Genes may help predict how long a person will live: Study

Analysing the DNA may help predict whether a person will live longer or die sooner than average, according to a study.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK analysed the combined effect of genetic variations that influence lifespan to produce a scoring system.

People who score in the top 10 per cent of the population might expect to live up to five years longer than those who score in the lowest 10 per cent, they said.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, also revealed fresh insights into diseases and the biological mechanisms involved in ageing.

“If we take 100 people at birth, or later, and use our lifespan score to divide them into ten groups, the top group will live five years longer than the bottom on average,” said Peter Joshi from the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute.

The researchers looked at genetic data from more than half a million people alongside records of their parents’ lifespan.

Some 12 areas of the human genome were pinpointed as having a significant impact on lifespan, including five sites that have not been reported before, according to the study.

The DNA sites with the greatest impact on overall lifespan were those that have previously been linked to fatal illnesses, including heart disease and smoking-related conditions, researchers said.

“We found genes that affect the brain and the heart are responsible for most of the variation in lifespan,” said Paul Timmers, a PhD student at the Usher Institute.

However, genes that have been linked to other cancers, not directly associated with smoking, did not show up in this study, the researchers said.

This suggests that susceptibility to death caused by these cancers is either a result of rarer genetic differences in affected people, or social and environmental factors, they said.

The researchers had hoped to discover genes that directly influence how quickly people age. They say that if such genes exist, their effects were too small to be detected in this study.

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First Published: Jan 18, 2019 12:46 IST

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Target Adds Grace + Tonic to Its Growing Natural Stable

Target continues to make a bolder statement in the natural beauty space. Later this month, Target will add Grace + Tonic to its growing list of premium “better for you” products in 332 doors.

The naturals market, according to Kline Group, continues to grow at above-average rates, increasing 8.3 percent in the U.S. in the past year. But shoppers are bombarded with product natural claims that are not only confusing, but often not verified since there are no rules governing the use of the term in the U.S.

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Common gene disorder causes serious ‘stealth’ disease, but could be easily treated

The western world’s most common genetic disorder is a “stealth condition” that causes far higher levels of serious disease and disability than previously thought, despite being easy to detect and treat.

Two major studies have revealed that hemochromatosis, previously thought to be a low-level health risk, actually quadruples risk of liver disease and doubles the risk of arthritis, and frailty in older age groups. It also causes higher risk of diabetes and chronic pain. Deaths from liver cancer in men with the faulty genes were significantly higher than expected, although the number was low. The research, led by a group from the University of Exeter in the U.K., with the University of Connecticut and the U.S. National Institute on Aging, is published in The BMJ and The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Hemochromatosis causes people to absorb too much iron from their diet. It accumulates around the body over time, damaging many organs and eventually causing disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 million Americans have hereditary hemochromatosis. Symptoms can include excessive tiredness plus muscle and joint pains, and these symptoms are often misdiagnosed as signs of aging. The researchers found that in men of European ancestry in Britain, 1.6 percent of all hip replacements and 5.8 percent of all liver cancers occurred in those with two hemochromatosis mutations.

The research suggests that routine screening may be needed for people at risk of hemochromatosis. Blood tests for iron and genetic testing are simple and cost-effective. The condition is easily treated by withdrawing blood.

Professor David Melzer, from the University of Exeter and University of Connecticut, who led the research, said: “The hemochromatosis mutations were thought to only rarely cause health problems. We’ve shown that hereditary hemochromatosis is actually a much more common and stealth disease, which is also seen in older people. We now need to test ways to screen and diagnose hemochromatosis earlier. It’s exciting to think that better care might prevent so much unnecessary disease.”

The team analyzed data from 2,890 people in Britain with the two genetic mutations (HFE C282Y). This group comprised approximately 10 times more people than the largest, previous study in this field. Most cases of hemochromatosis are diagnosed by a genetic test revealing the two genetic mutations. Of this group, one in five men and one in 10 women developed additional diseases, compared to those without mutations. The average age of those studied was 63, and the data suggested that even more diseases developed with advancing age. The team found that men and women with the mutations, aged 65 to 70, were much more likely to suffer from frailty and chronic pain and had lower muscle strength. Fourteen people in the study died of liver cancer.

