Key Personality Traits May Be Responsible For Longer Lives (Study)

Personality traits of older people.

Specific personality traits may be the key to living a life over 90, scientists suggest.

A new study may shed light on how to achieve long life and, believe it or not, the key to reaching 100 has nothing to do with eating healthy or avoiding alcohol. Researchers went to the Cilento region in southern Italy to investigate something truly bizarre: hundreds of residents from that area are older than 90. The study, however, focused on 29 of them, whose age ranged from 90 to 101.

The elders in question were reported to have poorer physical health than their younger family members, yet their mental health was very strong, researchers pointed out. Senior author of the study, Dr. Dilip Jeste, acknowledged that there have been numerous studies that focused on the genetics of the elderly, however, none of them looked at their mental health or personalities.

The study, which was published in the journal, International Psychogeriatrics, suggests that genes aren’t enough for longer lives but personality traits may also be an important factor.

“They have less Alzheimer’s, they have less cataracts, they have less bone fractures,” notes Alan Maisel, from the University of California, who studied the elder people in the region.

The 29 people were asked a series of questions which included topics such as migrations, belief, and traumatic events. Their younger family relatives were also interviewed in a similar manner, however, they were then asked to describe the personality traits of their older relatives.

According to the researchers, a common theme in their answers was their love of the land. In addition, the participants presented high self-confidence and decision making skills.

“We also found that this group tended to be domineering, stubborn and needed a sense of control,” said Anna Scelzo, first author of the study with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Chiavarese, Italy.

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Man Flu Is Real And Needs To Be Taken Seriously, According to Researcher

a man with man flu

A researcher went through numerous studies to prove that man flu exists.

Kyle Sue, a Canadian scientist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland took it upon himself to prove the existence of the mythical man flu. His paper, published in the journal, BMJ, suggests that the ailment is indeed very real and should be treated as such.

Sue confessed he was “tired of being accused of over-reacting” when telling people of his flu symptoms which appeared to be way worse than what women perceive when they’re down.

The Oxford Dictionary defines man flu as “a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.”

Kyle, however, wanted to eliminate the “exaggerating” part and proceeded in analyzing previous studies to see whether men experience worse flu symptoms than women. He found evidence of this which points to an immunity gap between the two genders.

According to Sue, this immunity gap may be due to a hormonal difference, where the masculine hormone testosterone smothers the immune system while the feminine hormone estradiol protects it.

The researcher first pointed out that women respond differently to vaccines that protect against the flu, in that they are more responsive to vaccination than men.

Sue then emphasized on men’s higher risk of hospitalization due to the flu and their higher rate of influenza-related deaths compared with women. The results remained constant regardless of underlying heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory system disease, and renal disease, according to him.

The Canadian scientist urges researchers to conduct more studies into men’s responses to the symptoms. He believes they are caused by a survival instinct meant to conserve energy. He then adds as a sort of tongue-in-cheek comparison, that this survival instinct replaced avoiding predators with lying on the couch for increased chances of survivability.

Sue concludes his research by calling the term ‘man flu’ “unjust” and calls for additional research on the subject.

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E-cigarettes Can Be A Gateway to Smoking For Young People

A series of e-cigarettes

People who start smoking e-cigarettes at an early age are likely to become regular smokers, a new study suggests.

Many people can’t go cold turkey when trying to quit smoking and instead resort to e-cigarettes which can deliver nicotine into the system without damaging the lungs. That’s all well and good for those avid smokers who want a safer way of getting a quick nicotine fix. But what about the youngsters?

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, young people who start smoking e-cigarettes from an early age have a higher chance of becoming regular smokers. The study monitored a group of 18- to 30-year-old non-smokers in March 2013 and then picked up 18 months later.

The 915 participants who took both surveys, with only 16 having previously tried smoking e-cigarettes. Six of those later became full-fledged smokers. 80 participants of the remaining 899 took up smoking 18 months later.

Researchers revealed that 47.7 percent of those who started using e-cigarettes went on to try smoking, as opposed to 10.2 percent of those who did not indulge in the smoking substitute.

