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New study shows how to quit Ozempic and avoid rebound weight gain

February 28, 2024

After helping countless Hollywood stars shrink in size, Ozempic has been heralded as the weight-loss miracle for which many have been waiting their whole lives. Of course, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. As Ozempic and other similar medications have risen in fame, some patients have noted that the medicine eventually stops working for weight loss, while fitness personality Jillian Michaels has warned that it makes you a “prisoner for life.”

But now, a new study is showing that it may be possible to quit Ozempic and still keep the weight off, reports Best Life.

Over the past year, people nationwide. have gotten prescriptions for GLP-1 medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Zepbound, and Mounjaro, for weight loss. (Some of these drugs are approved to treat obesity, while others are diabetes drugs prescribed off-label.) Amid the skyrocketing demand for these medications, employer-health plans have started tightening requirements or dropping coverage—and that has created a concerning predicament for patients who can no longer afford the medication, but are worried about regaining the weight they’ve lost, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Christine Haywood, a 41-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, told the newspaper that she had lost about 60 pounds after a year on her GLP-1 medication. But when she stopped taking it in the fall because her manufacturer savings card had expired, she regained 8 to 10 pounds in a month and a half.

“I went into a panic, and during that time it was like my body was spiraling,” she said, noting that she has since gotten insurance approval for Wegovy and has re-lost the weight. “I had all this success. Now what if I just go backwards?”

This is not a unique or unfounded fear. A 2022 study funded by Ozempic- and Wegovy-maker Novo Nordisk found that patients regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost on the drugs just one year after they stopped taking semaglutide injections.

“GLP-1 medications [such as Ozempic and Wegovy] work in part by suppressing appetite,” William Dixon, MD, physician, clinical assistant professor at Stanford University, and the co-founder of Signos, previously explained to Best Life. “People who stop the medicine sometimes feel like their appetite comes roaring back—a double effect with hormonal changes due to weight loss.”

But a new study published on February 19 in the eClinicalMedicine journal is proving that not everyone is doomed to gain weight back after they stop taking their medication.

The study, which was led by experts at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, involved a randomized controlled trial of 109 adults with obesity. The participants were randomly split into four groups. One of the groups was given liraglutide—a type of GLP-1 drug similar to semaglutide—injections for a year. Another group was also given liraglutide injections for a year, but was assigned a moderate-to-vigorous monitored exercise plan for two hours a week during the trial.

Neither of the last two groups was given weight-loss injections, but one underwent a supervised exercise plan similar to the second group, while the final group underwent no specific weight-loss plan.

A year after the trial was concluded, researchers checked up on all of the groups to see how they were managing their weight on their own. They found that the group who had only taken liraglutide injections ended up regaining about two-thirds of their initial weight loss, which is in line with what Novo Nordisk’s study found.

On the other hand, those who were given both injections and an exercise plan during the trial fared the best overall. Many of the patients in this group were able to maintain a weight loss of at least 10% of their initial body weight one year after the trial was over, according to the study.

“It is actually possible to stop taking the medication without large weight regain, if you follow a structured exercise regimen,” Signe Sørensen Torekov, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences who led the new study, said in a statement.

“Our study offers new hope, as we have shown that the majority of those who take weight loss medication and exercise regularly are able to maintain the beneficial effects a year after treatment termination.”

Research contact: @bestlife

New York Democrats vote down bipartisan congressional map

February 28, 2024

On Monday, February 26, New York State Democratic lawmakers voted down a congressional map proposed by a bipartisan redistricting committee—giving them another shot at drawing new lines, reports NBC News.

It will be the second time state Democrats have tried to put forward their own map. In 2022, the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature passed maps that so significantly boosted Democrats congressional prospects that state courts tossed them out in favor of a court-drawn map. Fueled by strong Republican turnout in the midterms, that map elected 11 Republicans and 15 Democrats in 2022.

Democrats went back to court last year, arguing that the state’s Independent Redistricting Committee hadn’t had an opportunity to fully play out when the court’s map was implemented. Republicans warned then that Democrats would use the process to enact their own gerrymander; but the court ruled with Democrats, and the state’s Independent Redistricting Committee was again convened.

The committee approved a new congressional map in late February that made modest changes to parts of the state’s court-ordered maps—leaving large parts of the state’s congressional district boundary lines intact.

Favorable Democratic lines could be hugely influential in the battle for control of the House, where Republicans have a razor-thin majority, this fall. But an aggressive gerrymander like the one New York Democrats passed in 2022 would certainly draw another legal challenge.

