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15 Habits of Remarkably Effective People

Find yourself staring out the window again? You can quickly get back on track.

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Being productive is a great thing. Not only does it increase your self-confidence and sense of well-being, it can also make you more effective and your company more profitable. The ultimate reward for keeping your focus and being productive is more free time for you. And who doesn’t want more free time?

Everyone hits productivity lows, which is OK as long as they don’t last too long. Here are 15 ways to kick your productivity into high gear.

Don’t know where to begin?

1. The first step is to create a to-do list. When is the best time to create a to-do list? At the end of your workday while everything is still fresh in your mind or Sunday night after (hopefully) a restful weekend. This allows you to shut out work completely once you’re home for the night or weekend and to hit the ground running with your list in hand the next morning. It’s always a good idea to keep some paper handy during your workday to take notes and add things to your to-do list. This allows you to clear your head by getting those thoughts onto paper so you can continue to focus on the task at hand.

 

2. The next step is to choose one difficult, possibly longer task on your list to complete first.

The sense of achievement you experience from checking off that one really hard thing on your list helps set the tone for the easier tasks to follow. They will feel like a walk in the park after you’ve tackled the hard stuff.

When is the best time to be productive?

3. A lot of this depends on who you are as a person.

It is often suggested that we get up early and get to work while things are still quiet–less office chatter, fewer interruptions, just peace and solitude. Although this advice is good for some, it’s not good for everyone–we’re not all early birds. You need to dig deep and figure out when you are most productive. Maybe it’s closer to noon when you begin to feel the stirrings of being alive and able to produce. The point here is, don’t push through your to-do list during times when you tend to be the least productive–choose those times when you function at your best. Save easy to-dos for your less productive times of the day.

Hit a wall?

4. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air.

Even a five-minute walk can wake you up and make you feel rejuvenated enough to dig back into work.

5. Take time out to clean and organize your desk and perhaps redecorate.

Sometimes the clutter, the dust, and the really dirty keyboard can be a distraction. It’s amazing how cleaning your desk and making it an organized, beautiful place to work again can boost your productivity. Consider a new chair or adding some plants or a fish in a small bowl. Research has proved that the simple addition of a plant can increase productivity by 15 percent.

 

6. Take some time to browse the Web–look up things that are of interest to you.

Research has shown that if you take a short break to surf the Web–say five to 15 minutes–you will feel refreshed and ready to throw yourself into work again. You may even find new inspiration and think of a new way to get through the current to-do.

 

7. Try laughter.

Watch a couple of skits from Saturday Night Live or some other comedy show you enjoy, even if for only five minutes. Laughter increases productivity and makes you feel happier too.

 

8. Stand at your desk, stretch, and try deep breathing for at least five minutes.

A good recipe for deep breathing: Inhale through your nose while counting slowly to 7; hold your breath for another slow count to 7; and then slowly exhale through your mouth for a slow count to 7. Go through this process 7 to 10 times. Now pat yourself on the back for completing your first meditation session and because you feel much better and can get back to work.

9. Take a snack break–the high-protein, high-fiber variety.

This kind of snack–search the Web for ideas–will give you the brain boost you need for increased productivity. Sugary, high-carb snacks just bog you down and make it more likely that you will want to take a nap instead of work.

10. Stay hydrated.

The older you get, the harder it is to sense that you’re thirsty. Dehydration can cause sleepiness, confusion, irritability, and other side effects (another great Web search opportunity). What is the best way to hydrate? Water–keep it handy at all times and keep drinking the stuff. It will help you maintain your focus, stay awake, and keep your productivity on high.

 

11. If your wall is still up, try taking a nap for up to 20 minutes.

Yes, you read that right. Go to your car, a couch, or other place you feel comfortable–and take a nap. Naps as short as 15 minutes can increase alertness, improve your mood, and get your productivity juices flowing again.

Do you multitask?

12. Don’t. Research has shown that multitasking can be a productivity crusher, causing wasted time and more errors. Boost your productivity by focusing on one to-do at a time instead of switching from task to task. Occasionally, you will have to switch tasks if something hot hits your desk. Just make this the exception and not the norm. Better to place that hot item at the top of your to-do list and finish what you were doing first, thereby keeping your productivity from ending with a screeching halt.

If nothing seems to be working

13. Sometimes the problem is constant distractions.

Shut off the email ping, put a Do Not Disturb Sign on your office door, or wear some headphones to shut out the noise. Research has shown that each distraction can cause up to a 20-minute delay in productivity. This can really add up, with multiple distractions decreasing productivity significantly.

14. Take a vacation.

Not just a long weekend–a real vacation away from it all. If you can, take a couple weeks. Two weeks is optimal for complete recovery from the stresses of work. It’s amazing how real time away from work can give you a whole new perspective and research has shown that even a weeklong vacation increases reaction time and productivity.

15. Last resort.

Perhaps you are having trouble with productivity because you simply don’t enjoy what you’re doing anymore. Think about your current work choice–is it still resonating with you? Do you ever feel excited about your work? If the answer is no, it may be time to find a new job or career entirely. If you can find your real passion in life, your productivity will go through the roof without your even trying.

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Scientifically Proven Ways to Elevate Your Success – How to Succeed

Even the most success-challenged among us can find great success. So why not reach out and take it right now? You wanna install Our App? Click here HERE

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Are some of us pre-destined at birth for success? Maybe–but that’s not the important thing that matters. Despite how we feel about the odds of success with which we were born, we can always be doing something more to increase our chances of success–and our happiness.

There are things we can do that are scientifically backed that can help even the most success-challenged among us. Here are 5 scientifically proven ways to bring you closer to becoming the successful person you were meant to be–whether you were born with it or not.

