The holiday season means you’ll be faced with a seemingly endless buffet of food temptation. While some people simply give in and eat too much, others deny themselves any holiday treats. Continue reading
NBC Nightly News recently reported that a new study gives us clues of “why it’s so hard to keep weight off once you have lost it.” Continue reading
Trying to avoid eating the entire bag of candy bars you bought for Halloween before the big night arrives? Worried that you won’t have the willpower to resist midnight raids on your child’s Halloween stash? Here are several tips on how to limit empty Halloween calories: Continue reading
Did your mom, like mine, emphasize chewing your food slowly? Now we know she was right. Here’s why. Continue reading
There’s been a lot of debate about mammograms for breast cancer screening, but an even more important health promotion exercise would be for women to everything they can to prevent breast cancer. And now experts are reporting that women can do three things to dramatically reduce their risk of getting breast cancer — especially if they have a strong family history of breast cancer:
- Exercise (20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week),
- Maintain a healthy weight (BMI of 18.5 to under 25), and
- Watch alcohol intake (fewer than seven drinks per week).
Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News:
Women who maintain certain “breast-healthy” habits can lower their risk of breast cancer, even if a close relative has had the disease, a new study finds.
Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all, was shown in a large study to help protect against breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the researchers said.
“Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behavior compared to women who were not,” said study leader Dr. Robert Gramling, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. The study was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.
Gramling wanted to look at the effects of lifestyle habits on breast cancer risk because he suspects some women with a family history may believe their risk is out of their control.
He analyzed data on U.S. women aged 50 to 79 from the Women’s Health Initiative study starting in 1993. During 5.4 years of follow-up, 1,997 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
Gramling excluded women with a personal history of breast cancer or with a family history of early-onset cancer (diagnosed before age 45), then observed the impact of the healthy habits.
Excluding those with an early-onset family history makes sense, because a stronger genetic (versus environmental) component is thought to play a role in early-onset, experts say.
Following all three habits reduced the risk of breast cancer for women with and without a late-onset family history. “For women who had a family history and adhered to all these behaviors, about six of every 1,000 women got breast cancer over a year’s time,” he said.
In comparison, about seven of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer each year if they had a late-onset family history and followed none of the behaviors.
Among women without a family history who followed all three habits, about 3.5 of every 1,000 were diagnosed with breast cancer annually, compared to about 4.6 per 1,000 per year for those without a family history who followed none of the habits.
For his study, Gramling considered regular physical activity to be 20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week. Moderate alcohol intake was defined as fewer than seven drinks a week. A healthy body weight was defined in the standard way, having a body mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to under 25.
Gramling hopes his research will reverse the thinking of women whose mother or sister had breast cancer who sometimes believe they are doomed to develop the disease, too.
The findings echo what other experts have known, said Dr. Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society, who reviewed the study findings.
“The results of this study show that both women with a family history [late-onset] and without will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, and consuming lower amounts of alcohol, limiting their alcohol consumption,” she said.
The American Cancer Society guidelines for reducing breast cancer risk include limiting alcohol to no more than a drink a day, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of “intentional physical activity” five or more days a week.
The risk reduction effects found in the Gramling study may actually increase if women follow the more intense exercise guidelines of the ACS, Gapstur said.
To learn more about breast cancer risk factors, visit the American Cancer Society web site here.
Sitting down to eat a real meal three times a day may be a better strategy for weight loss than grazing on several smaller “mini-meals,” new research shows. Here are the details in a report from Reuters Health:
Overweight and obese men on low-calorie, high-protein diets felt more satisfied and less hungry when they ate three times a day compared to when they ate six times a day, Dr. Heather J. Leidy and colleagues from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, found.
“There’s a lot of lay press about eating frequency,” Leidy, who is now at The University of Missouri in Columbia, told Reuters Health.
While there’s a widespread perception that it’s better to eat little meals more often, she added, “these mini-meals everyone is talking about don’t seem to be as beneficial as far as appetite control.”
