Headlines of the Week: May 28-June 1

Healthy Living
on June 1, 2012

Picking Healthy Meals More Difficult Than Doing Your Taxes

At least that’s what a majority (52 percent) of people in this recent survey said. Wow. And tax time comes only once a year, when you’ve got to make healthy meal choices at least three times a day. This attitude—that eating healthfully is more difficult than one of the most dreaded tasks faced by adults—should be a major red flag to anyone concerned about the health and welfare of the country. Folks, really—despite all of the diet books and health gurus with their eat-this-not-that advice, it’s pretty simple. Eat lean proteins, more seafood than chicken, beef, pork and the like. Whole grains (brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals). Fruits and vegetables. Low-fat dairy. Limit sugar and fried foods, and when you use (or eat) fat, choose olive oil over all the others. A little common sense goes a long way in coming up with healthy meals—but it doesn’t do squat when you’re filling out your 1040 tax form.

Yogurt-Eating Mice Have Bigger Testicles

They say that real men don’t eat quiche—but it turns out, they may eat yogurt. Mice on a diet spiked with vanilla-flavored yogurt ended up with shinier coats, heavier testicles and were more fertile than non-yogurt-eating rodents. The yogurt-eaters actually “swaggered,” said the researchers—no doubt because they were able to impregnate their partners more quickly and more often than the less-fortunate Yoplait-free namby-pamby group. The researchers (who were Harvard-trained, by the way) suspect the probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, in the yogurt were responsible for its machismo-enhancing effects. One wonders what kind of endorsement deals this might lead to for yogurt-hawking celebrities.

Invasive Treatment Tested for High Blood Pressure

In a scary move from doctors frustrated with the inability to control patients’ blood pressure with medication, an invasive procedure to deaden nerves in the kidneys is under study. Meant as a last resort, the treatment involves inserting a catheter through the groin to the kidneys and “zapping” nerves there with radiofrequency waves to deaden them, calming an overactive system and causing arteries to relax. Small studies have shown a 33-point drop in the key top number of a blood pressure reading. A larger study is now enrolling patients. There’s no information on the long-term effects of the nerve-zapping treatment, but such measures should truly be reserved for people who have committed to making lifestyle changes proven to address high blood pressure–exercise, healthy, low-sodium diet—as well as medication. We fear that this treatment, if approved, may become to be seen as an easy-way-out for patients, and a quick fix for doctors. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t.

Aspirin and Other NSAIDS May Prevent Melanoma

A little good news, in the face of the rising incidence of melanoma—the most deadly form of skin cancer–in women ages 18 to 39. In the study, people who used aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen were 13 percent less likely to develop melanoma and 15 percent less likely to develop squamous cell skin cancer than non-NSAID users. The researchers said the effect is likely due to the fact that NSAIDs fight inflammation that’s involved in the growth of cancers. Now, this doesn’t mean you can pop an aspirin and run out to the tanning bed—or the pool sans sunscreen. The researchers say using sunscreen and other sun-protective strategies are still the best way to prevent skin cancer.

Found in: Healthy Living