 

1.Take advantage of the Zeigarnik Effect

The effect states that uncompleted tasks or projects become background noise–a constant nagging within our unconscious brain. This nagging will continue until you make a concrete plan within your conscious mind. Make use of the Zeigarnik effect to further your success–create and write down a plan of action. Include time, place and how you will complete your task or project and get it done and out of your unconscious brain so you can rid yourself of that constant, yet helpful, nagging.

2. Stand up strong

It is scientifically proven that our bodies can have a profound affect upon the feedback cycle of our brains. If we smile, we feel happier. If we begin to slouch, we often feel more tired than we felt before. Sitting up straight or standing with good posture has been scientifically proven to increase our sense of power and can even enhance our sense of well being and positivity. Not only that, others will perceive us as more powerful and successful than our hunched-over colleague. Want to increase your chances of success? Make good posture a priority.

 

3. Meditate each morning

Numerous psychologists tout the clearing of the brain through meditation as an excellent way to achieve a new state of clarity, one that allows our mind to reset and our body to collect itself before beginning a new day. Daily morning meditation helps reduce the stress we feel and helps us focus on the day ahead. Begin your day with a healthy dose of meditation-just a few minutes are all that is needed-so you can increase your chances for a very successful day.

 

4. Interact with others

Other than the obvious benefit of networking, forging relationships with others increases our chemical count of oxytocin and triggers dopamine to release into the brain–chemicals responsible for warm, fuzzy, and fulfilled feelings. Having lasting and substantial relationships with others may be the easiest way to success, as we better ourselves both professionally and emotionally.

 

5. Spend more time alone

 

Contrary to what may seem like the intuitive thing to do, spending time alone has actually been shown to bolster our levels of success. People who are able to exist on their own seek less validation from others, make fewer reckless choices, and are, in general, much more aware of who they are than those who seek out constant companionship.

7 cool Habits for Highly Effective People

Are you working as effectively as your extremely successful peers? If not, there’s something you can do about that.

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As we go through our daily-by-day lives without a pause or a moment to think about what it is we are actually doing, it’s easy to assume we are working as effectively as we can. It is important to take that pause and observe others in action. Are we working as effectively as our extremely successful peers?

Want to become one of those highly effective people and no longer a bystander? Try these 7 habits and find your own success.

 

1. Be proactive

Nothing will ever get done if we do nothing but sit around waiting for things to happen. Effective people know that there is no value in overthinking, in spending more time on our words than our actions. The most powerful thing anyone can do is simply take the reins in their own hands to instigate movement.

 

2. See the end

While the process of action is undoubtedly important, sometimes the impetus for our most powerful, effective actions comes from knowing where the end lies. If we continue to keep that in mind, we’ll be able to maximize our productivity to reach our highly desired, very rewarding end goal.

 

3. Prioritize

When embarking on a task with many steps, it can be tempting to stop something halfway through when the going gets tough. What we should do, however, is actually push through. The difficulty of an action shouldn’t change that it’s our priority.

 

4. Visualize

Effective people can always imagine a favorable outcome–even if one doesn’t seem likely to be written in the books. When you feel bogged down, or your actions are simply not getting you where you want, practice visualization for a couple minutes. Visualize your goals and the steps you need to make to get you there.

 

5. Try to understand things beforehand

Often, people jump into things without properly reading the instructions–ultimately resulting in ineffective actions far from the results they had previously envisioned. Setting aside adequate time to sort through and plan can really benefit your end results.

 

6. Synergize

There is nothing more powerful than combining forces. Regardless of how competent we might be on our own, there is always greater strength in numbers. Synergize on everything you can–how much more effective you are may surprise you.

 

7. Renew and improve

Last, one of the most important habits of all is that of self-care. We need to allow ourselves the time and space–not just once in a blue moon, but a bit here and there every day–in order to mend our burnt-out ends. Make time to regenerate and you will find that you are better able to effectively achieve your personal best.

The Effect of good Sex on Our Brains

Sex! Sex! Sex! Having sex can flavor our nights, and days, with sweet pleasure and excitement, relieving stress and worry. And, of course, sex has been key to ensuring that the human race lives on. In this article, we ask, “How does sex impact what happens in the brain?” To Install Our Application Click HERE

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Sexual intercourse is known to impact the way in which the rest of our body functions.

Recent studies have shown that it can have an effect on how much we eat, and how well the heart functions.

As we have reported on Medical News Today, sex has been cited as an effective method of burning calories, with scientists noting that appetite is reduced in the aftermath.

Also, a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2016 found that women who have satisfying sex later in life might be better protected against the risk of high blood pressure.

Many of the effects of sex on the body are actually tied to the way in which this pastime influences brain activity and the release of hormones in the central nervous system.

Here, we explain what happens in the brain when we are sexually stimulated, and we look at how this activity can lead to changes in mood, metabolism, and the perception of pain.

Brain activity and sexual stimulation

For both men and women, sexual stimulation and satisfaction have been demonstrated to increase the activity of brain networks related to pain and emotional states, as well as to the reward system.

This led some researchers to liken sex to other stimulants from which we expect an instant “high,” such as drugs and alcohol.

The brain and penile stimulation

A 2005 study by researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands used positron emission tomography scans to monitor the cerebral blood flow of male participants while their genitals were being stimulated by their female partners.

The scans demonstrated that stimulating the erect penis increased blood flow in the posterior insula and the secondary somatosensory cortex in the right hemisphere of the brain, while decreasing it in the right amygdala.