These findings add to a U.S. study across seven health providers which estimated that 50 percent of men and 25 percent of women with the two mutations were diagnosed with hemochromatosis by the end of their lives. Additional work at the CDC showed that nine percent eventually developed severe liver disease.

Genetic hemochromatosis is thought to have evolved when past populations moved to places where meat was scarce. The ability to absorb more iron from a low-meat diet may have helped women have more babies. In Ireland, it is known as the “Celtic curse,” although it is common throughout Northern Europe and also occurs at a lower level in southern Europe. Having two copies of the mutated gene occurs in one in 300 non-Hispanic whites in the United States, with nearly 10 percent being carriers. The gene is much less common in Non-Hispanic Blacks and Mexican-Americans.

Women have partial protection from the onset of genetic hemochromatosis until later in life because they lose iron through menstruation and having children, although some younger women do develop the disease.

Treatment initially involves regular blood draws, known as a venesection. This is usually done once every few weeks. When iron levels are lower, this reduces to around four times annually. This is known as maintenance therapy. Blood can be donated once the patient’s iron levels reach this stage.

Dr. Luke Pilling of the University of Exeter Medical School, first author of the BMJ paper, said: “We found that diagnosis of hemochromatosis is often delayed or missed. That’s not surprising as symptoms such as joint pain and tiredness are frequently mistaken as signs of aging. Yet, it is likely that these potentially deadly health risks could be treated and avoided, transforming lives, especially at older ages.”

“This could be one example where a less common genetic variation causes limited disease in the young and middle-aged, but reduces resilience and causes susceptibility to multiple diseases later in life,” said Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, Scientific Director of the National Institute on Aging. “Identifying more of these genetic variants may lead to new treatment targets to ultimately improve health and function in old age. It is possible that many other situations like these exist.

Hemochromatosis is unusual, though, in having such a simple and safe treatment already available.”

According to Dr. George Kuchel, study co-author and director of the Center on Aging at the University of Connecticut, “Aging represents the greatest risk factor for common chronic diseases as well as associated frailty and disability. Our work has not only identified a potentially preventable and reversible contributor to these disabling conditions of late life, but also highlights the importance of developing approaches grounded in Precision Medicine to improve health and function in old age by decreasing the role of upregulated biological drivers of aging in selected individuals through a simple blood draw.”

The CDC has advised everyone with a family health history of hemochromatosis to talk to their doctor about testing for hereditary hemochromatosis. An NIH institute (NIDDK) advises that health care providers should consider testing people who have severe and continuing fatigue, unexplained cirrhosis, joint pain or arthritis, heart problems, erectile dysfunction, or diabetes, because these health issues may result from hemochromatosis.

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Can a critic-turned-believer sway others? The case of genetically modified foods

What happens when a strong advocate for one side of a controversial issue in science publicly announces that he or she now believes the opposite? Does the message affect the views of those who witness it — and if so, how?

Although past research suggests that such “conversion messages” may be an effective persuasion technique, the actual effect of such messages has been unknown.

Now, a new study from researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that such a conversion message can influence public attitudes toward genetically modified (GM) foods.

Using video of a talk by the British environmentalist Mark Lynas about his transformation from an opponent of GM crops to an advocate, researchers found that Lynas’ conversion narrative had a greater impact on the attitudes of people who viewed it than a direct advocacy message.

“People exposed to the conversion message rather than a simple pro-GM message had a more favorable attitude toward GM foods,” said Benjamin A. Lyons, a former postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania. “The two-sided nature of the conversion message — presenting old beliefs and then refuting them — was more effective than a straightforward argument in favor of GM crops.”

