Colon Cancer Risk Tied to Fast Food

42711932_63275a104aEat junk food? If you have a genetic susceptibility to colon cancer you may have an even greater risk than previously thought.

In a first of its kind study, researchers were able to find a link between certain foods and a higher colon cancer risk in people that were already more susceptible to getting it.

All of the people in the study had Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that predisposes people to cancer at younger ages and that affects up to one in 660 people. In the US, most people who get colorectal cancer have this syndrome.

Researchers studied people who ate various food groups including one that was dominated by fruits, vegetables and whole grains; another that was high in meat and coffee; a third dietary group that resembled a Mediterranean diet – fish, leafy greens, pasta, sauces and wine; and a fourth group that was heavy on fried snacks, fast food and diet soda.

The result? Researchers determined that those in the high junk food group were twice as likely to develop colon tumors.

According to the CDC – Of cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cancer killer in the United States.


Photo via Flickr: by ebruli

One Simple Choice to Burn 7,800 Calories

Be honest. How often do you find yourself waiting for the office elevator to go down/up three, two or even one stories? What if we told you that making a dedication to taking the stairs could help you lose weight and improve your cardiovascular health?

Each minute you take the stairs at a moderate intensity (no texting and stair walking please) you’ll burn about 5 calories if you’re 120-pounds and about 7 calories if you’re 150-pounds, Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, told the New York Times.

And small calories add up quick! Think about it — how many times do you leave or enter your office building each day? At six times and one-minute per exit/enter that’s about 30 calories a day (for a 120-pound person) or 150-calories each five day-work week and 7,800 calories a year, just for skipping the elevator! If you really want to earn a gold star, remember that running stairs multiplies the caloric burn and the cardiovascular benefit.

Do note that for those with knee problems going downstairs may be difficult: “The impact on knees and feet is relatively low, with the pressure equivalent to two times one’s body weight walking up stairs (compared with three to four times when running), Dr. Bryant told the New York Times. The pounding on the body going downstairs, however, equals six or seven times one’s body weight.” In that case, we’ll let you take the elevator down and the stairs up!

Photo: StephenCarlile

Have You Had the 8 Most Important Health Screenings?

You exercise, eat right, gave up smoking back in college and keep your drinking to a few glasses of red wine each week—the picture of health, right? Unfortunately, routine health screenings are just as important as a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t getting the top 8 below you run the risk of not spotting potential problems early—while still easily treatable. Do us a favor, take today and make it a goal to book appointments with your health care providers for each of these tests.

1. Blood Pressure

At age 18 you should get this checked at least every two years.

2. Cholesterol

Every five years you should get this checked starting at age 20.

3. Pap Smear and Pelvic Exam

Guidelines for this screening recently changed and the frequency that’s right for you will depend on your risk factors, but talk to your Doc to get a schedule in place.

4. Breast Exam

According to a clinical breast exam should be done every three years starting at age 20. At age 40 you’ll need to start getting mammograms every one-to-two years. *The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms beginning at age 50, but the American Cancer Society still recommends earlier screening.

5. Blood Glucose Test

At age 45 you’ll need to start getting a blood glucose test every three years to test for diabetes or pre-diabetes and earlier if you have symptoms of diabetes or several risk factors.

6. Skin Exam

Each month you should be checking your skin for changes or the appearance of new moles to spot the early signs of skin cancer and once per year a doctor or dermatologist should conduct the examination during a routine check-up.

7. Dental Exam

Even if your teeth are in good shape you’ll need to get a cleaning every six months and a check-up, depending on your needs your dentist may even recommend every three months.

8. Eye Exam

Eye exams can tell a Doc more about you than just if you need glasses or not, an eye exam is a good supplement to an annual physical and can discover illnesses like diabetes and high cholesterol. In your 20s and 30s you should be going every two-to-three years and once you are in your 40s every one-to-two years.

How to Get Your Meditate On!

We couldn’t help notice the “meditation buzz” this weekend on the airwaves. The topic has come up either because it’s summer and we all want an excuse to ‘meditate’ on our hammocks or the July issue of the journal Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, has hit the wires. Let’s go with a little of both. Taking a deeper look at the study, what we loved was beyond discussing the benefits of meditation (increased oxygen to the blood, reduced stress, anxiety, depression etc.) these researchers looked into how people liked to meditate. And, let’s face it – we do what we like doing – and we don’t do what we don’t like.