The insula is a part of the brain that has been tied to processing emotions, as well as to sensations of pain and warmth. Similarly, the secondary somatosensory cortex is thought to play an important role in encoding sensations of pain.

As for the amygdala, it is known to be involved in the regulation of emotions, and dysregulations of its activity have been tied to the development of anxiety disorders.

An older study from the same university — which focused on brain regions that were activated at the time of ejaculation — found that there was an increase in blood flow to the cerebellum, which also plays a key role in the processing of emotions.

The researchers liken the activation of the cerebellum during ejaculation to the pleasure rush caused by other activities that stimulate the brain’s reward system.

"Our results correspond with reports of cerebellar activation during heroin rush, sexual arousal, listening to pleasurable music, and monetary reward."

The brain and the female orgasm

In a study of the female orgasm that was conducted last year, scientists from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, monitored the brain activity of 10 female participants as they achieved the peak of their pleasure — either by self-stimulation or by being stimulated by their partners.

The regions that were “significantly activated” during orgasm, the team found, included part of the prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, the insula, the cingulate gyrus, and the cerebellum.

These brain regions are variously involved in the processing of emotions and sensations of pain, as well as in the regulation of some metabolic processes and decision-making.

Another study previously covered on MNT suggested that the rhythmic and pleasurable stimulation associated with orgasm puts the brain in a trance-like state. Study author Adam Safron compares the effect of female orgasms on the brain to that induced by dancing or listening to music.

“Music and dance may be the only things that come close to sexual interaction in their power to entrain neural rhythms and produce sensory absorption and trance,” he writes.

“That is,” he adds, “the reasons we enjoy sexual experiences may overlap heavily with the reasons we enjoy musical experience, both in terms of proximate (i.e. neural entrainment and induction of trance-like states) and ultimate (i.e. mate choice and bonding) levels of causation.”

Sex and hormonal activity

So what does this all mean? In essence, it means that sex can impact our mood — normally for the better, but sometimes for the worse.

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Having sex has repeatedly been associated with improved moods and psychological, as well as physiological, relaxation.

The reason behind why we may feel that stressimpacts us less after a session between the sheets is due to a brain region called the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus dictates the release of a hormone called oxytocin.

Higher levels of oxytocin can make us feel more relaxed, as studies have noted that it can offset the effects of cortisol, the hormone linked with an increased state of stress.

Not only does oxytocin make us calmer, but it also dampens our sense of pain. A study from 2013 found that this hormone could relieve headaches in individuals living with them as a chronic condition.

Another study from 2013 suggested that a different set of hormones that are released during sexual intercourse — called endorphins — can also relieve the pain associated with cluster headaches.

Can sex also make us feel down?

The answer to that, unfortunately, is “yes.” While s3x is generally hailed as a great natural remedy for the blues, a small segment of the population actually report an instant down rather than an instant high after engaging in this activity.

This condition is known as “postcoital dysphoria,” and its causes remain largely unknown. One study conducted in 2010 interviewed 222 female university students to better understand its effects.

Of these participants, 32.9 percent said that they had experienced negative moods after sex.

The team noted that a lifelong prevalence of this condition could be down to past traumatic events. In most cases, however, its causes remained unclear and a biological predisposition could not be eliminated.

“This draws attention to the unique nature of [postcoital dysphoria], where the melancholy is limited only to the period following sexual intercourse and the individual cannot explain why the dysphoria occurs,” the authors write.

Sex may lead to better sleep

Studies have shown that sexual intercourse can also improve sleep. After an orgasm, the body also releases higher levels of a hormone called prolactin, which is known to play a key role in sleep.

Researchers from Central Queensland University in Australia also hypothesized that the release of oxytocin during sex may act as a sedative, leading to a better night’s sleep.

In the case of men, ejaculation has been found to reduce activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is a brain region known to benefit particularly from a good night’s sleep.

In sleep, the prefrontal cortex exhibits the slowest brainwave activity compared with other brain regions, which supports the proper execution of cognitive functions during the daytime.

Researchers say that sex may lead to better cognitive functioning in older age, protecting people from memory loss and other cognitive impairments. Studies have shown that “older men who are sexually active […] have increased levels of general cognitive function.”

For women, being sexually active later in life appears to sustain memory recall, specifically. These effects may be due to the action of hormones such as testosterone and oxytocin, which are influenced by intercourse.

So, next time you’re about to slip between the sheets with that special someone, just know that this moment of passion will spark a whole neural firework show, releasing a special hormonal cocktail that will, at its best, charge a whole set of biological batteries.

Reasons why some breast cancers become resistant to treatment.

Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor-positive, meaning that signals received from estrogen, a hormone, promote the growth of the tumors. To stop these cancers from spreading, estrogen inhibitors are usually prescribed. But what happens when tumors develop treatment resistance?
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In around a third of ER-positive breast cancer cases, the tumors become treatment-resistant. Why is that?

Studies suggest that “approximately 70 percent” of all breast cancers are estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive).

These types of cancer are typically treated with drugs — such as tamoxifen and fulvestrant — that either lower the levels of the hormone or inhibit the estrogen receptors to prevent the tumors from spreading. This is known as endocrine therapy.

However, around a third of the people treated with these drugs develop resistance to them, which negatively impacts their chances of survival. The mechanisms that underlie the tumors’ resistance to therapy is not well understood and currently poses a major challenge.

Recently, however, specialists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, have made significant progress in uncovering what exactly happens in the bodies of people in whom endocrine therapy does not work.

Dr. Myles Brown — the director of the Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics at the Institute — and his colleagues investigated how certain gene mutations render cancer cells more resilient, facilitating metastasis. Their findings, the scientists hope, may eventually lead to more effective approaches for patients who do not respond well to traditional treatments.

