- Lighter Running Shoes Really Can Make You Faster
- Teens Who Vape Are Much More Likely to Become Heavy Smokers: Study
- Your All-Day, Election-Day Sanity Prescription
- Zika Vaccines Are Growing More Promising
- A Super-Early Dinner Can Burn More Fat: Study
- Here’s Why Teen STDs Are Hitting All-Time Highs
Posted: 08 Nov 2016 09:00 AM PST
If you’re gunning for a new 5K PR, you may want to check the scale—for the weight of your shoes, that is. A new study shows that people run slower when wearing heavier sneakers, even if the difference is just a few ounces.
It’s long been known that wearing heavier shoes makes runners work harder, and experts have theorized that that would slow them down. (One oft-cited estimate is that for every ounce a runner shaves off her sneakers, she’ll run one second faster per mile.) But researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder wanted to find out for sure if this was true.
The researchers recruited 18 competitive runners to complete 3,000-meter time trials (about two miles) on an indoor track, once a week for three weeks. Unbeknownst to the runners, small lead pellets were sewn into two of the three pairs of racing flats they wore.
By themselves, the shoes weighed 7 to 8 ounces each, depending on size. The pellets added about 3.5 ounces (or the weight of a deck of cards) per shoe for one pair, and about 10.6 ounces per shoe for the second pair.
To help prevent the runners from detecting extra weight, the researchers put their shoes on for them. Still, the runners noticed the difference. In their time trials, they paced themselves differently—and ran about 1% slower—for every 3.5 ounces of lead added per shoe. The researchers calculated that elite runners wearing shoes 3.5 ounces lighter than normal could potentially run a marathon about 57 seconds faster.
The study also measured how much energy the runners expended by testing their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production as they ran on a treadmill wearing each pair of shoes. The results compared well with previous studies—and matched the results of the indoor-track time trial—showing that energy costs rose by about 1% with each 3.5 ounces of extra shoe weight.
Health.com: How to Train for a 5K Race in Just 4 Weeks
Don’t go out and buy a new pair of running shoes just yet, though. The researchers note that lighter shoes won’t necessarily make a runner faster. The team’s previous research has shown that proper cushioning also reduces the energy cost of running—so swapping out foam or other padding for a super-streamlined design could potentially backfire. (Studies have also found that switching to barefoot-style minimalist shoes can raise some runners’ injury risk.)
“Lighter is not always better,” said lead author Wouter Hoogkamer, PhD, a researcher in CU’s Locomotion Laboratory, in a press release. He recommends that shoppers keep this trade-off in mind when choosing a running shoe that feels good—lightweight still but adequately cushioned—on their feet.
The study was funded by Nike and published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Posted: 08 Nov 2016 08:00 AM PST
High school students who vape—that is, use e-cigarettes—at the start of a school year are more likely to become heavy smokers by the end, compared to their peers who don’t vape, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“It’s such an emerging public health issue,” says lead author Adam Leventhal, director of the Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. “These teens aren’t just experimenting—a significant portion are progressing to more regular levels of smoking.”
Leventhal and his team looked at 10th grade students who were about 15 years old. “This age range is a really critical time when smoking either onsets or accelerates,” he says. Past research indicates that 37% of 10th graders have used e-cigarettes, and the new study, which surveyed more than 3,000 10th graders across Los Angeles public schools, found similar rates. The teens filled out questionnaires at the beginning of the school year and again at the end.
Teens who vaped frequently were about 10 times more likely to become regular smokers six months later, compared to teens who had never vaped. While 20% of these regular e-cig users transitioned into frequent smokers, less than 1% of kids who had never vaped smoked cigarettes at followup.
“The amount of vaping mattered,” says Leventhal. “The more you vaped at baseline, the more you smoked at the followup.”
Why, of course, is the bull’s-eye question e-cigarette researchers are trying to answer. While this study wasn’t designed to come to such a conclusion, Leventhal has some ideas. Vaping nicotine may sensitize young brains to the addictive effects of the drug, making the first time with a cigarette more pleasurable or familiar, he says. “Compare that to teens who had never vaped: when they start smoking, the nicotine might be unpleasant to them because they’re not used to it,” he says. Side effects like nausea and dizziness might make them less likely to continue.
But even e-cigs that do not contain nicotine could be dangerous for teens, who may grow fond of the ritual of inhaling a substance, “making them more inclined to experiment with other tobacco products,” Leventhal says.