“Conversion messages and attitude change: Strong arguments, not costly signals” was published in January 2019 in the journal Public Understanding of Science. The study was done by Lyons, now a research fellow at the University of Exeter, U.K., with two other former APPC postdoctoral fellows — Ariel Hasell, a research fellow at the University of Michigan, and Meghnaa Tallapragada, an assistant professor of strategic communication at Clemson University — and APPC Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

How the study worked

In 2013, Lynas, a journalist and activist who had opposed GM crops, spoke at the Oxford Farming Conference about his change of belief. In the current experiment, APPC researchers used video excerpts from Lynas’ talk to more than 650 U.S. adult participants, who competed a survey about it.

The respondents each were shown one of three video clips: 1) Lynas explaining the benefits of GM crops; 2) Lynas discussing his prior beliefs and changing his mind about GM crops; and 3) Lynas explaining why his beliefs changed, including the realization that the anti-GM movement he helped to lead was a form of anti-science environmentalism.

The researchers found that both forms of the conversion message (2 and 3) were more influential than the simple advocacy message. There was no difference in impact between the basic conversion message and the more elaborate one.

Measuring how the conversion narrative worked, the researchers found that it enhanced Lynas’ “perceived argument strength,” rather than bolstering his personal credibility, which they found an important distinction. The fact that argument strength served as a mediator on GM attitudes supports the idea that “the unexpected shift in the position of the speaker … prompted central or systematic processing of the argument,” which, in turn, implies a more durable change in attitudes.

GM foods: A low-profile issue on which minds may be changed?

Unlike other controversial issues in science such as evolution or climate change, Americans’ views on GM crops do not seem to be related to political ideology or religious beliefs. Nor are Americans especially knowledgeable about GM foods — one prior study found that only 43 percent of Americans know that GM foods are available for human consumption and only 26 percent believe that they have eaten food that was genetically modified. In another earlier study, 71 percent of Americans say they have heard little or nothing about GM foods — yet 39 percent think GM foods present a risk to human health.

Given that many Americans’ views on genetically modified foods aren’t yet fixed by group values and motivated reasoning, their minds may be more easily changeable on this issue. Lyons said it may be possible to present scientific evidence through a conversion narrative to people on such low-knowledge, lower-profile issues and affect their views.

“After completing this study, I’m more optimistic about our ability to change minds on the issues that haven’t been totally polluted by ideology,” Lyons said.

The researchers cautioned that the findings may not extend beyond an American audience, and said that their audience included many who did not have strong pro- or anti-GM attitudes. They said conversion messaging should be tested with people who do have strong pre-existing views on GM foods. They also noted that this research tested a conversion in only one direction — from anti-GM to pro-GM foods — and said it would be valuable to explore the opposite case.

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Still too many highway deaths tied to speeding


(HealthDay)—Speeding is a factor in nearly one-third of U.S. traffic deaths, but doesn’t get enough attention as a traffic safety issue, a new Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report says.

“If we want to get to zero deaths on our roads, we need to address speeding on a much deeper and more comprehensive level than we have been,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in an association news release.

“This clear and present danger on our roadways makes it imperative to devote additional resources toward getting drivers to slow down in order to save lives,” he stressed.

Speeding vehicles are especially dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists. Even slowing down a little can reduce crash and injury severity and save lives, the association said.

Some cities, including New York and Boston, have reduced crashes and injuries by lowering speed limits. But many speed-related deaths—more than 5,000 in 2016 alone—occur on rural roadways, according to the association.

A program called Vision Zero is at the forefront of efforts to curb speeding in cities, and the GHSA hopes it will spread to more suburbs and rural areas.

The report—”Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge”—includes several suggestions for reducing speeding-related traffic deaths.

They include new federal laws and programs; increased law enforcement, including automated speed enforcement; and greater use of roundabouts and other features to slow speeders down.

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Recondo Technology to focus on AI, price transparency at HIMSS19

Hospitals can use artificial intelligence-driven technologies to automate manual and expensive processes. For instance, communicating with payers has become one of the most arduous responsibilities for revenue cycle departments.

This is one of the messages health IT vendor Recondo Technology wants to get across to attendees at the upcoming HIMSS19 conference.