It could also put Democrats—who have for years advocated for a ban on partisan gerrymandering—in a politically uncomfortable position.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Scientists are fascinated by an extremely muscular 93-year-old man

February 27, 2024

An elderly Irish man is so fit that he’s become the subject of a case study—and for those who aren’t exercising regularly, take hope: He didn’t start working out until he was in his 70s, reports Futurism.

As The Washington Post discloses, medical practitioners say 93-year-old indoor rowing champion Richard Morgan has the heart and body of a man in his 30s or 40s.

At 165 pounds that are 80% muscle, it’s clear why Morgan attracted their attention. But when researchers at the University of Limerick hooked him up to vital monitoring machines and had him race a 2,000-meter mile on the rowing machine, they were stunned to find that his heart rate was 153 beats per minute—far higher than expected for his age and said to be one of the highest recorded for anyone his age.

“It was one of the most inspiring days I’ve ever spent in the lab,” UL Healthy Aging and Nutrition Professor Philip Jakemen—who co-wrote a recent study about Morgan in the Journal of Applied Physiology—recently told WaPo.

Unlike the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s grueling workout, Morgan’s abbreviated routine is as simple as it is sustainable. He uses the rowing machine for about 40 minutes per day—and roughly 70% of the time, he keeps things easy; while in the last 20% of that short time, he keeps up a medium pace before going hard for the final 10%.

Along with the rowing routine, the Irish powerhouse does lunges and curls with dumbbells two or three times a week until his muscles grow tired, and eats a bit more protein than the recommended daily amount. In a world of increasingly complicated—and oftentimes dangerous—name-brand workouts and fad diets, Morgan’s self-made model is refreshingly simple and easily replicable, even if he might have some extra genetic juice keeping him so fit at his advanced age.

According to Lorcan Daly, the man’s grandson who works at Ireland’s Technological University of the Shannon as an assistant lecturer in exercise science, Morgan only got into fitness some 20 years prior at the age of 73, when he decided on a whim to go to a rowing practice session with another his grandsons, who was a collegiate rower.

As with most things related to health, the lithe Irishman’s way with a rowing machine does seem to have a genetic component—with prior generations also engaging in the famously healthy exercise.

“He never looked back,” Daly said.

Research contact: @futurism

USA announces 500 new sanctions against Russia following Alexei Navalny’s death

February 27, 2024

President Joe Biden announced more than 500 new sanctions against Russia on Friday, February 23, in response to the death of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the ongoing war in Ukraine, reports Forbes.

In a White House statement, Biden said the sanctions will target “individuals connected to Navalny’s imprisonment,” as well as Russia’s financial sector, the country’s defense industry and “sanctions evaders across multiple continents.”

The sanctions also include additional export curbs targeting 100 entities “providing backdoor support for Russia’s war machine.”

Biden’s statement hailed Navalny as a “courageous anti-corruption activist and Putin’s fiercest opposition leader.

“History is watching. The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten. Now is the time for us to stand strong with Ukraine and stand united with our Allies and partners,” Biden said.

In the statement, Biden urged members of the House to pass the national security supplemental bill to allow for additional military aid for Ukraine—warning that Russia is receiving weapons from North Korea and Iran.

The Treasury Department said the new round of broad sanctions will target Russian financial companies—including banks, investment firms, venture capital funds and fintech firms; as well as further restrictions on the nation’s drone manufacturers, the 3D printing industry, and even diamond mining industries.

Additionally, the sanctions will target dozens of firms in other countries that U.S. authorities have identified as doing business with Russia’s military-industrial complex, including companies based in China, Serbia, North Korea, the UAE, Liechtenstein, Kyrgyzstan; and NATO members Estonia and Finland.

Last Friday, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was found dead in a prison in the Russian Arctic, where he was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism. The popular politician has been an outspoken critic of the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, and remained an important symbol of political resistance after his 2020 poisoning and 2021 arrest.

Since his death last week, Western leaders have begun to target individuals directly connected to Navalny’s imprisonment. On Wednesday, February 21, the U.K. Foreign Office announced sanctions on six Russian prison leaders, freezing their assets in the country and instituting a travel ban. The office expanded those sanctions one day later to include 50 more Russian individuals and businesses associated with the war effort in Ukraine.

