Cancer immunotherapy drug less toxic and prolongs life – BBC News

Derek KitchersideImage copyright
Royal Marsden Hospital

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Derek, from Leicestershire, took part in a trial of pembrolizumab

An immunotherapy drug that could save some cancer patients from the ordeal of extreme chemotherapy may also help them live longer, researchers say.

In a trial, pembrolizumab kept head and neck cancers at bay for an average of two years – five times longer than under chemotherapy.

The patients also suffered far fewer side-effects.

Cases of head and neck cancers are rising in the UK and most are diagnosed late, when they are hard to treat.

‘I can get on with my life’

Derek Kitcherside, 70, from Leicestershire, believes he wouldn’t be here without pembrolizumab.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the voicebox in 2011. When he started coughing up blood three years later, after receiving standard treatment, he was told the cancer had spread to his lungs and was probably incurable.

Derek asked to go on a drug trial and travelled to London every three weeks for two years for treatment with pembrolizumab.

“My tumour was shrinking all the time and I felt a bit better every time I went,” he said. “It made a huge difference to my life.”

Regular scans show the disease is now stable and the tumour is still getting smaller.

“I’m very pleased I can get on with my life,” Derek said.

“I don’t think I’d be here without it.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Pembrolizumab is given via a drip

What is immunotherapy?

It is a treatment that does not kill cancer cells itself but instead stimulates the body’s immune system to attack them.

Pembrolizumab is already being used to treat a wide range of advanced cancers, including melanoma – a type of skin cancer that spreads easily.

Experts believe the drug has the potential to treat many more.

When is it used?

Normally, immunotherapy is used after standard treatments like chemotherapy have failed but this trial, in 882 patients from 37 countries, suggests it should be used earlier – and for some people it should be the go-to option.

The drug is given to patients regularly through a drip when their cancer has returned or spread, and is considered incurable.

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Getty Images

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Patients with head and neck cancer must have regular scans to check progress of the disease

Why is it better than current treatment?

It is kinder, safer and can keep patients alive for longer, the study in The Lancet found.

But it may not work for everyone.

In people with advanced head and neck cancer who responded to the drug – one in four – their cancer shrank or stabilised for an average of 23 months.

By comparison, although more patients (36%) responded positively to standard chemotherapy treatment, the improvements lasted on average for only four and a half months.

Those with larger, more aggressive tumours were given the drug in combination with chemotherapy to help slow progress of the disease – which was kept in check for an average of seven months.

So who could benefit?

The trick is identifying people with tumours that will respond, says Prof Kevin Harrington, consultant clinical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Founation Trust, who led the study,

A test for the presence of immune marker PD-L1 in the tumour means doctors can work this out.

Prof Harrington says approximately 85% of people with advanced or relapsed head and neck cancer would be eligible for pembrolizumab – around 1,300 patients a year.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Immune cells can be targeted by immunotherapy treatment

Why is it kinder?

At the moment, the recommended treatment is a toxic combination of chemotherapy and antibody therapy, which often makes people feel very sick.

The extreme treatment can also cause damage to the kidneys, hands and feet.

Patients given the immunotherapy drug experienced far fewer side-effects.

“It’s more sensible and less toxic – patients live longer and feel better,” says Prof Harrington.

What does this mean for patients?

“This study is very exciting”, says Prof Paul Workman, from the Institute of Cancer Research.

“Firstly because it shows that immunotherapy can have dramatic benefits for some patients with head and neck cancer when used as a first-line treatment, and secondly because the researchers have devised a test for picking out who is most likely to benefit.”

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Institute of Cancer Research

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Pembrolizumab is less toxic for patients than chemotherapy

He said all new drugs coming on to the market should be accompanied by a test to target their uses as precisely as possible.

In the US and the EU, pembrolizumab has been approved for use on its own and with chemotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer, but not yet in the UK.

The National Institute for Heath Care and Excellence is currently appraising pembrolizumab and it could be approved for use on the NHS by next summer.

