HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

April 2012

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Peripheral Artery Disease: Another
Under-Appreciated Female Risk

As we learned in “Assessing Your Risk” (February), female heart attacks can be difficult to
diagnose because symptoms often seen in women, such as indigestion and lightheadedness, are hard to pin down. Women age 50 and younger are twice as likely to die of heart attacks as men, a statistic that may be at least partially explained by gender-related diagnostic difficulties.

Now it seems another circulatory difficulty is following this familiar pattern. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a buildup of plaque in arteries outside of the brain and heart. As a sign of arterial
dysfunction, PAD can not only increase the risk of heart attack and stroke but may also lead to limb amputation in severe cases.

In a scientific statement released through the journal Circulation, the American Heart Association reports that PAD is often under-treated in women and urges practitioners to be proactive in testing their female patients. “Women, in particular, suffer an immense burden from PAD, yet current data demonstrate most women still remain unaware of their risk,” says lead author Alan Hirsch, MD, of the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.

PAD diagnosis is complicated by the fact that it often doesn’t cause any symptoms at all. The most common, leg pain while walking, occurs in only 10% of patients. About 8 million Americans have PAD.

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Aging Eyes Linked to Poor Health

Our March 2011 story “Save Your Sight” reported on the rising incidence of potentially blinding vision disorders, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, associated with advancing age—a problem likely to worsen as the baby boomers move into their senior years. What makes these numbers more unsettling is a recent study suggesting that aging eyes may themselves be responsible for health woes in older adults.

Body functions fluctuate according to circadian rhythms, cycles of activity roughly 24 hours in length that respond to changes in light entering the eyes. Two ophthalmologists now believe that cataracts, which cause clouding of the eye’s lens, may also disrupt circadian rhythms and thus affect overall well-being. Martin Mainster, PhD, MD, of the University of Kansas Department of Ophthalmology, and his wife Patricia Turner, MD, calculated the amount of light reaching the retina in the back of the eye at various ages. They found that the retinas of people in their eighties and nineties require 10 times the amount of circadian-stimulating light needed by that of a 10-year-old.

Mainster and Turner note that up to 70% of older people report sleep disturbances and 30% suffer from depression, and that bright light—especially that found outdoors—can help ease these problems. “The eye’s critical role in good health has become increasingly evident,” they write in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. “Light deficiency...may contribute to medical conditions commonly assumed to be age-related inevitabilities.”

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Herbs for Everyone

Almost every gardener has tucked a few herbs into stray corners of their plots from time to time—a little basil here, some chives there. But if you’re serious about cultivating these flavorful and healthy plants, Herb Gardening from the Ground Up (Ten Speed Press) will help you become the envy of your neighborhood gardening set.

Sal Gilbertie, third-generation professional herb grower, and writer Larry Sheehan address the novice herb gardener with chapters on plant life cycles, starting seed indoors, taking cuttings from
perennials, creating the perfect soil mix and tips on harvesting and storage. The garden plan section
is valuable for gardeners of all experience levels. Specific plans, including diagrams, are broken out by culinary need, such as a soup garden and a Tex-Mex garden featuring Mexican oregano and tarragon; by herb variety, such as an all-mint garden; by color; and by special needs, such as a dyer’s garden and one for shady spots.

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Multis May Cut Colon Cancer Risk

Colon cancer strikes more than 103,000 Americans each year, making it the third most common malignancy in the US. But the results of a recent study indicate that regular multivitamin/mineral usage may reduce one’s risk of developing colon cancer.

Rats in this 32-week study who ate a high-fat, low-fiber diet developed precancerous lesions. However, those rats who ate this diet but were also given a daily multivitamin/mineral showed an
84% reduction in lesions and did not go on to develop tumors.

“Multivitamin and mineral supplements synergistically contribute to cancer chemopreventative potential, and hence, regular supplements of multivitamins and minerals could reduce the risk of colon cancer,” wrote the study authors—led by Ignacimuthu Savarimuthu, PhD, of Loyola College in India—in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.

The authors noted that supplementation with multivitamins lowered lipid peroxidation levels, indicating that the rats’ bodies were better able to fight cell-damaging free radicals.

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Green Tea for Spry Seniors

The fountain of youth may be as close as the nearest tea kettle, at least according to a study in which older people who drank green tea were more independent than their peers.

Researchers at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan asked 13,988 people 65 or older about their tea-drinking habits. The study group then turned to that country’s public Long-Term Care Insurance database for information on functional disability, defined as problems with basic needs such as dressing oneself or with daily activities such as doing housework, among the participants.

After three years, those participants who drank the most tea were found to suffer less functional disability than other people involved in the study.

The researchers noted that their investigation was the first “to have proved a relation between green tea consumption and incident risk of functional disability.” Results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a key green tea flavonoid, had been linked to improved mental function in previous research.

 

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R E S O U R C E

American Holistic Veterinary
Medical Association

Its Mission:
Supporting alternative and complementary
approaches to veterinary healthcare

Contact: www.ahvma.org,
410-569-0795


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Physical Activity Sparks Enthusiasm

Looking to add excitement to your life? You might want to try getting more physically active.
Penn State researchers asked 190 college students to keep diaries of their daily lives, including sleep quality, emotional states and perceived stress levels. The students also noted any instances of free-time physical activity that lasted at least 15 minutes and whether such sessions were
mild, moderate or vigorous in nature.

The diaries were returned to the study team at the end of each day for eight days. The team then broke down the students’ reports on emotional status into categories, one of which was “pleasant-activated,” meaning the students felt excited and enthusiastic.

The more active a student was, the more time he or she spent in the pleasant-activated state, according to the team’s report in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

You don’t have to be a workout warrior to experience the mental boost that being active brings. “It’s a matter of taking it one day at a time, of trying to get your activity in and then there’s this feel-good reward afterwards,” says David Conroy, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the university.

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In Health and Career,
Jon Mack’s Mantra is Diversity

Don’t try to categorize Jon Mack. The actress has been cast in films as diverse as the Emmy-winning biopic “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” in which she played Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, and “Saw VI,” the last entry in the popular horror franchise. Diversity, in fact, is a major theme in Mack’s life, both in her career and her many approaches to wellness (not necessarily separate dynamics for Mack). An accomplished musician, she is the lead singer of Auradrone, an alternative/post-modern rock band whose name combines “aura,” for the human energy field, and “drone,” referring to a continuous tone, the likes of which might serve as a soundtrack to an energizing meditation session. “Sound is healing,” she says.

That’s reflected in Auradrone’s music. Its sophomore album, “Bleeding Edge,” features compositions exploring themes of strength and self-reliance. Mack’s varied interests extend to her health, though she avoids convention: She does yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and jujitsu. Mack sometimes gets Chinese herbs from her acupuncturist for hormonal balance, and she takes a vitamin D supplement and a daily multivitamin as well as kelp and iodine. She says she is vegan “80% of the time,” typically breaking ranks for cheese when she travels to France. “It’s hard to resist.”

Mack credits growing up on a Michigan farm and being an only child with pushing her to commune with nature. “I was a vegetarian for the first time in high school, before it was trendy or hip,” she says. Look for her onscreen later this year in “Playing the Field” alongside Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel.

 

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