Posts tagged with "Study"

A little goes a long way: Women get same exercise benefit as men, with less effort

February 22, 2024

A new study not only confirms that regular physical activity can prolong life and lower a person’s risk of dying; it also finds that women experience greater benefits from exercise than men do, with less effort, reports ABC News.

Using findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, researchers analyzed data from 412,413 adults between 1997 to 2017 to understand the degree of overall health benefit derived from physical activity.

The researchers found that men were more likely to engage in physical activity than women. However, women who engaged in regular physical activity had a 24% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to inactive women; while physically active men had a 15% lower risk compared to their inactive counterparts.

They further discovered that the most beneficial amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity—for example, brisk walking or cycling—was around five hours per week, though there was also benefit shown for women starting at half that weekly amount.

“It turns out women can get a lot more return for even a little bit of investment than they might realize,” Dr. Susan Cheng, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Smidt Heart Institute and senior author of the study, told ABC News. “[A] little bit can go a really long way.”

“When it comes to looking at the [specific] amounts—particularly with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity—women could get almost double the return for the same investment compared to male counterparts,” Cheng added, calling the news “exciting and positive, especially for the really busy women out there who are juggling a lot of responsibilities both at work and at home.”

Women also saw a more significant reduction in mortality risk after engaging in muscle-strengthening activity, such as weightlifting or core exercises, than men did —9% compared to 11%, respectively—according to the study.

“This important study emphasizes the power of exercise for women,” Dr. Patricia Best, an interventional cardiologist and member of the Women’s Heart Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told ABC News.

Taking it one step further, Best notes that following a heart attack, “women have frequently been referred to cardiovascular rehab less than men, and this study helps to give credence to the importance of exercise in women.”

Consistent with prior research, both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities were associated with lower risk of dying from heart-related diseases.

“For exercise, we’d like to encourage our patients and folks in general to be as active as they can, no matter how busy we all are. In general, we say that anything is better than nothing and more is better than less,” Cheng told ABC News.

Research contact: @ABC

Study: Paper straws contain toxic ‘forever chemicals’—could be worse than plastic

August 28, 2023

It could be the straw that broke the eco-worrier’s back. Paper straws might not be the “eco-friendly” drinking tube they’ve been promoted to be: Belgian researchers found that these so-called “green” utensils are toxic and therefore potentially worse for the environment than their much-vilified plastic counterparts, according to a new study published in the journal, Food Additives & Contaminants.

“Straws made from plant-based materials, such as paper and bamboo, are often advertised as being more sustainable and eco-friendly than those made from plastic,” Thimo Groffen, Ph.D., study author and an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp, said in a statement. “However, the presence of PFAS [poly- and perfluoroalkyl-based substances known as “forever chemicals” because they last for a long time before breaking down] in these straws means that’s not necessarily true.”

According to a report by the New York Post, the new research comes following multiple initiatives adopted by numerous U.S. cities, including New York, and by restaurant chains; to ban disposable plastic suckers comprised of polypropylene and polystyrene, which take hundreds of years to decompose and are linked to health problems from liver problems to birth defects.

“Their time has come and gone. I believe we should get rid of plastic straws,” former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in 2018 after the City Council introduced a proposal to prohibit restaurants and bars from distributing plastic sippers.

Meanwhile, countries such as Belgium and the United Kingdom already have ditched these implements in favor of the supposed eco-conscious plant-based alternatives.

However, according to the new research paper, this is a total “strawman argument” — as these alleged environment-saving slushie siphons are potentially packed with more PFAS than the “evil” plastic version.

To deduce this a-straw-calyptic theory, researchers analyzed the PFA concentrations of 39 brands of drinking straws, which comprising five materials: paper, bamboo, glass, stainless steel, and plastic.

They found that paper straws were the most PFA-filled—with a whopping 90% of paper straws containing the chemicals.

Meanwhile, bamboo straws—another highly touted green alternative—clocked in second with 80%,;followed by 75% of plastic straws, 40% of glass straws, and none of steel straws.

By far the most prevalent PFA was perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been been banned globally since 2020. However, this substance is still manufactured in some countries and could be present in products bought by U.S. consumers.