Facts on head and neck cancer

  • Around 12,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year
  • Half are diagnosed at stage III or IV when it is hard to treat
  • Most cases are linked to smoking and alcohol but the recent rise in cases seems to be linked to HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • This virus infects the skin and cells lining the inside of the body and can be spread through close skin-to-skin contact
  • Boys and girls are now being vaccinated against HPV at school, but it will be several decades before HPV stops being a risk factor

Samoa measles outbreak worsens with death toll reaching 22 – BBC News

A health professional prepares to vaccinate someone against measles in AucklandImage copyright
Getty Images

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Samoa has declared a state of emergency to combat the outbreak

A measles outbreak in the Pacific nation of Samoa has killed 22 people, nearly all children under five.

The government says 1,797 cases have been reported – 153 since Friday alone.

Samoa declared a state of emergency last week to combat the outbreak. All schools are closed, children under 17 are banned from public gatherings and vaccinations are now compulsory.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) estimates Samoa’s vaccination rate is between 28-40%.

It has sent 110,500 vaccines to the country, and New Zealand has sent medicine, nurses and equipment – while battling an outbreak of the disease itself.

It usually takes between 10 days and two weeks for a vaccine to start working.

Some people are reportedly peddling false treatments. One businessman told Australian broadcaster ABC that his “Kangen Water” – in reality, tap water – could alleviate symptoms.

Samoa Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff has warned people against discouraging vaccinations in any way.

“Law enforcement is open to receiving notice, complaints, or evidence of any person or organisation, that is discouraging or going as far as preventing our community from vaccination,” he told the Samoa Observer.

Tonga and Fiji have also declared states of emergency to tackle their measles outbreaks in the last month.

However, both countries have far higher vaccination rates – over 90% in both countries – and have so far not reported any deaths.

The Tonga women’s rugby team were put in quarantine on Thursday after a measles outbreak.

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Media caption‘Vaccine fears cost me my children’

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain.

Infection rates are rising worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in April that the number of cases reported globally quadrupled in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2018.

Nearly 5,000 people have died of measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo and close to a quarter of a million have been infected.

The WHO says the outbreak there is the world’s largest and fastest-moving epidemic.

What is measles?

Measles is a virus that initially causes a runny nose, sneezing and fever.

A few days later it leads to a blotchy rash that starts off on the face and spreads across the body.

Most people will recover, but measles can cause life-long disability. It can be deadly, especially if it causes pneumonia in the lungs or encephalitis (swelling in the brain).

It is estimated that a global total of 110,000 people die from measles each year.

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Media captionIt’s a numbers game… if some people are not vaccinated, it can cause a big problem for us all

7 New Moves to Challenge Your Glutes and Hamstrings

A quick search of popular hashtags on Instagram suggests that fitness consumers are intent on working their glutes (#bootybuilding, for example, is currently tagged in more than 2.8 million posts). The gluteal complex can perform a wide variety of different functions, which means you have an almost limitless amount of exercise options for strengthening these muscles and giving the people you serve the results they want.

The first step is knowing exactly how the gluteal complex and hamstrings function to produce movement. Most exercises for the glutes feature motion in the sagittal plane, which is simply extending the hip behind the body. However, it’s important to challenge the muscles to work in the other two planes as well.

When muscles contract (or shorten), they can create the force necessary to produce movement. As muscles lengthen in response to an externally applied force, they decelerate movement. Because the tensile forces applied during the lengthening (or eccentric) phase of muscle action can help increase the strength and resiliency of the tissue, it’s not enough to know what a muscle does as it contracts. Rather, it’s essential to understand how a muscle functions in its eccentric action.


