Posts tagged with "Mayo Clinic"

Adding this popular snack to your daily diet reduces dementia risk

November 27, 2023

Your movie theater go-to might be healthier than you think. New research suggests that incorporating more whole grains—like popcorn—into the diet is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline, reports the New York Post.

The study, published in the journal, Neurology, on Wednesday, November 22, found that people who ate more whole grains were 8.5 years younger cognitively than those who ate smaller amounts.

“With Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affecting millions of Americans, finding ways to prevent the disease is a high public health priority,” study author Dr. Xiaoran Liu asserted in a statement.

“It’s exciting to see that people could potentially lower their risk of dementia by increasing their diet of whole grains by a couple of servings a day.”

Whole grains included in the study were some breads and cereals, quinoa, and popcorn. One serving of whole grains was defined as one ounce of food, which would be about “one slice of bread, a half cup of cooked pasta or rice, an ounce of crackers, or a cup of dry cereal.”

To determine this, the researchers from Rush University in Chicago observed 3,326 people, at an average of 75 years of age, who did not have dementia, 60% of whom were Black.

The patients, who were followed for approximately six years, completed a survey regarding their diet and routinely underwent cognitive and memory tests every three years.

Based on the questionnaire responses, the participants were categorized into five different groups based on whole grain consumption, ranging from those who ate less than half a serving per day to people who ate 2.7 servings each day.

Researchers noticed that Black participants were more likely than white participants to consume more than one daily serving of whole grains, which have been shown to have significant health benefits.

According to the Mayo Clinic, nutrient-dense foods—such as oats, brown rice, or, yes, popcorn—have been linked to lowering cholesterol, insulin levels, and blood pressure. Adults should consume three or more servings of whole grains per day, per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“Whole grains are rich in vitamin B and E, and other antioxidants. They have a lot of fiber, which has been linked to a lot of health benefits, particularly related to brain health,” Liu said in a statement.

“So, we do see a lot of evidence in terms of whole grains being protective in lowering heart disease risk, and we know what’s good for the heart may also good for the brain.”

But to determine the possible role whole grains play in cognition, the researchers compared participants’ evaluations to a global cognition score, otherwise known as the gold standard used as a measure for cognitive impairment.

The team found that the global cognitive score of Black participants who consumed the most whole grains—more than three servings every day—declined more slowly than that of those who consumed less than one serving.

Their research—supported by both the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institutes of Health—could pave the way for more “tailored diet recommendations,” Liu said, although additional studies are necessary to confirm the association between whole grain intake and cognition.

Research contact: @nypost

Parkinson’s disease linked to common chemical banned in Europe—but allowed in 48 U.S. states

March 17, 2023

A chemical widely used to dry-clean clothes has been linked to the rise in Parkinson’s disease, the world’s fastest-growing brain condition, reports the New York Post.

The connection between Parkinson’s disease and trichloroethylene, or TCE, has been suspected for decades—but a new report delivers damning evidence against the product, which has dozens of military, industrial, commercial, medical and consumer uses.

“For more than a century, TCE has threatened workers, polluted the air we breathe —outside and inside—and contaminated the water we drink,” according to the report’s authors.

The report, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, includes case studies of people affected by the disease such as former NBA star Brian Grant, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at the age of 36—not unlike actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed shortly before his 30th birthday.

As a child, Grant’s family was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he and thousands of others drank and swam in the local water supply. Testing later revealed that the water at Camp Lejeune contained astoundingly high levels of TCE — 280 times above current safety standards.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition of the nervous system that can cause tremors, stiffness, or slowing of movement, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease gets progressively worse over time and there’s no cure, although some medications can help ease the symptoms.

Banned in the European Union, TCE—which has been used in paints, carpet cleaners, pepper spray, degreasers, anesthesia, decaffeinated coffee, inks and dyes, computer electronics and soaps—also has been linked to heart disease, miscarriages, birth defects, and several types of cancer.

Only two US states—New York and Minnesota—have prohibited the use of TCE, which is still permitted for degreasing and spot dry cleaning in most of the United States.

Despite continued warnings about its risks, the use of TCE is increasing worldwide.

“Global use is waxing, not waning,” the report’s authors noted. “Most of this has been invisible, all of it is unacceptable, and none of it will stop until we act.”

The authors call for decisive action to curb the risks of TCE—from cleaning contaminated sites to monitoring TCE levels in groundwater, drinking water, soil, and outdoor and indoor air; and extending to a comprehensive ban.

Research contact: @nypost

What is aphasia? Rare brain condition ends Bruce Willis’ acting career

April 1, 2022

The cognitive disorder that Bruce Willis’ family says has effectively ended his acting career is likely a a neurodegenerative condition that affects about one million people in the United States, reports The Daily Beast.

The 67-year-old Die Hardactor’s family wrote on Instagram on March 30 that Willis has been diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage, and he would be “stepping away” from acting.

“To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” his family wrote. “As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”

“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion, and support,” the statement said. “We are moving through this as a strong family unit and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.”

“It impacts all language modalities—listening, reading, speaking, and writing,” Kathryn Borio, a speech-language pathologist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago who specializes in aphasia, told The Daily Beast. “A hallmark symptom is this sort of ‘tip of the tongue’ phenomenon where I know the word but can’t find it.”

Aphasia is mostly caused by a stroke affecting areas in the brain that control speech and language. This sort of damage to the brain impacts an individual’s ability to retrieve words or organize their words into sentences. In rarer instances, brain damage can be caused by a neurodegenerative condition that progressively worsens over time.

