Helping Others Reduces Heart Disease Risk Factors



A new clinical study reveals that performing acts of kindness can lower our personal risk of heart disease.


 

HELPING OTHERS REDUCES HEART DISEASE RISK FACTORS

Booker T. Washington once said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  Certainly, most of us would agree that lending a helping hand benefits both the person in need and the person who has volunteered to help.  Other than the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a positive difference in the life of another person, however, are there other potential benefits associated with altruistic behavior?   Well, a newly published prospective randomized clinical research study suggests that volunteering to help others may actually improve the heart health of those who lend a helping hand to others in need.  This study appears in the current issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

A total of 106 tenth grade students agreed to participate in this prospective randomized clinical research study. The student volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group was assigned to volunteer to work with elementary school children on a weekly basis, while the other group (the “control” group) did not participate in any volunteer activities. At the beginning of this clinical study, measurements of the following cardiovascular disease risk factors were performed on all study participants: C-reactive protein level, interleukin 6 level, total cholesterol level, and body mass index. These same heart disease risk factors were measured again 4 months later.

The findings of this study were quite interesting. The results of testing at the beginning of this study revealed no significant differences in the measured cardiovascular disease risk factors between the two groups of study participants. However, 4 months later, significant differences in these established cardiovascular risk factors were observed between the two groups of high school students. Specifically, interleukin 6 levels, total cholesterol levels, and body mass index (a measure of weight versus height) were all significantly improved within the “volunteer group” when compared to the control group. While marginally significant, blood levels of the inflammatory C-reactive protein were also noted to be lower in the group of teens that had been randomized to work with elementary school children. Most interesting was the observation that the greatest decrease in these cardiovascular risk factors occurred, over time, among the teens in the volunteer group who also demonstrated the greatest increase in empathy and altruistic behaviors, and the largest decrease in negative mood, during the course of this study.

The findings of this very novel prospective randomized clinical study suggest that engaging in acts of empathy and altruism may directly lead to a reduction in several well known cardiovascular disease risk factors, although this study did not follow its very young volunteers long enough to determine whether or not the act of volunteering to help others actually reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease.  However, based upon this innovative study’s findings, it certainly appears that helping others is a definite win-win situation.  The persons being helped obviously benefit from the acts of empathy and altruism bestowed upon them by others.  At the same time, not only does it feel good to help others in need, but the person who voluntarily reaches out to another may very well reap, in turn, the benefit of improved health!  (Another positive finding of this study is that this very positive phenomenon apparently works on teenagers!)

As I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle not only reduces your risk of dying from cancer, but also reduces your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease as well!

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!


Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

Join Dr. Wascher on Facebook

 

Additional Links for Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

Profile of Dr. Wascher by Oncology Times

Bio of Dr. Wascher at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dr. Wascher Discusses Predictions of Decreased Cancer Risk on azfamily.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention Strategies on LIVESTRONG

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention on Newsmax

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer Risk & Cancer Prevention on The Doctors Radio Show

Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Cancer on cancersupportivecare.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Exercise in Cancer Prevention on Open Salon

Dr. Wascher Discusses Aspirin as a Potential Preventive Agent for Pancreatic Cancer on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Treatment of Stomach Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Management of Metastatic Cancer of the Liver on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on hopenavigators.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on interactmd.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Thyroid Cancer on health2fit.com

