Sunday, February 7, 2010

Resistance Training Improves Cognitive Function in Older Women

We all know that exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. Resistance training has been shown to increase bone mass in women, helping to stave off osteoporosis. But now it appears that resistance training can do much more than tone your muscles. It can keep your mind well-toned and in shape, too.

A study conducted by Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Ph.D., P.T., of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada found that women who engaged in once or twice weekly resistance training had improvements in the areas of attention and conflict resolution skills.

The study followed participants aged 65 to 75 for one year. During that year, two of three groups of women engaged in resistance training. Those women in the groups that were in resistance training once or twice weekly had improved scores on tests that measured selective attention and conflict resolution.

The study seems to indicate that while you're improving muscular function, you also can improve your cognitive function. The results of many other studies have indicated that exercise is a key element to maintaining mental health as well as physical health.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Humanely Rid Your Home of Animal Pests

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Woodstream. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you've never had a problem with animals getting into your trash or setting up their new home inside your home, then you're very lucky - because once a critter moves in, he's not going to leave without a lot of persuasion.

There's an old shed near my house that was used for storage of various items. Over the years it had become dilapidated and, it seems, it had also become the preferred shelter for some local animals. When a contractor began work to make the shed more secure, the animals fled their home and at least one took up residence in my basement just a few feet away.

You can't imagine my horror once I realized that some furry critter was the sound I heard skittering across my kitchen floor at night. I considered a lot of solutions for getting rid of what I couldn't identify (I never got a good look at it) but some solutions lead to more problems and others are just too cruel.  I rejected the idea of poison and I didn't want to kill it - just encourage it to move.  I could have used some good Animal Trapping Tips but I had no idea how to go about it humanely.

It took several weeks of scouting out entry points the animal was using and blocking them off before the animal realized his convenient source of food had become inaccessible and found other lodgings. But I was lucky, not all animals are so easily deterred. Judging by the size of the openings he was using, my animal was not a large one and I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by using the Havahart Easy Set Small Animal Trap. This nifty trap sets and releases with just one hand and allows you to trap the animal without injury.

No one wants animal pests to invade their living space, make a mess of their trash cans or endanger the health and safety of their families or pets, but trapping and removing these pests humanely can be a problem. Havahart has expert advice and effective solutions for your animal problems with alternative methods that don't involve injuring or killing the animal. They have several sizes of humane traps that will help you with many different types of animals. For instance, the Havahart Easy Set Large Animal Trap is the right size for raccoons. All Easy Set traps allow you to trap the animal humanely and set them free elsewhere. The best part is that they are easy to use with their one-hand set and release.

If you find that your attic has been taken over by squirrels or that your trash cans are the local meeting place for neighborhood raccoons, visit the Havahart site for great information and advice on reclaiming your space in an environmentally-conscious way - without pesticides, without injuring wildlife and without compromising your principles.

Visit my sponsor: Havahart - Yep! A Brand With a Big Heart!

Flame Retardant Chemicals Linked to Infertility

A new study from the University of California Berkley links levels of a compound used to make household products flame retardant and lower fertility levels in women.

According to the study, women with higher blood levels of PBDEs, a type of flame retardant commonly found in household consumer products, took longer to become pregnant. In fact, every 10 fold increase in the blood concentration of four PBDE chemicals was linked to a 30 percent decrease in the odds of becoming pregnant each month. compared with women who have lower PBDE levels.

PBDEs are used in foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets, plastics and other household items. PBDEs are known to accumulate in human fat cells and it is estimated that 97% of Americans have detectable levels of PBDEs in their blood. 

Read more:

Coliform Contamination Found in Bagged Salads

Pre-washed, packaged salads are certainly a convenience - especially if you like to pack a healthy lunch for yourself or your children. But are you getting more than you expected in your salad?

A Consumer Reports study recently found bacterial contamination in packages of pre-washed salad greens. The good news is that they didn't find the worst offenders, such as E. coli, listeria or salmonella. But they did find coliforms, a general indicator for bacterial infection.

The study involved 208 samples and 39 percent of those samples showed levels of contamination above that which is considered acceptable.

Specifically, samples tested positive for coliforms and enterococcus which are indicators of fecal contamination. Bags of spinach were the most common offenders. Now there's a thought that could put you off your lunch.

If you do buy bagged salads, follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting contamination in your salad:

* Buy packages as far from the "use-by" date as possible. More contamination was found in packages that were within 1-5 days of their expiration date.