Willis’ condition may have been apparent as far back as 2020, according to a film source, who told Page Six that the actor was having trouble remembering lines on the sets of some of his recent flicks, which have largely been B action movies. In some cases, he had to be fed lines through an earpiece and have body doubles replace him.

“His family… stepped in, they moved in to take care of him,” the source said.

No exact details of Willis’ aphasia have been made public, so it’s hard to say definitively what caused his condition. However, Borio speculated the actor likely has the rarer neurodegenerative type called primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a type of aphasia that often gradually begins before age 65 and results from degeneration of the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“The family’s statement indicating he was having trouble with his cognition does point to an idea that perhaps it’s primary progressive aphasia, which is less common, affecting [fewer] than 200,000 people in the United States.,” Borio said.

While some people with mild aphasia may bounce back without treatment, it’s not the case for many. “We really do believe that with therapy—with the help of a speech therapist, occupational therapist—patients can improve,” Borio said. “I’m not treating Bruce, but if I was, I would be working with him and his family to train him how to communicate, giving him some tools to access words a bit easier.” She said the tools don’t need to be anything fancy—they can be as simple as an iPhone or even using social media.

It’s important to realize, just because someone with aphasia has trouble communicating doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent, Borio emphasized. “It’s not a loss of intelligence. Someone with aphasia is still an intelligent person that thinks the same way, their thoughts are the same, but their ability to communicate their thoughts becomes more difficult.”

“I feel that the Willis family made a really brave choice by using the word aphasia by name,” she said. “As a clinician, it means a lot when a family member who is in the public realm uses their platform to help us advocate for patients. We can hopefully advance science and advance the care of people living with aphasia.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

People with dyslexia have the skills to future-proof the workforce, research claims

October 15, 2019

Companies can future-proof their workforces by employing people with dyslexia, new research has claimed, according to a report by CNBC.

In a report published Monday, the British consultancy division of Ernst & Young, EY, used data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Made By Dyslexia—the latter, a global charity led by successful dyslexics—to outline how such people’s skills aligned with the competencies that would be required in the workplaces of the future.

What exactly is dyslexia? The Mayo Clinic describes it as “a learning disorder that involves difficult reading due to problems identify speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).” Most dyslexics have above-average intelligence and social aptitude—and, therefore, are able to hide their reading and pronunciation problems without detection in many cases.

Referencing the WEF’s prediction of which skills would be the most in-demand by 2022, EY’s report highlighted how certain capabilities were becoming more and less useful to employers amid the rise of automation.

The need for processing and manual capabilities like time management, reading, mathematical calculations, and active listening were on the decline, according to the report, CNBC notes.

Meanwhile, creative and social skills such as leadership, analytical thinking and technology design—all of which are common in dyslexics—were increasingly in demand.

The report’s authors also highlighted a slew of capabilities and skills typically seen in people with dyslexia that would be vital to all industries by the year 2022.

“Overall, our analysis shows that competencies for a significant number of jobs in the workplace that dyslexic individuals may typically find challenging will largely be impacted by forms of automation,” the report’s authors said.

“In their place, enhanced tasks and new jobs will be created that match closely to the strengths of dyslexic thinking. Dyslexia could provide an opportunity for organizations to bridge the skills gap of the future.”

Earlier this month, CNBC reports, billionaire Sir Richard Branson credited dyslexia for some of his success as an entrepreneur, noting that people with the condition possessed the “skills of the future.”

“My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes,” he said in a blog post. “It helped me think big but keep our messages simple. The business world often gets caught up in facts and figures—and while the details and data are important, the ability to dream, conceptualize and innovate is what sets the successful and the unsuccessful apart.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Put down the coffee: Workers are using caffeine and sugar to combat stress

March 23, 2018

There is an epidemic of stress nationwide today, with the vast majority of U.S. workers—80%, according to the American Institute of Stress—experiencing on-the-job tension and anxiety.

What they are doing about it, U.S. News reports—chugging coffees (34%) and handfuls of candy, downing alcoholic drinks, resorting to prescription and recreational drugs, and acting out—may exacerbate the problem rather than help to solve it.

In a poll of 751 adult American workers sponsored by The Marlin Company, conducted by The Harris Poll, and cited by the institute, fully 25% of respondents admitted that job-related stress makes them feel like screaming, and 14% said that their stress levels have made them feel like hitting a coworker.

Thus, it is no surprise that 10% of respondents expressed fear that someone they know at work actually could turn violent, with another 18% reporting that they had experienced a threat or verbal intimidation within the past year.

Now, a survey sponsored by Salt Lake City-based Bridge has found that the pressures are growing worse, instead of being ameliorated. The study has found that the 24/7 culture of many companies may be adding to the stress.

Only 33% of the 1,000 U.S. office workers who participated in the study said they are encouraged by their employer to take paid time off, and only 11% are encouraged to take mental health days as part of their sick leave. Most (78% of workers) were convinced that working more hours would be crucial to getting ahead and about 50% reported feeling like they have to engage in workplace politics.

However, U.S. News cautions, be careful what you wish for—and what methods you use to relieve the stress that is generated along the path to achievement. Even coffee, which has some proven health benefits, can cause unpleasant symptoms like headaches and irritability if you drink too much of it, according to the Mayo Clinic.

And Harvard Medical School has warned that, if you eat too much added sugar—in the form of those M&Ms or candy bars—it boosts your risk of dying from heart disease. Plus it goes without saying that alcohol and drugs do not mix well with work.

Instead, experts advise, take paid time off, even if it is not encouraged by your company; unplug and de-stress for a few minutes every hour, exercise for anxiety relief—and plan ahead. Starting the day worried and disorganized can only set you up for more stress; while planning your calendar will enhance feelings of control and competence.

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