“Anyone outside this department would be shocked at the sheer volume of transactions to process,” said Eldon Richards, chief technology officer at Recondo Technology. “And payers typically will only go over three at a time on the phone. When you have on average 16,000 queries to wade through a month, that’s not going to cut it.”

The other option – to look up authorization status on the payer’s website – is less time-consuming but still requires a lot of staff hours, he added.

Automation is the key

Automation is a proven alternative that substantially reduces time and human effort to the entire authorization process – from querying the payer’s website to find out if prior authorization is required, to automating the retrieval of the payer’s answers, said Richards.

Recondo Technology will be discussing a variety of trends with HIMSS19 attendees, though two stand out: AI and price transparency.

“AI has been under an intense spotlight. Healthcare leaders really need to be able to discern where the ROI opportunities are biggest right now.”

Eldon Richards, Recondo Technology

“AI has been under an intense media and industry spotlight,” Richards said. “Healthcare leaders really need to be able to discern where the ROI opportunities are biggest right now. We believe based on our customers’ successes that automating revenue cycle management processes are among the most significant ROI opportunities at present with AI – specifically, via robotic process automation, and even more so when this automation is further enabled with machine learning and natural language processing.”

Interest in price transparency has redoubled since CMS mandated that hospitals must post their chargemaster lists online, he said of the other trend.

“That mandate goes into effect this month, so I expect price transparency will be top of mind with many HIMSS19 attendees,” he explained. “I would caution that simply complying with this mandate will not be enough to bring true price transparency to patients, as many will be confused to discover that what they will actually pay for services is markedly different than what’s on the chargemaster list. So HIMSS19 attendees should be on the lookout for solutions that do give that authentic transparency into cost.”

Breaking through the AI hype

And Richards has more advice for HIMSS19 attendees.

“A lot of CIOs and CTOs will be heading to HIMSS19 with the intent to find out where AI is really working, because there’s just been so much hype surrounding the topic the last few years,” he said. “Now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road, so to speak. My advice for separating the ‘fake it till you make it’ vendors from those who have an authentic AI solution to offer is to look for three basic proof points: cost, time and the use of neural networks.”

If an AI system can process a lot of transactions in a short amount of time but at a high cost, that’s an indicator that human effort was used instead of AI-driven automation, he advised.

“If it can process a lot of transactions at a cheap cost but over a longer period of time, that’s also a sign that humans were doing most of the work,” he said. “These first two proof points are more geared toward evaluating AI technology such as robotic process automation. When evaluating claims that a solution is machine learning-capable, make sure to verify the solution is powered by neural networks versus standard rules-based engines.”

With price transparency, HIMSS19 attendees should consider the CMS mandate a marketing opportunity to retain more patients, Richards said.

“The mandate will drive more potential patients to the hospital’s website,” he commented. “An online price calculator that’s easy to use, gives an accurate estimate of the patient’s cost and even provides payment assistance options will give them a reason to schedule services with your hospital.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]

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The Best Foam Rolling Routine For Reducing Muscle Pain

Before you grab the foam roller out of the cluttered corner of your gym for a warmup or cooldown session, you should know why you might want to be using the tool.

It all starts with the fascia. Fascia is a webbing of connective tissue that links the muscles and covers them, similar to shrink wrap. Until recent years, scientists thought that that was all there was to say about it, but they’ve come to learn that it influences muscles’ ability to contract and the movements they can coordinate together.

Part of the wear and tear we suffer from working out, the stress of daily life, and aging is damage to fascia, which can result in trigger points—the knots that feel tender, even painful, when something presses against our muscles. Trigger points that are left untreated can knock the body’s fascial system out of whack, leading to other problems, like muscle imbalances and injury.

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For a full compendium of fitness knowledge, check out the Men’s Health Encyclopedia of Muscle. The volume is chock full of workout routines, helpful training tips, and definitions for just about every gym-related term you’ve ever wanted to know.

What You Can Do With Self-Myofascial Release

Getty Imagesfoment

To treat them, physical therapists have recommended self-myofascial release (SMR)—applying pressure to a muscle in order to provoke a nervous system reaction that makes the muscle relax. It’s similar to the way a massage works.

