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Health & fitness

FDA Tests Confirm Oatmeal, Baby Foods Contain Residues of Monsanto Weed Killer 


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is quietly starting to test certain foods for residues of a weed killing chemical linked to cancer, has found the residues in a variety of oat products, including plain and flavored oat cereals for babies.

Data compiled by an FDA chemist and presented to other chemists at a meeting in Florida showed residues of the pesticide known as glyphosate in several types of infant oat cereal, including banana strawberry- and banana-flavored varieties. Glyphosate was also detected in “cinnamon spice” instant oatmeal; “maple brown sugar” instant oatmeal and “peach and cream” instant oatmeal products, as well as others. In the sample results shared, the levels ranged from nothing detected in several different organic oat products to 1.67 parts per million, according to the presentation.

Glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used weed killer in the world, and concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said a team of international cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Other scientists have raised concerns about how heavy use of glyphosate is impacting human health and the environment.

The EPA maintains that the chemical is “not likely” to cause cancer, and has established tolerance levels for glyphosate residues in oats and many other foods. The levels found by the FDA in oats fall within those allowed tolerances, which for oats is set by the EPA at 30 ppm. The United States typically allows far more glyphosate residue in food than other countries allow. In the European Union, the tolerance for glyphosate in oats is 20 ppm.

Monsanto, which derives close to a third of its $15 billion in annual revenues from glyphosate-based products, has helped guide the EPA in setting tolerance levels for glyphosate in food, and in 2013 requested and received higher tolerances for many foods. The company has developed genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with glyphosate. Corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets are all genetically engineered to withstand being sprayed with glyphosate.

Oats are not genetically engineered. But Monsanto has encouraged farmers to spray oats and other non-genetically modified crops with its glyphosate-based Roundup herbicides shortly before harvest. The practice can help dry down and even out the maturity of the crop. “A preharvest weed control application is an excellent management strategy to not only control perennial weeds, but to facilitate harvest management and get a head start on next year’s crop,” according to a Monsanto “pre-harvest staging guide.”

In Canada, which is among the world’s largest oat producers and is a major supplier of oats to the United States, the Monsanto marketing materials tout the benefits of glyphosate on oat fields: “Pre-harvest application of Roundup WeatherMAX and Roundup Transorb HC are registered for application on all oat varieties – including milling oats destined for human consumption.” Glyphosate is also used by U.S. oat farmers. The EPA estimates that about 100,000 pounds of glyphosate are used annually in production of U.S. oats.

Glyphosate is also used on wheat shortly before harvest in this way, as well as on other crops. A division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has been testing wheat for glyphosate residues for years for export purposes and have detected the residues in more than 40 percent of hundreds of wheat samples examined in fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Even though the FDA annually examines foods for residues of many other types of pesticides, it has skipped testing for glyphosate residues for decades. It was only in February of this year that the agency said it would start some glyphosate residue analysis. That came after many independent researchers started conducting their own testing and found glyphosate in an array of food products, including flour, cereal, and oatmeal.

Monsanto and U.S. regulators have said glyphosate levels in food are too low to translate to any health problems in humans. But critics say such assurances are meaningless unless the government actually routinely measures those levels as it does with other pesticides.

And some do not believe any level of glyphosate is safe in food. Earlier this year, Taiwan recalled more than 130,000 pounds of oat supplies after detecting glyphosate residues. And San Francisco resident Danielle Cooper filed a lawsuit in May 2016 seeking class action status against the Quaker Oats Co. after glyphosate residues were found in that company’s oat products, which are used by millions of consumers as cereal and for baking cookies and other treats. Cooper said she expected the oat products, which have been labeled as “100% Natural,” to be pesticide free.

“Glyphosate is a dangerous substance, the presence and dangers of which should be disclosed,” the lawsuit states.

Quaker Oats has said any trace amounts of glyphosate found in its products are safe, and it stands by the quality of its products.


In addition to oats, the FDA also earlier this year tested samples of U.S. honey for glyphosate residues and found all of the samples contained glyphosate residues, including some with residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The EPA has not set a tolerance level for glyphosate in honey, so any amount is problematic legally.

Despite internal discussions about a need to pursue action after the honey findings in January, the FDA did not notify the honey companies involved that their products were found to be contaminated with glyphosate residues, nor did it notify the public.

The FDA has also tested corn, soy, eggs and milk in recent months, and has not found any levels that exceed legal tolerance, though analysis is ongoing.