The researchers spoke with about 250 college students who all practiced one of four methods for about a week and at the end of six weeks ranked their personal preferences regarding meditation methods.

Researchers looked into these four methods:

Vipassana – Translated as “seeing deeply” this meditation dates back to the times of Gautama Buddha. You can start out by breath awareness and then advance to stages of being mindful of your perceptions and thoughts at any time, regardless of what you are doing.

Mantra Think “Om” or choose a word or phrase of your own to repeat.

Zen – This practice typically asks you to silently focus on breathing and posture with eyes open in a quiet place and to dismiss any thoughts that pop into your head, essentially “thinking nothing.”  Good luck with this!

Qigong visualization – We love this one – because one aspect of this practice includes the Inner Smile, visualizing “smile-energy” penetrating your internal organs; or Moon on Lake, visualizing the moon’s reflection on a lake; and Holding Heaven in the Palm of Your Hand, imagining the energy of the galaxy in the palm of your hand. Another popular technique is imagining a beam of light running along the spine.

And the winner is … a significant number of participants chose Vipassana or Mantra meditation as their preferred techniques. Of course this doesn’t mean these are right for you -but they would be a good place to start. Looking for a way to get started, check out our post called Mediation Made EZ, which describes a 100 breath technique …  as in take 100 breaths and you’re done. E-Z!

Iodine: The EZ Way!

Somehow iodine iodine iodine has become the topic du jour around the lunch table at work. No big mystery as one of our friends is having a thyroid issue, which then created a sudden interest eating foods rich in iodine – the trace mineral essential in thyroid function. (And of course it’s touted as the first line of defense against the nuclear radiation fall out from last year’s tsunami in Japan.) Since, we don’t want to accidentally OD by taking tablets, like some people do. We set out to find the best dietary sources.

Duh! turns out iodized salt is a pretty easy thing to do… thanks Joseph A. Case for your detail-rich article.

And as it turns out seafood is naturally rich in iodine, including; cod, sea bass, haddock and perch. Kelp (one serving of kelp offers 4 times more than a daily minimum requirement) is the most common iodine-rich green source, while dairy products and plants grown in iodine-rich soil can provide a bit of this nutrient  … we digress.

Keep it simple by snacking on it! While those Trader Joe’s seaweed snacks are pretty good – if you can find Seasnax dried seaweed (Whole Foods, some health food stores, online) … these seem to score a bit higher w/ the online health brigade because they use olive oil -not canola oil in the process. And according to their website, on average, 15 micrograms of iodine can be found in a full sheet of nori.

Just not into food from the sea? Here is a chart from The World’s Healthiest Foods on what they consider to be great sources of iodine.

Did we miss your favorite iodine-rich snack or meal? Please share in our comments.

Travel Yoga … as in Sanity for Road (and Airplane) Trips!

Heading out of town this weekend? We’ve got the solution to road trip / plane ride blahs! Road Trip Yoga, which was just published in Marin Magazine’s June issue is a collection for great chair poses by Stacie Dooreck of SunLight Yoga in Larkspur, California from her book, SunLight Chair Yoga. These simple moves can help prevent stiffness and increase blood flow (keep your mind and body happy!) without leaving your seat.

Centering Sit in a comfortable position with the spine tall yet relaxed. Take a few deep, sighing breaths. Inhale and exhale for three counts each, five times.

Wrist and Ankle Rotations Rotate the wrists, then the ankles — five times each.

 Neck Rolls Slowly make a circle with your nose five times in each direction, clockwise and counterclockwise. Inhale when facing upward and exhale when looking down. Keep shoulders relaxed.

 Alternate Leg Lifts Inhale as you raise your lower leg from a bent knee, and exhale as you bring it back down. Switch sides. Repeat up to five times.

Alternate Arm Lifts Inhale as you lift your right arm. Exhale as you lower the arm. Switch sides. Repeat five times each.

Combine Arm and Leg Lifts Inhale as you lift the right arm and left leg together. Exhale as you lower them. Switch. Make diagonal movements. Keep the spine tall.