There’s a mechanical component to it, as well. When you apply pressure to the muscle with a foam roller, the effect is like squeezing a sponge. And, just as a sponge soaks up water when you release the squeeze while holding it under a running faucet, your fascia will take in water when you remove the compression of the roller. “The release people feel is from the re-uptake of hydration, which lubricates the fascia, muscles, and joints,” says Sarah Jamieson, coach and founder of Moveolution. “This frees up congestion and removes toxins that get stuck within the intramuscular fuzz,” she says.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, SMR can reduce muscle pain, soreness, and tightness, temporarily increasing range of motion and decreasing overall stress in the body, by putting the nervous system into a parasympathetic state—that is, it induces relaxation to promote recovery. For these reasons, SMR has application before and after your workout, and really any other occasion you can make time for it.

How to Use Self Myofascial Release

Getty Imagesmarekuliasz

While the foam roller is specifically designed for SMR, you can get treatment from almost any dense, rollable implement, including a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or PVC pipe. Even a rolling pin like your mom used for homemade pizza dough will work.

The best tool depends on your level of tightness and the muscle group that you’re rolling. If you don’t have your own roller, check out this top-shelf vibration model from Triggerpoint, or any of these options.

If you’re new to rolling, and have some very sensitive spots to treat, the foam rollers in the stretching area of your gym are probably enough. If you’ve been lifting for years and consider yourself a pretty thick side of beef, you may need to roll a barbell up and down your quads to get them to release. Some muscles are too small or secluded to be hit directly with a broad cylinder of foam, so when rolling out the upper back, rear deltoids, and hips, for example, balls can provide more targeted pressure.

The most important thing to remember when rolling trigger points is not to make them any worse. Applying more pressure isn’t necessarily better, and, in fact, can cause the muscle to tighten up even more, as a protective mechanism. SMR can feel intense, but it shouldn’t hurt.

“‘It hurts,’ is your nervous system’s way of saying stop,” says Sam Pogue, a performance coach for Onnit, so “don’t use pain or force as the measure of success.” On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing feeling nothing, and 10 representing excruciating pain, SMR should never rank higher than a 6, says Pogue. Grinding your muscles into a hard surface can break blood vessels and damage nerves, which take a long time to heal, so take it easy.

This is How We (Foam) Roll

Rest the muscle you want to roll on the implement, and move your body so the muscle rolls smoothly up and down the surface. Go for 30 to 90 seconds, pausing in spots that feel particularly tight or tender. When you find these areas, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Try to relax, and you’ll find that the muscle releases more.

One of the misconceptions about SMR is that it will break up the scar tissue in muscles, removing the trigger points entirely. Pogue says that the goal is to loosen these knots a bit, so you can get relief and move better at the start of a workout, but “you’re not going to get a knot to fully release just by rolling it. It’s there for a reason—it may be protecting you,” he says. If you didn’t have this scar tissue, the muscle and fascia might incur more damage.

While how to roll is fairly self-explanatory, below are some directions (which you can also find in the Men’s Health Encyclopedia of Muscle) for releasing what Pogue suggests are the areas probably most in need of it.

Thoracic Spine

Mitch Mandel

Lie with your upper back on the roller positioned perpendicular to your body. Cross your arms over your chest. Raise your hips off the floor and roll the length of your shoulder blades

Lats

Mitch Mandel

Lie on your side and reach that side’s arm overhead with your thumb pointing up. Place the roller under your armpit. Roll down to your waist.

TFL

Mitch Mandel

This muscle lies on the side of the hip, and is typically very tight in people who sit at desks for prolonged periods. Lie on your side, and place the roller just under your hip bone. Cross your top leg over the bottom one and rest your foot on the floor. Use that foot to gently roll your body up so that the roller moves down your leg, about halfway to your knee.

Piriformis

Mitch Mandel

Most people roll this hip muscle sitting on the roller, with one leg crossed over the other. This puts the muscle in a stretched position, and since it’s usually already tight and tender, Jamieson thinks this approach is too severe, and that rolling it this way could make the muscle even tighter.