Sagittal Plane Function

Frontal Plane Function

Transverse Plane Function







Gluteus Maximus

Produce hip extension

Reduce hip flexion

Produce hip adduction

Reduce hip abduction

Produce external rotation

Reduce internal rotation

Biceps Femoris

Produce hip extension & knee flexion

Reduce hip flexion and knee extension

Produce hip adduction

Reduce hip abduction

Produce external rotation

Reduce internal rotation

Semi-tendonosus and Semi-membranosus

Produce hip extension and knee flexion

Reduce hip flexion and knee extension

Produce hip adduction

Reduce hip abduction

Produce internal rotation

Reduce external rotation

Note: The gluteus medius plays an important role in controlling motion of the hip; the anterior fibers create external rotation at the hip joint, while the posterior fibers create internal rotation when shortening. The primary function of the gluteus medius is to help stabilize the pelvis when the body is balancing on one leg.


Looking at how the muscles function, it can be easy to see how they play a significant role in controlling rotation of the hip. However, most “booty” exercises focus on only moving the hip in the sagittal plane. Taking the time to understand how the muscles function during both phases of action can provide you with countless options for engaging them via exercise. For example, developing optimal function of the glutes requires challenging them to work in all directions, especially by lengthening them in the transverse plane via creating internal rotation of the hip.

Exercises that emphasize hip internal rotation include the fire hydrant, single-leg Romanian deadlift with reach, the standing medicine ball chop and the reverse crossover lunge with reach. The following exercises take advantage of motion in the frontal and transverse planes to challenge the glute in ways they don’t typically work during many exercises. Be careful not to overload your clients by having them perform too many repetitions or sets too soon. Because the muscles will be moving into new ranges of motion, it is important to start with a small volume to allow for adaptation before increasing the number of repetitions and sets.

Fire Hydrant

Start in a quadruped position with the hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Keep the spine long and brace the core muscles while slowly lifting the right leg out to the side (while keeping the knee bent). When the right thigh is almost parallel to the floor, extend the right knee and then flex it before bringing it back under the right hip. Complete 10-12 reps and then switch legs. Rest for 30-45 seconds between sets and complete two to three sets.

Single-leg Romanian Deadlift With Reach

Start in a standing position with the feet hip-width apart, the spine lengthened and the knees slightly bent. Push the hips backward while lifting the right foot off the floor. Press the left foot into the floor for stability and keep the spine long while straightening the right leg and pointing the right foot directly behind the body. While hinging at the left hip, reach for the left foot with the right hand. This will create internal rotation of the left hip to increase activation of the glutes in the transverse plane. Perform eight to10 reps while standing on the left leg and then switch legs. Rest for 30-45 seconds between sets and complete two to three sets.

Standing Medicine Ball Chop

Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, the knees slightly bent and the left foot slightly in front of the right (the heel of the left foot should be even with the toes of the right). Hold a medicine ball between both hands by the right shoulder. Keep the spine long and push the hips back to sink into a quarter-squat with most of the body’s weight in the left hip. Lower the medicine ball diagonally across the front of the body toward the left hip. As the medicine ball passes the midline of the body, allow the right foot to rotate (on the ball of the foot) and shift the weight into the left hip. The medicine ball should finish on the outside of the left hip. Start with six to eight repetitions, moving from the right shoulder to the left hip and then switch sides for a total of 12-16 repetitions. Rest for 30-45 seconds between sets and complete two to three sets.

Reverse Crossover Lunge With Reach

Start in a standing position with the feet hip-width apart. Keep the spine long while moving the right leg behind the left (guiding the right foot toward the 7 or 8 o’clock position on a clock dial). As the ball of the right foot hits the floor, hinge forward at the left hip and reach as low as possible with the right hand for the left foot (reach only as far as neutral spine will allow). To return to standing, press the left foot into the floor while picking up the right leg and returning it to the starting position. Complete eight to 10 reps before switching sides. Rest for 30-45 seconds between sets and complete two to three sets.

Lateral Lunge to Single-leg Squat Reach-down

Stand with the feet hip- to shoulder-width apart. Step directly to the left and, as the left foot contacts the floor, make sure it is parallel to the right foot. Push the left hip back while reaching for the left foot with the right hand (this increases internal rotation of the left hip). Push off with the left foot while pressing the right foot into the floor to pull the body back to the starting position. At the top of the movement, balance on the right leg for three to four seconds. Push the right hip back and squat down to reach for the right foot with the left hand. Slowly return to standing and complete four to six repetitions to the left before switching sides and performing the same number of repetitions. Rest for 60-90 seconds between sets and complete two to three sets.

