Could Being a “Do-Gooder” be Good for Your Genes? The “Good News” is yes! We now know that our health is only partially inherited and that our environment can turn genes “on” or “off,” something referred to as gene expression. Recently, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed the genes of 80 healthy adults whose happiness came from either living a purposeful life or from self-gratification. Those whose happiness came from living a meaningful life had healthier genetic expression in their immune cells and lower levels of inflammatory gene expression. In other words, their immune systems were stronger and they had lower levels of inflammation, which can lead to chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Click here to learn more. Want to do your body good? Check out Volunteer Match.
Should you spend money on antioxidants if you’re trying to get pregnant? Maybe not. A new review of 28 supplement trials conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand found no evidence that taking antioxidant supplements will improve women’s chances of getting pregnant. Researchers also found only limited information about potential dangers associated with taking antioxidant supplements, such as miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Only 14 of the 28 trials reviewed looked at harmful effects. However, those trials that did look at potential harm found that the risk was no higher in women taking antioxidants than in those who received a placebo or standard treatment. Click here to read more.
Should You Take Dietary Supplements? Speaking of supplements, a new post in the National Institutes of Health “News in Health” August newsletter takes a look at taking vitamins, minerals, botanicals and more – when they are beneficial and when you might be wasting your money. Among those supplements the article supports taking? Folic acid for reproductive-age women, of course! The article is available at http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Aug2013/Feature1
Putting HPV Cancer Prevention on Your Back-to-College Checklist Almost all sexually active people get HPV at some point in their life, but most never know they have been infected. Each year in the United States, about 17,000 women get cancer that is linked with HPV, and cervical cancer is the most common. The CDC now recommends that all girls and boys get vaccinated against HPV by the age of 13. Unfortunately, CDC data indicates that vaccination rates in girls aged 13-16 failed to increase between 2011 and 2012. To learn more, visit the CDC’s “Back-to-School” campaign page. While there, read Jacquelyn’s story, who is a mother of two and cervical cancer survivor.
A new study published in the journal Radiology finds that certain lesions probably won’t progress to cancer. The study involves two breast conditions – atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). According to one of the researchers, Dr. Kristen Atkins, Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, women with either condition should be followed closely. This might involve repeat imaging every six months, or yearly mammograms with supplemental MRIs or ultrasound. Click here to access the study.
The US Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations for HIV screening to include pregnant women and everyone ages 15-65. The recommendation also calls for health providers to screen younger adolescents who are at increased risk for HIV. The recommendation for pregnant women includes “those who present in labor and whose HIV status is unknown.” To read more, go to www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org