The results of the team’s study were published in the journal Cancer Cell.

The mutations that hinder treatment

In a previous study, Dr. Rinath Jeselsohn — who also co-led the new research — and former team saw that mutations of the estrogen receptor gene of cancer cells were largely responsible for the cancer’s resistance to treatment.

On that occasion, the scientists observed these mutations in the metastatic tumors of women who had received endocrine therapy and had not responded to it.

Following on from this discovery, Dr. Jeselsohn and her colleagues analyzed these mutations using laboratory models of ER-positive breast cancer, noting that they supported the cancer’s resistance to the drugs tamoxifen and fulvestrant.

The new study revealed additional mechanisms that researchers had not been aware of previously.

Besides enabling the tumors to adapt to estrogen deprivation, the genetic mutations were also responsible for activating genes that would allow the cancer tumors to spread even further.

Such mutations — which allow genes to gain surprising and novel functions — are referred to as neomorphic mutations.

Therefore, the effect of the genetic mutations is twofold, allowing the cancer tumor to undertake two distinct “lines of attack” at the same time.

“[E]ven though the drug therapies are selecting tumors that can grow without estrogen,” explains Dr. Brown, “the mutations also confer a metastatic advantage to the tumor.”

Combined therapy for resistant cancers

Once they noted the effects of mutations on breast cancer tumors, Dr. Brown and his colleagues turned to modern gene-editing tools — namely, CRISPR-Cas9 — to pinpoint exactly which genes were at the core of estrogen receptor-related alterations.

This revealed that one gene in particular, called CDK7, might lend itself well as a target for new cancer treatments. This gene normally encodes the enzyme cyclin-dependent kinase 7.

Dr. Brown and team took particular interest in the potential of this gene as a target since existing research has already found ways of blocking the expression of CDK7.

Nathanael Gray, also from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, experimented with an inhibitor for CDK7 a few years ago. This experimental inhibitor is called THZ1, and it showed potential as an aid for the drug fulvestrant.

The combination of fulvestrant and THZ1 was effective both in cell cultures of ER-positive breast cancer and in animal models of the disease, slowing down tumor growth significantly.

Dr. Brown and his colleagues believe that by putting two and two together, as it were, through the combined findings of all these studies led by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, specialists may be able to devise effective treatments for ER-positive breast cancers that don’t respond to endocrine therapy alone.

“These results support the potential of this combination as a therapeutic strategy to overcome endocrine resistance caused by the ER mutants,” the researchers suggest.

Dr. Joy and her colleagues are currently trying to develop appropriate CDK7 inhibitors, and they “hope to test these drugs and develop a clinical trial for patients with ER-positive metastatic breast cancer.”

What!!! -Risk of breast cancer’s return continues long after treatment ends!

A recent analysis has found that even 20 years after receiving a diagnosis of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, the risk of the cancer’s return looms large. Should treatment be extended?
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A new study brings the length of breast cancer follow-up treatment into question.

Estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer is the most common breast cancer type, accounting for around 80 percent of all breast cancer cases.

In short, ER-positive breast cancer flourishes in response to estrogen. The standard treatments for this cancer type are tamoxifen, which blocks the effects of estrogen, or aromatase inhibitors, which stop the production of estrogen.

Even once the cancer has gone, these drugs are taken daily for 5 years. Tamoxifen reduces recurrence by half during treatment, and by almost a third in the 5 years following treatment.

Aromatase inhibitors, which will only work in women who are postmenopausal, are even better at reducing the risk of recurrence.

Should treatment be extended?

Over recent years, research has found that extending the length of time that these medications are taken could reduce risks further still. Some cancer researchers are asking whether they should be continued for 10 years.

But these drugs are not without disadvantages. Although side effects are rarely life-threatening, they can substantially impact a woman’s quality of life. Side effects often mimic menopause and include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, and vaginal dryness. Aromatase inhibitors also carry an increased risk of osteoporosis, among other conditions.

As the authors of the current study write, “[D]ecisions about extending adjuvant endocrine therapy after 5 years without any recurrence need to balance additional benefits against additional side effects.”

The analysis was carried out by researchers from the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG). This group has been pooling research into a single dataset since the 1980s, looking at all aspects of breast cancer.

For this study, they took data from 88 clinical trials, including those of 62,923 women with ER-positive breast cancer. Their findings are published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Long-term risk of recurrence

They found that in women who were cancer-free and in therapy for 5 years, a substantial number saw the cancer spread throughout the body over the following 15 years.

Even though these women remained free of recurrence in the first 5 years, the risk of having their cancer recur elsewhere (for example in the bone, liver, or lung) from years 5 to 20 remained constant.”

Senior study author Dr. Daniel F. Hayes

The risk was directly related to the size of the original cancer and the number of lymph nodes that it affected. Specifically, larger cancers and those that affected four or more lymph nodes carried the greatest long-term risks.

Even if the patients were recurrence-free when they stopped the endocrine therapy, they had a 40 percent risk of cancer recurrence within 15 years.

Women whose original cancers were smaller and did not involve the lymph nodes had a 10 percent risk over 15 years.

As lead study author Hongchao Pan, Ph.D. — from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom — says, “It is remarkable that breast cancer can remain dormant for so long and then spread many years later, with this risk remaining the same year after year and still strongly related to the size of the original cancer and whether it had spread to the nodes.”

Medical News Today got the opportunity to speak to Dr. Hayes, and when asked whether or not he was surprised by the results, he replied, “There have been much smaller studies to suggest this phenomenon […] Our results absolutely validate these and confirm the relentless risk of distant recurrence over the 2 decades after diagnosis.”