Transverse Plane Lunge With Reach to Balance

Stand with the feet hip- to shoulder-width apart. With the right foot, step back and away from the left foot (toward the 4 o’clock position). Keep the left foot pressed into the floor and squeeze the left thigh to help control stability of the knee. As the right foot contacts the floor, push the right hip back into a hinge position and bend forward to reach with the left hand for the right foot. Once the hip is in a flexed position, allow the spine to flex and round as you reach for the floor. Bring the trunk back to an upright position, push off with the right foot and press the left foot into the floor to return to the starting position. At the top of the movement, press the left foot into the floor and squeeze the left thigh to balance on the left leg for three to four seconds before performing the next rep. Complete six to 10 reps on the right leg before switching sides. Rest for 45-60 seconds between sets and complete two to three sets.

Increasing Intensity Without Using Weight

Adding a balance component can increase activation of the glutes and hamstrings. Single-leg balance exercises can be important for helping integrate strength of the deep core muscles with that of the hips, specifically the glutes, because they play an important role in controlling the position of the body when balanced on a single leg. Walking or running is the process of transitioning from one leg to the other; therefore, being strong and stable while balanced on a single leg is an important part of human movement. Transitioning from a lunge to holding a static balance on a single leg requires contracting the glute muscles to decelerate and control motion to maintain balance and is a great way to increase activation of these muscles without adding any weight.

Want to help your clients get stronger and move more efficiently? Become an ACE Functional Training Specialist

How to Use Plyometrics to Target the Core Muscles

When it comes to conditioning the body’s core muscles, many people tend to focus on isolating muscles with a high number of repetitions, which is an inefficient way to engage the core muscles and could potentially lead to a muscle imbalance or an injury. Here are six things to know about core training along with a few exercises that you may consider adding to your clients’ workouts.

  1. The core muscles are comprised of stabilizers and movers. The middle layer of core muscles, such as the transverse abdominus, diaphragm and pelvic floor, help control stability of the pelvis and spine. The superficial muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, external obliques, spinal erectors or rectus abdominus, play a much larger role in helping to move the body.
  2. Because they have to produce force to control the position of the body for an extended period of time, stabilizer muscles tend to have more type I fibers, while the larger movement muscles tend to have more type II muscle fibers for generating greater amounts of force. Type II fibers also are largely responsible for remaining in a state of semi-contraction, which means exercises that target the type II fibers of the larger movement muscles are ideal for improving muscle tone. (To learn more about muscle fibers, check out 10 Things You Should Know About Your Muscle Fibers).
  3. Plyometrics typically refers to explosive exercises for the lower body, such as skips, hops, jumps and bounds. However, plyometric training is also important for the core muscles that connect the lower and upper body. Plyometric exercises require a great amount of force so they use more type II muscle fibers. If your clients’ fitness goals include improving the appearance or definition of the core muscles, plyometric exercises for core muscles could be an effective strategy for achieving that objective.
  4. Before starting a plyometric training program for core muscles, it is important to first ensure your clients have optimal stability of the lumbar spine and scapulothoracic joints, along with great mobility in the hips and feet because that’s where the force originates. Have your clients follow a lower-intensity core workout for a period of six to eight weeks to help establish a solid foundation of movement skill before progressing to the explosive exercises that can improve definition.
  5. Explosive, plyometric exercises for the core can be performed with body weight or equipment such as medicine balls, sandbags, resistance bands and kettlebells. Medicine balls are an excellent tool for developing core power because they can be both thrown and caught. When catching a medicine ball, the muscles are quickly lengthened, which allows them to store mechanical energy before explosively returning to the original length. In addition, throwing a medicine ball makes it possible to accelerate all the way through the movement to create the highest level of force possible as the ball leaves the hands. Whether using an external weight such as a medicine ball or using body weight for hops, plyometric training should focus on only a few repetitions at a time so the maximum amount of force can be applied with each rep. Note: There are two types of medicine balls. “Live” medicine balls bounce and are good for exercises requiring an explosive return, while “dead” balls are gel- or sand-filled and do not bounce when hitting the ground. When learning explosive upper-body exercises, have your clients start with dead balls or sandbags to learn proper throwing form before progressing to catching and decelerating a live ball. It is also important to allow enough time between sets for the muscles to fully rest and recover to prepare for the next set of explosive actions.
  6. To develop optimal levels of force from the core muscles, instruct your clients to keep the feet firmly planted on the floor. Pushing the feet into the floor while throwing a medicine ball or preparing for a jump (or hop) utilizes the ground reaction force to rapidly accelerate the movement. Some facilities have a wall specifically designed for medicine-ball exercises (or equipment such as a rebounder that is designed for this purpose).

