Wake Up to Wellness: Issue #8

Health Newsletter

What’s new in the world of health and wellness this week?

We’ve got you covered:

  • Magic pills for weight loss could be a reality in the future
  • How digital Band-Aids could aid wound regeneration
  • At-home HPV testing kits might save lives
  • An update on the connection between childbirth and breast cancer
  • How some foods can battle cholesterol

Could the Future of Weight Loss Be a Magic Pill?

If you’ve ever wished for a magic pill that lets you eat anything without gaining weight, that just might be in the works. A recent study showed that when researchers disabled a gene called RCAN1, mice were able to eat much more food than usual without gaining weight.

The hope is that a pill can be created to replicate a pill for humans that will target the RCAN1 gene to reduce obesity worldwide. And with obesity rates continuing to climb, the author of the study, professor Damien Keating of Flinders University, says, “The ideal would be to take some sort of pill that didn’t require you to watch your diet, that didn’t require you to exercise. Now, that might seem like a pipe dream, but the findings that we have out of this mouse study at least indicate a novel pathway that we might be able to target.”

Read the full story here.

Will Band-Aids Go Digital in the Future?

Can you imagine a Band-Aid looking any different than how it’s always looked? The digital version of the Band-Aid may be on its way. Scientists have shown that electric fields can aid wound regeneration in rats. While electronic fields and healing isn’t a new concept, it’s never been applied to the band-aid.

Historically, the challenge has been that electronic stimulation for healing requires heavy machinery to create an electric current and the patient usually has to go through several long sessions, usually while sleeping.

What’s so exciting about a “digital Band-Aid” is that it powers itself by utilizing the energy of the the person wearing the Band-Aid. When the person moves, it powers the bandage. Xudong Wang, Ph.D., an author of the paper and professor of material science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “… the device is self-powered, self-sustainable without any battery or electric circuit. It works based on converting the small mechanical displacement of the surface of the skin and converting it into electric pulses and using the electric pulses to facilitate recovery.”

The space-age Band-Aid includes a copper band with electrodes and a nanogenerator. When it’s attached to the skin, the electric current mimics the body’s endogenous electric fields, helping the skin regrow and heal.

The early results are promising – even on deep cuts, rats that got the electronic healing recovered rather quickly – in just three days versus 12 days in the control group.

What’s next? Researchers have to determine if it will work on humans. Next, it would have to be tested on skin closer to a human’s skin, like pigs. Then, it would have to go through human clinical trials.

It’s years away, but it’s an exciting, promising medical advancement! Read the full story here.

Can Cancer Risk Be Identified With At-Home HPV Test Kits?

Most women know that the major risk of HPV is that some types can cause cancer. However, not everyone has access to affordable, nearby testing services through a medical clinic, especially in rural areas.

A group of researchers took it upon themselves to make sure everyone has access to HPV testing and finished a study that showed at-home HPV tests sent through the mail to women with difficult access to healthcare services to be beneficial. In fact, 80 perfect of women that were mailed a HPV test returned it for testing.

The study included 103 women between the ages of 30 and 65. To be fair, they had already agreed to return the test beforehand. One in four women in the study tested positive for a type of HPV that could potentially lead to cancer. However, Dr. Timothy N. Hickman, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and co-founder of Houston IVF, said, “Only a small fraction of women infected with a high-risk HPV will develop cancer … It’s a very small fraction of infected women.”

Read the full story here.

What Childbirth Means for Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Traditionally, childbirth hasn’t had a positive correlation with developing breast cancer, but new research has indicated it may increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer, particularly around the years following childbirth.

However, after five years, researchers say the risk gradually declines – and 23 years after giving birth, childbirth seems to provide some protection against breast cancer.

Experts in the field say the risk is minimal and it should not impact childbearing decisions.

Hazel Nichols, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, said, “In general, pregnancy-related factors tied to a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life include having your first full-term pregnancy at an early age, such as younger than 20; having more than one birth; having a history of preeclampsia; and breastfeeding over a longer period of time, according to the National Cancer Institute.”

The data from the study showed that women who had children had an increased risk compared to women who had never given birth regardless of whether they had breastfed their children or not.

Nichols said, “One of the things that we want our study to be able to do is to contribute to new tools that will help predict breast cancer risk more effectively for young women — so women who might be trying to decide with their providers when to start having mammogram screenings. In order to have a good tool to do that prediction, we need to know how risk factors operate in young women, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t take the information or the patterns we see in older women and apply them to younger women and assume they’ll be the same.”

Read the full story here.

Fighting Cholesterol With the Right Foods

Historically, some foods have gotten a bad reputation for raising blood cholesterol, such as shrimp. However, experts now agree that they don’t have a negative impact. In fact, they’ve found some foods can have a positive impact on your health by reducing your cholesterol levels.

For example, the unsaturated fats in walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios can help lower your LDL cholesterol. The soluble fiber in beans and oats helps to remove cholesterol from your system before it can do any damage.

If you’re a guacamole lover, here’s good news. The monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados and also reduce your LDL levels. Limit foods high in saturated fat like red meat and butter to control your cholesterol, and enjoy the foods that keep you healthy!

Read the full story here.

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