What happens next?

The team now wants to understand whether there is a subset of women with ER-positive breast cancer that has a low enough risk so that extended endocrine treatment would not be needed.

Although the analysis took thousands of women into account, the researchers are quick to note that they received their diagnosis decades ago and treatment has since improved. Dr. Hayes told MNT that “it appears that prognosis is better for patients diagnosed over the last 10–15 years.”

He added, “More than half of our patients were entered before 2000, and of course, we only have 20 years of follow-up on patients who were followed for 20 years — so, overall, it is possible that the data in our paper overestimate the absolute risk distant recurrence/year.”

However, we are pretty certain that they do not overestimate the concept that distant recurrences continue without abatement.”

Dr. Daniel F. Hayes

MNT also asked Dr. Hayes about future research to be conducted by the EBCTCG. He said, “There are several ongoing analyses asking a number of questions. We will continue to address issues of the risks of recurrence, and the benefits of various endocrine therapy strategies as we gather more data.”

It is likely that these findings and others like them will be used to advise longer treatment plans for women with more aggressive ER-positive tumors. As Dr. Hayes told us, “[O]ur data will help patients make a better-informed decision.”

Poor diet during teens, early adulthood may raise breast cancer risk!

The risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer may be higher for women who have a poor diet during adolescence and early adulthood, new research finds.
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Researchers have associated an unhealthful diet in adolescence or early adulthood with greater risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.

Previous studies have associated an unhealthful diet – particularly one that is low in vegetables, high in refined sugar and carbohydrates, and high in red and processed meats – with chronic inflammation, which may raise the risk of certain cancers.

According to the new study, it is this diet-induced inflammation that may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer prior to menopause.

Study co-author Karin B. Michels, Ph.D. – professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California-Los Angeles – and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. This year, around 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed, and more than 40,000 women will die from the disease.

“About 12 percent of women in the U.S. develop breast cancer in their lifetimes,” notes Michels. “However, each woman’s breast cancer risk is different based on numerous factors, including genetic predisposition, demographics, and lifestyle.”

For this latest study, Michels and colleagues set out to determine how a pro-inflammatory diet during adolescence or early adulthood might influence women’s risk of breast cancer in later life.

Up to 41 percent greater breast cancer risk with pro-inflammatory diet

The researchers analyzed the data of 45,204 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II.

Some of the women completed a food frequency questionnaire in 1991, when they were aged between 27 and 44 years, which disclosed details of their diet in early adulthood. The questionnaire was completed again every 4 years thereafter.

In 1998 – when aged between 33 and 52 – some women completed a food frequency questionnaire that detailed their diet during high school.

Using a technique that associates food intake with markers of inflammation in the blood, the researchers allocated an inflammatory score to each woman’s diet. The women were then divided into five groups based on their inflammatory score.

Compared with women who had the lowest inflammatory diet score during adolescence, those who had the highest score were found to be at a 35 percent higher risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.

Women with the highest inflammatory diet score during early adulthood were found to have a 41 percent increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared with those who had the lowest inflammatory diet score.

A pro-inflammatory diet was not associated with the overall incidence of breast cancer or the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, the team reports.

Although the study cannot prove cause and effect between a pro-inflammatory diet during adolescence or early adulthood and premenopausal breast cancer, the team believes that the results further highlight the importance of a healthful diet.

Our study suggests that a habitual adolescent/early adulthood diet that promotes chronic inflammation may be another factor that impacts an individual woman’s risk.

During adolescence and early adulthood, when the mammary gland is rapidly developing and is therefore particularly susceptible to lifestyle factors, it is important to consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes and to avoid soda consumption and a high intake of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and red and processed meats.”

Karin B. Michels, Ph.D.

There are a number of limitations to the study. For example, participants reported their adolescent diet years later, so their recollections could be subject to error. Additionally, the researchers did not have access to subjects’ measurements of inflammatory blood markers during adolescence or early adulthood.

The best foods to delay aging

Eat well for a long and healthy life – that’s a mantra that we’re all familiar with, but what are the best foods to help us achieve that goal? In this article, we give you an overview of some of the most healthful and nutritious foods.
person holding grocery bagWhat are the best foods for a healthful diet? We investigate.

Official figures indicate that, currently, the top three countries in the world with the highest life expectancy are the Principality of Monaco, Japan, and Singapore. These are places where the inhabitants experience a high quality of life, and an important element of that is eating healthful meals.

Often, we find praise for “superfoods” in the media – foods so high in nutritional value that they are seen as dietary superheroes.

Nutritionists reject the term “superfoods” as a buzzword that can influence people to place too high an expectation on a limited range of foods when, in reality, a balanced diet and healthful lifestyle require more effort than eating your five-a-day.

Still, there are certain foods that are more nutritious than others, and many that, as research has shown, have a protective effect against a range of diseases. Here, we give you an overview of some of the best foods that you may want to consider including in your diet in your quest for a happy, healthy life.

Edamame (soybeans)

Edamame, or fresh soybeans, have been a staple of Asian cuisine for generations, but they have also been gaining popularity on the Western front of late. Soybeans are often sold in snack packs, but they are also added to a varied range of dishes, from soups to rice-based meals, though they are served as cooked and seasoned on their own, too.

tofu, edamame, and soy productsEdamame and tofu are rich in isoflavones, which may have anti-cancer properties.

The beans are rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen – that is. plant-derived, estrogen-like substances. Isoflavones are known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antimicrobial properties.