“These preliminary results showed no pesticide residue violations for glyphosate in all four commodities tested. However, the special assignment is ongoing and all results must go through the FDA’s quality control process to be verified,” said FDA spokeswoman Megan McSeveney. The tests on honey were not considered part of the official special assignment, said McSeveney.

“Dr. Narong Chamkasem, an FDA research chemist based in Atlanta, tested 19 samples of honey as part of a research project that he individually conducted,” she said.

The glyphosate residue testing by FDA may be headed for a slow-down. Sources say there it talk of closing the FDA’s Atlanta laboratory that has done glyphosate residue tests. The work would then reportedly be shifted to other facilities around the country.

The revelations about glyphosate residues in certain foods come as both European and U.S. regulators are evaluating glyphosate impacts for risks to humans and the environment. The EPA is holding four days of meetings in mid-October with an advisory panel to discuss cancer research pertaining to glyphosate, and debate is ongoing over whether or not the team of international scientists who last year declared it a probable human carcinogen were right nor not.

Aaron Blair, the chairman of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group that classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans, said that the science on glyphosate is still evolving. He said that it is common for it to take years, sometimes decades, for industry and regulators to accept certain research findings and for scientists to reach consensus. He likened glyphosate to formaldehyde, which many years ago was also classified by IARC as “probably carcinogenic” to humans before it later was accepted to be carcinogenic.

“There is not a single example of IARC being wrong, showing something is a probable carcinogen and then later it is proven not to be,” Blair said.





Source: FDA Tests Confirm Oatmeal, Baby Foods Contain Residues of Monsanto Weed Killer

Why regular therapy isn’t good enough for millennials 

By Emma Court

Some say today’s young people today are an “underserved population”
Terrence Horan/MarketWatch
By the time a millennial lies down on a therapist’s couch, she’s already been analyzed to death.

Millennials are “the worst,” “lazy,” and “screwed.” They’re “selfish and entitled,” “crybabies,” and obsessed with themselves and taking ‘selfies.’

They’re also “not as different as you thought.” The idea that they’re all the same is a “myth,” just like the idea that they’re all “lazy,” “work-hating narcissists.”

If America can’t seem to decide what to make of the generation, neither can mental health professionals. There’s widening disagreement over whether millennials — those aged 18 to 34 — are fundamentally different from the generations that preceded them and, if so, how to translate that to therapy.
Some self-described “millennial therapists,” mostly millennials themselves, now argue that the generation needs a tailored approach. And they say they’re better able to relate to young adults’ concerns others might dismiss.

Others dispute the need for special treatment, saying good care meets people where they are, whatever their generation. But if the profession can’t decide how best to serve millennials, some wonder, will they get the care they need?
And even professionals who don’t believe millennials have unique needs agree that they see significant anxiety and depression among their ranks.

Satya Doyle Byock, a licensed psychotherapist in Portland, Ore., only treats millennial clients, calling them “totally neglected.” Young people today are an “underserved population in my mind,” said Byock, “with some pretty epidemic mental health needs that aren’t being addressed.”

The rise of the ‘millennial therapist’
Liz Higgins, a 28-year-old “millennial therapist” in Dallas, is used to her title sparking interest — and an occasional snicker. Recently, after moving into a new office building, she overheard some neighbors talking.

“She said she’s a millennial therapist,” Higgins, a licensed marriage and family therapist associate who treats mostly millennials, recalls hearing. “What does that even mean?’”

It’s hard to say how many of the approximately 500,000 mental health professionals in the U.S. specialize in treating millennials — or, for that matter, how many now visit millennial therapists. But many therapists say millennials are increasingly requesting referrals to those with experience treating their generation.

And there’s evidence of a need for more help: millennials report above average stress levels, according to the American Psychological Association, and government data indicate they visit emotional and behavioral therapists at a slightly higher rate than others.

Millennial therapists, who likely make up a tiny minority in their field, say the term is less a technical designation than a signifier of their perspective. Licensed mental health counselor Jennifer Behnke, a marriage and family therapist, says it describes a “fresh” take on the practice, with updated viewpoints on topics including marriage and relationships.

Being a millennial helps, some therapists say. Higgins says it lets her access an “extra depth of knowledge” that shapes the rapport at the heart of all therapeutic relationships.
Liz Higgins, 28, is a millennial therapist in Dallas, Tx.
That, she and others say, means a shared understanding of the ways economic uncertainty, student debt, helicopter parents and the intense interactions and competitions that take place on social media have affected the generation.

Millennials are now “wondering ‘Who am I in this world that is constantly changing? There isn’t a predictable path forward for me to fall into,’” said Higgins. While previous generations — people now in their 40s, 50s and 60s — often repressed those uncertainties until later in life, she said, today’s millennials address them earlier and more openly.