Mountain Pose Sit tall in a chair. Lift from the base of your spine through the crown of your head. Feel the strength of the back muscles and the sides of your body lifting. Keep feet on the floor.

Side Stretch (Crescent Moon) Inhale, sitting tall, as you lengthen the spine skyward. Exhale, facing forward, as you lean gently to the right, placing your right hand by your right hip or letting it hang beside the chair, and raising your left hand to extend it over the left ear. Switch sides. Repeat three times on each side.

 Cat to Cobra Pose/Spinal Flex Inhale to Cobra — lift your chest and heart as your hands slide to your hips along the thighs. Bring the elbows toward each other. Exhale to Cat  — move your belly toward your spine as you round your back with arms stretched straight and hands on knees. Repeat up to 10 times.

 Spinal Twist Place feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Inhale as you sit tall. Lengthen the spine skyward. Exhale and twist gently to the right, placing your right hand behind you or on the side of the chair and your left hand on or near the right knee. Switch sides. Only twist as far as is comfortable, with no strain. You can repeat this posture once on each side.

Final Relaxation Rest your back against the chair with your legs one to two feet apart. Allow the legs to roll outward. Relax your arms with palms facing the sky, resting on your thighs. Observe the breath and body; relax for five to 10 minutes. Quiet the spirit and calm the mind. Slowly move your hands and feet to come out of the position and sit tall.

Did we miss one of your favorite chair poses? Let us know!

Does your toothpaste make the grade?

Wether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond – NOW is the time to be kind to your teeth. Inspired by a recent visit to Ieneke Wassenaar a dental hygienist in Tiburon, California, who helped us with our EZ Solutions for Healthy Teeth post, we have a list to share when it comes to choosing your toothpaste.

Why does it matter?  Many toothpastes contain a gritty agent that like sandpaper gets rid of stains and plaque, unfortunately it is also wearing away your enamel, porcelain veneers and crowns.

A toothpaste’s abrasiveness, or RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasion) value, must be determined by the American Dental Association and reported to the FDA for approval of the product. The higher the RDA value, the more abrasive the toothpaste. The ADA recommends using a toothpaste with an RDA value of 250 at the very most, whereas the FDA recommends an RDA value of no more than 200.  In the interest of protecting your enamel for as long as possible, Ieneke Wassenaar says stay as low as possible….think of the limbo..”How low can you go”

The RDA table:
0-70 =low abrasive;
70-100 = medium abrasive,
110-150 = highly abrasive,
150-250 = regarded as harmful limit

Low Abrasive:

(7) Straight Baking Soda, (8) Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder, (35) Arm & Hammer Dental Care, (45) Oxyfresh,(49) Tom’s of Main Sensitive, (49) Arm & Hammer Dental Care, (53) Rembrandt Original (Whitening TP), (53) CLoSYS, (57) Tom’s of Maine Children’s, (68) Colgate Regular (70)  Colgate Total

Medium Abrasive:

(79) Sensodyne – ProNamel, (80) Aim, (83) Colgate Sensitive Max Strength (91) Aquafresh Sensitive, (93) Tom’s of Maine Regular, (95)  Crest Regular

Highly Abrasive:

(103) Mentatent, (106) Sensodyne Extra Whitening, (107) Crest Sensitivity(110) Colgate Herbal, (113) Aquafresh Whitening, (117) Arm & Hammer Tarter Control, (117) Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel, (120) Close-up with Baking Soda, (124) Colgate Whitening, (130) Colgate Extra Whitening, (133)  Ultra Brite, (144) Crest MultiCare Whitening, (145) Colgate Baking Soda Whitening, (150) Pepsodent, (165) Colgate Tarter Control, (200) Colgate 2-in-1 Tarter Control/White, (200) FDA Recommended Limit, (250) FDA Recommended

* RDA info from david l. duke

New Studies Show Yoga Makes You Happy

Brynn Rybacek of True Flow Yoga

Can that downward dog make you happier?—New studies suggest it can. The first study by Dr. Nina Moliver (done as her thesis) and published in the Globe and Mail looked at the relationship between practicing yoga and happiness. Dr. Moliver studied more than 200 women who had practiced for more than 50 years and found that the more participants practiced yoga the greater they rated their levels of psychological and physical well-being. An additional study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, looked at a group of female PTSD patients who completed eight hatha yoga classes. The results showed significant more improvement in PTSD symptoms than the group that had eight sessions of group therapy. “This is a really promising area that we need to examine,” Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the PTSD program director at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, told Yoga Journal. Studies have shown about one in five soldiers returning from Iraq have PTSD and other mental health problems and yoga could make a big difference.

