very complicated language,” he said.

However, such data from the gloves could be used to install prosthetic hands with programs designed to grasp different objects in the most sensitive and effective way, Putrino said.

A person could either use voice commands to tell their hand what they plan to grasp, or the hand could be fitted with a camera that automatically recognizes different objects about to be grabbed, Putrino said.

That way, the prosthetic hand would be able to apply an egg-handling strategy to an egg, and an apple-handling strategy to an apple, he said.

“You could have this whole repository of grasping and hand-posturing profiles for every scenario you can think of,” Putrino said.

The new report was published May 29 in the journal Nature.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Do You Really Need 10,000 Steps a Day?

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many people with activity trackers strive for 10,000 steps a day. But does it really take nearly five miles daily to make a difference in longevity?

Maybe not, says new research.

The study looked at nearly 17,000 older women — average age 72. It found that women reduced their risk of dying by 41% when they got just 4,400 steps daily compared to women who only clocked 2,700 steps. The women had additional benefit up to around 7,500 steps a day, but then the risk of dying leveled off.

“Our message is not a new message: Physical activity is good for you. What’s new and striking is how little you need to do to make a difference,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. I-Min Lee. She’s a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Lee said the researchers don’t know if the same benefits would be seen in men or younger people. But she said it’s clear that people benefit from physical activity.

The average American walks about 4,000 or 5,000 steps a day, Lee said.

Lee said the researchers aren’t sure where that 10,000-step daily goal came from. They suspect it was from a pedometer made by a Japanese company in the 1960s. The name of the device was Manpo-kei. Translated into English, that means 10,000-step meter.

To get a better idea of how much activity could make a difference in life span, the researchers looked back at a large study of older women. All wore a device that measured their activity for seven days during their waking hours. The device counted steps, and also measured the pace of each activity.

Since the gold standard for number of steps is not clear, the researchers divided the women into four groups based on their average number of daily steps: 2,700, 4,400, 5,900 and 8,500.

The study’s average follow-up time was just over four years. During that time, 500 women died.

Continued

The risk of dying during follow-up dropped by 46% for women in the 5,900-step group compared to the least active group.

The most active group (8,500 steps daily) had a 58% lower risk of dying during follow-up. But the benefit appeared to top off around 7,500 steps, the researchers said.

The researchers also found that the intensity of activity didn’t make a statistically significant difference.

“You can step fast or you can step slow. It didn’t matter,” Lee said.

The study didn’t look specifically at how extra physical activity might lower the risk of death since it only found an association, but Lee said that daily physical activity can improve blood pressure, blood sugar processing and cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity has also been linked to better thinking and memory skills and improved quality of life.

“I can’t beat home enough the point that physical activity is good for you. Just moving around is so good for your health,” Lee said.

That doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. She suggested parking your car farther away, taking stairs, getting up and moving during commercial breaks on TV, playing with your grandkids or walking a pet.

Dr. Traci Marquis-Eydman, an associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University’s School of Medicine in North Haven, Conn. She wasn’t involved with the study, but reviewed the findings, and called them encouraging.

“At least in this subset of the population, you don’t have to shoot for this number that feels overwhelming. We also saw that intensity didn’t matter. If you just stay active, you can reduce your mortality risk,” Marquis-Eydman said. She added it would be helpful to see this research in different age groups and in men, too.

Marquis-Eydman said a step goal is easy to measure with a wearable activity tracker or a counter in your smartphone. She said future versions of physical activity guidelines might have a daily step goal instead of minutes per day.

Plus, she said, physicians could write an activity prescription for adding 1,000 steps a day each week or month. “Steps are easy to quantify,” she said.

The study was published May 29 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: I-Min Lee, M.B.B.S., Sc.D., professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, and professor, epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Traci Marquis-Eydman, M.D., associate professor, medical sciences, and Medical Student Home Program Director, and Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship Director, Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine, Quinnipiac University, North Haven, Conn.; May 29, 2019,JAMA Internal Medicine

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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