What's the Latest?
Mounjaro and other new weight loss drugs can lead to unwanted pregnancy
Further reminders coming out about how the class of weight loss drugs such as semaglutide (Mounjaro) can interfere with oral contraceptives and lead to unwanted pregnancy. Yet one more problem associated with their use.
Lifestyle Choices Curb Genetic Predisposition to Cancer
A recent large-scale study in JAMA involving over 250,000 cases documented that healthy lifestyle choices - in this study they looked at overall diet, exercise, smoking, weight, and alcohol - greatly curbed the strong genetic predisposition in thyroid cancer. In other words, your genes don't determine everything. How we live modifies that significantly.
Are Eggs Good or Bad?
This has long been debated. Certainly eggs were demonized for much of the latter part of the 20th century, but data has been reaching different conclusions. Although the final word isn't in, here is a prominent recent study from the American Journal of Medicine that shows not only are eggs not bad for you, egg consumption was associated with a reduction in risk of coronary artery disease.
Sugar Affects Fat
A study in JAMA showed that reducing sugar in the diet of adolescent boys who already have developed fatty liver results in reduction of the fatty liver. We tend to think that fat makes us fat. Mostly, it's sugar that makes us fat.
Exercise and Movement
Exercise for Erectile Dysfunction: As good as Viagra and better than testosterone
A new study collating multiple studies on exercise and erectile dysfunction shows that exercise was just as powerful as Viagra, especially in those with the most severe ED, and more powerful than testosterone.
Exercise Reduces Fatty Liver
Fatty liver is a very common condition, courtesy mainly of our cultural diets and obesity epidemic. Exercise has now been shown to significantly reduce that build-up of fat in the liver with as little as 150 min of walking per week! It is further notable that the effect occurred without concurrent weight loss.
Exercise Protection Against All-cause Mortality
A study in JAMA demonstrated that a greater number of daily steps was associated with lower all-cause mortality. Get out there and walk!
Exercise As Strong, or Stronger, than Medication for Anxiety/Depression
A recent meta-analysis of studies demonstrated the signficant strength of exercise as first-line treatment for anxiety and depression. Results are repeatedly as strong, or often stronger, than medications. It calls us to recognize this link, recognize our continued mistaken focus on medications as first-line therapy, and the linkages of these lifestyle arenas.
In a study of over 500,000 people frequent vigorous exercise, housework-related activities and family/friends visits were associated with a statistically significant reduction in development of dementia. Original published study
Exercise Reduces Need for Diabetes Medications
In this Mayo Clinic study, it was shown that the more exercise one engaged in, the fewer diabetic medications that were needed. Really want to get off diabetes medications? The answer is diet and exercise!
Importance of Resistance Training
Multiple studies have demonstrated that even very small amounts of resistance training (like lifting weights) has enormous cardiovascular benefits and now reduction in Metabolic Syndrome, which is the combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated lipids. Repeatedly it has been shown that as little as 2x/week and less than an hour total time brings significant change. Here's one of those studies from Mayo Clinic.
Ancient movement practices such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong have shown benefits in multiple health arenas such as improved mobility and balance, reduced falls in the elderly, and now on reduction in central obesity on par with regular exercise, as shown in this study from the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Exercise and the Brain
Cardiac fitness literally changes your brain. In this Mayo Clinic study, higher fitness levels were associated with greater grey matter volume in the brain, increased total brain volume and specific positive changes in areas of the brain not even associated with movement.
Sleep and Rest
Increased light exposure in early morning is a proven way to re-establish circadian rhythms. Can also help greatly preventing jet lag with long trips. See article.
Effects of alcohol on our sleep. NYTimes article. Original article in the research literature showing "heavy alcohol consumption lowers mood, disrupts sleep, increases anxiety and produces physical symptoms, emotional symptoms and symptoms of fatigue throughout the next morning."