Thus, they can help to regulate the inflammatory response of the body, slow down cellular aging, fight microbes, as well as, reportedly, protect against certain types of cancer.

Edamame are rich in two types of isoflavones, in particular: genistein and daidzein. A study covered last year on Medical News Today found that genistein could be used to improve breast cancer treatment.

In the meantime, the study authors note that “lifetime intake of soy […] has been linked to reduced risk of breast cancer,” so we may want to include soybeans in our normal diet.

Tofu (soybean curd)

Similarly, tofu, a white cheese-like product made of soybean curds, has been linked to a wealth of health benefits for the same reasons. Tofu is often found cooked in typical Eastern Asian dishes; it can be fried, baked, or boiled (for instance, in soups).

As a soy product, it is rich in isoflavones, whose health benefits we’ve outlined above; it is also a good source of protein, and it contains all the essential amino acids that our bodies need to synthesize protein.

Moreover, it is also rich in minerals, which our bodies need to keep our teeth and bones strong and healthy, and to derive energy. Tofu is a source of calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

Some specialists also suggest that eating tofu can make you feel fuller for longer, so incorporating it into your meals may help to prevent overeating.

Carrots

This common culinary ingredient, best known in its orange variety, is famously recommended for its high content of beta-carotene, a pigment — and carotenoid — that gives the widespread version of this root vegetable its color.

selection of carrotsCarrots can protect against age-related eyesight damage.

Beta-carotene can be converted by our bodies into vitamin A, which, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.” Our bodies cannot produce vitamin A on their own, so it must be derived from our diet.

This pigment is also an antioxidant that can protect the cells in our bodies from the aging damage caused by free radicals.

Moreover, research has shown that foods rich in carotenoids — and, of course, carrots are a prime example here — can protect against age-related macular degeneration, the vision damage caused by old age.

Some varieties of carrots, such as white carrots, do not contain the orange pigment beta-carotene, but they do all contain falcarinol, a nutrient which, some studies claim, may have a protective effect against cancer.

While raw carrots may be best for health, as they retain their nutrients, there are also ways of cooking carrots that can keep most of their nutrients “locked in.”

In an interview, one researcher who investigated the anti-cancer effect of falcarinol from carrots, Kirsten Brandt — from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom — suggests that we may want to boil our carrots whole if we want them cooked, but still bursting with nutrients.

Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked. By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round.”

Cruciferous vegetables

Another important type of food on our list are cruciferous vegetables — also known as “Brassica vegetables” — which include a wide array of green foods, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, radish, and kale.

basket of cruciferous vegetablesCruciferous vegetables can bring a wealth of health benefits.

These vegetables boast an especially rich nutrient content, including many vitamins (C, E, K, and folate), minerals (potassium, calcium, and selenium), and carotenoids (lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin).

Cruciferous vegetables also contain glucosinolates, the substances that give these greens their characteristic pungent flavor. These substances have been found to bring diverse health benefits.

Some glucosinolates seem to regulate the body’s stress and inflammation response; they have antimicrobial properties, and some of them are being investigated for their anti-cancer potential.

One recent study covered on MNT found that leafy greens, including some cruciferous vegetables such as kale and collard greens, helped to slow down cognitive decline. Consequently, the study researchers suggest that “adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health.”

Kale, broccoli, and cabbage have also been shown to have a protective effect on heart health, thanks to their vitamin K content.

Finally, cruciferous vegetables are also a great source of soluble fiber, which plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and diminishing the absorption of fat, thus helping to prevent excess weight gain.

Salmon

Recent studies have suggested that consumption of meat — mostly red meat, but also some kinds of poultry meat — could be harmful to our health in the long run. A good alternative for protein in this case is fish, and salmon, in particular, affords many nutritional benefits.

salmonSalmon could protect cognitive health, researchers say.

Salmon is packed with protein, and also contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which is said to be beneficial for eyesight. Research has demonstrated that omega-3 protects against dry-eye syndrome, characterized by insufficient lubrication of the eyes, which can lead to soreness and blurred vision.

Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with brain health, and research suggests that they can stave off cognitive decline associated with aging.

Salmon also has a high potassium content and, according to a new study reported on MNT last autumn, potassium can prevent the onset of heart disease.

Additionally, this type of fish is rich in the mineral selenium, which contributes to the health of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland helps to regulate hormonal activity and is involved in metabolic processes.

Although both farmed and wild salmon are available on the market, wild salmon has been found to be more nutritious overall, with a higher protein content, and also to have less saturated fat, which means that it is more healthful, and better for weight management.

However, farmed salmon is a more sustainable resource, and specialists say that the differences between farmed and wild caught salmon may not be so stark as to motivate us to prefer one type over the other.

Citrus fruits

Finally, citrus fruits are the unsung heroes of a healthful diet; these include a number of fruits that are now available worldwide, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, clementines, mandarins, and tangerines.

basket of citrus fruitsThe flavonoids in citrus fruits have been cited in connection to longer lifespans.

For a long time, citrus fruits have been recommended by nutritionists and grandmothers alike for their high content of vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties, and is said to bring a wide array of health benefits, including to reduce inflammatory damage, and to fend off infections.

Specialists point out, however, that this type of fruits goes well beyond just vitamin C when it comes to nutritional content.

The fruits are abundant in other macronutrients, including sugars, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.”

If this list of dietary goodies hasn’t colored you impressed, the specialists then go on to explain how citrus fruits contain even more organic compounds — such as flavonoids, coumarins, and carotenoids — that have been said to have protective effects against cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Research has shown that flavonoids — in which citrus fruits are particularly rich — can “prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity.”