The following plyometric exercises can be incorporated into your clients’ programs or combined into a single workout to improve the definition of the core muscles. 

Exercise Reps Sets Rest Interval  Tips
Multidirectional hop to balance 4-6 each direction 2-4 45-60 seconds Because they require the muscles included in all layers of the core to work together to stabilize the body, multidirectional hops to balance can help improve the strength and reactivity of both groups of muscles. 
Dead ball slams 6-8 2-4 45-60 seconds Use a dead ball (or sandbag) so it doesn’t bounce. Lift the ball overhead and slam it down on the floor. When throwing the ball down, sink into the hips (like dropping into a squat) and then scoop the weight up and quickly perform the next rep. 
Reverse lunge to slam 6-8 2-4 45-60 seconds Stand with both feet hip-width apart while holding a medicine ball in both hands in front of the chest. Reach both arms overhead and step back with the right leg into a reverse lunge. While planting the right foot, sink into the left hip, rotate to the left and slam the ball down on the left side of the body (a dead ball is recommended). Pick up the ball and repeat for 6-8 reps before switching legs. 
Rotational chest pass 6-8 2-4 45-60 seconds This exercise requires a rebounding wall or partner. Stand with the feet approximately shoulder-width apart (if throwing from the right side, the left foot should be closest to the wall or partner and slightly forward of the right). Hold the ball in both hands and rotate over the left hip (allowing the right foot to turn in). Push the right foot into the floor to start the rotation while turning the shoulders to the left. While facing the partner (or wall), explosively throw the medicine ball with both hands. At first, instruct your client to focus on the throw; as he or she improves, focus on catching the ball and rotating back to the starting position. 


Multidirectional Hops

Dead Ball Slams

Reverse Lunge to Slam

Rotational Chest Pass

Explosive Crunches

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HIIT in the Park With Tabata

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness protocol that increases VO2 max, burns 15 calories per minute, increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is adaptable to most fitness levels. One Tabata lasts four minutes and consists of eight 20/10 intervals (referred to as rounds). During the 20 seconds, an all-out effort (get breathless) is encouraged, or an RPE of 9-10 on a modified Borg scale. Every 20 seconds of work is followed by a 10-second rest.  You can use a Tabata timer app or download Total Body Tabata (TBT) timed music from Muscle Mixes to keep everyone focused and on time.

Although the park we used in this video features stairs, curbs, a dock and a park bench, you can adapt these exercises for your location to meet the needs of your participants. Always check to make sure the outdoor workout area is safe for hands and feet (no holes or gravel).

Spend five to seven minutes warming up with movement in all three planes of motion, planks for upper-body and core warm-up, and dynamic stretching. Each Tabata features two exercises—urge your participants to focus first on form, next on range of motion and, finally, speed.   Between Tabata rounds, have participants take one minute to recover and hydrate while they keep moving; during this time, demonstrate the next pair of Tabata exercises. If you notice participants getting too breathless, encourage them to lengthen their recovery time by resting through one 20/10 round.