„There have been a lot of studies and in short, they make us concerned that people who experiment with e-cigarettes… we do believe that that experience puts them at a higher risk of later transitioning,” said Dr. Brian Primack, lead author of the study and a directors of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.

According to Dr. Primach, one of the key factors which set aside the results of the study were sensation-seeking behavior and rebelliousness. While rebellion was taken into account, it did not pose any significance when associating e-cigarette smoking to regular smoking.

This observation was made as a response from Bill Godshall, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, who criticised the study by saying it is nothing more than a „witch hunts”. In Godshall’s opinion, e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking only if the person’s regular use of e-cigarettes must cause later cigarette smoking and not merely precede it. Dr. Primack addressed Godshall’s criticism by pointing out he wanted to isolate causation by taking into account other variables such as the ones described above.

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Don’t Want Dementia? Get Married (Study)

Two rings on the pages of a book

A new study suggests that married people have a lower risk of dementia.

According to a study published in the Journal of Neurology & Psychiatry, marriage is the best way of keeping dementia at bay.

The paper combined data from 15 studies including more than 800 thousand people from around the world who were either divorced, widowed or never married. Researchers from the University College of London found that people who never married were 42 percent more likely to develop dementia when compared to married people. Those who lost a spouse were 20 percent more likely of contracting the disease.

Previous research has revealed that married people tend to be healthier and more socially engaged than single people. This, in turn, was said to improve one’s „cognitive reserve”.

„This means their brain has strategies that allow them to withstand the damage without showing symptoms of dementia,” said Andrew Sommerlad, lead author of the study and a geriatric psychiatrist and Wellcome Trust Research Fellow.

The British researchers believe that widowed people have a higher risk of dementia than divorced people, due to the stress that comes with bereavement. That stress could be powerful enough to affect memory-forming and cognitive areas of the brain, according to the study.

While there were differences between the three groups, preventing dementia is a lot more complex than putting a ring on a finger. The authors did reveal a link between marriage and dementia, however, they don’t know what exactly causes married people to remain healthier.

Another issue with the research, according to the researchers, is the different personality traits in each individual.

„It may be that their dementia risk plays a part whether they find a partner many years earlier,” states Sommerlad.

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK believes that married people generally live longer and are healthier due, in part, to a change in financial status. According to her, financial stability „is closely interwoven with many aspects of our health.”

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HPV or the Human Papillomavirus and Some Things to Know About It

hands with a syringe in a hpv vaccine bottle

Getting vaccinated might help prevent HPV or the human papillomavirus.

HPV or the human papillomavirus is a condition that is quite hard to diagnose. Also, it seemingly still brings stigma to the person who contracted it. Studies have shown that this stigma around sexual health problems is a barrier that makes it harder both to diagnose and to manage such conditions.

Experts mentioned that the most important thing is to educate people about sexual health issues including the human papillomavirus (HPV). Once people know more and let go of the stigma, they might stop being afraid to get tested and to inform their partners about this condition. There are a few things everyone should know about this condition. For example, one of them is that HPV is rather common.

Almost 79 million Americans are believed to have it. The CDC mentioned that most of the people who got infected are in their 20’s. HPV is a condition to which a lot of people will be exposed at least once in their lives, claim specialists.

The human papillomavirus is considered a sexually transmitted infection. According to the CDC, this condition is an infectious one, and it can be transmitted through intercourse. It could be transferred even if one of the partners doesn’t show any signs.

People Should Ask to Be Tested for the Human Papillomavirus

Many doctors don’t test their patients for this condition unless they notice signs or traces of its presence. HPV can be tested during a Pap smears. As pointed out by some but not all, this infection affects both women and men. A 2014 study showed that 69% of the male participants had HPV and they could pass it to their partners. As it is, men don’t present the same symptoms as women.

Besides its own effects on the health, HPV might also increase a person’s risks of oral or cervical cancer, for example. Some types of this virus can cause genital warts. There is no need to panic because it takes years before this can happen and regular check-ins could help prevent this.