Flavonoids have also garnered a lot of scientific attention for their anti-cancer potential, and consumption of especially flavonoid-rich citrus fruits has been associated with a significantly prolonged lifespan.

The inhabitants of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, known to be some of the longest-living populations of the world, regularly eat shikuwasa, also known as “shequasar,” a citrus fruit typical of the region, which contains more flavonoids than most other citrus fruits.

Drinking shikuwasa juice rich in flavonoid content has also been linked to better liver health.

Although all of the foods mentioned above are appreciated for their significant health benefits, we should not forget that well-being and longevity cannot be achieved without a balanced, inclusive diet and a healthful lifestyle.

Moreover, current studies suggest that our genetic makeup may have an important say as to which foods work best for our health. So, keeping our list of nutritious foods in mind, make sure you follow the healthful diet that is most effective for you!

All you need to know about orgasms

The orgasm is widely regarded as the peak of sexual excitement. It is a powerful feeling of physical pleasure and sensation, which includes a discharge of accumulated erotic tension.

Overall though, not a great deal is known about the orgasm, and over the past century, theories about the orgasm and its nature have shifted dramatically. For instance, healthcare experts have only relatively recently come round to the idea of the female orgasm, with many doctors as recently as the 1970s claiming that it was normal for women not to experience them.

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In this article, we will explain what an orgasm is in men and women, why it happens, and explain some common misconceptions.

Fast facts on orgasms

  • Medical professionals and mental health professionals define orgasms differently.
  • Orgasms have multiple potential health benefits due to the hormones and other chemicals that are released by the body during an orgasm.
  • Orgasms do not only occur during sexual stimulation.
  • People of all genders can experience orgasm disorders.
  • An estimated 1 in 3 men have experienced premature ejaculation.

 

What is an orgasm?

Orgasms can be defined in different ways using different criteria. Medical professionals have used physiological changes to the body as a basis for a definition, whereas psychologists and mental health professionals have used emotional and cognitive changes. A single, overarching explanation of the orgasm does not currently exist.

Influential research

Couple sharing an orgasm

Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) sought to build “an objectively determined body of fact and sex,” through the use of in-depth interviews, challenging currently held views about sex.

The spirit of this work was taken forward by William H. Masters and Virginia Johnson in their work, Human Sexual Response (1986) – a real-time observational study of the physiological effects of various sexual acts. This research led to the establishment of sexology as a scientific discipline and is still an important part of today’s theories on orgasms.


Orgasm models

Sex researchers have defined orgasms within staged models of sexual response. Although the orgasm process can differ greatly between individuals, several basic physiological changes have been identified that tend to occur in the majority of incidences.

The following models are patterns that have been found to occur in all forms of sexual response and are not limited solely to penile-vaginal intercourse.

Master and Johnson’s Four-Phase Model:

  1. excitement
  2. plateau
  3. orgasm
  4. resolution

Kaplan’s Three-Stage Model:

Kaplan’s model differs from most other sexual response models as it includes desire – most models tend to avoid including non-genital changes. It is also important to note that not all sexual activity is preceded by desire.

  1. desire
  2. excitement
  3. orgasm

Potential health benefits of orgasm

Nurse holding prostate model

The male orgasm may protect against prostate cancer.

A cohort study published in 1997 suggested that the risk of mortality was considerably lower in men with a high frequency of orgasm than men with a low frequency of orgasm.

This is counter to the view in many cultures worldwide that the pleasure of the orgasm is “secured at the cost of vigor and wellbeing.”

There is some evidence that frequent ejaculation might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A team of researchers found that the risk for prostate cancer was 20 percent lower in men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month compared with men who ejaculated just 4 to 7 times a month.

Several hormones that are released during orgasm have been identified, such as oxytocin and DHEA; some studies suggest that these hormones could have protective qualities against cancers and heart disease. Oxytocin and other endorphins released during male and female orgasm have also been found to work as relaxants.

Types

Unsurprisingly, given that experts are yet to come to a consensus regarding the definition of an orgasm, there are multiple different forms of categorization for orgasms.

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud distinguished female orgasms as clitoral in the young and immature, and vaginal in those with a healthy sexual response. In contrast, the sex researcher Betty Dodson has defined at least nine different forms of orgasm, biased toward genital stimulation, based on her research. Here is a selection of them:

  • Combination or blended orgasms: a variety of different orgasmic experiences blended together.
  • Multiple orgasms: a series of orgasms over a short period rather than a singular one.
  • Pressure orgasms: orgasms that arise from the indirect stimulation of applied pressure. A form of self-stimulation that is more common in children.
  • Relaxation orgasms: orgasm deriving from deep relaxation during sexual stimulation.
  • Tension orgasms: a common form of orgasm, from direct stimulation often when the body and muscles are tense.

There are other forms of orgasm that Freud and Dodson largely discount, but many others have described them. For instance:

  • Fantasy orgasms: orgasms resulting from mental stimulation alone.
  • G-spot orgasms: orgasms resulting from the stimulation of an erotic zone during penetrative intercourse, feeling markedly different to orgasms from other kinds of stimulation.


The female orgasm

The following description of the physiological process of female orgasm in the genitals will use the Masters and Johnson four-phase model.

Excitement

When a woman is stimulated physically or psychologically, the blood vessels within her genitals dilate. Increased blood supply causes the vulva to swell, and fluid to pass through the vaginal walls, making the vulva swollen and wet. Internally, the top of the vagina expands.

Heart rate and breathing quicken and blood pressure increases. Blood vessel dilation can lead to the woman appearing flushed, particularly on the neck and chest.