Also present were trifluoroacetic acid and trifluoromethanesulfonic acid; PFAS which easily dissolve in water meaning they could potentially leach out of straws into beverages.

“The presence of PFAS in paper and bamboo straws shows they are not necessarily biodegradable,” warned Groffen.

Not to mention that some of these so-called “100% recyclable” straws are actually anything but.

It’s unclear how these substances — which have been used since the 1940s to repel water and grease in everything from cookware to carpets—ended up in the straws, although the presence of them in every brand suggests they were added on purpose as a liquid repellant.

Other potential PFA sources could be the soil the plant-based materials were grown in as well as the water used in their manufacturing, per

Fortunately, low concentrations of PFAS, such as the amounts ingested from using straws, are unlikely to pose serious health risks.

However, animal studies suggest that an accumulation of these chemicals over time could cause a range of appalling side effects, including liver damage, a weakened immune system, underweight babies, and even infant death.

Unfortunately, the long-term effects on humans are not yet known as the animal tests were conducted with higher levels of PFAs.

In light of the findings, Goffen deduced that plant-based straws are perhaps an environmental “paper tiger” and that there is perhaps only one true eco-friendly alternative to plastic.

“We did not detect any PFAS in stainless-steel straws, so I would advise consumers to use this type ofstraws—or just avoid using straws at all,” the researcher advised.

Research contact: @nypost

Those ‘forever chemicals’ on our furniture don’t actually prevent stains

April 7, 2023

When it comes to furniture, so-called forever chemicals have one job to do: repel oil and water to make textiles more stain-resistant. But a new study finds that, on top of the already established adverse health effects these chemicals have been known to cause, they can’t even do that one job properly, reports Fast Company.


The peer-reviewed study, published in th  AATCC Journal of Research, compared how six fabrics (three treated with forever chemicals; three, untreated) performed against two kinds of stains (coffee and oil-based salad dressing).


The result? The treated fabrics worked only marginally better at first, but had limited to no effectiveness after just a couple of years.


Forever chemicals, also known as PFAS (for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), have been around for decades and will be around for decades more. That’s because these particular types of human-made chemicals don’t break down naturally—meaning that they accumulate in water and soil, polluting the environment; and stack up in our bodies, increasing our risk of cancer, decreasing fertility rates, and more.


This year, more than a dozen U.S. states are implementing laws and regulations restricting the use of PFAS in food packaging and various textiles. But, for now, these chemicals can be found in a wide array of products, from your sofa to your nonstick pan to your lipstick.


 The study focused only on PFAS in furniture, but as Jonas LaPier, a PhD candidate in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and coauthor of the study, says: “To have a healthy suspicion of the touted performance benefits of PFAS compounds [more broadly] is a good strategy.”


 To be clear, when LaPier’s team conducted the study—pouring liquids onto fabrics, then using soap and warm water to clean them per standard recommendations—they found that treated fabrics did perform better than untreated ones, but only when the fabrics were brand-new (in other words, when no one had yet sat on them for any length of time, which, unless you bought that couch to simply look at it, means absolutely nothing).


 In a real-life scenario, when people dared to sit on their furniture, and, say, the fabric of their jeans rubbed against the fabric of the couch, the differences between a treated and untreated fabric were found to be negligible.


Indeed, on a 5-point scale, untreated fabrics scored a 4.2 regardless of how old the fabric was or how recently it had been stained. PFAS-treated fabrics, on the other hand, scored a 4.7 if the fabric was new and if the stain was wiped away immediately. But if the fabric was older and the stain already baked in, it scored a 3.9. (It’s hard to quantify how old is too old, but LaPier says the benefits of treating fabrics with PFAS last only half as long as the standard warranty for textiles and upholstery, which are typically covered for five years—so roughly two and a half years.)


The biggest difference in test results, LaPier says, came down to the type of fabric. And while the study wasn’t big enough for the team to confidently recommend one type of fabric over another, LaPier says that of the three types used (all sourced from textile company Maharam), a polyester that mimics the look and feel of wool performed the best, while a monochromatic polyester with a smooth surface performed the worst.


 Ultimately, one thing is clear: Forever chemicals are causing more harm than good on our upholstered items, and furniture companies should stop using them. As LaPier puts it: “It’s a clear case of nonessential use.”


