30 Minutes a Day May Keep Strokes Away

Via To Your Health

As little as half an hour a day of moderate exercise may reduce your risk of suffering a stroke, say researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Prevention Research Center. That ‘s good news because stroke is the nation’s third leading cause of death.

 It occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped when a blood vessel is blocked by a clot or bursts. 

The research was presented recently at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans. Researchers studied more than 61,000 adults at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. After taking an initial treadmill test to assess fitness, study participants periodically answered health surveys. The study divided subjects into four levels of fitness and then looked at how many of them suffered strokes, following them for an average of 18 years. Overall, there were 863 stroke events during the study: 692 in men and 171 in women. Read more of this post

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Black pepper compound fights fat

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension 

In the April 18, 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Korean researchers report that piperine, a pungent compound found in black pepper (Piper nigrum), helps block the formation of new fat cells, a process known as adipogenesis.

“Adipogenesis is a well-organized process regulated by adipogenic transcription factors, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma), sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) family, and CCAAT-enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) family,” the authors write in their introduction. “Of these factors, PPAR-gamma has been focused on its role in adipocyte differentiation. In addition to being induced during adipogenesis, it is both necessary and sufficient for the process.” Read more of this post

Higher Vitamin D Levels Correlated With Less Depression

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension 

The November, 2011 edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings published the results of a cross-sectional study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute which uncovered a protective effect for high serum vitamin D levels against depression. The study, which included 12,594 men and women, is the largest of its kind to date.

University of Texas professor of psychiatry E. Sherwood Brown and his associates analyzed data from participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which enrolled patients from the Cooper Clinic from November, 2006, to October, 2010. Subjects were categorized as depressed in accordance with Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale scores, and serum samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.

Dr Brown’s team found a significant association between higher vitamin D levels and a decreased risk of depressive symptoms, especially among those with a history of the condition. For those without a history of depression, having a higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level was associated with a 5 percent lower risk of the condition compared to having a low level, while among those with a history of depression, the risk for those with a high level was 10 percent lower.

Vitamin D’s impact on neurotransmitters, markers of inflammation and other factors could be behind its ability to reduce depression according to Dr Brown, who is the head of UT Southwestern’s psychoneuroendocrine research program. “Our findings suggest that screening for vitamin D levels in depressed patients – and perhaps screening for depression in people with low vitamin D levels – might be useful,” he concluded.

Vitamin B12 and folic acid improve memory in two year trial

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension

The January, 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of an analysis of a randomized, controlled trial conducted by Australian researchers which found that supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 improved immediate and delayed memory in older men and women.

The current study analyzed data from a trial of 900 participants with elevated psychological distress between the ages 60 to 74 who received 400 micrograms folic acid plus 100 micrograms vitamin B12, or a placebo for two years. The original trial was designed to analyze the effect of the supplements and other factors on depressive symptoms. (Late life depression is a risk factor for cognitive impairment.) Cognitive function was assessed at the beginning of the study and at 12 and 24 months.

While orientation, attention, verbal memory and processing speed remained unchanged, greater improvements from baseline in immediate and delayed recall scores were observed among those who received vitamin B12 and folic acid compared with the placebo group. Plasma homocysteine, an amino acid that, when elevated, is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular events, increased by an average of 8.33 percent among those who received the B vitamins, and by 22.45 percent among those who received the placebo. Having a high homocysteine level at the beginning of the study was associated with reduced cognitive performance at 24 months, as were higher depression scores.

“The significant effect of folic acid plus vitamin B12 supplementation occurred in the later stage of the intervention, i.e., at 24 months,” Janine G. Walker and colleagues write. “It is possible that the effects of folic acid plus vitamin B12 supplementation are long term and operate by reducing vascular and other metabolic risk factors for cognitive impairment.”

“The prospect of using dietary supplements of folic acid and vitamin B12 to prevent cognitive decline appears promising,” they conclude. “More studies are needed to determine whether the benefits of folic acid and vitamin B12 supplementation found in this trial could be replicated in other populations of older adults with increased risk of developing significant cognitive impairment.”

Coffee drinking associated with lower risk of endometrial cancer

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension

A report published this month in the American Association for Cancer Research journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed a connection between coffee drinking and protection against the development of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). Preliminary research findings involving coffee suggest that the beverage may be protective against obesity-associated cancers, as well as those that have been associated with insulin and the major female hormone estrogen.

“Coffee has already been shown to be protective against diabetes due to its effect on insulin,” remarked senior researcher Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, who is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “So we hypothesized that we’d see a reduction in some cancers as well.” Read more of this post

Stroke risk declines with greater number of healthy lifestyle factors

 Reprinted with permission of Life Extension

The November 14, 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reports the outcome of a study which concluded that the greater number of healthy lifestyle factors one has, the more protection one gains against stroke. Stroke is a major cause of death worldwide, and its impact on survivors can be devastating.

Gang Hu, MD, PhD of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and colleagues analyzed data from 17,287 men and 19,399 women without a history of heart disease or stroke who participated in surveys conducted in Finland in 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2002. Questionnaire responses provided information on medical history, physical activity levels, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, diet and other factors. Participants were followed through 2007, during which 1,167 ischemic strokes and 311 hemorrhagic strokes occurred.

The five healthy lifestyle factors evaluated in the study included being a lifelong nonsmoker, having a body mass index of less than 25, engaging in moderate to high levels of physical activity, consuming vegetables at least three times per week and having light to moderate weekly intake of alcohol. Compared to the risk of stroke experienced by those having one or no healthy factors, having two, three, four and five factors was associated with a 34, 43, 49 and 67 percent adjusted reduction. When stroke was analyzed according to type, having two, three, four and five factors was associated with a 33, 40, 50 and 70 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke and a 37, 51, 51 and 60 percent decreased risk of hemorrhagic stroke. These inverse associations were present in both younger and older participations and among those with and without high blood pressure or a history of diabetes.

“Our study demonstrates a graded inverse association between the number of healthy lifestyle factors and the risks of total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke in both men and women,” the authors conclude. “Our findings suggest the important role of promoting a healthy lifestyle in the primary prevention of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.”