At the end of this 30-minute challenging total-body Tabata workout, take adequate time to recover and stretch. Remind everyone to perform no more than one or two Tabata workouts on non-consecutive days during a single week.  

Tabata #1

Exercise #1: Triceps Push-up to Elbow-Knee Side Plank. Alternate Sides.

Option: Triceps Push-Up to Side Plank Staggered Feet

TIPS: Hand(s) under shoulders, core braced, neutral spine

Rounds: 2 rounds

Exercise #2: Reverse Lunge Power Knee

Option: Decrease lunge ROM. Power knee without jump.

TIPS: Knee aligned over ankle. Land toe, ball, heel.

Rounds: 4 rounds (2 on right leg, 2 on left leg). Repeat. 

Tabata #2

Exercise #1: Tree Tag Sprints

Choose three trees each about 20 feet apart. Sprint from tree #1 to #2 to #3, then back to #1. Keep going until whistle blows.


Rounds: 4 rounds 


Exercise #2: Burpee 180 Squat Jump

Option: Replace 180 with a small jump forward and back.

TIPS: Core braced, neutral spine knees in line with toes

Rounds: 4 rounds

Tabata # 3

Exercise #1: Sideways Plank Walk Mountain Climbers

Start in Plank. Walk sideways 2 times (right,left,right,left). Do 8 quick mountain climbers. Repeat to other side. Continue to alternate sides till whistle blows.

TIPS: Core braced, neutral spine, drive knees in during climbers

Rounds: 2 rounds


Exercise #2: Long Jump Burpee Heel-Click Jack It Back

Long Jump Forward to Burpee to Heel Click to 2 Jacks Backing Up to Start Position. Repeat till whistle blows. Options: Do 3 Jacks back in place of heel click.

TIPS: Core braced, neutral spine, knees in line with middle toes.

Rounds: 2 rounds

Tabata #4

Exercise #1: Stair Sprint to Speed Squat Jumps

TIPS: Sprint up set of stairs to top. Perform speed squat jumps till whistle blows. Jog down in 10 seconds to reset for next 20 seconds Option: Replace squat jumps with speed squat.

Rounds: 4 rounds


Exercise #2 : Park Bench Sit to Star Jump

Option: Replace Star Jump with Squat Jump

TIPS: Knees in line with toes for all plyos in this Tabata.

Rounds: 4 rounds

Tabata #5

Exercise #1: Half-Moon Heel Click Alternate Legs

Option: Replace heel click with jack. Bend at knee with half moon. 

TIPS: Start half-moon with legs a litle wider than hips, draw one leg up toward center line, circle leg open and jump, then land in a squat. Repeat with other leg. 

Rounds: 2 rounds


Exercise #2 : Crab Walk Forward & Back 

Crab walk forward 8 counts and back 8 counts until whistle blows. 

TIPS: Hold reverse plant during the 10 seconds’ rest for increased time under tension. 

Rounds: 2 rounds

Want to lead your group fitness classes in the ultimate high-energy workout? Sign up for the Total Body Tabata HIIT Instructor Training course! 

Binge Eating: Best Tips To Overcome Overeating Condition

With fast food and ready-made meals available by the dozen nowadays, it’s very easy to start binge eating and just chew all your worries away, which for some people, actually sounds like a good way to start a Friday night.

However, when it becomes uncontrollable and habitual, it becomes more than a way to enjoy alongside a night of watching movies since it easily becomes a disorder, and is actually one of the most common of its kind nowadays.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder, or BED, is actually a recognized psychological condition, and is more about than just eating food. This means that people who are suffering from it need an actual treatment plan to get better.

