Healthy Byte: Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Breast Cancer

Image result for mammogram

Originally Posted HERE

(Reuters Health) – Screening mammograms don’t benefit women aged 75 and older with chronic health problems – such as heart disease or diabetes – that are likely to end their lives before they develop cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 222,088 women who had at least one screening mammogram between 1999 and 2010 when they were between 66 and 94 years old. Researchers followed most women for nine years or more.

During the study, 7,583 women, or about 3%, were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 1,742 women, less than 1%, were diagnosed with pre-invasive malignancies known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). While 471 women died of breast cancer during the study, 42,229 died of other causes.

This means women were 90 times more likely to die of causes other than breast cancer, researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Having more chronic illnesses increases the risk of dying from non-breast cancer causes, while having no impact on the risk of breast cancer or breast cancer death,” said Dejana Braithwaite, senior author of the study and a researcher at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“This is a big deal because, while younger women might have a more justifiable reason to undergo screening mammograms to detect breast cancer because their risk of dying from other causes is relatively low, this is not the case in older women, particularly those with one or more chronic illnesses,” Braithwaite said by email.

Women ages 75 to 84 were 123 times more likely to die of causes other than breast cancer; this estimate was even higher among women age 85 and older.

The 10-year risk of dying from breast cancer was small and did not vary by age; it stayed about the same from age 66 to 94, accounting for just 0.2% -0.3% of all deaths in the study.

By contrast, the risk of dying from other causes increased with age and also climbed with each additional chronic medical problem a woman had.

The goal of screening mammography is to detect tumors before they can be felt in a physical breast exam, catching cancer sooner when it’s easier to treat. Ideally, this should mean fewer women are diagnosed when tumors are bigger, rapidly growing and harder to attack.

But some research suggests that screening too early or too often can also catch more small, slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to be fatal – without curbing the diagnosis of advanced cancer cases. Harms of too much screening can include unnecessary invasive follow-up tests and cancer treatments for tumors that never would have made women sick or led to their death.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force notes that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening women age 75 or older. Many breast cancer programs in Europe stop screening women between the ages of 69 and 74.

In the U.S., despite these recommendations, many women in their 80s and 90s still get screening mammograms, the study team notes.

One limitation of the analysis is that it only included women who continued to get screening mammograms as they aged, and it’s possible results for all women in the population, including those who stopped getting mammograms, might be different, researchers note.

“Our study included large numbers of older women unlikely to benefit from screening mammography,” Braithwaite said. “Women ages 75 and older with chronic illnesses are unlikely to benefit from continuing mammograms, however, these findings underscore the need for more individualized screening strategies, rather than making sweeping recommendations.”

Healthy Byte: The Unicorn for Women – Flat Belly

 

Image result for skinny fat pooch women

Originally Posted HERE

The idea that for a woman to be beautiful and healthy she must have a flat stomach has infiltrated mainstream society. Not only is this far from the truth – women are beautiful regardless of stomach size – but it is also a rarity to have a perfectly flat stomach.

“This belief is setting women up for failure because a woman’s stomach isn’t meant to be flat,” Ashley Wood, RN, BSN, contributor at Demystifying Your Health, told Grateful, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Over and over again, I see friends and strangers killing themselves to suck any bit of bulge from their stomach, feeling inadequate any time they see a stomach roll. For years, I felt the same way, terrified to put on a bathing suit, feeling exposed and ugly, desperate to fit the standards society had told me I needed to meet.

It feels like every day I see another article that perpetuates this narrative, promising a certain food or exercise move will finally allow me to achieve this mystical flat stomach. It suggests that any problems in life would be solved if I could simply accomplish that goal. Well, I can’t, and that’s actually OK. In fact, it’s great! Letting go of a goal you can’t achieve and allowing yourself to focus on those you can gives you back control of your life.

This may be hard to believe after what feels like a lifetime of hearing that a flat stomach is gold. So, as with any myth, the best way to tackle it is with facts. Here’s why some women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.

WOMEN HAVE EXTRA PADDING TO PROTECT VITAL ORGANS

There is a very big reason why some women cannot achieve a flat stomach, and it is called reproductive organs.