Research contact: @FastCompany

Walt Disney World ‘enthusiasts’ say theme park has ‘lost its magic’

September 20, 2022

A majority of “self-described Disney World enthusiasts” say the Florida theme park has “lost its magic” due to skyrocketing costs, according to findings of a recent study, reports Fox Business.

A study from gambling website Time2play surveyed 1,927 “Disney World enthusiasts”—and, of those, 68.3% reported that the price hikes make them feel like the theme park has “lost its magic.” A whopping 92.6% reported that they believe the high costs for the park has made a vacation for the average family “out of reach.”

A ticket for Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971 was a total of $3.50, according to the study. When adjusting for inflation, that would mean tickets would be about $25.60 today. Instead, tickets for one Disney World park range from $109 to $159 per day, according to the findings.

Nearly 50% of respondents reported postponing a trip due to the price hikes.

All in, Disney World veterans can expect to pay 35.7% more for their next trip compared to their last one, Time2play established.

A chart posted to social media last year by a researcher at SJ Data Visualizations, a U.K.-based firm, shows that prices for Disney World have risen by at least 3,871% since 1971—with prices rising at a more drastic rate in the early 1980s compared to its first decade.

Families spoke out about the prices earlier this year, as traveling picked back up following coronavirus lockdowns, and they expressed shock at the price hikes. One dad of two estimated he would be on the hook for a $4,000 to $5,000 bill, even with one of his kids qualifying for free admission.

“I understand inflation and all of those things. I understand cost increases,” Kentucky father Matt Day told The Washington Post earlier this year on the high prices. “I always had the impression that Disney was a family vacation destination, and that impression is why I was surprised to see how expensive it truly was—and how out of reach it is for most American families.”

“It’s really unprecedented,” said Len Testa, president of theme-park trip-planning site Touring Plans told the Post earlier this year. “We haven’t seen this sort of anger about price hikes in—we can’t remember the last time something like this caused this much anger from Disney fans.”

Walt Disney World’s communications team did not immediately respond to Fox’s request for comment on the study.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

Psychiatric disorders and type 2 diabetes often go together

December 17, 2021

Danish researchers have found that people with psychiatric disorders often have to deal with another infirmity: They are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than members of  the general population, reports U.S. News & World Report.

The rate of type 2 diabetes in the general population  has been established to be 6% to 9%.

“Increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes among individuals with a psychiatric disorder suggests that these conditions have a shared vulnerability,” the researchers said in an article published November 29 in the journal Diabetologia.

In the study—led by Nanna Lindekilde, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern Denmark—the investigators searched four electronic databases of scientific papers. They found 32 reviews based on 245 studies that included people with 11 categories of psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, substance use disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, intellectual disability, psychosis, sleep disorder, dementia, and a mixed group with different types of disorders.

Type 2 diabetes was most common among study subjects with who were reported to have:

  • A sleep disorder (40%),
  • Binge eating disorder (21%),
  • Substance use disorder (16%),
  • Anxiety disorders (14%),
  • Bipolar disorder (11%), and
  • Psychosis (11%).

People with an intellectual disability were least likely to have diabetes (8%), the findings showed.

Many people with sleep disorders have other health problems, and it’s likely that these conditions contribute to the high rate of diabetes in people with sleep disorders, said lead author Lindekildek.

The researchers also said that the link between sleep disorders and diabetes is likely to be bidirectional— with the sleep disorder raising the risk of developing diabetes; while diabetes, especially in combination with poor metabolic control, increases the risk of developing sleep problems”

“Better understanding of the observed differences in disease risk and the reasons behind them are still needed,” the researchers concluded in a journal news release.

Research contact: @usnews

‘I’m enlightened and you’re not’: Study finds spirtual guidance is linked to narcissism, feelings of superiority

July 22, 2021

new study has found that some popular forms of spiritual guidance—such as instruction in energy healing; aura reading; and, to a lesser degree, mindfulness and meditation —correlate with both narcissism and “spiritual superiority,” Psych News Daily reports.

An implicit feature of spiritual training is that it encourages self-compassion and nonjudgmental self-acceptance—enabling followers to distance themselves from their egos and, thereby, from the need for social approval or success.