Some research suggests that e-cigarettes may help a person stop smoking, but this study didn’t find such a pattern. When Leventhal looked more closely at teens who smoked at the start of the year, he found that by the end, e-cigarettes weren’t associated with either a reduction or increase in smoking.
Leventhal and his team are still following the same group of teens to see how their substance use and other health behaviors change and interact over time.
This research is just the latest in a string of studies on the effects of e-cigarettes in teens. “I’m aware of six separate studies now that show that teens who vape are more likely to start using a smokable tobacco product,” whether they’re cigarettes or hookah or cigars, he says. “This pattern is associated with a high risk of health effects and progression to adult and chronic smoking.”
Posted: 08 Nov 2016 01:00 AM PST
Election Day is finally here, and it’s sure to be one of the most anxiety-stoking days of the year. We asked stress expert Jeff Temple, associate professor and psychologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, to share some activities we should do to make election day as manageable as possible. Some of his advice, and some of ours, below:
8 a.m.: Vote. It’s the biggest thing you can do to relieve Election Day anxiety, because it gives you a sense of agency. “Going out and voting is stress relief,” Temple says. “To manage any type of stress, do something about it.” It’s the same idea behind exposure therapy: if you’re stressed out about flying, get on an airplane. If you’re stressed about who your next president will be, get out and vote.
12 p.m.: Resist the social media trap. It’s not your imagination: social media really is stressing you out. A recent poll from the American Psychological Association found that people who used social media were more likely to call the election a “very or somewhat significant source of stress” than people who didn’t use it.
“This is really our first election where social media is rampant, where we’re trafficking in dogmatic points of view,” Temple says. In past elections, you could control your contact with those friends or family members that love debating the politics du jour by screening your calls.
Not so anymore, when people’s thoughts and opinions are ever-present on our phones. Limiting your use of social media, then, can help you avoid a screen-induced stress response. For a minority of people, gobbling up reams of information is actually stress relieving—but that’s probably not most of us. Interact with the Internet in a way that’s right for you.
3 p.m.: Put on your headphones. By now, you likely know where your colleagues fall on the political spectrum. If your views differ, stay out of the conversational fray. “No matter how wrong they are in your mind, they are still your colleagues,” Temple says, “and you’re going to have to work with them tomorrow and the next day.”
6 p.m.: Do your all-time favorite activity. What do you love more than anything else? Do it after work—maybe even more of it than you usually would. “If it’s playing video games, play more video games,” Temple says. “If it’s going out to eat, go out to eat.” Ditto for any activity that helps you blow off steam, like yoga, meditation or having beers with a friend.
“When we do things we’re interested in, it makes us feel better,” Temple says. And if you’ve made it this far in election season, you’ve earned it.
7 p.m.: Watch the returns with likeminded people. With tensions so high, it’s best to limit yourself to a supportive environment. “I think that watching it with divergent folks, especially with this election where the viewpoints are so divergent, is really a recipe for conflict,” Temple says. Flock with birds of your feather, in other words—at least tonight.
9 p.m.: Take a TV break. It’s news to no one that binge watching TV is bad for your health, and that’s doubly true if you’re sitting there seriously stressed out. Every hour or two, take a walk around the block, steep yourself some tea or pour a drink, do a quick household chore. The goal is to take your mind off the incremental election results and focus it, however briefly, on something else.
11 p.m.: Go to bed. Regardless of who the next president is, getting a night of good sleep will at least make you feel better—physically if not psychologically—the next day. If you can’t bear to wake up without knowing the result, keep your phone by your bed—usually a healthy sleep no-no—so that you hear the news alert when the networks call it. You don’t need to be awake all night in front of the TV to get the news when it breaks.
Posted: 07 Nov 2016 12:19 PM PST
The Zika virus has swiftly spread worldwide, causing thousands of cases of the severe birth defect microcephaly and possibly many other developmental problems. In response, researchers in the U.S. and beyond have sped up study into vaccines and drugs to treat the virus, and have finally seen some encouraging results.
On Monday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the launch of the first of five clinical trials in humans to test the safety and effectiveness of a Zika vaccine. Four other trials in humans are launching in the upcoming months, and the vaccine has already shown promising results in animals. “We urgently need a safe and effective vaccine to protect people from Zika virus infection as the virus continues to spread,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in a statement announcing the study.