Instead, Jamieson recommends a more-subtle attack, working around the piriformis before compressing it directly. Lie down on your side and place a tennis ball just under the top of one butt cheek (the crest of the sacrum). Roll outward to the top of your hip bone (the crest of the hip), and then down to the side of your butt cheek, where you’ll hit your glute medius and piriformis.

Adductors

Mitch Mandel

Lie face-down, and raise one thigh 90 degrees out to your side, bending your knee. Rest the inside of your thigh on the roller and roll the area down to your knee.

When to Roll

Remember, rolling has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. This is how it helps
muscles to loosen up.

But, too much rolling can make you downright sleepy, which is the last thing you want before you begin a workout. Spend only a few minutes rolling out your tightest areas prior to a workout. After you train, and on different days entirely, you can spend more time on it, rolling your body thoroughly. Pogue suggests rolling at least 2 days per week.

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Doctors transform aggressive cancer cells into normal fat cells

New breakthrough in the treatment of breast cancer?

The treatment of cancer often proves to be extremely difficult. Doctors developed a new treatment approach, which allows cancer cells to fat cells to convert. By such a transformation of the cells, the formation of dangerous metastases can be prevented.

The scientists from the University of Basel discovered in their recent study, that a novel treatment allows the conversion of cancer cells into fat cells. The experts published the results of their study in the English journal “Cancer Cell”.

Cancer should be treated before it metastasizes

Achieved In recent years, physicians significant improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Important for a successful treatment is that the cancer is detected before it can spread in the body. If a Tumor has already started to form metastases, is a successful treatment still remains difficult.

Treatment successfully in breast cancer tumors of mice

Scientists understand now better how the complex process of metastasis formation occurs. Signals from the outside to bring the tumor cells, they undergo a so-called epithelial-mesenchymal Transition (EMT). The epithelial cells reach a state of high plasticity, which enables them, in a different cell type. In this stage, the cell resembles a stem cell. This process is essential for various physiological mechanisms, including embryonic development and wound healing. But, unfortunately, cancer cells can take advantage of the epithelial-mesenchymal Transition, from one part of the body part transferred to another body. This can spread cancer to different organs and tissues. The special adaptability in this Phase, allows scientists to fight the cancer in a vulnerable state. In the current study, the experts addressed the stem cell-like state metastatic use Ender tumor cells, to convert it into a less malignant state. Thus, the development of a secondary cancer can be prevented. They tested the treatment on mice, which were previously implanted with particularly aggressive human breast cancer tumors.

Aggressive cancer cells are transformed into harmless fat cells

The rodents received two doses from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – approved medicines, a as a cancer inhibitor (Trametinib) and the second as antidiabetic (rosiglitazone). This treatment was carried out for the period of three weeks. The results were extremely promising. The treatment could not only prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, but also the growth of the primary tumor, the proliferation of cancer cells was prevented in this Tumor. Aggressive cancer cells which had detached from the primary tumor, have been converted instead into fat cells, says study author Professor Gerhard Christofori, University of Basel. While the cancer spread in animals from the control group in the lung and other organs, developed with the combination therapy treated mice, no metastases.

Converted fat cells remained in the fat cells

Further cellular experiments revealed that breast cancer cells which have been transformed into fat cells, remained also on the duration of fat cells, explains Professor Christofori. The new treatment approach can not only convert the primary tumor completely in the fat, if it is, however, a critical amount of the tumor manages to reprogram cells, this could mean that the Tumor is sensitive to conventional chemotherapy.

Further research is needed

The new treatment is working so far only in mice. The possible efficacy in humans and is not tested. The physician also stated that not all cancer cells are transformed, but only such that the metastasis of an EMT. This means that even if a conversion of cancer cells is an Option for patients, it must be most probably used in conjunction with chemotherapy and not in place of it. Further research is now to show how this technique can be applied to existing chemotherapy regimens, and whether it also applies to other types of cancer use. (as)

5 Things You Should Do Immediately After Your Workout — Before Anything Else

You’ve just completed a hard workout. But what do you do as soon as you’ve jumped off the treadmill and dropped those weights? Most of us, in haste to get out of the gym and back to dry clothing, grab our water bottles and head for the showers or back home. However, post-workout recovery is essential when it comes to giving your body some much-needed TLC. In fact, what do you right after your workout is just as important as what you do during your workout.