But as the new paper explains, spiritual training may have the opposite effect. In fact, such guidance may enhance followers’ need to feel “more successful, more respected or more loved,” as the authors Roos Vonk and Anouk Visser, respectively, of Radboud University in The Netherlands and the Behavior Change Group, also in the Netherlands, write. Their paper, “An Exploration of Spiritual Superiority: The Paradox of Self‐Enhancement,” has been published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

The authors developed a new measure that they refer to as “spiritual superiority.” It measures whether people feel superior to those “who lack the spiritual wisdom they ascribe to themselves.”

The researchers’ questionnaires ask respondents to react to a number of statements—among them, “I am more in touch with my senses than most others,” “I am more aware of what is between heaven and earth than most people,” and “The world would be a better place if others too had the insights that I have now.”

The authors also created three scales that they hypothesized would correlate with spiritual superiority.

The first scale, “spiritual guidance,” relates to how much people try to help others acquire the same wisdom they have acquired. It includes statements such as “I help others whenever possible on their path to greater wisdom and insight,” “I gladly help others to acquire my insights too,” and “I am patient with others, because I understand it takes time to gain the insights that I gained in my life and my education.”

The second scale is “supernatural overconfidence,” and it encompasses self-ascribed abilities in the paranormal domain. Example statements include “I can send positive energy to others from a distance,” “I can get in touch with people who are deceased,” and “I can influence the world around me with my thoughts.”

The third scale, “spiritual contingency of self-worth,” measures how much a person derives their self-esteem from their spirituality. Sample statements include “My faith in myself increases when I acquire more spiritual wisdom” and “When I gain new spiritual insights, this increases my self-worth.”

In three separate studies described in their research article, Vonk and Visser established their scale of spiritual superiority as a valid instrument. Moreover, it correlates significantly with the other three scales. It also correlates significantly with narcissism, self‐esteem, and other psychological variables. Finally, it also correlates, to varying degrees, with diverse forms of spiritual training.

They note that spiritual narcissism has been defined, for example, as “the misuse of spiritual practices, energies, or experiences to bolster self-centered ways of being.”

Other studies define spiritual narcissism as a situation “in which the individual believes he or she has become somehow enlightened in a way that others have not, and operates from a disconnecting stance of spiritual superiority.”

Yet another researcher simply calls it “an ‘I’m enlightened and you’re not’ syndrome, Psych News Daily reports.

The authors argue that the lack of objectivity in the spiritual domain plays a role here. “Like religiosity, spirituality is a domain that seems like a safe and secure investment for self-worth,” they write. “One’s spiritual attainments allow lots of room for wishful thinking, thus easily lending themselves to the grip of the self-enhancement motive.”

And because spiritual matters are generally “elusive to external objective standards,” that makes them a “suitable domain for illusory beliefs about one’s superiority.”

On the other hand, spiritual training may attract people who already feel superior. And the “extensive exploration of one’s personal thoughts and feelings” that spiritual training encourages “may be particularly appealing” to narcissists, the authors write.

Research contact: @PsychNewsDaily

‘Thirst’ aid: Does drinking lots of water lead to happiness and health?

December 24, 2020

Does being properly hydrated have a transcendent effect on our lives? A new survey of 2,000 Americans has found that those of us who drink six or more glasses of water daily tend to be more optimistic, energetic, and successful, according to a report by Good News Network.

Indeed, the poll—conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch Home Appliances—established that people who drink a half dozen or more glasses of water per day are the most likely to strongly agree that they are “very happy” (41%).

Compare that to those who self-report drinking less than one glass per day: Only 12% strongly agree with that same statement.

What’s more, 40% of those who drink six or optimistic by nature, compared to just 10% of those who drink less than one glass of water a day.

Refreshment also could be the key to waking up feeling refreshed. The study found that those who drink six or more glasses woke up feeling exhausted fewer times each week (2.59) than those who drink less than one glass of water a day (3.14).

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Study: Eating peanuts daily may reverse metabolic syndrome, a condition that affects 23% of adults

December 3, 2020

The Peanut Institute is sharing the results of recent research, which found that eating two ounces of lightly salted peanuts daily for 12 weeks may help reverse a medical condition known as metabolic syndrome.