Links to Other Breaking Health News

Study Confirms that Men Really Do Have Trouble Reading the Thoughts of Women

Deadly new Bird Flu Strain Cases Continue to Rise

Abdominal Fat Increases Kidney Disease Risk

Increasing Dietary Potassium & Decreasing Salt Intake Reduces Stroke Risk

A New Explanation for the Link Between Red Meat & Cardiovascular Disease

Deadly New Bird Flu Identified in China

Infection Risk: Keeping an Eye on Your Dentist

Couple Loses 500 Pounds in Two Years

Coffee May Reduce Crash Risk for Long-Distance Drivers

Tiny Implant Tells Your Smart Phone When You Are Having A Heart Attack

Transplanted Kidney Causes Death Due to Rabies

Eating While Distracted Increases Calorie Intake

Resistant Bacteria are on the Rise

High Levels of Stress Linked to an Increase in Heart Disease Risk

Small Snacks Cut Hunger as Well as Big Snacks

Poor Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

Ancient Mummies Found to Have Heart Disease by CT Scan

Physically Fit Kids Do Better on Math & Reading Tests

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Evades the Immune System

Possible Link Between BPA and Asthma

Baby Boomers Appear Less Healthy Than Their Parents

The Biology of Love in the Brain

Millennials May be the Most Stressed-Out Generation

Even Modest Alcohol Intake Raises Cancer Risk

Why Do Boys Receive Lower Grades than Girls?

Negative Emotions and Feelings Can Damage Your Health

Canker Sore Drug Cures Obesity (At Least in Mice…)

How Technology is Changing the Practice of Medicine

New Salt Intake Guidelines for Children

High Levels of Distress in Childhood May Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Quitting Tobacco by Age 40 Restores a Normal Lifespan in Smokers

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Self-Help Books Improve Depression

Marines Try Mindfulness and Meditation to Reduce PTSD

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed

 

Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1


At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.8 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


Bookmark and Share





































Post to Twitter

Viewing Photos of Kittens and Puppies Improves Attentiveness and Focus





 

A new study suggests that viewing pictures of cute baby animals improves our ability to perform focused tasks.


 

 

 

VIEWING PHOTOS OF KITTENS AND PUPPIES IMPROVES ATTENTIVENESS AND FOCUS

Most of the columns that I write for this blog deal with very serious health-related research studies.  This week, however, I will be discussing a somewhat more whimsical research study, compared to most of my prior columns.  This study from Japan appears in the current issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) One.

We all know that a young child, a kitten, or a puppy can evoke feelings of adoration and happiness.  Now, a newly published research study from Hiroshima, Japan, suggests that the positive feelings that arise when we see baby animals, or some other “cute thing,” may have a potentially greater impact on our behavior than has previously been appreciated.

In this innovative prospective study, several separate experiments were conducted using photos of cute little baby animals (kittens and puppies) and less cute adult animals (cats and dogs), as well as photos of “neutral” objects not associated with being “cute.”

In the first experiment, university student volunteers were asked to perform a task requiring significant manual dexterity after viewing photos of, variously, cute baby animals and (not so cute) adult animals.  In this experiment, viewing photos of cute baby animals increased the successful performance of the assigned task by 44 percent, as compared to only a 12 percent improvement in performance among the students who performed the same task after viewing photos of adult animals.

In the second experiment, the participating college students were asked to perform a visual search task after looking at the cute and not so cute animal photos.  Once again, task-related performance significantly improved after looking at the pictures of kittens and puppies (16 percent), compared to the degree of improvement that was noted after viewing photos of adult cats and dogs (1 percent).

When the researchers analyzed the data from this study, they determined that looking at photos of cute little kittens and puppies significantly improved attentiveness to focused tasks such as those performed in this study.  Based upon the findings of this study and previous similar research studies, the authors of this study propose that a “cuteness-triggered positive emotion” is associated with increased motivation to complete assigned tasks, as well as improved processing of information associated with performing manual and visual tasks (as was demonstrated in this new research study).  They further suggest that intentional exposure to “cute objects” might be helpful in stimulating positive behaviors in both the workplace and at home, particularly when tasks requiring careful attention are being performed.

kitten-puppy-photo

 

A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race is now available in both printed and digital formats from all major bookstores.  Get your copy now, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle now!