In the U.S.A., three of the individuals targeted by Friday’s sanctions are Russian government officials who had a “connection with Navalny’s death,” according to a release from the Treasury Department. The department did not identify the Russian officials or where they worked.

Research contact: @Forbes

California Governor Gavin Newsom calls on Biden to debate Trump

February 27, 2024

Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Saturday, February 24, that President Joe Biden should debate former President Donald Trump—despite Biden’s refusal to commit to a debate thus far, reports NBC News.

When asked by NBC News’Meet the Press” moderator, Kristen Welker, about whether the two should debate in the fall in the likely event that they are the two major-party nominees, Newsom said, “100%.”

“Biden beat Trump in the prior debates. I look forward to it,” Newsom said.

“This is … pure projection on a guy who refused to debate in his own primary,” he added, saying it was “weakness masquerading as strength.”

Trump has skipped all GOP primary debates this cycle. But he said this month that he wants to face off against Biden “immediately”—adding that it would be “for the good of the country.”

Biden’s campaign has refused to commit to any general election debates.

Trump’s request to debate Biden came almost two years after the Republican National Committee voted to withdraw from events put on by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has overseen the process for decades.

At theat time, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the group withdrew from debates because the commission “is biased and has refused to enact simple and commonsense reforms to help ensure fair debates.”

In November, the commission released the dates and locations of three presidential debates it hopes to host this fall. The schedule includes a debate in September at Texas State University in San Marcos, a debate in October at Virginia State University in Petersburg, and a second debate in October at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Study: Ginseng could change your workout forever

Febraury 26, 2024

A popular nutritional supplement enhances athletic recovery and performance, a new study finds. The research, conducted by Spanish academics, has found that ginseng not only aids in the body’s recovery after exercising, but also boosts performance and reduces the risk of injuries, reports Study Finds.

Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax in the family, Araliaceae. There are several varieties of ginseng, with the most commonly known types being Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)—each having different uses and effects.

The active compounds within ginseng act on the central nervous system, combat oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and regulate cortisol levels. This regulation is essential for metabolic functions and maintaining a healthy immune system.

“We’ve found that ginseng can play a significant role … when it comes to recovering after exercise,” says study author Borja Muñoz, a fitness coach at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Barcelona.

the guidance of Patricia Martínez, a dietician, nutritionist, and course instructor at UOC, the team highlighted ginseng’s direct impact on diminishing fatigue and facilitating muscle recovery after playing sports.

The analysis concluded that regular consumption of ginseng significantly reduces post-exercise muscle damage in healthy adults. It aids in muscle regeneration, mitigates muscle fatigue, and addresses exercise-induced muscle damage through its unique properties.

One notable finding was ginseng’s ability to decrease levels of biological markers like creatine kinase (CK) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), which are indicative of muscle damage and inflammation. Additionally, ginseng helps reduce the accumulation of lactate in the blood, a common cause of muscle fatigue during intense physical exertion.

“When taken together with a balanced diet, ginseng can provide additional nutrition for athletes or anyone else who does physical exercise on a regular basis,” explains Muñoz. “It’s also worth noting that, unless it’s medically contraindicated in any given case, taking ginseng on a regular basis is considered beneficial (or at least not harmful) for healthy people.”

The inception of this study was sparked by Muñoz’s observations during his tenure as a fitness coach and injury specialist with a football club in China, where ginseng is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine. Soccer players reported notable benefits from ginseng consumption, likening its effects to those of an energy drink.

This pioneering research opens the door for further investigation into ginseng’s potential in sports performance and injury prevention. Researchers advocate for the development of a scheduled consumption protocol to maximize ginseng’s benefits.

“There’s still a significant amount of work to do, as ginseng has potential to increase athletes’ physical performance and help prevent certain injuries, particularly muscle injuries,” concludes Muñoz.

The study is published in the journal, Nutrients.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

Intuitive Machines’ lander touches down on the Moon in an historic first for U.S. company

February 26, 2024

A U.S. company has gone to the Moon—and into the history books. Intuitive Machines’ IM_1 mission reached the Moon’s surface on Thursday evening, February 22, in the first American lunar landing since NASA’s Apollo era, reports CNBC.

The company’s Nova-C cargo lander, named “Odysseus” after the mythological Greek hero, is the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the lunar surface since 1972. Adding to the feat, Intuitive Machines is the first company to pull off a moon landing; government agencies have carried out all previously successful missions.

“We are on the surface and we are transmitting. Welcome to the moon,” Intuitive Machines’ CEO Steve Altemus said from mission control.