In a separate just-published study in the journal Nature, another team of scientists identified a human antibody that prevents the fetus from becoming infected with Zika in pregnant mice. The antibody also prevented damage to the placenta and prevented adult mice from getting Zika infections. This research was in mice, so it can’t directly translate to humans, but it does suggest that a vaccine against Zika could spur protective antibodies that not only prevent people from getting the virus, but could protect a pregnant woman’s fetus. “No one has yet shown definitive protection in pregnancy,” says study author Dr. Michael Diamond, professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. “This was suspected, but had not been demonstrated.”
When the infection rates of most epidemics wane, so does public interest; it can be hard for scientists and pharmaceutical companies to complete work on vaccines and drugs. During the recent Ebola outbreak, government groups and companies rapidly developed vaccines for the virus that infected 28,000 people and killed 11,000. But by the time they were ready to test the vaccines in humans, there were too few infections and low levels of concern.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui of GlaxoSmithKline recently told a panel at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego that the company has undergone significant financial loss over their Ebola vaccine development. Cases of Ebola in Liberia subsided before testing could start, and public attention turned to Zika, he said. “We were left with enormous expenses, huge responsibility of having a vaccine that was half baked, and nobody caring. That’s been a very difficult experience for us.”
But that’s not the case with Zika. Because it spreads by mosquitoes, experts believe the virus will be circulating for longer. “Ebola is [a virus] that basically you have it in an area, and then it gets extinguished,” says Diamond.
Public health experts are seeing more viruses spread by mosquitoes emerging in the Americas. Dengue, a virus spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika, infects an estimated 400 million people every year. “We are seeing an unprecedented uptick in vector borne diseases and we are not sure why,” says Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (who was not involved in the recent studies). “We are still trying to get our arms around this.”
Diamond thinks Zika infections will continue for some time, though the number of cases may fluctuate. “My suspicion is that this will not be gone next year or the year after,” he says. The hope is a vaccine or drug will be available to protect people, especially pregnant women, from infection.
Posted: 07 Nov 2016 11:37 AM PST
Posted: 07 Nov 2016 10:49 AM PST
The number of people in the U.S. with an STD recently hit an unprecedented high. Data released in October revealed that in 2015, there were increases in all nationally reported STDs for the second year in a row. There were 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia — the highest number of STD cases ever reported to the government — and people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for the largest number of infections.
For starters, only 22 states and the District of Columbia mandate both sex education and HIV education, and many schools provide an abstinence-only curriculum. Sex-education classes often focus largely on preventing unintended pregnancies and less on preventing infections, which may explain why young people today are not as fearful of STDs as previous generations. They were too young to remember the emergence and spread of HIV — the time when a diagnosis was equivalent to a death sentence — and advancements in medication and treatments of STDs and HIV may also offer a sense of security.
“There’s a lack of fear,” says Dr. John Steever, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City. But that doesn’t mean that an STD no longer can cause severe health complications, adds Steever. “That lack of forward-thinking is what we are running up against.” Indeed, even as tremendous progress has been made with HIV, not every STD can be treated with a simple round of medication — some strains of gonorrhea, for instance, are already resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it. In 2006 the CDC had five treatment options it recommended for gonorrhea, but now the agency says there’s only one.
People ages 15 to 24 accounted for half of all gonorrhea cases reported in the U.S. in 2015.
Another factor contributing to the rise in teen STDs is the fact that many classes focus almost exclusively on heterosexual sex. “Sex education has to be relevant to the kids you are seeing,” says Steever. “To drone on about condoms for pregnancy prevention can fall on deaf ears for LGBTQ communities. We need sex education that is appropriate for the audience it is trying to reach.”
It’s also possible that the increase in STD screening has led to more reported cases. It wasn’t until 2000, for instance, that all 50 states and the District of Columbia required reporting of chlamydia, says Dr. Eloisa Llata, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s division of STD prevention.
Today the CDC recommends that women under 25 who are sexually active or have a new partner should get yearly chlamydia and gonorrhea tests, and those results are all registered nationally. For sexually active gay and bisexual men, the CDC advises an annual test for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Still, many young people don’t get tested for STDs: a May 2016 report found 42% of 3,953 adolescents and young adults who had sex and did not get tested assumed they were not at risk for an infection. Talking about STDs and how to prevent them at home and at school can help. “Everyone should talk more — and more openly — about STDs in order to raise awareness and reduce stigma,” says Llata.
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