“The design of a woman’s anatomy is different than men,” Wood says. “In addition to having room for digestive organs, like your stomach, liver and intestines, it has to have space for your reproductive organs and needs extra padding to protect all of these vital organs. This process of naturally storing fat cells in the stomach area begins during adolescence and young adulthood in preparation for childbearing later in life.”

Yes, right when we enter adolescence and start being told exactly what our body should look like is when it starts to take on a mind of its own.

Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat
Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat

Men and women also lose fat in different ways.

“When men lose weight, they tend to lose their visceral fat, which is the layer of fat behind their abdominal muscles, while women typically lose subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just below the skin,” said Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health expert for Maple Holistics. “Both your visceral and subcutaneous fat contribute to your achieving a flat stomach, which is why some women find it harder to do so than others. Furthermore, factors like hormone regulation play a role in storing visceral fat, which is why many women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.”

TRUST HOW YOUR BODY IS BUILT

Just like it protects your organs, each thing your body does is for a reason. As you fight what your body does, it puts you at odds with what it needs, sometimes to the point of danger.

Ariel Johnston, a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders, cautions clients that they’ll likely see fat accumulate around their stomachs.

“When weight restoring through increased nutrition, the weight is distributed unevenly and goes to the stomach first,” she said. “This is amazing because it is the body’s way of telling us that it needs the extra fat layer there to protect itself. The mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood, but after adequate time and nourishment, the fat is redistributed throughout the body.”

Yes, your stomach will go up and down, looking different at certain times than others. “It is normal for the stomach to expand after a big meal to accommodate for the food nourishing your body. This isn’t necessarily bloating; just your body doing it’s work to break down food in the stomach,” Johnston says.

Having a flat stomach is not the key to being healthy or happy. There are some days in which I see my stomach poke out in my shirt or still cringe at first look when I’m in my undergarments, but life is simply too short to go after something unattainable while hating myself.

“I tell my clients that a slightly rounded tummy or some rolls is normal and that their worth is so much more than what they look like in a swimsuit,” Johnston says.

Instead of diets and habits that promise women something they don’t need to and can’t achieve, let’s start celebrating women for who they are.

Healthy Byte: What You May Not Know About Menopause

Image result for menopause symptoms hot flashes

Originally Posted HERE

Menopause mostly deserves its bad rap, what with frustration-inducing symptoms like hot flashes, brain fog, weight gain, and mood swings. But take this to heart: The change doesn’t have to be this big, awful thing you fear or must suffer through.

Unfortunately, 65 percent of women say they feel unprepared for what menopause may bring, reports a study in the journal MaturitasBut unlike other hormonally tumultuous times like puberty and pregnancy, you’ve actually got a lot more control over how you weather this one, says Sarah De La Torre, M.D., an ob/gyn in Seattle.

The facts and the tips that follow will help you feel ready and empowered to deal with menopause — and make these years your best yet.

1. Symptoms could last for 7+ years.

You officially reach the big M after 12 months without a period, a milestone most women hit around age 51. “But it’s not a hard stop — it’s a gradual process,” explains Felice Gersh, M.D., an ob/gyn, director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in Irvine, CA, and author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness.

2. No, hot flashes aren’t random.

Up to 80 percent of pre-menopausal women and 65 percent of post-menopausal women experience this trademark symptom. And while you may not be able to entirely avoid hot flashes, there are ways to minimize their impact.

“Triggers such as stress, hot drinks, caffeine, and sleep deprivation can definitely kick off hot flashes and make them worse and more frequent,” Dr. De La Torre says.

Spicy foods, hot rooms, and tight clothing also turn up the heat. So avoid those things, and swap them for more sleep, healthy foods, and plenty of exercise.

3. You can still have sex — and enjoy it.

“A lot of women feel like sex won’t be as good after menopause or that it will be painful,” Dr. De La Torre says. Sure, waning hormones can leave the vagina naturally drier and less elastic, but you don’t have to live with it or let it kill your sex life any more than you have to live with a headache in the age of ibuprofen.