Most people assume that this virus stays in their system for ever. This is not the case. Most such infections are cleared from the system in around two years. There is also a possible prevention method against catching it. People can get vaccinated to lower their risk of infection. Preteens are instructed to take the vaccine because it works better when activated before exposure.

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Having Cancer Makes You Prone to PTSD, New Study Suggests

Older man with hands on his head

Scientists call for a more serious approach in diagnosing PTSD in cancer patients

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not exclusive to war veterans nor does it affect select groups as a new study suggests. A Malaysian research paper has found that approximately one-fifth of patients with cancer experienced PTSD several months after they were diagnosed. More so, the disorder continued to affect these people years later.

The affliction is known to develop in individuals who were subjected to a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, witnessing death or being sexually assaulted among others.However, the disorder can also develop in cancer patients. The paper, which was published in the journal of the American Cancer Society, suggests that many patients feel like their emotional issues are a weakness after being diagnosed with cancer.

“Many cancer patients believe they need to adopt a ‘warrior mentality’, and remain positive and optimistic from diagnosis through treatment to stand a better chance of beating cancer.” Said Dr. Caryn Mei Hsien Chan, the study’s lead author.

The research team tested 469 patients with various types of cancer. These patients were tested for PTSD after six months and then again after four years they’d been diagnosed. After six months, 21 percent of the patients had PTSD dropping to 6 percent after four years.

Patients with breast cancer were 3.7 times less likely to develop PTSD after six months. This is due to dedicated programs that provide support and counseling to breast cancer patients within the first year of diagnosis.

Dr. Chan also said many cancer survivors expect the disease to come back, essentially instilling in them a sense of paranoia and overall fear. She then stressed for greater PTSD awareness and proper counseling at the initial stages of cancer.

“psychological well-being and mental health- and by extension, quality of life- are just as important as physical health” stated Dr. Chan.

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Dog Owners Live Longer Thanks to Their Pets (Study)

Dog owner looking off-screen

Swedish researchers found that dog owners have a lower chance of developing heart disease.

A new study from Sweden found that dog owners have a lower chance of developing heart disease. Researchers found that more than 3.4 million people who own a dog have better cardiovascular health than those who don’t. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

A group of scientists from the Uppsala University in Sweden went through national registry records of Swedish men and women between the ages of 40 and 80. They specifically focused on people who registered as dog owners and had no history of heart disease in 2001. The researchers then followed their health records throughout the years. Swedish people are required to register themselves if they own a dog and every visit to the hospital is recorded in a national database.

The results pointed to a lower risk of death due to health problems,  regardless if the people smoked or if they came from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

The reason as to why dog owners have an increased resistance to cardiovascular disease stems from their having an increased physical activity as an overall improved social life. Research also showed contact with dogs can change one’s bacterial microbiome. A microbiome is the collection of microscopic species which live in the gut. Dogs are thought to change home environments by bringing dirt into them, effectively exposing the owners to bacteria they may not have encountered otherwise.

Lead author of the study, Mwenya Mubanga, said that dogs are able to protect their owners from heart diseases as a result.

„…dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death,” she said.

People who lived alone with a dog had a 33 percent reduced risk of death when compared to people living alone and without a dog

The findings echo another study conducted in 2013 by the American Heart Association.

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Men are Allegedly Afraid of Giving Women CPR (Study)

Woman practicing CPR on a mannequin

According to a recent study, only 39 percent of women who had a heart attack received CPR

According to a recent study, women are less likely to receive CPR from a bystander especially if that bystander is male. Researchers think the reason for this is due to a reluctance to touch a woman’s chest.

The study went through twenty thousand cases of cardiac arrest and extrapolated those where the females received CPR. The results showed 39 percent of women who suffered cardiac arrest in a public space were given CPR. This comes in contrast to men, which returned a 45 percent value.  Based on these results, men were 23 percent more likely to survive in such cases.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stop pumping and administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be the key to saving somebody’s life. More than a quarter of Americans suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.

Why the cold feet?

