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Health & Wellness


Map of fear memory formation extended by brain scientists

Draw a map of the brain when fear and anxiety are involved, and the amygdala - the brain's almond-shaped center for panic and fight-or-flight responses - looms large.

But the amygdala doesn't do its job alone. Scientists at Emory University have recently built upon work from others, extending the fear map to part of the brain known as the prelimbic cortex.

Researchers led by Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, found that mice lacking a critical growth factor in the prelimbic cortex have trouble remembering to fear electric shocks. The discovery could help improve diagnosis and treatment for anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.


Attachment Style May Affect Memories Of Relationship Events

Following an argument or a particularly heated discussion with our partner, they may remember details of the conversation very differently than we do. This may lead to even more arguments, as we try to convince the other that our recollection of the argument is more correct then theirs. It can be frustrating when our partners remember things differently than we do, but according to new research from Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, they are not trying to be difficult, but personality may affect how they (and we) remember relationship events (such as discussions).

Research has shown that our specific attachment style (that is, how anxious or avoidant we are in relationships) may affect many facets of our relationships. Psychological scientists Jeffry Simpson from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus; W. Steven Rholes of Texas A&M University; and Heike A. Winterheld from California State University, East Bay wanted to investigate how attachment styles affect memory for relationship events.

Couples participating in this experiment completed personality assessments and also listed problems in their relationship. They were videotaped as they discussed the two highest-ranking problems (one from each partner's list). Following the discussions, each participant completed a questionnaire on how supportive and emotionally distant they themselves felt immediately following the discussions.


The Hidden Cost Of Schizophrenia

People being treated for schizophrenia are more likely than the general population to have encounters with the criminal justice system in the US. A study published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry has shown that schizophrenia patients' involvement with the criminal justice system is primarily driven by their being victims of crime and that the average annual per-patient cost of involvement with the criminal justice system was $1429.

Haya Ascher-Svanum led a team of researchers from Eli Lilly and Company, USA, who used data from a study of around 600 people with schizophrenia to estimate the prevalence and cost of involvement with the criminal justice system.

They found that 46% had had at least one encounter, and these patients were more likely to be younger, with poorer mental health, and less likely to adhere to their medication regime. Being a crime victim was the most prevalent type of encounter, comprising 67% of these patients.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids Have Anti-Aging Effect on Cells

As NaturalNews has previously reported, omega-3s, the fatty acids found primarily in cold water fish like salmon, have a host of health benefits, including alleviating depression, preventing age-related blindness and protecting against prostate cancer. And now there's evidence omega-3s may have a profound anti-aging effect, too.

Telomeres, structures at the end of chromosomes that are involved in the stability and replication of chromosomes, are markers of biological aging. Genetic factors, exposure to certain chemicals and environmental stressors shorten the length of telomeres and are believed to contribute to the aging process. New research just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that omega-3s slow down the shortening of telomeres -- this means omega-3 fatty acids may protect against aging on a cellular level.

Previous studies have shown that people with established cardiovascular disease who have a high dietary intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids live longer than others with the same health problems who do not have adequate omega-3s in their diet. However, the exact way omega-3s exert this protective effect is not well understood, according to background information in the JAMA study.


Acupuncture Improves Sex Drive and Decreases Hot Flashes

A recent study conducted by Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan revealed that acupuncture has even more benefits than previously thought for patients with breast cancer. In addition to reducing hot flashes better than drug therapy, acupuncture is effective at boosting the sex drive and overall sense of well-being in women undergoing intensive breast cancer treatment.

Published in the Journal of Oncology, the study highlights the superiority of acupuncture in improving the quality of life for breast cancer patients without imposing negative side effects like drugs do. Dr. Eleanor Walker, lead author of the study and division director of breast services in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford, confirmed this to be true when explaining the details of the study.

Two groups, one receiving acupuncture for their symptoms and the other receiving Venlafaxine drug therapy, were observed over a 12 week period. Initially, all the women experienced a 50 percent reduction in hot flash and night sweat symptoms. At the end of the treatment period, however, the group that received Venlafaxine experienced an immediate increase in symptoms while the acupuncture group did not.


Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements Reduce the Risk of Bone Fractures in Everyone, Young and Old

In recent years, Big Pharma has produced a variety of widely hyped bisphosphonate drugs including alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel) and zoledronic acid (Reclast) that are aimed at preserving bone mass and reducing the risk of fractures. Unfortunately, as NaturalNews has reported, the more these medications are pushed on patients, the more serious side effects are being reported, from dangerous heart arrhythmias to dental problems, esophageal ulcers, abdominal pain and severe damage to the jaw bone.