Another difference some millennial therapists employ: shorter engagements between doctor and patient. While therapist-patient relationships can last years, Behnke tailors hers to three to six months, focusing on tips and insights that can be used immediately.
Jennifer Behnke, 31, is a millennial therapist in Juno Beach, Fla.
“Millennials would prefer short-term therapy,” said Behnke. “I don’t think it’s reasonable financially — or even time-wise — for millennials to go through a six-year process of psychoanalysis.”

Ashli Haggard, a 23-year-old who works for a Washington, D.C. nonprofit, said she’s thought about generational differences when looking for a therapist in the past.

“I very much wanted a therapist that was old enough to be my grandmother, because I trusted the wisdom,” she said. “But I also didn’t want somebody who leaned heavily into the millennial stereotypes and treated me like I was an entitled brat.”

Her current therapist, with whom Haggard has discussed subjects including her mostly virtual relationship with her West Coast boss — Haggard says she struggles to read tone in communications that aren’t face-to-face — is in her 60s.

“I think it’s possible to communicate between generations,” Haggard said. “But I think sometimes it doesn’t work.”

Growing up in ‘Generation Text’
The central difference between millennials and previous generations is how they communicate, experts say. That translates to the therapist’s couch, some argue, because technology has so dramatically changed the nature of interactions, particularly between younger people.

Eric Owens, a licensed professional counselor and associate professor at West Chester University who has taught and counseled college-aged millennials, says he is increasingly concerned about how a generational communications culture clash is affecting therapists’ relationships with clients.

When millennials interact with someone, he says, they are usually texting or using a social media platform. Awareness that such connections are now normal, rather than an aberration, is critical to a mental health professional’s work, according to Owens.
Eric Owens, 44, says mental health professionals must be aware of millennials’ different, digital style of communication.
Some analysts find it difficult to adjust to the cellphone’s elevated role, said April Feldman, a New York City psychotherapist who estimates that three-quarters of her clients are millennials. Owens, 44, says older generations “tend to look at the way millennials communicate as a negative thing — ‘this is bad, or wrong,’ and a value judgment is placed on it.

“To say, ‘We meet people where they are — except this generation and how they communicate’ is really kind of odd,” Owens continued. He believes therapists should help patients understand their habits, not try to change them — though he also thinks those habits are largely why millennials seek mental health professionals in the first place.

Some of his colleagues disagree: The shift to adulthood has always challenged young people, they say, so is it really different if they’re Snapchatting along the way? But while the reasons millennials seek help might be similar to past generations’, Owens says, the forms they now take are unprecedented.

Unlike schoolyard bullying, for example, cyberbullying can follow people into their homes via the internet. And experts say today’s relationships — even those that last months — now sometimes end particularly abruptly and without explanation, a painful phenomenon called “ghosting.”

Many say social media is a major source of anxiety for young people, fostering unhealthy comparisons with a seemingly infinite number of people and their glamorous, busy, high-achievement lives — or, at least, the ones that look that way on Facebook’s FB, +0.16% Instagram.

Feelings of inadequacy can arise even when people realize intellectually that they shouldn’t, according to Feldman. “There’s this unspoken idea that we know this is bullshit, but is it? Are their lives better?” she said. “Everyone’s doubting it in the background but still affected by it nonetheless.”

And since so much communication is electronic, mental health professionals must consider the platform when discussing patients’ lives: When clients describe conversations, Owens often finds upon probing that they happened by text message or on social media, formats that can foster misunderstanding.

“Communication tends to be briefer, more succinct and to the point,” said Owens. “It can be great, but other times it prevents you from getting deeper into a story.”

For young adults, a ‘quarter-life crisis’
There’s a reluctance among mental health professionals, including some who work closely with millennials, to frame the generation as fundamentally different. Many of the factors that complicate their lives — challenges finding steady work, for example — have long existed, and young adulthood has always been hard.

And neither the economy nor the transition to adulthood are permanent. “At the heart of it, identity issues when you’re living on your own…[are] what any 18 to 30-year-old would feel,” said Kelly Conover, a 31-year-old New York City psychotherapist who mostly treats millennials.

Still, mental health professionals intimately familiar with young people’s difficulties today agree that they need a lot of help — and a lot of empathy.

Byock believes the struggle with the transition to adulthood is exacerbated by a cultural emphasis on quantifiable success — things such as good grades, brand-name colleges, sports trophies and Facebook likes. “Everything is so quantified that the quality of life becomes less important,” she said.