Researchers have not found a specific correlation between helping women and cardiac arrest although evidence suggests most women are given CPR if the rescuer is familiar with the victim. They think the root cause is a fear of touching female strangers.

The research was discussed at the American Heart Association conference in Anaheim, California. University of Pennsylvania lead researcher on the paper, Audrey Blewer, noted the stressful situation of trying to make the woman feel comfortable given the situation.

“It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest” Brewer noted.

She added that even CPR training mannequins have male designs that further divide one’s thinking.

Co-author Benjamin Abella thinks rescuers are afraid of touching women’s breasts or removing their clothes. He further stressed the gravity of the situation.

“This is not a time to be squeamish because it’s a life-and-death situation,” he said.

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Research Shows Mushrooms to Improve Life Expectancy (Study)

Mushrooms being held by a man

Mushrooms are a valuable source of antioxidants, researchers say

A new research conducted by researchers from Pennsylvania State University shows that mushrooms are „without a doubt” an anti-aging gold mine.

Robert Beelman, professor Emeritus of food science and director of the Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health, spoke about the theory of food and aging. When we oxidize our food, a number of „free radicals” are released. Large quantities prove toxic to the human body. Free radicals are associated with aging diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Antioxidants, while still loosely defined, are indicative of fighting oxidative stress. Oxidative stress stems from those free radicals Beelman specified, which are oxygen atoms with unpaired electrons.

„The body has mechanisms to control most of them, including ergothioneine and glutathione” he states.

Published in the journal Food Chemistry the paper points to the mushroom’s high source of the ergothioneine and glutathione antioxidants which are thought to have anti-aging properties.

By testing 13 species of mushrooms, scientists found both compounds in large quantities. The lowest out of the bunch was the white button mushroom, however, compared to other non-mushrooms foods, it is still a worthy contender for keeping one young. The highest antioxidant levels were found in the wild porcini mushroom.

Foods that are cooked to extreme levels generally lose anti-oxidants yet mushrooms were found to be resistant to heat.

Beelman acknowledges the study is still in preliminary stages but he points to other countries as proof.

„You can see that countries that have more ergothioneine in their diets, countries like France and Italy also have lower incidences of neurodegenerative diseases”

He also notes that people living in the U.S. have lower amounts of ergothioneine in their diet. In turn, this increases their probability of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The difference between the U.S. and the countries specified above is the number of antioxidants in their food. France and Italy have approximately 3 milligrams per day, the equivalent of about five button mushrooms.

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A Curved Penis Might Indicate a Higher Cancer Risk Among Men

Shirtless man dressed in jeans standing on a meadow

A curved penis might indicate a higher cancer risk

Sexual organs come in all shapes and sizes, and some men might have observed they have a slightly curved penis. While many regard it as a mere anatomical difference, it seems it might work as a sign for some serious health risks. Men who have a hard time shooting straight in the toilet might be more likely to develop a series of cancers.

A curved penis is not just an anatomical disorder

Peyronie’s disease, or penile fibrosis, is the condition which causes men to have a curved penis, and affects quite a large number of people. It was believed this was only an anatomical defect, but researchers decided to investigate. Therefore, they started a study with a sample of over 1.5 million men.

The results weren’t too encouraging, as it turns out a curved penis might lead to other health problems. Those men who suffer from the condition have a 40 percent higher risk of stomach cancer and of testicular cancer, and a 29 percent higher risk of melanoma. As a result, researchers are now urging men who live with the condition go and get proper cancer screenings. Also, doctors should be more careful with such patients, and advise them to get more thorough investigations.

The cancer risk is real, and physicians should thoroughly consider it

Many men take a curved penis for granted, and fail to associate it with other possible conditions that might arise. However, a genetic analysis of a father and son who both suffered from Peyronie’s disease showed they both had genes which increased their likelihood of developing testicular cancer.

It’s not clear yet what causes the link between cancer and a curved penis, but it’s clear that it exists. Therefore, it’s essential that everybody should be aware of it. However, cancer screening might be dangerous in some situations, so doctors should be careful when assessing one’s risk and necessity to undergo the procedure.

The research has been presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
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