“Vaginal estrogen inserts, lubricants, and red light therapy can all help improve the health of your vagina and maintain your sex life,” Dr. De La Torre says. Surprisingly, while 50 percent of women experience vaginal dryness and painful sex, as many as 90 percent don’t seek help, reports Harvard Women’s Health Watch. So be like the 10 percent, and talk to your doctor.

4. You can still get pregnant.

“I’ve had quite a few 44-year-olds with surprise pregnancies,” Dr. De La Torre says. “I think some women get more casual about birth control in their 40s, thinking there’s no way they could get pregnant — but you’re still fertile, just less so.”

There’s another reason to keep taking hormonal birth control: It could help smooth your path through menopause. The steady dose of hormones in pills and IUDs means your body may not fully register the decline of natural estrogen and progesterone. In other words, symptoms might not be as erratic. “A lot of women have ridiculously heavy or erratic periods in perimenopause, and progesterone-releasing IUDs, especially, help avoid that,” Dr. De La Torre says.

5. Menopause doesn’t just affect your reproductive system.

Estrogen is the “master of metabolic homeostasis [a.k.a balance] and function,” Gersh says. So when production ceases, it impacts everything from fat production and distribution, appetite hormones and thyroid function to energy levels, sleep, mood, inflammation, and so much more.

That’s partly why up to 90 percent of women gain weight after menopause and why you may feel hungrier or more fatigued, Dr. Gersh says. Estrogen also helps manage cholesterol levels and keeps artery walls and blood vessels flexible and healthy, which is one reason the risk of heart disease jumps as the hormone declines. But you’re only in real trouble if you do nothing.

“Now is the time to start taking really good care of yourself,” Dr. De La Torre says. That means eating lots of fruits and veggies, exercising, practicing good sleep hygiene (no more scrolling social media in bed!), and reducing stress. All help prevent a dangerous pile-on of risk factors, keeping you healthy.

6. Your mental health might take a hit.

“Taking care of your mental health should be a huge priority,” Dr. Gersh says. “Women already have twice the risk of depression and anxiety as men, and that can escalate during the menopause transition.” Menopause symptoms also bring about extra stress (as if your kids flying the nest and aging parents who need care weren’t stressful enough).

You already know it feels good to vent or laugh your way through the tough parts of life, but research suggests positive social support can increase longevity in post-menopausal women, too.

Healthy Byte: Toss the All or Nothing Mentality

Image result for light exercise

Originally Posted HERE

(Reuters Health) – People who get even a small amount of exercise may be less likely to die prematurely than their more sedentary counterparts, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from 10 previously published studies that used accelerometers that track movement to measure the exact amount of active and sedentary time spent by more than 36,000 older adults. After an average follow-up period of 6.7 years, a total of 2,149 people died, or about 6% of the participants.

Compared to people who got virtually no exercise, people who got the most physical activity were 73% less likely to die during the study, regardless of how intensely they worked out. With even a little exercise, people were 52% less like to die.

When researchers looked only at people who did light workouts, they again found that even a little bit of low-intensity exercise was associated with a 40% lower risk of death during the study compared with doing nothing at all. People who got the most light-intensity exercise were 62% less likely to die.

“The finding that higher levels of light-intensity physical activity reduce the risk of death is novel and suggests that all physical activity counts,” said Ulf Ekelund, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.

“This is of particular importance for elderly and those who may not be able to participate in physical activity at moderate and higher intensities,” Ekelund said by email. “The simple take-home message is to sit less, move more, and move more often.”

Physical inactivity has long been linked to an increased risk of premature death and a wide variety of chronic health problems, but much of this evidence has been based on surveys that might not provide an accurate picture of how much exercise people really get, the review team writes in The BMJ.

In the current analysis, participants were 63 years old, on average. All of them wore accelerometers for at least 10 hours a day for four or more days to track how much they moved, the intensity of their activity levels and how much time they were sedentary and not moving at all.

People who were sedentary for 10 hours a day were 48% more likely to die during the study than people who moved more. Twelve hours a day of sedentary time was associated with an almost tripled risk of death during the study.

When researchers excluded people who died within the first two years of follow-up – who might have been sicker than others, explaining their inactivity – the results didn’t change.