And that quantification, some say, has been coupled with an erosion of many of the institutionalized paths forward — establishing a steady career, starting a family, and becoming part of a local community, for example.

Raised to believe they can become whatever they want, Byock says, millennials struggle to choose a path, at times grappling with depression, anxiety, sexual problems, binge drinking, suicidal thoughts and questions of sexual, gender and racial identity as they try “to understand how to be human.”
Cyrus Williams, a member of the American Counseling Association, says many of his millennial clients feel they should be further along in their lives and careers than they are.
Cyrus Williams, a licensed professional counselor and an associate professor at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., says he spends a lot of time normalizing things with clients — telling them “it’s normal not to be married at 24. It’s normal…not to launch your career and be successful at 28, ruling the world at 28.”

For some, it’s ‘a failure of culture’
For some mental health professionals, belonging to the millennial generation is seen as an advantage. For their patients, though, it can feel like part of the problem.

Byock says she doesn’t like — or use — the term “millennial,” which even millennials use as a kind of epithet, minimizing their problems for fear of appearing “stereotypical.” (She calls them “quarter-lifers” or “20-somethings” instead.)
Satiya Doyle Byock, a licensed psychotherapist, only treats young adults in her “Quarter Life Counseling” practice in Portland. Ore.
Professionals say there’s hope for the generation: Most quarter-life crises, says Williams, are simply transitions that are likely to pass. “They just have to get their bearings straight and just kind of step through it,” he said.

But when they struggle to do so, Byock believes, it reflects a “failure of culture” to show and support young people as they move into adulthood.

Her clients often come into therapy facing the third wall, Byock says, rolling their eyes at their own problems, and saying “‘I know this is something that’s really stupid for me to be feeling’” — in part, she suspects, because of their constant public dissection by themselves and others.

That “self-mockery,” she says, breaks her heart. “I see it in the very very vast majority of the people I see,” said Byock. “It’s making it so much worse — so much worse.”

Source: Why regular therapy isn’t good enough for millennials 

Removing both ovaries speeds aging in premenopausal women: study

Story highlights

  • Premenopausal women who had both ovaries removed to prevent cancer aged faster, a study finds
  • Estrogen therapy following the surgery reduced the risk of some illnesses

(CNN)A surgery recommended to women as a way to prevent ovarian cancer is unethical in many cases, say Mayo Clinic researchers.

Women under 46 who had both ovaries removed experienced a marked increase in eight chronic health conditions, including coronary artery disease, depression, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoporosis. The procedure gained attention when actress Angelina Jolie wrote about her experience in The New York Times: “I know my children will never have to say, ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer.’ “
Looking at the medical records of all the women living in Olmsted County, Minnesota, the researchers identified those who had undergone a bilateral oophorectomy: removal of both ovaries.
“A total of 1,653 women underwent an oophorectomy, and we identified also an equal number of women of same age who did not undergo an oophorectomy,” explained Dr. Walter Rocca, lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. “Then, we compared how fast these 3,306 women aged over an average follow-up period of 14 years.”
To measure the speed of aging, Rocca and his co-authors looked at the number and type of each woman’s illnesses.
Aging happens at every level within the body, explained Rocca, so when the cells and the organs start to malfunction, sign and symptoms of diseases appear. “Therefore, a woman who receives at a younger age multiple diagnoses is believed to undergo accelerated aging,” he said.
Analyzing the collected data and comparing the two groups of women, Rocca discovered that women under 46 who had undergone the surgery experienced a higher incidence of 18 chronic conditions (except cancer) and were more likely to have multiple chronic conditions.
Yet estrogen therapy following the surgery reduced the risk of some illnesses. The lack of estrogen may accelerate aging in women, according to Rocca.

Estrogen and aging

The ovaries are almond-size glands that supply a woman with her vital hormones, including the primary sex hormone estrogen. Every month, either the right or left ovary produces a single ripe egg for fertilization. To remove the ovaries of a young woman would hurl her into menopause — the hinge of a woman’s life, the moment she is no longer fertile.
Even after menopause, though, the ovaries continue to produce hormones, including testosterone and androstenedione, which are then changed into estrogen by other cells in her body.
Doctor’s recommend estrogen therapy after a bilateral oophorectomy, yet many women do not take it or discontinue it prematurely. Rocca believes this may be related to the difficulty and the cost of taking a medication for a decade or more.
But even if women followed the recommendation, doctors “remain uncertain about the optimal dose,” said Rocca, or whether a patch, say, is better than a pill. Worse, hormone therapy doesn’t take care of every potential harmful consequence of the surgery, including depression, Parkinson’s disease and glaucoma.
“It’s more evidence that you should carefully consider whether you should be removing ovaries,” said Dr. James Liu, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
The strength of the study, according to Liu, is that the two groups of women — those who had their ovaries removed versus those who didn’t — were fairly uniform.
Rocca and his colleagues also accounted for each woman’s illnesses before undergoing surgery and then factored them into the analysis, noted Dr. William Parker, a clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine and director of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.
“Therefore, you couldn’t use that as a reason to explain away the differences in the outcomes,” Parker said. “Rocca answered that potential criticism right up front.”
Considering the study, both Liu and Parker noted how attitudes about bilateral oophorectomy have changed over time.