There was a delay, as expected, between the landing and when engineers were able to assess its success.

A few minutes after the expected landing time, Intuitive Machines’ mission control was still trying to reconnect communications with the spacecraft to confirm whether it landed. The company’s mission control ultimately picked up a signal and announced its lander was on the surface.

“What we can confirm, without a doubt, is that our equipment is on the surface of the moon and we are transmitting. So, congratulations, IM-1,” Tim Crain, Intuitive Machines’ CTO and IM-1 mission director, said.

“Odysseus has found his new home,” Crain added.

Two hours after the landing, Intuitive Machines said in a statement that “flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data.” [Editor’s note: By February 23, reports confirmed that Odysseus had toppled on its side but was still transmitting.]

“Today, for the first time in more than a half century, the U.S. has returned to the moon. Today, for the first time in the history of humanity, a commercial company and an American company launched and led the voyage up there,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on the livestream.

Research contact: @CNBC

Judge denies Trump’s attempt to delay paying massive bank fraud fine

February 26, 2024

Donald Trump’s lawyers haven’t properly explained their request to postpone payment on the massive $364 million bank fraud judgment (plus interest) levied against the former president earlier this month, the judge in the case said on Thursday, February 22, before denying their demands, reports The Daily Beast.

It’s a major blow to Trump’s pocketbook, even as he vows to appeal the decision and denies any wrongdoing.

“You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron wrote Thursday in an email to Trump’s legal team. “I am confident that the Appellate Division will protect your appellate rights.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office handled Trump’s civil case, submitted to the court a judgment order early last week—a document that when approved would begin the state’s collections process.

Trump’s lawyers claimed that James had made errors in the proposal, and even attempted to argue that they should be allowed to submit a “counter judgment”—something Engoron seemingly balked at.

He signed James’ order Thursday after addressing the Trump legal team’s concerns. After his clerk signs—something that is expected to happen almost immediately—the former president will have 30 days to appeal the judgment.

James said earlier this week that if Trump refused to pay the amount he owes, she would not be afraid to seize some of his beloved New York properties—including Trump’s eponymous office building in the financial district.

“If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets,” James told ABC News on Tuesday, February 20.

“We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers—and yes, I look at 40 Wall Street each and every day,” she added.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Groundbreaking study: OCD sufferers face much higher risk of death

February 23, 2024

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder face a much higher risk of death—from natural and unnatural causes, according to a shocking new study out of Sweden, reports the New York Post.

OCD, which affects 2% to 3% of Americans, is characterized by recurring thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors such as excessive hand washing and arranging objects in a precise way (compulsions).

This new research is reported to be the largest-ever study of mortality in people with OCD. Researchers identified 61,378 Swedes with the condition and matched them with 613,780 people without OCD by sex, birth year, and county of residence.

They also studied 34,085 people with OCD and 47,874 of their siblings without it.

The groups were monitored for an average of eight years between January 1973 and December 2020. During the study period, 4,787 people with OCD and 30,619 people without it died.

Scientists determined that people with OCD had an 82% increased risk of death—after adjusting for factors such as birth year, sex, county, migrant status, education, and family income. Their findings were published in the BMJ journal.

Specifically, people with OCD face a 31% increased risk of natural death and a three-fold greater risk of dying of an unnatural cause.

The natural causes of death by increased risk are:

  • Respiratory system diseases (73%);
  • Mental and behavioral disorders (58%);
  • Genital and urinary system diseases (55%);
  • Endocrine, nutritional, and metabolic diseases (47%);
  • Circulatory system diseases (33%);
  • Nervous system disease (21%); and
  • Digestive system diseases (20%).

 However, people with OCD had a 10% reduced risk of death due to tumors.

Among the unnatural causes, researchers identified a nearly fivefold increased risk of suicide and a 92% greater risk of accidents.

Women with OCD had a higher relative risk of dying of unnatural causes than men with OCD, researchers said, noting that OCD is slightly more prevalent in women than in men.

It’s unclear what exactly causes OCD, but genetics and environmental factors such as pregnancy complications and childhood trauma have been studied. Psychotherapy and antidepressants are often used to treat the condition.

“Better surveillance, prevention, and early intervention strategies should be implemented to reduce the risk of fatal outcomes in people with OCD,” the researchers wrote in their findings.

The scientists are unsure if their findings apply to people outside of Sweden with different healthcare systems and medical practices.

Research contact: @nypost