One limitation of the study is that it looked at men and women combined, making it impossible to determine if there are any sex-based differences in the connection between activity levels and longevity. Participants were also middle-aged and older, so it’s unclear if results would be similar for younger adults.

“By reducing sedentary time people increase activity, therefore, it is likely that both are not independent factors and that they represent two sides of the same coin,” said Jochen Klenk, author of an editorial accompanying the study and a researcher the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University in Germany.

“Based in the results of the paper, is seems that any level of intensity is beneficial,” Klenk said by email.

Healthy Byte: The Importance of Rests in Strength Training

Image result for rests between sets

Originally Posted HERE

What’s the most important question you ask your fellow gym rats when you show up at the gym? How much do you bench? What muscles should I focus on today?

While these topics are definitely popular, there is one question that often gets overlooked: How long should I rest?

That’s right. What if I told you that you may be missing out on strength gains because you’re working too hard in the gym? Yes, you heard me correctly. The amount of time you rest between sets has a major impact on the type of exercise you can undertake, and it should not be taken lightly.

First of all, why do we need to rest between sets? Why can’t we just train non-stop? The answer often has to do with chemical processes inside the body that cause fatigue and act as a safety measure to prevent muscles from being overworked. One general rule of thumb is that the heavier the weight you’re using, the longer your rest should generally be. For example, the recommended rest breaks when trying to improve your one-rep max Deadlift are quite a bit different than when you’re attempting to pump up your biceps.

Your rest breaks need to reflect your training goals, whether they involve endurance, strength, power or hypertrophy.

Endurance Rest Intervals

When thinking about resistance training for endurance performance, we commonly think “low weight, high reps.” Scientifically, this equates to loads of less than ~67% of your one rep max, and banging out more than 12 reps per set.

How much should you be resting when muscular endurance is your primary focus? Typical rest breaks are short, lasting between 30-60 seconds. The biggest guide is that the break is long enough for you to hit your repetition goal, but ideally no longer. Modify or adjust the training load to maintain the appropriate number of repetitions.

Why such a short rest period? This type of training relies heavily on oxidative metabolism and increases your body’s mitochondrial density (remember back to your 8th grade Biology days, the mitochondria is the “powerhouse” of the cell). More mitochondria, more aerobic metabolism, greater endurance. Boom. Science.

Hypertrophy Rest Intervals

Well, what if you want to get bigger? Not only must you make sure you are lifting heavier weights (~67-85% of your one rep max) than you would when the focus is endurance, but the volume has to be correct (between 6-12 repetitions) and the rest break also needs to be slightly altered.

Lots of research has compared human growth hormone levels accumulated with short rest intervals (60 seconds) vs. long rest intervals (180 seconds). What have they found?

Higher levels of growth hormone were found in the one-minute rest groups than the three-minute groups, leading to a higher hypertrophic effect.

So what does this mean? Instead of spending five minutes swiping through your social media, get back underneath the bar no more than a minute after your last set to maximize your body’s internal pharmaceutical cabinet.

Strength/Power Rest Intervals

Now if your goals are focused on improving strength or power output (loads typically >80% of one rep max with less than 6 repetitions), you have to make sure your mid-workout siestas are adequate.

What’s enough? Most studies indicate greater than two minutes, with some breaks lasting upwards of five minutes.

Why so long? Not only do you have to allow for the recovery of high energy substrates used in anaerobic metabolism, but the technical nature of these lifts requires adequate central nervous system recovery.

If you’re training for strength and power, 2-5 minutes between sets is usually ideal.

When it comes to resistance training, many people rarely utilize the right rest interval for their goal. They say they want to build muscle, but they’re scrolling through Instagram for six minutes between sets instead of getting back to action 30-60 seconds later. Or they say they want to get stronger, but they’re utilizing such short rest periods that they become incapable of lifting the heavy loads needed to make significant strength gains.

Of course, different guidelines apply to certain modes of exercise, such as circuit or complex training.

Additionally, the technical nature of the lift, your training status, variability of performance, fatigue levels, etc., can play a role in how much rest you may need to take during any given workout.

However, rest intervals should not be overlooked. It’s best to program them ahead of time so you stay on track during your workout, and then adjust on the fly if needed.