Ready to try a pose? Check out this One Legged King Pigeon Pose from yoga instructor Brynn Rybacek of True Flow Yoga.

Secrets of the Six Pack Abs

Photo from

Feeling guilty for over-indulging recently?  Thanks to recent studies (like this one touting the weight-loss benefits of eating chocolate) your indulgence may not have been that bad for you. Even so, here are a few exercise tips from one of our favorite trainers at Equinox. Read on and have a great (and fulfilling) week!

This recent post on fitness-powerhouse Equinox’s blog caught our attention: The Secret to a Six-Pack. Sure, we wouldn’t mind flat, carved abs but is it possible for the average-non-fitness-magazine-cover-model-type? Judge for yourself but Ben Hart, a Personal Trainer at New York’s Equinox 76th St. does have some MISS-worthy tips:

Here are his three tips to try:

1. Medicine Ball PlankDo a plank with hands on a medicine ball instead of on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. As you improve, try using one ball under each hand. Really a pro? Add balls under each foot, too. The added instability forces abs to engage (if they don’t you will literally fall over). Build up to a one-minute hold.

2. Single-Leg Squat/RowHolding a cable in your right hand, do a single-leg squat with left leg either in front or behind you. As you come up from the squat, row with right arm. This contra-lateral relationship recruits more core muscles to move and balance the body. Do 12-15 reps. Switch sides; repeat. Do 3 sets.

3. BOSU Ball Shoulder Press: Flip the BOSU and stand on the flat surface holding a dumbbell in right hand, elbow bent, weight at right shoulder, palm out. Slowly press the dumbbell overhead, then return to start. You’re simultaneously toning your shoulders and abs since your core must tighten to keep the BOSU steady. Do 12-15 reps. Switch sides; repeat. Do 3 sets.

Bras Aren’t the Enemy

Photo by tiritang

If you’ve spent anytime time online researching breast cancer prevention – “ditch the bras” rings loud and clear. Some say the pressure on the lymph nodes under the arm pits are to blame other they say the metal in the underwire acts as an antennae attracting an electronic magnetic field to your vulnerable fatty tissue. Well, I admit I still opt for a cute tank top (no under wire).. but it seems the bra myth has been debunked for now.  Here is a Q&A from New York Times from last February, that presents compelling info to let us hoist those puppies ..  or whatever euphemism it is that you want to use for creating that lovely cleavage.

Q. Is there any truth to the Internet rumor that the incidence of breast cancer is more than 100 times greater in women who always wear bras than in women who never wear bras?

A. “The short answer is no,” Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, replied in an e-mail message.

There is no scientifically credible evidence of this, he said, and the proposed mechanism — that bras prevent elimination of toxins by blocking lymph flow — is not in line with scientific concepts of how breast cancer develops.

Internet traffic on the issue is mostly inspired by one study with several scientific flaws, Dr. Gansler said. The study, never published in a peer-reviewed journal, did not adjust for known breast cancer risk factors that might be associated with bra-wearing behavior, like weight and age. Also, study participants knew the hypothesis before taking the survey.

“Because the idea of bras’ causing breast cancer is so scientifically implausible, it seems unlikely that researchers will ever spend their time and resources to test it in a real epidemiological study,” Dr. Gansler said.

He and colleagues compared National Cancer Institute data on breast cancer risk for women treated for melanoma who had several underarm lymph nodes removed and those who did not. The surgery, which is known to block lymph drainage from breast tissue, did not detectably increase breast cancer rates, the study found, meaning that it is extremely unlikely that wearing a bra, which affects lymph flow minimally if at all, would do so.

While we appreciate this info, and are relieved that our bras are not to be feared, we will keep abreast (pun intended) of the topic, and get back to you if the debunking has been bebunked 😉