 

Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1



At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 






Bookmark and Share





































Post to Twitter

Kids, Vegetables, Diet, and Rewards

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



KIDS, VEGETABLES, DIET, AND REWARDS

My now 10 year-old daughter used to eat almost everything that we put in front of her when she was a toddler.  Lately, however, she has decided that all she wants to eat is macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes.  My now 7 year-old son, on the other hand, spent the years between age 3 and age 5 subsisting largely on “chicken nuggets” and multi-vitamins, and little else….  (The first time that I was able to persuade him to eat some broccoli, at age 5, after suggesting that he dip this much-maligned vegetable in ranch sauce and grated parmesan cheese, I was moved nearly to tears!)

Most kids are fussy eaters, and getting your child to eat a healthy, balanced diet can be a serious challenge, if not a perpetual struggle between parent and child.  As with most aspects of child-rearing, there are a number of recommended strategies to get Junior to eat his or her vegetables, and other healthy foods.  However, many of these strategies turn out to be utterly ineffective in practice.  Certainly, one of the most commonly recommended strategies is to offer reluctant young eaters various types of rewards for healthy eating (and which is, in my view, tantamount to bribery, but which has probably been resorted to by most of us parents during times of diet-related desperation, and with varying results).  (As I discuss in my bestselling evidence-based book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and reduced meat intake have all been associated with a reduced risk of developing both cancer and cardiovascular disease.)

Given the never-ending mealtime struggles in our own home, I came across an interesting new research study related to this very topic, and which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  In this innovative little prospective, randomized, controlled clinical study, 173 children, ages 3 to 4 years, were divided into three groups.  All of these children were exposed to vegetables, 12 times per day, that they were known to dislike after these vegetables were first introduced.  The first group of children received a tangible reward (a sticker) each time after being served a vegetable that they had initially disliked.  The second group of children received praise as a reward upon being served vegetables that they too had disliked upon initial presentation.  Finally, a third group (the “control group”) was served vegetables that they had also initially disliked, but this group of children did not receive any rewards (i.e., no stickers and no praise).

The findings of this study, while not terribly surprising, offer parents a potential strategy to improve the diets of their (our) vegetable-hating kids.  Of course, the children who were repeatedly served disliked vegetables, and who received no stickers or praise, continued to refuse repeated servings of these vegetables.  However, the toddlers who were bribed with stickers (a material reward) significantly improved their intake of the offending vegetables over time, and this improvement in vegetable consumption persisted when the children were reevaluated 3 months later.  Importantly, the children in this “material reward” group were also significantly more likely to develop a liking for these same vegetables over time!   The third group of children, who received praise (a “social” reward) along with each serving of undesired vegetables, sadly, and somewhat unexpectedly, were no more likely to increase their consumption of these vegetables over time, or to develop a liking for these vegetables, than the kids who were in the “no reward” control group!

In this clinical study of toddlers, offering children a material reward (stickers, in the case of this clinical study) in conjunction with repeated introductions of initially disliked vegetables resulted in a significant improvement, over time, in the willing consumption of these vegetables, as well as in increased “liking” of these same vegetables.  Positive reinforcement through praise was, however, completely ineffective in getting these little tykes to eat (and like) their veggies.

In the case of my son, “the vegetable-hater,” the Broccoli Breakthrough occurred on an evening when I took him and his sister out for dinner.  In exchange for the privilege of the three of us playing a family card game during our meal, and as a result of my inspired suggestion that he combine two foods that he loved (grated parmesan cheese and ranch dipping sauce) with a food that he hated (the aforementioned broccoli), the miracle of witnessing my little guy downing several florets of broccoli coated in ranch sauce and parmesan cheese finally came to pass.  I was so overcome by that moment, two years ago, as was my daughter, that I remember it like it happened yesterday.  Moreover, knowing that my wife would almost certainly doubt my incredible claim that this event had actually occurred, I documented this miraculous development with my cell phone camera on the spot, and emailed it to her from the restaurant that night.  Nearly two years later, I am happy to report that while both of our kids still challenge us in our ongoing efforts to get them to eat a healthy, balanced diet, our son (and daughter) will still regularly eat that most despised vegetable among children, broccoli!

 


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 



Bookmark and Share



































Post to Twitter

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Comments

Better Tag Cloud