Official guidelines

For about 35 years, most doctors recommended that women who needed a hysterectomy also consider having their ovaries removed to prevent ovarian cancer, explained Parker.
After all, ovarian cancer is particularly lethal — both difficult to detect and difficult to cure. In 2013, about 21,000 women in the US had ovarian cancer, and 14,276 women died from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hearing these numbers, most women having a hysterectomy would choose to have removed both their ovaries as well, even if they were of average risk. Only women who carry a BRCA gene mutation are considered at high risk for ovarian cancer.
The current guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists read, “The most effective method of preventing ovarian cancer is surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. …The potential benefit in cancer risk reduction for premenopausal women at average risk of ovarian cancer must be balanced with the consequences of premature loss of estrogen production.”
The OB/GYN group’s guidelines do add a word of caution. Strong consideration should be given to retaining normal ovaries in premenopausal women who are not at increased genetic risk of ovarian cancer. However, in practice, many doctors may still recommend removal of both ovaries to premenopausal women at average risk.
In Europe, the procedure is recommended for high-risk women only, beginning at age 40, according to Murat Gultekin, vice president of the European Society of Gynecological Oncology. Yet routine practices really differ from center to center, he said.
Removing both ovaries should not be considered “an ethically acceptable option” for women who are not in the high risk group for cancer and it should be discontinued, Rocca noted in a statement. Still, it may take time before the old practice fades into the past.
According to Parker, 17 years is the average time before evidence-based medical ideas take hold in community practices. He believes removal of the fallopian tubes may be prevention enough for many women of average risk.
Liu agrees: “We are now understanding as we do genotyping of ovarian cancers that many of the cancers we thought previously arose only in the ovaries actually come from the fallopian tubes.”

Source: Removing both ovaries speeds aging in premenopausal women: study – 

The Scary Impact Skipping Exercise For Only 10 Days Has On Your Brain 


Thinking about skipping the gym today? You might want to rethink that choice. While we all know a workout can feel so much tougher after a fitness hiatus, researchers believe that going without exercise for as little as 10 days can cause changes in your brain.

In a small study published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers from theUniversity of Maryland in College Park set out to see what changes occur in the brain of fit, active older people after they stop exercising.

They recruited 12 exceptionally fit and active adults, between the ages of 50 and 80. The subjects were all competitive runners who regularly ran 35 miles per week or more.

Senior author J. Carson Smith told The New York Times that they purposely sought out “serious endurance athletes because they would be expected to have a very high baseline” fitness level. The effects of stopping exercise for this group, they believed, would be magnified compared with someone with a more moderate fitness level.

They were asked to cease all exercise and adopt a sedentary lifestyle for 10 days. In just this short span of time, researchers observed some “significant” brain changes.

Compared to an MRI scan given at the beginning of the study, the subjects showed decreased blood flow in eight different parts of the brain ― including the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, and several regions that are commonly affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

“In older people, exercise can help protect the hippocampus from shrinking. So, it is significant that people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in brain blood flow in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health,” Smith said in a statement. 

On the plus side, they didn’t observe any changes in cognitive abilities after the 10-day study. They did not, however, measure if brain flow recovered to normal levels once the subjects restarted their usual fitness regimens.

Researchers say further studies are needed to understand how quickly exercise cessation causes changes in the brain, whether resuming exercise can reverse the changes and what the longterm outcomes can be.

“But the take home message is simple ― if you do stop exercising for 10 days, just as you will quickly lose your cardiovascular fitness, you will also experience a decrease in blood brain flow,” Smith said.

Time to lace up those running shoes, folks.


Source: The Scary Impact Skipping Exercise For Only 10 Days Has On Your Brain

Landmark Study Links Hormonal Birth Control And Depression 


If you’ve been feeling a little bit “off” since you started a new hormonal birth control, don’t dismiss that observation.