The study—conducted by scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health, and published in the current online issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionestablished that those who ate peanuts had a two times higher likelihood of reversing their metabolic syndrome than those in a control group

The study is a first-of-its-kind to look at the effects of peanut consumption on a medical classification that, according to the American Heart Association, affects approximately 23% of adults.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls. Those with metabolic syndrome are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and two times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease within 10 years as someone without it. Some of the characteristics of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. 

The 12-week dietary intervention study was conducted October 2017 through January 2018 with 224 participants who either had metabolic syndrome or were at risk for it.

“This study is unique because it added just one new element to participants’ diets with the introduction of two servings of peanuts each day,” says Dr. Samara Sterling, director of research for The Peanut Institute. “The research showed the impact of nutrient-dense peanuts and how they positively affected participants’ health outcomes.”

The study also found that eating two servings of peanuts daily for 12 weeks did not cause participants to gain weight. 

“It’s exciting research because it supports the approach that food can be thought of as medicine in the fight against chronic diseases,” says Sterling. “Peanuts are packed with nutrients and are able to deliver health benefits in a small and affordable serving.”

Two servings, or approximately 70 peanuts, cost less than 30ȼ, are about 170 calories— and contain 14 grams of plant protein, plus 19 vitamins and minerals.

Peanuts also have antioxidants, polyphenols, and phytosterols—plant substances that have been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease and cancer risk, lower inflammation and cholesterol, and improve blood flow. In addition, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in peanuts, like those in olive oil and avocados, help decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

Research contact: @PeanutInstitute 

Gut feelings: Happiness may guard against deadly gastrointestinal infections

June 16, 2020

Those who are blessed with good cheer also are apt to have good digestion. In fact, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have found evidence that serotonin—the brain chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and well–being—may stop harmful intestinal pathogens from causing deadly infections, Study Finds reports.

Serotonin is almost always thought of as a brain chemical, but about 90% of it is actually produced in the gastrointestinal tract. There also are trillions of bacteria living in the stomach and, while the vast majority of those bacteria are beneficial, some pathogenic bacteria also make their way to the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, it can lead to serious and sometimes fatal gut infections.

Gut bacteria, like any other form of bacteria, are quite susceptible to their living environment. With this in mind, the study’s authors wondered if levels of serotonin being made in the gut affected these pathogens in any way, according to Study Finds.

To study this possible relationship, researchers focused on Escherichia coli O157, a type of bacteria known to cause semi-frequent outbreaks of sometimes deadly food-borne infections. Some samples of these bacteria were grown by the team in a lab setting and then exposed to serotonin. Notably, gene expression tests conducted after this exposure reveal that the serotonin had indeed significantly reduced the “expression” of genes within the bacteria that cause infections.

Furthermore, when human cells were exposed to the serotonin-weakened bacteria, that bacteria was no longer capable of inflicting “infection-associated lesions.” So, just add some serotonin and the bacteria loses its ability to produce an infection.

Moving forward, the researchers were eager to test their idea on living subjects. They gathered a group of mice and studied how serotonin influenced the viral capabilities of Citrobacter rodentiumwhich is pretty much the rodent equivalent of e.coli for humans. Some of the mice were genetically modified to produce more serotonin than usual. Others were modified to produce less than normal.

The mice that were producing more serotonin were much less likely to develop an active Citrobacter rodentium infection, and/or experience significant symptoms after being exposed to the bacterium. Conversely, mice with low levels of serotonin developed serious infections and many even died, Study Finds reports.

Mice given fluoxetine (Prozac) to raise their serotonin levels also didn’t become infected after exposure to the bacterium.

Additional experiments helped the research team pinpoint the serotonin receptor within both E. coli and C. rodentiumthe protein known as CpxAThis protein is actually common among gut bacteria, so it seems likely that serotonin has a big effect on overall gut health.

The study’s authors want to continue their work on this subject, and are hopeful serotonin can be used as a legitimate treatment option for bacterial gut infections. As of now, there are very few available antibiotics that are effective against E. coli O157.

“Treating bacterial infections, especially in the gut, can be very difficult,” says study leader Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in a statement. “If we could repurpose Prozac or other drugs in the same class, it could give us a new weapon to fight these challenging infections.”

The study is published in Cell Host and Microbe.

Research contact: @StudyFinds