When not treated, BED can lead to serious weight gain, which can then pave the way for more serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Thankfully, there are still recommended strategies that people can try to help overcome it. Here are some of them:

  1. Leave the diet – This is because most fad diets nowadays can be very unhealthy, and regular restricting of food can lead to more frequent episodes of binge eating afterwards. Rather, start eating whole, unprocessed foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Moderate your consumption of treats as well.
  2. Be mindful – Do this at all time. Being aware of your body and how you feel can help you control it better, which can then lead to more discipline on your part.
  3. Don’t skip meals – Rather, follow a regular schedule, and stick to it. This can be very effective, and can help you control what you eat better.
  4. Stay hydrated – This is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to stay full, which then stops you from craving and overeating. Drinking lots of water also has multiple health benefits, so it’s a win-win for you.
  5. Incorporate more fiber into your diet – Because fiber is made up of plant parts that your body can’t digest, eating more of it can help make you feel full longer, and can help curb your overeating habits. Additionally, it can help regulate your bowel movement.

Overeating An overflowing bin full of takeaway food containers at night on March 16, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Matthew Horwood / Contributor

6 Medjool Dates Surprising Health Benefits

It’s common knowledge that fruits are exceptional when it comes to providing health benefits, and so when something is being touted as a ‘power fruit,’ then you best believe that it’s indeed the power fruit that it’s being called.

Today, that title goes to the Medjool date, which thankfully, does not disappoint in any whatsoever. An edible sweet fruit that comes from the date palm tree, not only is this fruit delicious, but it also packs quite a punch, thanks to the vitamins, minerals, fiber and health benefits it possesses.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here are some of the best health benefits you can get from eating Medjool dates.

Relieves and prevents constipation

For those who have a bad case of ouchies in their tummies, the high fiber content of Medjool dates come highly recommended since it will help regulate your bowel movement. So pop a few whenever your stomach starts aching.

Decreases cholesterol

Whenever you eat this fruit, you significantly up your soluble fiber intake, which can then lower LDL cholesterol, a nasty type of fat-like substance that can contribute to conditions like heart disease and stroke. This makes Medjool dates a very heart-healthy treat.

Reduces triglyceride levels

A type of lipid fat found in our blood, triglyceride can increase our risk of having a heart attack. Thankfully, Medjool dates are rich in antioxidants that can help reduce their levels.

Energy booster

Tired and need a quick energy boost? Medjool dates can be a healthy natural option for you. Containing natural sugars like sucrose, glucose and fructose, Medjool dates are an excellent snack idea for those who just hit the gym or just came from a workout session. In fact, these fruits are even used worldwide to help ward off tiredness.

Improves bone health

Rich in calcium, phosphorus and other key minerals, Medjool dates can also help improve the strength of your bones, helping maintain their structure even as you get older.

Natural sweetener

Thanks to its abundance of natural sugars, Medjool dates are an excellent and healthy natural sweetener for your food, so there’s no guilt associated. Enjoy.

dates-1603127_1280 The Medjool date fruit is filled with vitamins and minerals, in addition to being very tasty. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

California Landfills: Crazy Methane Contributors

According to climate experts and scientists, a stunning 60 percent of the greenhouse gases that’s currently wreaking havoc, by making themselves home at our atmosphere, is methane. And as it turns out, the biggest contributor to this are the numerous landfills scattered around California.

Methane Factories

Per a new study, published November 6 in the scientific journal Nature, airborne remote sensing done by researchers pinpointed that landfills are the biggest sources of methane in the Golden State. Additionally, the oil and gas industry as well as dairy farms are also big contributors.

And it doesn’t even have to be large places since the team found that about 34 to 46 percent of California’s methane emissions come from 564 point sources, most of which are bits of infrastructures that are no more than 10 meters in size. From these sources, 41 percent of the emissions came from landfills, while the dairy, oil and gas industries contributed 26 percent each.

Data for the study was taken during five research campaigns that consisted of flying across California from the years 2016 to 2018. During these campaigns, Riley Duren, an electrical engineer and research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,  as well as her colleagues, used an airborne imaging spectrometer to find out where most of the gas emissions came from. The spectrometer then scanned more or less 271,000 facilities and infrastructures for methane plumes to come up with the data, which is now available online thanks to the result of a partnership between NASA, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.

According to them, there are some large point sources that can easily be fixed, such as malfunctioning gas-capture systems or leaky pipelines. However, other diffuse sources are much more harder to spot, and are therefore harder to stop, if such an attempt was made. Nevertheless, the study is a good starting point in making steps to help reduce the amount of methane emissions that end up in our atmosphere.