New long-term research on more than a million women in Denmark found that some hormonal contraceptives are linked to a small but clear increased risk of depression. What’s more, this association between heightened depression risk and birth control use was especially strong in adolescents.

The study adds robust evidence to a research topic that, until now, resulted in mixed findings. While some previous research suggested a link, one study suggested that hormonal contraceptives result in no change in mood for women, and other studies found that hormonal birth control actually improves mood for some.

While most women won’t experience clinical depression or need antidepressant medication soon after starting birth control, experts say the results suggest that doctors who prescribe birth control to first-time users should be on the lookout for potential changes in mood in the first few months.

It’s also a reminder that women starting on any kind of hormonal medicine, or indeed any medicine at all, should be careful to note any changes ― good or bad, physical or mental ― and discuss them with a doctor.

Different birth control methods had different risks of depression

From 2000 to 2013, researchers at the University of Copenhagen tracked data on more than one million Danish women and teens between the ages 15 to 34.

They used the Danish equivalent of a social security number to track prescriptions and diagnoses, using a national prescription database and national psychiatric registry. This allowed them to see who received and filled prescriptions for hormonal birth control and who went on to be prescribed antidepressants or receive a diagnosis of depression.

They found that 55 percent of the women and teens were either current or recent users of hormonal contraception including birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, or hormonal IUDs. Among these women, the researchers found that antidepressant use and depression diagnosis risk varied according to both age and method of contraception, compared with non-users.

Compared to women who didn’t use hormonal birth control…

Women who used the combined birth control pill, a mix of estrogen and progestin, had a 1.23 times higher relative risk of being prescribed antidepressants for the first time, while those on progestin-only pills had a 1.34 times higher relative risk.

Hormonal contraception from devices seemed to lead to a higher risk than pills: Women who used the patch had a two-fold higher relative risk, while those who used the vaginal ring had a 1.6 times higher relative risk and women with a hormonal IUD had 1.4 times higher relative risk.


When broken down by age, teens aged 15 to 19 had an even higher risk of antidepressant prescription: Those using the combined birth control pill had a 1.8 higher relative risk, while those using progestin-only pills had a more than two-fold higher relative risk. Finally, teens who used non-oral forms of hormonal contraception had about a three-fold higher risk for first use of an antidepressant.


As for depression diagnoses, the researchers found similar or slightly lower estimates than antidepressant prescriptions for everyone.

The researchers excluded from their analysis all women who had been diagnosed with depression or used antidepressants before their 15th birthday or before the study started, as well as women who had other major psychiatric diagnoses. Women with cancer, venous thrombosis or those who underwent treatments for infertility before the study were also excluded, as the conditions preclude them from using hormonal birth control. Women who got pregnant were temporarily removed from the analysis during pregnancy until six months after birth to account for the potential effect of postpartum depression.

Teen heartbreak and other alternative explanations

The findings raise questions about the hormones’ potential effects on women, and especially developing teen brains, says Dr. Anna Glezer, a reproductive psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco and founder of the educational site Mind Body Pregnancy.

The research does not definitively establish that hormonal medication causesdepression. But a connection of some kind may be likely, given the large number of women studied, the objective measures (like actual data for the fulfillment of prescriptions, as opposed to relying on patient recall) and the various analyses they used to make the data more accurate.

The Danish researchers theorize that progestin, the synthetic version of progesterone used in many of the contraceptives, may play a role in the development of depression, but they don’t yet know how or why.

But one alternative theory could be that first use of contraception probably coincides with a first serious relationship, putting teens especially at risk for broken hearts and depression, according to Catherine Monk, an associate professor in psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.

“The possibility that this link between love, sex (contraception), and feeling depressed is strengthened by the fact that the contraception-depression link was strongest in adolescents, those who are at the developmental stage where trying to find a romantic partner is paramount,” said Monk, who, like Glezer, wasn’t involved in the research but did review its findings.

The researchers themselves don’t put much stock in this interpretation, as most teens in Denmark use condoms rather than hormonal birth control for their first sexual experiences.

It’s also important to note that hormonal contraception is often prescribed to treat mood problems linked to the menstrual cycle, like premenstrual dysphoric disorder, said Monk. This could mean that both the birth control and antidepressants were prescribed to a woman to treat a pre-existing, underlying problem. But there are problems with this theory, too.

“Their data showing that first came the hormone medication, then came the signs of depression evidenced in psychiatric medication prescriptions and/or psychiatric hospitalization, works against that [theory],” Monk pointed out.

So, should you take hormonal birth control?

While the figures may seem alarming, it’s important to note that the rates of developing depression or using antidepressants were very small overall. Only a tiny minority of women went on to take antidepressants or be diagnosed with depression, whether they took birth control or not.

