If there is one common thread that runs through all the studies done relating to health, it’s that too much stress, too little sleep, inadequate physical activity and improper diet all take their toll on your health. It seems whatever area of health each study is focusing on, these basic four things all open the door to potentially serious health issues.
Some really good health news is that multiple studies have shown that massage consistently improves sleep patterns and lowers stress levels. As you see new health reports—both here and in the news—realize that your regular massage sessions can help your body to function better and contribute to your future good health.
Often, just knowing the underlying causes of health problems can make it easier to make healthier choices in your day-to-day life. When you understand why certain things are helpful or harmful, your new-found knowledge can help guide you in the right direction.
The coming months can be an extra stressful time for many, so be sure to make that next massage a high priority! Who has time to be sidelined with illness? Keep supporting your health with relaxing massages. See you soon!
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Massage May Produce Durable Change in Blood Pressure
New research indicates massage therapy may have a durable, positive effect on blood pressure, according to an abstract on www.pubmed.gov.
The study looked at two groups of women: One group received Swedish massage for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week for 10 total sessions. The other group of women relaxed, but did not receive massage.
All the participants' blood pressure was measured before and after each session and again 72 hours after the last massage or relaxation session.
The mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the women who received massage was significantly lower compared with the non-massage group, both right after the sessions and also 72 hours later.
"Findings of the study indicated that massage therapy was a safe, effective, applicable and cost-effective intervention in controlling [blood pressure] of the pre-hypertension women, and it can be used in the health care centers and even at home," the investigators noted.
"Durability of effect of massage therapy on blood pressure" was conducted by investigators in the Department of Adult Health Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.
Stress Gene Activation May Contribute to Spread of Cancer
The use of massage therapy for oncology patients has grown in recent years, as research indicates massage's ability to alleviate patients' pain and stress.
Just-released, unrelated, research suggests certain gene activity may enable the spread of cancer.
Researchers from Ohio State University have linked the activation of a stress gene in immune-system cells to the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body.
They say the study, conducted primarily on mice, suggests this gene, called ATF3, may be the crucial link between stress and cancer, including the major cause of cancer death—its spread, or metastasis. Previous public health studies have shown that stress is a risk factor for cancer.
The new research suggests that cancer cells coax immune-system cells that have been recruited to the site of a tumor to express ATF3. Although it's still unclear how, ATF3 promotes the immune cells to act erratically and give cancer an escape route from a tumor to other areas of the body.
Blood sugar and dementia—High blood sugar doesn’t just increase your risk of developing diabetes—it also increases your risk of developing dementia.
Researchers tracked the blood glucose levels of more than 2,000 older adults for seven years, and found that those who had high glucose levels—but not diabetes—were nearly 20 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with low levels. Among people with diabetes, those with the highest glucose levels were 40 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia than those with the lowest. Diabetes can damage the kidneys and other organs, but the findings show that the brain may be especially vulnerable to damage from elevated blood sugar levels—perhaps because the sugar causes inflammation in the tiny blood vessels of the brain. “Every incrementally higher glucose level was associated with a h igher risk of dementia,” researcher Paul Crane of the University of Washington tells the Associated Press. To reduce the risk of diabetes and dementia, researchers said, people should eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a normal weight.
–The WEEK Vol. 13, Iss. 632
Why insomnia makes you eat—The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to be overweight.
Now, The New York Times reports, scientists have discovered one reason why: Sleep loss causes changes in the brain that make you crave high-calorie foods and weakens your willpower to resist them. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, scanned the brains of volunteers while they looked at pictures of various foods and selected those they’d like to eat—first, after a night during which they got eight hours of sleep, and then after a night during which they got none. They found that when sleep-deprived, the volunteers gravitated toward high-calorie options like chocolate and potato chips. Their brains showed increased activity in the amygdala, a region that governs our desire for food, and decreased activity in frontal-lobe regions that regulate decision-making. Not sleeping allows a sub stance called adenosine to build up in the brain, possibly causing that “double hit” in undesirable brain activity, says study author Matthew P. Walker. Sleeping, he says, is “the single most effective thing people can do every day to reset their brain and body health.”
–The WEEK Vol. 13, Iss. 632
Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want,
but the realization of how much you already have.
The content of this letter is not intended to replace professional medical advice.
If you’re ill, please consult a physician.
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