Entries in Stanford University (4)


Study: Diet and Exercise Are Inseparable

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- According to a new study, the best way to improve one's health is to start on a healthier diet and an exercise plan simultaneously.

While many find it easier to begin their health quest with just one or the other, the study from Stanford University found that altering one's diet and exercising more often are most effective when done at once.

The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, analyzed data from 200 sedentary middle-aged men and women who were divided into four groups. One group began diet and exercise programs simultaneously, one began a diet plan and then exercise starting four months later, one began an exercise plan followed by a diet change four months later, and one only embarked on a stress management program. All four groups also received telephone counseling and education.

After 12 months, the group that made both changes at the same time was the most improved in all areas the study looked at, including exercising for at least 150 minutes per week, eating five to nine servings of vegetables per day and taking in 10 percent or less saturated fat per day.

Each of the other three groups failed at least one of the above areas.

The study did not, however, compare weight loss among the four groups.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Could Advil Ease Hikers’ Altitude Sickness?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock (STANFORD, Calif.) -- Larry Stack, 51, knew something was wrong as he ascended a mountain on a recent climbing trip to Quito, Ecuador.

“I had had shortness of breath on trips before, but this was different,” said Stack, who is a physician. “I developed a headache, and felt like I was going to pass out.”

Stack’s experience during his rapid ascent may be a familiar hazard to many of the millions of Americans who trek up the side of a mountain each year. He was experiencing acute mountain sickness. Commonly referred to as altitude sickness, it is a serious condition — and in its worst form, it is potentially deadly.

Now, new research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine suggests that those who climb may do well to add a bottle of ibuprofen, a common anti-inflammatory painkiller, to their hiking packs.

Ibuprofen is available over the counter and is perhaps most widely known by the brand names Advil and Motrin — although it is available in numerous other formulations as well.

Study author Dr. Grant Lipman, an emergency medicine physician at Stanford University, first noted a decrease in the symptoms of acute mountain sickness — dizziness, fatigue, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting — while researching a previous group of study participants at high altitude.

“We saw that ibuprofen helped headache and, as a secondary finding, decreased the symptoms of acute mountain sickness,” Lipman said.

He then tested this hypothesis using 86 volunteers. Each was given either ibuprofen or a placebo pill just before a summer climb in the White Mountains of California. Lipman’s group found that those hikers taking ibuprofen were three times less likely to develop altitude sickness than those who took the dummy pill.

Currently, there are two commonly used treatments for altitude sickness, and both require a trip to the doctor’s office for a prescription.  Dexamethasone, a steroid, and acetazolamide, a diuretic or “water pill,” both of which have significant side effects.

During his experience with altitude sickness, Stack took acetazolamide, but he did not like the side effects, which included excessive urination and a “weird taste.” His altitude sickness sent him to a local emergency room where he had an extensive workup — a CT scan, X-rays and an evaluation by a heart doctor.  After several days, his symptoms resolved, but the current study suggests that taking ibuprofen could have helped him avoid these problems in the first place.

However, more studies may be needed to convince some physicians that this inexpensive, easy-to-administer pill should change the way they advise mountain climbers.

“Based on just one study, I’d be hesitant to recommend the use of ibuprofen for those at risk of acute mountain sickness, but I admit if I were traveling to the mountains, I’d be sure to have a supply of ibuprofen in my carry-on bag,” said Dr. Richard O’Brien, an emergency physician at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa.

If one thing is certain, it is that those who experience these symptoms should seek help — and quickly. Emergency physicians said acute mountain sickness, if not treated, could lead to breathing problems, brain swelling, and death.  Descending to a lower altitude at the first sign of distress is crucial.

“Unfortunately, every year there are climbers who die of high altitude cerebral edema [brain swelling] who took medications and pushed ahead on their ascent, instead of recognizing and acknowledging their symptoms and descending while they still had the opportunity,” said Dr. Gabe Wilson, associate medical director at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital’s emergency department.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Does Facebook Make You Jealous, Unhappy?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Is Facebook making you sad? Do you look at your friends’ status updates and pictures and think their lives are more exciting than yours?

New research out of Stanford University says we often compare ourselves to others and think that they are leading more fulfilling and happy lives. And while that may not be a new phenomenon, social media may be making it worse.

A PhD student at Stanford conducted a study to find out how happy we think our friends are, and whether we’re right. He and his fellow researchers asked college freshmen to estimate how many positive and negative experiences they think their friends are having.

Turns out the students overestimated their friends’ quality of life.

In a separate study, researchers found the more that people overestimate how happy their friends were, the more upset they are with their own lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers: Love Really Is a Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Stanford University experts say those butterflies in your stomach may be good for your health.  Researchers there say intense feelings of romantic love affect the brain the same way powerful pain relievers do.  Stanford's Arthur Aron says people are so attracted to some drugs because they activate the area of the brain that makes you feel good.  "The same reward area is activated when people are experiencing the intense desire of romantic love."

Here's how the study worked.  Researchers posted notices around the Stanford campus, asking couples in the throes of brand new love to participate.  The study focused on the euphoric, obsessive phase of early love rather than more mature romantic relationships.  Tests on students who admitted being all lovestruck over a new partner showed their feelings for that person reduced intense pain by 12 percent and moderate pain by 45 percent.

The leader of the study, Jarred Younger, says love really is a drug. "One of the key sites for love-induced analgesia is the nucleus accumbens, a key reward addiction centre for opioids, cocaine and other drugs of abuse. The region tells the brain that you really need to keep doing this."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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