Studies on whether eating frequency affects appetite control have had “conflicting” results, she and her colleagues note in the journal Obesity. To investigate further, they randomly assigned 27 men who were overweight or obese to eat either a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet for 12 weeks.
Diets contained 750 fewer calories than each man needed to maintain his current weight. Starting at week seven of the study, the men either ate their assigned diet in three meals spaced five hours apart, or in six meals eaten every two hours, for three days in a row. The study participants then switched to the other eating pattern for an additional three consecutive days.
Men eating the higher protein diet (25 percent of total calories from protein) felt fuller throughout the day, didn’t want to eat as much late at night, and were less preoccupied with thoughts of food than the men who were consuming 14 percent of their energy as protein. While eating frequency didn’t influence appetite in the men on the normal-protein diet, the researchers did find that men in the high protein group felt fuller in the evening and late at night after eating just three meals a day.
It’s already been established, Leidy said, that high protein diets are better for appetite control. The diet men followed in her study “is not Atkins by any means,” she added. “We very clearly want people to know that this is not an Atkins-style diet. You’re still getting an adequate amount of fiber and fruits and vegetables with these diets.”
Here are a few well-regarded weight-loss programs to consider, courtesy of a report in the New York Times.
- LOSEIT (iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone; free): Tell the app how much weight you want to lose and how many pounds per week you want to take off, and it calculates the amount of calories you can consume each day. LoseIt has a database of 40,000 food items and can also calculate how many calories your daily exercise burns up.
- CALORIE COUNTER by FatSecret (works on all platforms; free): This program works much like LoseIt. But one advantage is that when you enter your basic information, you can sync up with the FatSecret Web site. The site has forums where users can swap ideas about diets, recipes and working out.
- TAP & TRACK (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; $3.99): This app costs $4, but users say it’s worth every penny. The program helps you come up with a daily calorie goal and features a large food and exercise database.
- WEIGHT WATCHERS MOBILE (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile 6; subscription required): If you already follow Weight Watchers or Weight Watchers Online, consider their app or one that can track the points used in their diets. Free for online subscribers, Weight Watchers Mobile lets you track and calculate points and see your weight loss history.
USA Today reports, “Women who want to prevent weight gain as they age should hop on a bike or take a brisk walk,” discoveries that add “to mounting evidence of the importance of moderate to vigorous exercise for weight control.”
Those who participated in the Harvard study “gained an average of 20½ pounds over 16 years,” but “those who regularly biked or walked briskly were less likely to gain as much.”
The “findings are based on the second Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which is tracking 116,608 female nurses who periodically fill out questionnaires about their health, weight, diet and behavior,” the New York Times Vital Signs reports.
The “new analysis, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at weight change and behavior from 1989 (when the nurses were 25 to 42 years old) to 2005; to isolate the effects of exercise, the researchers controlled for other obesity risk factors.”
And, of course, losing weight can reduce the hot flashes of menopause as well as cardiovascular risk. It’s a great strategy for becoming both more physically and emotionally healthy.
You can read more about improving your health in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. Autographed copies are available, along with my other books, here.
For anybody trying to lose weight, a new report says that “taking up gum-chewing might not be a bad idea,” as “there’s actually a bit of scientific evidence showing that chewing gum helps fight fat in a number of ways.”
The research, sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute, has suggested “that chewing gum may help reduce cravings, particularly for sweet snacks, and spur people to cut their daily intake by about 50 calories.”
According to a report in the Washington Post, the findings were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Obesity Society last month, and “showed that gum-chewing people consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch and didn’t compensate by eating more later in the day.”
Although I’m always skeptical about research on gum financed by a gum manufacturer, this is an inexpensive intervention and may be worthy of considering. Just be sure to throw your gum away in a trash can when you’re done!
The weather is getting cooler and the days are getting shorter. As seasonal changes begin, it’s easy for people to get into a rut when it comes to dieting and exercise. And that rut can translate into extra pounds once the holiday parties start rolling around.
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