March 25, 2015

Short and Sweet News

Combining benzodiazepines with other substances raises risks: Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam and lorazepam, are a class of drugs used to relieve symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks and seizures.  They are usually safe when taken as prescribed and directed under a health professional’s supervision.   However, benzodiazepines can sometimes cause adverse effects – especially if used improperly or in combination with substances like opioid pain relievers or alcohol.

Thicker brain sections tied to spirituality: For people at high risk of depression, a new study hints that spirituality may offer some protection for the brain. Parts of the brain's outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said religion or spirituality was "important" to them versus those who cared less about religion.

Drinking soda may speed up how your body’s cells age: Dr. Elissa Epel worked on the study for 5 years. “We think we can get away with drinking lots of soda as long as we are not gaining weight, but this suggests that there is an invisible pathway that leads to accelerated aging, regardless of weight,” said Dr. Epel.

The obesity epidemic in the western world could be caused in part by exposure to hormones in plastic and soy: Scientists believe that men are slowly becoming 'feminised' by contact with estrogen, found for example in the PVC used to make water pipes. Exposure to extra estrogen inhibits the thyroid and affects areas of the brain, leading to more weight gain. And this could even explain the drop in sperm counts amongst Western men.

Long-term study found that slow joggers had the lowest rates of death: Strenuous joggers were as likely to die as sedentary non-joggers. Going jogging three times a week for no more than 2.4 hours is optimal. The pace of the slow joggers corresponds to vigorous exercise and strenuous jogging corresponds to very vigorous exercise, researchers qualified. 

Organic or not organic, that is the question: Researchers reported that people who ate organic fruits and vegetables had significantly lower amounts of organophosphates (OPs) in their bodies than those who ate conventionally grown produce. OPs are components of many insecticides and herbicides, and they have been linked to numerous health problems, such as increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and risk of ADHD in children. The EWG estimates that people can lower their pesticide exposure 90 percent by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead.
       Almost two-thirds of the produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture contained pesticide residues, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG)'s "Dirty Dozen" list contains the most. With apples as the "dirtiest," the rest of the list is as follows: peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. The EWG considers the "Dirty Dozen Plus" — leafy greens and hot peppers — particularly toxic to human health.
       The "Clean Fifteen" list, on the other hand, includes fruits and vegetables found to have the least amount of pesticides. Avocados topped the list, with only 1 percent showing pesticide residue. Other items on the clean list include sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower.