Want to Stay Healthy? Don’t Rely on Vitamins Read more: Government Experts Say Supplements Don’t Prevent Heart Disease, Cancer

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November 12th, 2013

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Americans spend nearly $12 billion each year on vitamin supplements, hoping they will steer us away from diseases like cancer and heart attacks. But it turns out they’re just a drain on our wallets.

Should healthy people take supplements to keep them healthy? A panel of experts convened by the government, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, says that for most vitamins and minerals, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the pills can lower risk of heart disease or cancer. And when it comes to beta-carotene (found in carrots and tomatoes) and vitamin E, there is no evidence that they can protect against either heart disease or cancer; in fact, beta-carotene use contributed to an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers.

That will come as a surprise to most Americans, who pop pills of omega-3 fatty acids hoping to fend off a heart attack or down vitamins C and E, which are high in antioxidants, to counteract the free-radical damage that contributes to cancer. “In the absence of clear evidence about the impact of most vitamins and multivitamins on cardiovascular disease and cancer, health care professionals should counsel their patients to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients. They should also continue to consider the latest scientific research, their own experiences, and their patient’s health history and preferences when having conversations about nutritional supplements,” task-force member Dr. Wanda Nicholson said in a statement.

The panel based its conclusion on a review of 26 studies, conducted from 2005 to ’13, some of which involved single supplements and others that investigated multivitamins and their relationship to heart disease, cancer and death outcomes. The review built on the panel’s previous report on supplements, in 2003, in which the task-force members said that there was not enough evidence to recommend vitamin A, C or E supplements, multivitamins or antioxidant combinations to prevent heart disease or cancer. At that time, the members also recommended against beta-carotene supplements because of their connection to a higher risk of lung cancer among smokers. In the current review, the members considered additional data on other vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins B and D, as well as zinc, iron, magnesium, niacin and calcium.

The conclusions apply to otherwise healthy people who take the supplements to prevent disease, so it’s not clear how effective, if at all, the pills can be in those at higher risk of heart problems or cancer. There have been hints, however, that the pills might not be the panacea that many people hoped they would be. In 2012, for example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that omega-3 supplements, touted as a powerful weapon against heart disease, did not lower risks of heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease or any cause. Another study published in 2011 even linked vitamin-and-supplement consumption to a higher risk of death, reporting that women who took multivitamins were 6% more likely to die over a 19-year period, compared with women not taking them.

Why the takedown of vitamins, especially if they are so prevalent in good-for-you foods such as fruits and vegetables? Experts believe that the benefits of nutrients like vitamins may depend on how they are presented to the body; some may need the help of other compounds found in their natural form that are inadvertently stripped from individual pills that try to concentrate the health benefits of specific vitamins or minerals. “[T]he physiologic systems affected by vitamins and other antioxidant supplements are so complex that the effects of supplementing with only 1 or 2 components is generally ineffective or actually does harm,” write the authors in their report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

They recognize, however, that their conclusions are based on relatively few studies, since few trials have addressed the question of whether supplements can prevent disease in healthy people. So the results hold only until more data become available to understand the association more completely. In the meantime, the best way to take advantage of any health-promoting effects of nutrients like vitamins and minerals is to get them in their natural state, by eating a well-balanced diet high in low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

No Satisfaction: Woman Are Less Likely to Orgasm During Casual Sex Read more: Study Shows Women Don’t Always Orgasm During Hook-Ups

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November 12th, 2013

The hookups may be exciting, but they’re ultimately anti-climactic for many women

Though women are nearly as likely as men to engage in casual sex, they are less likely to receive the same, ahem, benefits as their partners during those casual hookups. According to research presented at the International Academy of Sex Research’s annual meeting, women are more likely to orgasm from intercourse while in a serious relationship than during a hookup.

“The notion of sexual liberation, where men and women both had equal access to casual sex, assumed a comparable likelihood of that sex being pleasurable,” Kim Wallen, a professor of neuroendocrinology at Emory University told the New York Times.  “But that part of the playing field isn’t level.”

The study of 600 college students found that women were half as likely to orgasm from oral sex or intercourse during a casual hookup than when they were in a serious relationship. This backs earlier research by New York University sociologist Paula England, which showed that just 40% of the 24,000 college aged women she studied over five years at 21 colleges reached orgasm during a hookup while 80% of men did. Nearly 75% of women who were in a relationship, on the other hand, had an orgasm during sex.

Women, researchers say, likely do not feel comfortable telling their hook-ups what they want and need during sex while their male partners are admittedly less focused on pleasing a casual sex partner.

“I’m not going to try as hard as when I’m with someone I really care about,” Duvan Giraldo, 26, told the Times. Though, he said pleasing his partner is “always my mission.”

Casey Romaine, 22, told the Times, hook-ups are often just about sharing an intimate moment, rather than having a particularly good sexual experience.

“I think a lot of the time it almost is weirdly irrelevant whether or not the sex is actually good,” she said.

If Moms Argue With Their Friends, Their Kids Will Too Read more: If Moms Argue With Their Friends, Their Kids Will Too

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November 8th, 2013

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Do as I say, not as I do. Sounds good in theory, but as every mom and dad knows, it doesn’t work as a parenting tactic. Now there’s more evidence that kids may mimic their parents behaviors, even when it comes to the quality of their friendships.

The latest research delves into a relatively unexplored area of the parent-child dynamic: how mothers’ friendships affect their adolescent kids’ same-sex friendships and overall well-being.

The study, to be published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, examined whether the positive or negative qualities of mothers’ friendships (not enough fathers agreed to participate) had an effect on their adolescent kids’ friendships. The investigators accomplished this by giving school kids in fifth, eighth and eleventh grades and their mothers questionnaires that explored the quality of their most important friendships.  They also gave the parents and kids tests of emotional health. When mothers reported high levels of negative quality with a good friend (such as getting on each others’ nerves, getting upset or mad at each other often), kids were likely to report similar verbal antagonism and heated arguments with a close friend.

So could moms be good role models for their children by having more positive connections with their friends? Unfortunately, no. The study’s lead author Gary Glick, a doctoral candidate in psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, says the team did not find a strong link between mothers’ positive friendship qualities and those of their teens. “Maybe,” Glick says, “kids are more likely to notice adults screaming at each other.”
The fact that adolescents’ friendships mimic those of a parent, is not surprising, given that development is about learning and imitating behaviors. “Adolescents,” says clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, are in the midst of forming their internal templates for social norms and therefore parental role models are critical. In fact, watching adolescents interact with their peers often is a mirror of how parents interact with their own peers.”

But the fact that the mothers’ positive friendships did not seem to filter down to their children’s own relationships could simply be the result of the artificial way the relationships were defined in the study. Dr. Gayani DeSilva, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, CA, notes that friendships are often a complicated mix of positive and negative interactions. The study authors, he says, “divide parental friendships into either positive or negative categories, when healthy friendships are much more complex than that. The more helpful and developmentally appropriate perspective would be to examine how teens are influenced by parental conflict resolution patterns within their friendships.”

In fact, Carleton Kendrick, a family therapist and author of “Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey. We’re Going to Grandma’s,” says he has observed the opposite effect over 40 years of working with families.“If they witness their parents continuing loyalty, commitment and unwavering commitment to friends,” he says, “through both good times and bad times, they see what it takes for them to possess such cherished friendships. They take mental notes and try to imitate and adopt the attitudes, behavior and commitment they see present in their parents’ successful friendships.”

Kendrick says that the study, which is “a snapshot in time,” does not consider enough variables in the teens’ and parents’ lives and that it does not adequately examine other possible reactions that adolescents might have to their mothers’ problems with friends. “Over and over I have heard kids of all ages tell me privately, in confidence,” Kendrick says, “that they are seriously worried about their parents on many levels.” And conflicts with family and friends were among these worries.

Such internalizing of their parents’ conflicts could have more profound implications for adolescents beyond just the types of interactions they have with their own friends. In the study, mothers with high levels of negativity in their friendships were also likelier to have kids who were more anxious and depressed than those with more positive interactions with their friends. And this, says Glick, was independent of whether the mothers were anxious and depressed themselves.

However children are interpreting and responding to their parents’ choices when it comes to friendships, the study suggests that these decisions could have a greater effect on understanding teen friendships and fostering them in a healthy way than previously thought. “Developing more adult-like relationships with their peers,” says Stephen Gray Wallace, Director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education at Susquehanna University, “is one of the primary developmental tasks of adolescence.” And parents, it seems, can play an important role in pushing that development in a positive direction, even if they aren’t doing so in a direct and conscious way.
Read more: If Moms Argue With Their Friends, Their Kids Will Too | TIME.com http://healthland.time.com/2013/11/07/if-moms-argue-with-their-friends-their-kids-will-too/#ixzz2k3J1qX00

Primary-Care Doctors Don’t Have the Best Tools for Treating Depression Read more: Primary-Care Doctors Don’t Have Best Tools for Treating Depression

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November 7th, 2013

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Not all doctors are able to treat depression effectively, including those who are most likely to see patients’ first symptoms.

Even though patients may turn first to their primary-care physicians with any concerns about depression, the tools that those doctors use to evaluate their patients for mental-health disorders aren’t necessarily helping to improve their patients’ symptoms, according to the latest study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of some of the most common practices used by these physicians.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, looked at techniques, designed for patients, that help primary-care physicians to assess mental-health symptoms more easily in a doctor’s office or even the waiting room. The depression engagement video (DEV) helps patients to identify depression and guides them on how to talk to their doctors about symptoms. The interactive multimedia computer program (IMCP) similarly helps patients to recognize and discuss depression with their doctors, via an interactive program that gives them feedback about their symptoms and their level of depression.

Among 925 adult patients treated by 135 primary-care doctors in the study, 603 patients were already diagnosed with depression and 322 patients did not show signs of the condition. All the patients were randomly assigned to either of the two digital assessments, or to a control group, and then followed up 12 weeks later to see if the interventions improved the patients’ mental-health symptoms.

Doctors were more likely to offer referrals to mental-health programs or antidepressant medications after evaluating patients using the DEV or IMCP, at rates of 17.5 % and 26%, respectively, compared with those who didn’t rely on the programs. And patients were more likely to ask for information from their doctors about depression if they used the tools.

That did not mean, however, that the patients who were referred to additional services such as seeing a therapist or prescribed medications fared better than those in the control group. When the researchers assessed the participants’ depression symptoms 12 weeks later using a questionnaire, they found that those who received the additional services and those who did not scored similarly on the mental-health evaluation. So while the strategies may appear to help primary-care doctors to better assess depression, the researchers say the tools may not be as effective as hoped for matching the right treatments to the right patients in order to improve their symptoms. And that, potentially, could lead to worsening symptoms and deeper depression. “Further research is needed to determine effects on clinical outcomes and whether the benefits outweigh possible harms,” the authors write.

Study: Smoking Makes You Look Older Using twins to determine effect Read more: Study: Smoking Makes You Look Older

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November 5th, 2013

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A study of 79 pairs of twins — each with one smoker and one non-smoker — indicates that cigarette users are likely to get wrinkles and bags under their eyes at a more accelerated pace than their genetically identical counterparts.

Unbiased judges, who had no prior knowledge of the twins’ smoking status, said that the smoker looked older more than 50 percent of the time.

The twins were primarily female and in their late 40s.

“Smoking makes you look old,” Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi told Reuters. “That’s all there is to it.”