Still, the findings do offer a word of caution to young teens and first-time users of hormonal contraceptives. All women considering hormonal medications should approach them thoughtfully, and with a strong sense of self, Monk said.

“For some women, this form of birth control works really well, but for others, it may not,” she said. “This study suggests it is possible hormonal contraception can be associated with risk for depression, so one needs to consider the risk.”

For doctors, this means having a longer discussion with women about the potential side effects of the medication, which may include changes in mood that are both positive and negative, says Glezer.

Doctors should also be prepared to follow up a new birth control prescription with another appointment sooner than they normally would ― especially for younger women and first-time users ― to see how the medication is affecting them, and if any changes are needed.

“If it were a mild [mood] change in the negative direction, I’d talk about potential ways to treat that change — maybe a brief course of supportive psychotherapy, exercise, or other lifestyle changes that would help with mood,” Glezer said. “If it doesn’t improve after three to six months, then it might mean that she needs a change in formulation of the hormones or an alternate form of contraception.”

Glezer also pointed out that hormonal birth control helps women avoid unplanned pregnancy, which itself is linked to a host of other risks, including a heightened risk of postpartum depression.

Women shouldn’t dismiss their own observations about changes in mood and behavior as “it’s all in your head,” Monk concluded.

“We are in the era of personalized medicine ― the right treatment, at the right time, for the right patient,” she said. “It is not one size fits all in health care.”



Source: Landmark Study Links Hormonal Birth Control And Depression

Why Your Environment Is Working Against You—And How To Fix It 



Did you know that the way we dress, our facial expressions, our posture, and the tone of our voice make up 93 percent of what we communicate to others?  Research pioneered by Dr. Albert Mehrabian shows that what we communicate non-verbally can be highly impactful. We are hardwired to listen to our senses without conscious thought, and this ability helps protect us from danger and saves us time making endless decisions throughout the day.

If we are so influenced by our senses, what else is subconsciously triggering our everyday decisions?

Lately, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to “nudges” in the built environment around us. The built environment includes the size and shape of our roads, parks, and buildings: these all drive our behavior. Specifically, I’ve been in search of ways the built environment can affect decisions we make about our health. What we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel impacts our actions—and emerging research in urban planning, occupational health, and behavioral science validates this. Here are just a few of the many ways to leverage the built environment to improve health outcomes:

Nudges to encourage movement

Building location and access to public amenities can impact how much we move. For example, research shows that proximity to parks and other recreational facilities is consistently associated with higher levels of physical activity and healthier weight status among youth and adults. The same goes for proximity to public transit—there is a link between access to public transportation and physical activity since transit use typically involves walking to a bus or subway stop. In one study, train commuters walked an average of 30 percent more steps per day and were four times more likely to walk 10,000 steps per day than car commuters.

Several studies show that simply letting people know the health benefits of taking the stairs and showing their location (like putting a sign in the elevator lobby or using stair banners, like these) increases stair usage by 54 percent. Taking this a bit further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a “StairWELL to Better Health”campaign in its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. They use music, art, an upgraded appearance, and motivational signage to nudge employees to use the stairs more often. (Check out their downloadable signs, and see “before” and “after” images of their stairwells.)

Nudges to encourage healthy eating habits

You may not have heard the term “choice architecture,” but you experience its impact every time you stand next to the candy display at a checkout counter. Choice architecture refers to the different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision making.

For example, the number of choices presented, the manner in which attributes are described, and the presence of a “default” can all influence consumer choice. Many companies are using this strategy by reducing the number of unhealthy foods available in the workplace or by making them harder to find.  ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating, suggests a number of ways our eating behavior is significantly impacted by the way food is presented to us. For example, in some of his studies, people were 44 percent less likely to snack in kitchens that were tidy versus kitchen environments that were messy.

Keeping the kitchen clean is more than just a sanitation issue—it can affect how much we eat. In another study, Wansink found that people tend to eat less on plates that are 9-10 inches in diameter. People piled up food on larger plates, but felt “deprived” and went for a second helping when eating on smaller plates (around 6 inches in diameter). His other studies show that people are likely to serve themselves 20 percent less food on plates with “contrasting colors” to the food they are eating, e.g., white pasta on a red or blue plate. White breads and pastas on white plates? That is a recipe for “carb-loading”!

Nudges to reduce stress and improve well-being

We have a strong desire to be in and among nature. It’s only natural: for most of human history we spent all our time outdoors. This preference, often referred to biophilia, was introduced and popularized by E.O. Wilson, known as the “father of biodiversity.” Wilson suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.