But a new study involving almost 70,000 people from throughout the U.S. and Europe shows that nutrients -- calcium and vitamin D taken together -- offer a natural, side effect-free way to prevent fractures.

Because broken bones are a major cause of disability and loss of independence for elders, these findings are of particular interest to older people. In fact, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), fall-related injuries are the leading cause of accidental death among Americans age 65 and older. However, fractures can be serious at any age, causing pain, sometimes necessitating surgery and almost always restricting activities.

Good news: the researchers found it isn't only the aged whose bones benefit from taking calcium and vitamin D. Remarkably, they found the supplements reduced fractures in everyone -- the young and old, women and men, and even people who had already sustained fractured bones in the past.


Food Industry Continues to Market Junk Food to Children

A study conducted by Children Now, a California-based child advocacy group, has been released that indicts the food industry for continuing to market unhealthy food to children. Despite many food companies' expressed willingness in years prior to self-regulate themselves and shift their advertising efforts towards more healthy fare, little change has been seen.

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine (IM) made recommendations to the food industry to reform their marketing strategies towards promoting more healthy, nutritious food rather than junk food. In 2007, the U.S. Council of Better Business Bureaus launched the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, an effort aimed at meeting the IM recommendations. Over 12 of the nation's largest food producers agreed to cooperate in changing their advertising strategies.

The current study found that despite their promises, the food industry has generally failed to adopt any of the primary recommendations. Advertisements continue to entice children with nutritionally-deficient foods that are attractive to them, often trying to pass their products off as healthy when they are not.

Evil Rays

Is 'Electrosmog' Harming Our Health?


Is Dirty Electricity Making You Sick? Too many electromagnetic fields surrounding us--from cell phones, wifi, and commonplace modern technology--may be seriously harming our health. Here's how to minimize your exposure.

The California Cluster

In 1990, the city of La Quinta, CA, proudly opened the doors of its sparkling new middle school. Gayle Cohen, then a sixth-grade teacher, recalls the sense of excitement everyone felt: "We had been in temporary facilities for 2 years, and the change was exhilarating."

But the glow soon dimmed.

One teacher developed vague symptoms - weakness, dizziness - and didn't return after the Christmas break. A couple of years later, another developed cancer and died; the teacher who took over his classroom was later diagnosed with throat cancer. More instructors continued to fall ill, and then, in 2003, on her 50th birthday, Cohen received her own bad news: breast cancer.

"That's when I sat down with another teacher, and we remarked on all the cancers we'd seen," she says. "We immediately thought of a dozen colleagues who had either gotten sick or passed away."

By 2005, 16 staffers among the 137 who'd worked at the new school had been diagnosed with 18 cancers, a ratio nearly 3 times the expected number. Nor were the children spared: About a dozen cancers have been detected so far among former students. A couple of them have died.


The best running shoe may be nature's own: study

Runners who eschew shoes may be less likely to do serious injury to their feet, because they hold their feet differently, Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and colleagues found.

Writing in the journal Nature, they said runners who wear shoes tend to hit the ground with their heels first, whereas barefoot runners put the balls of the feet down first.

"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike," Lieberman said in a statement.

"By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike," Lieberman added.


If You Want to Eat Healthy, This is a Better Place to Get Your Food Than Your Supermarket


Alternative food networks are drawing increasing numbers of people who are looking to connect with ethical food producers, and the result may be healthier eating for consumers, according to research by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Alternative food programs include items such as:
  • Organic vegetable boxes
  • Community gardens
  • Farm animal adoption
People who participated in alternative food networks such as these, typically:
  • Increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • Improved their cooking skills
  • Improved their knowledge about food
  • Changed their behaviors in relation to other goods, such as household products and clothes
Consumers often use alternative food networks because they are concerned about the separation of food producers and consumers. Many also say they do not trust supermarkets, or they feel supermarket food is inferior.

Although many consumers use alternative food networks along with supermarkets, many said they only shopped at supermarkets "out of necessity." Other key motivations for using alternative food networks included the desire to:
  • Reduce food miles
  • Use fair-trade goods whenever possible
  • Use products with reduced environmental impacts and high animal welfare standards
Consumers also value the sense of trust and loyalty that they can establish with a food producer. However, some alternative food producers are concerned about how to maintain this connection as growth continues.

Meanwhile, alternative food networks may be challenged by supermarkets that are attempting to establish a sense of connection with customers by providing the names of farmers on packaging. Semi-national organic box delivery programs are also rapidly expanding, which could challenge smaller, more local alternative food networks.


Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) October 11, 2007