Disruption of circadian rhythms increases risk of cancer. This article details a new study looking specifically at a particular form of lung cancer. Of course, the dismaying thing in the article is the statement, "this will help us develop drugs to address the rhythm disturbance." Ummm......why not put our energies into better sleep and alignment with our natural rhythm?
Great article on re-thinking our concepts and language around addiction. See article.
More Support for Body-based Approaches to Stress
'Sighing', or bodily discharge of tension through breathing, was shown to be more powerful than mindfulness practice for reducing stress. Sleep was improved as well as multiple other stress parameters with just 5 min per day of practice. This furthers the notion that mental processes are not nearly as effective at stress reduction and healing as body practices of tension discharge.
Recent studies have further put the nail in the coffin of the "chemical imbalance" theory of depression/anxiety. To quote from one of the largest, recently published in the prestigious journal Nature:
"Our comprehensive review of the major strands of research on serotonin shows there is no convincing evidence that depression is associated with, or caused by, lower serotonin concentrations or activity. Most studies found no evidence of reduced serotonin activity in people with depression compared to people without, and methods to reduce serotonin availability using tryptophan depletion do not consistently lower mood in volunteers. High quality, well-powered genetic studies effectively exclude an association between genotypes related to the serotonin system and depression, including a proposed interaction with stress. Weak evidence from some studies of serotonin 5-HT1A receptors and levels of SERT points towards a possible association between increased serotonin activity and depression. However, these results are likely to be influenced by prior use of antidepressants and its effects on the serotonin system [30, 31]. The effects of tryptophan depletion in some cross-over studies involving people with depression may also be mediated by antidepressants, although these are not consistently found .
Bullet points in summary:
-There's no evidence of association of serotonin levels and depression.
-Genetic studies do not bear out any association with chemical issues.
-Antidepressant medication use itself alters the receptors in the brain in a way that creates issues.
Meditation and Anxiety
Recent study in JAMA Psychiatry documents that meditation is just as effective as medications for anxiety. Hopefully, this puts another nail in the coffin of the notion of anxiety being random chemical events for which medication manipulation of brain chemistry is the answer.
Wonderful article documenting the positive research on one of my favorite tools for enhancing intimacy in relationships and reducing conflict. See article.
Breastfeeding -The Huge Importance
Updated policies (thank goodness!) via the Cleveland Clinic on the importance of breastfeeding and the astounding number of now-documented positive benefits.
For the infant: decreased ear infections, respiratory infections, asthma, bronchiolitis, necrotizing enterocolitis, atopic dermatitis, celiac disease, gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes (both types), leukemia, childhood obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
For the mother: decreased risk of post-partum hemorrhage, postpartum depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
New recommendations are a minimum of 6-months of exclusive breastfeeding (no other foodstuffs), followed by 2 years and beyond as long as mother and infant wish.
These are critical changes. The list of benefits with medical studies will likely just keep growing, and finally it is recognized that there's no "time you need to quit". A child will wean naturally when they're ready. We must continue to support this at a community and societal level in all ways.
Thank goodness we finally have medical research to affirm that Nature knows what it's doing.
Vitamin D reduces risk of diabetes
A recent large-scale study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that pre-diabetes supplemental Vit D significantly reduced the developement of diabetes by 15%. Further, having levels above 50 as opposed to around 30 was a 76% benefit. It applied to multiple different doses from 4000 IU/day to 20,000 IU/week. This finding had been suggested by previous studies, but those studies lacked the statistical power to fully make the call. This is a more robust study. Additional significant findings were the lack of any side effects such as kidney stones, hypercalcemia problems, or death.
A recent research study in the American Journal of Medicine demonstrated that although no risk of injuries resulted from testosteorone treatment (the initial focus of the study), a 48% increased risk in thromboembolic events was noted. This increased clotting risk makes correlative sense with other known effects, such as higher red cell counts.
Another study on testosterone supplementation in men 45 or over with low testosterone demonstrated increased stroke and heart attack risk. Supplementation should be approached with caution.