Plateau

As blood flow to the introitus – the lower area of the vagina – reaches its limit, it becomes firm. Breasts can increase in size by as much as 25 percent and increased blood flow to the areola – the area surrounding the nipple – causes the nipples to appear less erect. The clitoris pulls back against the pubic bone, seemingly disappearing.

Orgasm

The genital muscles, including the uterus and introitus, experience rhythmic contractions around 0.8 seconds apart. The female orgasm typically lasts longer than the male at an average of around 13-51 seconds.

Unlike men, most women do not have a refractory (recovery) period and so can have further orgasms if they are stimulated again.

Resolution

The body gradually returns to its former state, with swelling reduction and the slowing of pulse and breathing.

The male orgasm

The following description of the physiological process of male orgasm in the genitals uses the Masters and Johnson four-phase model.

Excitement

When a man is stimulated physically or psychologically, he gets an erection. Blood flows into the corpora – the spongy tissue running the length of the penis – causing the penis to grow in size and become rigid. The testicles are drawn up toward the body as the scrotum tightens.

Plateau

As the blood vessels in and around the penis fill with blood, the glans and testicles increase in size. In addition, thigh and buttock muscles tense, blood pressure rises, the pulse quickens, and the rate of breathing increases.

Orgasm

Semen – a mixture of sperm (5 percent) and fluid (95 percent) – is forced into the urethra by a series of contractions in the pelvic floor muscles, prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and the vas deferens.

Contractions in the pelvic floor muscles and prostate gland also cause the semen to be forced out of the penis in a process called ejaculation. The average male orgasm lasts for 10-30 seconds.

Resolution

The man now enters a temporary recovery phase where further orgasms are not possible. This is known as the refractory period, and its length varies from person to person. It can last from a few minutes to a few days, and this period generally grows longer as the man ages.

During this phase, the man’s penis and testicles return to their original size. The rate of breathing will be heavy and fast, and the pulse will be fast.

Causes

It is commonly held that orgasms are a sexual experience, typically experienced as part of a sexual response cycle. They often occur following the continual stimulation of erogenous zones, such as the genitals, anus, nipples, and perineum.

Physiologically, orgasms occur following two basic responses to continual stimulation:

  • Vasocongestion: the process whereby body tissues fill up with blood, swelling in size as a result.
  • Myotonia: the process whereby muscles tense, including both voluntary flexing and involuntary contracting.

There have been other reports of people experiencing orgasmic sensations at the onset of epileptic medicine, and foot amputees feeling orgasms in the space where their foot once was. People paralyzed from the waist down have also been able to have orgasms, suggesting that it is the central nervous system rather than the genitals that is key to experiencing orgasms.

Disorders

A number of disorders are associated with orgasms; they can lead to distress, frustration, and feelings of shame, both for the person experiencing the symptoms and their partner(s).

Although orgasms are considered to be the same in all genders, healthcare professionals tend to describe orgasm disorders in gendered terms.

Female orgasmic disorders

Female orgasmic disorders center around the absence or significant delay of orgasm following sufficient stimulation.

The absence of having orgasms is also referred to as anorgasmia. This term can be divided into primary anorgasmia, when a woman has never experienced an orgasm, and secondary anorgasmia, when a woman who previously experienced orgasms no longer can. The condition can be limited to certain situations or can generally occur.

Female orgasmic disorder can occur as the result of physical causes such as gynecological issues or the use of certain medications, or psychological causes such as anxiety or depression.

Male orgasmic disorders

Also referred to as inhibited male orgasm, male orgasmic disorder involves a persistent and recurrent delay or absence of orgasm following sufficient stimulation.


Male orgasmic disorder can be a lifelong condition or one that is acquired after a period of regular sexual functioning. The condition can be limited to certain situations or can generally occur. It can occur as the result of other physical conditions such as heart disease, psychological causes such as anxiety, or through the use of certain medications such as antidepressants.

Premature ejaculation

Ejaculation in men is closely associated with an orgasm. Premature ejaculation is a common sexual complaint, whereby a man ejaculates (and typically orgasms) within 1 minute of penetration, including the moment of penetration itself.

Premature ejaculation is likely to be caused by a combination of psychological factors such as guilt or anxiety, and biological factors such as hormone levels or nerve damage.

Common misconceptions

Young happy couple

A happy relationship is based on more than just the orgasm.

The high importance that society places on sex, combined with our incomplete knowledge of the orgasm, has led to a number of common misconceptions.

Sexual culture has placed the orgasm on a pedestal, often prizing it as the one and only goal for sexual encounters.

However, orgasms are not as simple and as common as many people would suggest.

It is estimated that around 10-15 percent of women have never had an orgasm. In men, as many as 1 in 3 reports having experienced premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.

Research has shown that orgasms are also not widely considered to be the most important aspect of sexual experience. One study reported that many women find their most satisfying sexual experiences involve a feeling of being connected to someone else, rather than basing their satisfaction solely on orgasm.

Another misconception is that penile-vaginal stimulation is the main way for both men and women to achieve an orgasm. While this may be true for many men and some women, many more women experience orgasms following the stimulation of the clitoris.

A comprehensive analysis of 33 studies over 80 years found that during vaginal intercourse just 25 percent of women consistently experience an orgasm, about half of women sometimes have an orgasm, 20 percent seldom or ever have orgasms, and about 5 percent never have orgasms.

In fact, orgasms do not necessarily have to involve the genitals at all, nor do they have to be associated with sexual desires, as evidenced by examples of exercise-induced orgasm.

The journey to an orgasm is a very individual experience that has no singular, all-encompassing definition. In many cases, experts recommend avoiding comparison to other people or pre-existing concepts of what an orgasm should be.

 

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