“Recovery after a workout is important because it allows your body to slow down and recuperate,” Bryant Johnson, personal trainer to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and creator of The RBG Workout, tells SheKnows.

Along the same lines, Pure Barre director of training Katelyn DiGiorgio tells SheKnows that excessive exercise, heavy training at every session or a lack of rest days will limit your fitness gains from exercise and undermine your efforts. Giving your body the time needed to recover will ensure you are maximizing your efforts and reaching your goals in a safe, effective way.

In order to help you out, here’s a list of some of the best things you should be doing post-workout.

Hydrate

While it’s kind of a no-brainer, reaching for water should be the first thing you do after working out.

“Your body loses fluids during exercises, so filling up after exercising helps boost recovery. Water supports all metabolic functions in the body,” says DiGiorgio.

Johnson agrees. “Water is always essential if you worked out for 30 minutes or less, but I recommend coconut water if you’ve worked out for longer than 45 minutes,” he says. “When you work out for a longer period of time, you start to loose salt and electrolytes, and coconut water helps replenish these because it has potassium.” And coconut water doesn’t have as much sugar as those post-workout sports drinks.

Stretch it out

Working out is great, but don’t forget to stretch when you finish.

“If you did a lot of running and cardio, then I always like to stretch directly after because it allows your heart rate and nervous system to calm down,” Johnson says. “When I’m lifting weights, I also like to recommend using foam rollers after the workout to relax the muscles and calm them down, which can get your mind, heart and body refocused and back into routine.”

After you’ve pushed your body and used up a lot of energy, it’s like a car or a machine — you don’t want to turn it off right away, he explains. “You want to let the body slow down because if you don’t, your blood can pool up and that’s when you get cramps. When you rest and recover, you allow your body to bring the heart rate and nervous system back down, which allows your body to get refocused so it’s able to do what it has to do next.”

Similarly, Johnson recommends stretching post-workout because your muscles are warm and pliable, “so you can stretch them more than you could in the beginning.” He suggests stretching and holding each position for more than 10 seconds per stretch. “When you initially go into a stretch, your body tries to protect the muscles and tendons, so the longer you hold, the muscles, fibers and nerves start to relax more, allowing for a deeper stretch.”

Take care of inflammation

Each workout causes microscopic tears to your muscle fibers, and it’s the job of the inflammation process to help repair the damage caused during the workout while your body is in recovery mode, which is why Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer, cofounders of Shred415, a high-intensity interval training class, recommend ice or cryotherapy to help reduce inflammation.

Another technique? Infrared sauna. “It helps reduce inflammation by releasing heat shock proteins,” they tell SheKnows.

Eat some protein

When it comes to post-workout snacks, Micheli and Roemer recommend protein post-workout.

“Choose to set aside 20 to 30 minutes to take in some food after finishing a workout,” they tell SheKnows. “It will optimize recovery, help reduce muscle soreness and help individuals perform better during their next workout — plus it helps you avoid injury.”

The pair recommends eating lean protein, a healthy carb that is minimally processed and a healthy fat after a workout. “You want to refuel your body,” they say. “If you’re more of a morning workout person, we recommend having a protein shake with chia seeds; overnight oats with chia seeds, a spoonful of almond butter and berries; eating a hard-boiled egg…” They also suggest smearing peanut butter on a couple or rice cakes and topping it with banana slices.

For those who prefer to get a workout in the evening hours, they recommend eating organic chicken, fish, grass-fed beef or organic tofu for your protein fix.

“To promote lean muscle mass, you need to be eating a clean diet, and do your best to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. The bottom line is that you need to refuel in order to recover your body.”

