Health

Blood levels of proteins reflect the starting, stopping, and changing of biological processes linked to aging. We make significant changes at three ages.

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

“The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.”

This is the insightful observation of William Wordsworth (1770–1850), the English romantic who (along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge) helped initiate the Romantic Age in English literature. Together, they published Lyrical Ballads in 1798.

Today is not a day for literature. Instead, I want to share with you the remarkable findings of researchers from Stanford University. They looked at almost 3,000 proteins in the blood of 4,263 subjects ages 18 to 95. Here’s what they discovered:

  • Using information from…


Reflux can increase your cancer risk.

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is quite common in the United States. An estimated eighteen to twenty-eight percent of us suffer from it. Today we look at a possible link between GERD and cancers of the voice box and esophagus. Historical studies have hinted at an association, and now we have a new study that adds additional evidence.

GERD is a gut disorder that affects the ring of muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) between your esophagus and stomach. If you have GERD, you may get heartburn, acid indigestion, a persistent cough, chest pain, or other symptoms. Some individuals have it because…


Health

Regular mammograms cut the risk of breast cancer death.

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Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

I am a radiation oncologist with a special interest in breast cancer. A recent study funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS) recently stopped me in my tracks. Researchers looked at over half a million women, representing the first time the ACS has looked at whether regular screening offered a mortality benefit.

Breast cancer screening with mammograms has helped to meaningfully reduce breast cancer deaths by enabling detection of cancer at earlier, more treatable stages.

Today we look at the perils of skipping even a single scheduled mammogram screening study. The new study is particularly timely, in light of the…


Health

Two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily best.

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Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

How many fruits and vegetables should you eat? The American Heart Association recommends that we eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily. The Mayo Clinic offers a so-called 1–2–3 approach, with the aim of a total of six servings. Despite such guidance, we often get mixed messages about the optimal amount and type of fruits and vegetables to consume (or avoid).

Let’s look at a new study that provides good guidance. The Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study included over 100,000 adults followed for up to 30 years. …


Lower your risk with half the guideline recommendations.

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Photo by Kris Gerhard on Unsplash

Let’s focus on the importance of engaging in regular physical activity, even if you cannot achieve the levels recommended by expert guidelines. A recent Taiwanese study looked at the physical activity levels of over 100,000 adults. Of these, 21 percent had obesity.

The researchers use a questionnaire to determine levels of physical activity. They converted self-reported intensity to metabolic equivalents and frequency of activity. The investigators also determined body mass index and waist circumference at each exam and during 5.6 years of average follow-up.

The takeaway message? Consistently increasing physical activity, even by small amounts, helped adults avoid (or reverse)…


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Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

CAN YOU LOWER your cholesterol levels through non-dietary means? I did. Today we explore some cholesterol basics, take a look at what the numbers should be, and explore what you might want to do if you are told that your cholesterol levels are too high.

What is cholesterol? It is a substance found in your blood. We all have some, and we need it to maintain health. The liver makes this fatty, waxy substance. Cholesterol can help us make hormones and vitamin D, in addition to being a building block for the membranes of our cells. …


Dark chocolate is chock full of nutrients that can positively affect your health.

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Photo by Shashi Charles on Unsplash

A lovely friend of mine astutely observes that I frequently write about the health benefits of dark chocolate. Of course, I do! Dark chocolate is chock full of nutrients that can positively affect health. Created from the seed of the cacao tree, it is a good source of antioxidants.

Did I mention that chocolate is also delicious? I have fond memories of drinking a cup of dark chocolate at Barcelona’s Fargas. This historic chocolate shop has been operating since 1827 on the same corner of the Gothic Quarter. They have been using the same stone grinder since to mill their…


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Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Leisure-type physical activity in middle age can drop your risk of breaking a bone.

You already know that exercise has innumerable benefits, including better cardiovascular fitness, improvement of many metabolic factors, a reduction in cancer risk, and an enhanced sense of well-being. As a radiation oncologist, I often recommend regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening physical activity and balance training to reduce falling risk.

Unfortunately, it has been difficult to understand the effects of physical activity on bone density, risk of falling, and fractures. Studies addressing these issues are remarkably variable in design.

Now we have a large prospective study from Sweden that gives us good proof that moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity can drop our risk…


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Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

A NEW STUDY from University College London is bound to raise some eyebrows. The researchers focused on the USA’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The investigators examined data collected from nearly 3,000 women. The study is the largest and most diverse longitudinal study available for looking at menopause transition.

Researchers conducted interviews with participants at age 45. On average, the women had two children, and nearly 80 percent were married or in a relationship. The women volunteered whether they had sex with their partner in the past six months, sex frequency (including intercourse, touching, or caressing), and…


You may be able to drop your risk of a fatal or debilitating “brain attack.”

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Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

There are two general categories of stroke, hemorrhage, and ischemia. In some ways, these are opposite conditions. Hemorrhage is marked by too much blood in the closed cranial cavity, while ischemia is characterized by too little blood (to supply enough oxygen and nutrients) to a part of the brain. About 20 percent of strokes are due to brain hemorrhage, while 80 percent are secondary to ischemia.

The lifetime risk of stroke for adult men and women (25 years of age and older) is approximately 25 percent. The highest risk of stroke is in East Asia, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe…

Michael Hunter MD

I have degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Penn. I am a radiation oncologist in the Seattle area. You may find me regularly posting at www.newcancerinfo.com

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