* Wash the salad yourself in running water.

* Keep salad refrigerated from the day you buy it until used. Bacteria generally don't like cold temperatures.

* Prevent any possibility of cross-contamination by keeping greens aware from raw meat.

Fish Oil Health Benefits

February is National Heart Disease Awareness Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, so it's important to raise awareness of the risk factors, signs and symptoms of heart disease.

Lifestyle choices play an important role in reducing your risk of heart disease. Getting plenty of exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, watching your cholesterol intake, knowing your blood pressure and treating high blood pressure promptly are key elements to heart health.

Obviously eating a heart-healthy diet is another important lifestyle choice. Multiple medical studies have indicated that dietary intake of the recommended amounts of DHA and EPA which are found in fish oil, can reduce your risk of death, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and stroke. There is also evidence that fish oil slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques and lowers blood pressure slightly.

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also have protective properties in the brain and improve cognitive function. Fish oil may also hold some health benefits for those suffering from arthritis.

Although there may be some concerns about environmental contamination with some species of fish, fish oil supplements are readily available and contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids that are an important component of your heart-healthy diet.

Brought to you by our friends at Fish Oil whom we thank for supporting our blog.

Friday, January 29, 2010

FDA approves expanded use of breast cancer drug

The FDA today approved the expanded use of a breast cancer drug.  Here's the information from the FDA:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Tykerb (lapatinib) in combination with Femara (letrozole) to treat hormone positive and HER2-positive advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women for whom hormonal therapy is indicated.

HER2 is a protein involved in normal cell growth. It is found on some types of cancer cells, including breast cancer cells. In hormone positive breast cancer, the presence of certain hormones contributes to breast cancer growth. In HER2-positive breast cancer, stimulation of the HER2 receptor contributes to cancer cell growth. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. More than 192,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

“This drug combination of Tykerb plus Femara provides women being treated for advanced breast cancer with an important treatment option. This entirely oral treatment regimen works by targeting both HER2 and the hormone receptors, thereby slowing the cancer cells’ ability to grow or spread,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products, in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Women with HER2-positive disease receiving the Tykerb plus Femara combination more than doubled the time they lived without the cancer progressing compared with those receiving Femara alone (35 weeks vs. 13 weeks). Women in the company sponsored study were randomized to receive Tykerb plus Femara or Femara alone. It is too early to determine whether an improvement in overall survival will be observed in the clinical trial.

Tykerb works by depriving tumor cells of signals needed to grow. Tykerb enters the cell and blocks the function of the HER2 protein.

Tykerb was initially approved in combination with a chemotherapy drug, Xeloda (capecitabine) in 2007. This combination was used to treat women with advanced breast cancer tumors with the HER2 protein who had received prior treatment with chemotherapy drugs, including an anthracycline and a taxane, and Herceptin (trastuzumab), an anti-cancer antibody used to treat HER2-positive advanced breast cancer.

Safety information from this study was consistent with previous Tykerb clinical studies in advanced breast cancer. The most commonly reported side effects of the combination were diarrhea, rash, nausea and fatigue. Treatment with Tykerb also has been associated with decreases in heart function, liver damage, and lung tissue inflammation. Fetal harm may occur if used to treat advanced breast cancer in pregnant women. Patients should talk to their health care provider about the potential side effects, drug interactions, and other medical conditions.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slow the Spread of Winter Germs

It's winter and everyone spends a lot more time indoors. Kids are in school and colds and flu seem to spread through entire communities through schools and workplaces. Eventually, one member of the family is going to come home sick. What can you do to keep the virus from spreading to every member of the family?

The steps are simple and good to practice at all times, but you need to be especially vigilant once the virus steps inside your house.

* Wash your hands - This applies to everyone in the house, not just the ill member. During the course of the day, anyone can touch a surface that the sick family member has touched, so washing hands often will help prevent this method of infection.

* Disinfect surfaces - the telephone, doorknobs, railings, tables - anything that is regularly touched by every family member. If the sick person is a child, wash toys too. If there is a stomach virus going around, be sure to disinfect all bathroom surfaces.

* Keep hand sanitizer handy - encourage everyone to use it whenever they touch surfaces that could harbor germs.

* Limit contact - don't share items like towels and drinking glasses with the sick person.

Remember that the sick person was probably contagious before any symptoms became evident, so don't think you can avoid the germs entirely. However, you can take steps to lower exposure and try to keep the family healthier during this germ-laden season.