In Biophilic Design: Theory, Science and Practice, authors Stephen R. Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, and Martin Mador describe the importance of nature for human productivity:

“Nature is rife with sensory richness and variety in patterns, textures, light, and colors. All organisms respond with genetically programmed reflexes to the diurnal and seasonal patterns of sunlight and climate.”

Interestingly, biophilia-based design can be manifested in many ways. The most obvious way is to incorporate real plants, water, and natural views into buildings. Another way is to create “natural analogues” or use materials and patterns that evoke nature, such as artwork, ornamentation, biomorphic forms, or the use of natural materials. A third way to use biophilia is through configuration of space, by organizing interior environments or man-made outdoor landscapes, using similar to natural environments elements. In its paper “The Economics of Biophilia,” environmental consulting firm Terrapin Bright Green suggests:

“Over the last quarter century, case studies have documented the advantage of biophilic experience, including improved stress recovery rates, lower blood pressure, improved cognitive functions, enhanced mental stamina and focus, decreased violence and criminal activity, elevated moods and increased learning rates.”

There are hundreds more nudges and design strategies such as these that urban planners, architects, product designers, business owners, and homeowners can use to shape the environment around us to improve health and well-being. In the words of Winston Churchill:

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.”

The key is to be aware of how our environment affects us and to use this knowledge for good.

Source: Why Your Environment Is Working Against You—And How To Fix It

7 Face Serums Editors Swear By, And Why You Should Use them.

It seems like everyone’s been talking about face serums lately.

So, we figured it was a good time to have a chat about what serums are, why we should use them, and which ones are great.

What are face serums?

Face serums are lightweight moisturizers that deliver powerful ingredients directly into your skin. You usually put them on after cleansing but before moisturizing. They’re made of “smaller molecules that can penetrate deeply into the skin and deliver a very high concentration of active ingredients.” Serums are ace at making skin look fresher, younger and healthier.

How often do I use this stuff?

Once a day should do the trick ― you don’t need a lot to go a long way.

Do I need to use face serum?

No, and not everyone should. If you have a chronic skin condition, like eczema orrosacea, the active ingredients in serums could aggravate your skin. That said, if you have the right skin type, serums do help improve how your skin looks.

Which serums should I try?

We took this question to the newsroom and asked our editors which products they love. This is what they said:

1. Missha Night Repair Ampoule, $27

“It leaves my skin super hydrated without clogging my pores, and it helps with hyperpigmentation.”  ― Zeba Blay, Culture Writer

2. Drunk Elephant T.LC. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, $90

“There’s an insane amount of glycolic acid in this, which most skin types can’t handle, but I love it ― especially in a one-step hydrating formula like this. This one dissolves skin cells like a champ, and you wake up with less redness and more clarity and ultimately much less, ahem, ‘activity’ overall.”― Amanda Duberman, Senior Voices Editor

3. Dr. Dennis Gross’ Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution, $88

“[I use this] every morning. My face needs retinol, and why not have a solid antioxidant along for the ride? It completely disappears into my skin, but not before I have a chance to spread it. I can’t handle anything more complicated than a combo product I can apply with my fingers and immediately forget.” ― Janie Campbell, Lifestyle News Editor

4.  Naturopathica Plant Stem Cell Booster Serum, $48

“This might sound a little scary because it uses the term ‘stem cell,’ but it REALLY plumps up dry skin and makes it glow. Just a few drops quench your entire face, so don’t be scared by the price tag. A tiny bottle will last you longer than you can imagine.” ―  Kristen Aiken, Executive Editor, Taste and Style

5. Root Science Youth Preservation + Blemish Control Serum, $50

“This serum warms in your hands before you put it on and is absorbed so easily into your skin. [It] doesn’t make you oily at all. [This] serum feels like you’re actually applying a layer of protection against everything bad, like pollution.” ― Willa Frey, Reporter

6. Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Oil in Light, $48

“I love to use [this] as a serum because I have seriously dry skin and this keeps my skin feeling hydrated without being greasy. It’s also multipurpose so I put a little on the ends of my hair and cuticles.”― Amber Ferguson, Associate Politics Video Editor

7. Dr. Perricone MD PRE:EMPT SERIES Skin Perfecting Serum, $90

“This stuff has drastically changed how my pores look. It has a totally unoffensive scent and makes your face feel fresh immediately. It’s also made the texture of my skin buttery smooth.” ― Jenna Amatulli, Trends Editor

Source: 7 Face Serums Editors Swear By, And Why You Should Use Them