When it comes to eating, Johnson, who tends to eat a light snack post-workout, cautions, “Your body can’t distinguish between thirst and hunger, so sometimes, pending the workout you’ve done, it might just need water right away to replace the fluids your body has lost.”

Listen to your body

Because each of us is built differently, our post-workout recovery process will be different too. “Being in tune with how your body is feeling is an extremely important part of quick recovery,” says DiGiorgio. “If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance, you may need more recovery time or a break from working altogether.” On the other hand, if you are feeling strong the day after a hard workout, you don’t have to force yourself to go slow either, says DiGiorgio.

As with anything that’s related to fitness and your body, you will learn what works for your body post-workout through trial and error. Maybe you need a lighter snack like Johnson, or maybe you’re someone who needs a heavier meal. But no matter what, don’t skip out on your post-workout recovery no matter how much you might need that shower.

“The body doesn’t get stronger or faster by just working out — you get stronger and faster when you let your body recover and recuperate,” says Johnson. “You have to let your body rebuild what you put it through, and it’s important to not work the same muscles over and over again. You need to focus on resting.”

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Novel materials convert visible into infrared light: Discovery opens up new routes for photodynamic therapy and drug development

Columbia University scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard, have succeeded in developing a chemical process to convert visible light into infrared energy, allowing innocuous radiation to penetrate living tissue and other materials without the damage caused by high-intensity light exposure.

Their research is published in the January 17 issue of Nature.

“The findings are exciting because we were able to perform a series of complex chemical transformations that usually require high-energy, visible light using a noninvasive, infrared light source,” said Tomislav Rovis, professor of chemistry at Columbia and co-author of the study. “One can imagine many potential applications where barriers are in the way to controlling matter. For example, the research holds promise for enhancing the reach and effectiveness of photodynamic therapy, whose full potential for managing cancer has yet to be realized.”

The team, which includes Luis M. Campos, associate professor of chemistry at Columbia, and Daniel M. Congreve of the Rowland Institute at Harvard, carried out a series of experiments using small quantities of a novel compound that, when stimulated by light, can mediate the transfer of electrons between molecules that otherwise would react more slowly or not at all.

Their approach, known as triplet fusion upconversion, involves a chain of processes that essentially fuses two infrared photons into a single visible light photon. Most technologies only capture visible light, meaning the rest of the solar spectrum goes to waste. Triplet fusion upconversion can harvest low-energy infrared light and convert it to light that is then absorbed by the solar panels. Visible light is also easily reflected by many surfaces, whereas infrared light has longer wavelengths that can penetrate dense materials.

“With this technology, we were able to fine-tune infrared light to the necessary, longer wavelengths that allowed us to noninvasively pass through a wide range of barriers, such as paper, plastic molds, blood and tissue,” Campos said. The researchers even pulsed light through two strips of bacon wrapped around a flask

Scientists have long tried to solve the problem of how to get visible light to penetrate skin and blood without damaging internal organs or healthy tissue. Photodynamic therapy (PDT), used to treat some cancers, employs a special drug, called a photosensitizer, that is triggered by light to produce a highly reactive form of oxygen that is able to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Current photodynamic therapy is limited to the treatment of localized or surface cancers. “This new technology could bring PDT into areas of the body that were previously inaccessible,” Rovis said.

“Rather than poisoning the entire body with a drug that causes the death of malignant cells and healthy cells, a nontoxic drug combined with infrared light could selectively target the tumor site and irradiate cancer cells.”

The technology could have far-reaching impact. Infrared light therapy may be instrumental in treating a number of diseases and conditions, including traumatic brain injury, damaged nerves and spinal cords, hearing loss, as well as cancer.

Other potential applications include remote management of chemical storage solar power production and data storage, drug development, sensors, food safety methods, moldable bone-mimic composites and processing microelectronic components.

The researchers are currently testing photon-upconversion technologies in additional biological systems. “This opens up unprecedented opportunities to change the way light interacts with living organisms,” Campos said. “In fact, right now we are employing upconversion techniques for tissue engineering and drug delivery.”

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