“The research means that we can focus our mitigation efforts on the biggest sources,” Alexander Turner, atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is not involved in the new study, said.

disposal-1846033_1280 Landfills are among the biggest methane contributors today. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

Flu Season 2019: Why Your Upper Arm Hurts After Getting The Shot

Government health officials have been calling on the public to consider getting vaccinated to reduce their risk of being affected by flu amid this year’s season. However, many people have been expressing concerns about the vaccine, including its potential side effects. 

One common concern is the pain in the upper arm after getting a flu shot. Some people think it could be a sign of negative effects or that the body may not be responding well.

Flu vaccine really causes sore arms. However, it is not an indication of anything bad happening in your body. 

The shots make the arms sore because of “a great big wad of fluid” delivered into the muscle from the syringe, according to Dr. John Dunn, medical director for preventative care at Kaiser Permanente Washington. There is no reason for people to be afraid of the flu vaccine. 

“Everybody reacts a little bit differently” to getting the shot, he said. “The key thing for people to do is to keep using your arm and moving it around.”

Flu Seasons in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that there is now a growing number of people being affected by the flu this year. The government has been closely monitoring Washington because of the high rates of infections. 

The state’s Department of Health (DOH) reported that from September 2018 to September 2019 at least 245 died because of the flu. The agency annually monitors flu season from the fall of one year through the fall of the following year. 

Majority of those deaths occurred in King County, with 54 dead residents. Piece County followed with 42 deaths, Snohomish County with 26 deaths and 11 in Kitsap County, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.

The rates of death were higher in the 2017-2018 flu season, when 296 people died. The government at that time recorded the highest number of flu-related deaths within the decade. 

The CDC recommends that anyone older than 6 months should get vaccinated against the flu every year. A flu shot should be considered even during a mild flu season.

flu vaccine In 2018, flu sent more than 500,000 people to hospitals and caused 50,000 deaths across the U.S. Pixabay

Cancer Patients Could Benefit From Astronaut Exercise Programs

Startling similarities in the diminished physical state of astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and the physical stress cancer patients experience post chemotherapy has led to a proposal that the training regimen used to keep astronauts fit and healthy be applied to cancer patients to help them recover after treatment.

Long-term spaceflight has serious deleterious effects on the human body and causes multiple health problems. One of the most significant of these problems is loss of bone and muscle mass, which cancer patients also experience but for different reasons. For astronauts, these spaceflight problems can increase their risk of injury, reduce their aerobic capacity and slow down their cardiovascular system.

Another significant problem faced by astronauts is their muscles quickly weaken and atrophy or waste away in the microgravity of space. Exposure to long-term reduced gravity reduces muscle mass and strength, especially in the legs.

Astronauts deployed for six months or more on the ISS can also experience blood volume loss, weakened immune systems and cardiovascular deconditioning. This is because floating takes little effort and the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood, according to NASA’s Human Research Program.

The proposal to develop an astronaut training system for cancer patients was published in a commentary written by researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and NASA on Thursday in the journal Cell. The project is supported by the National Cancer Institute.

“It was surprising when we looked at similarities between astronauts during spaceflight and cancer patients during treatment,” Jessica Scott, senior author and an exercise physiology researcher at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Exercise Oncology Service, said. “Both have a decrease in muscle mass, and they have bone demineralization and changes in heart function.”

Scott also said astronauts may come down with something called “space fog,” where they have trouble focusing or get a little forgetful. She added this condition is very similar to what some cancer patients experience, which is called “chemo brain.”

A new series of “countermeasures” are needed to mitigate the stresses and toxicity early-stage cancer patients face during treatment. Managing toxicity is currently the job of the drugs that target the function of individual organs. Drugs, however, don’t help patients recover to their normal levels before being diagnosed.

“That’s why it’s very timely that we start thinking about how to utilize NASA’s tactics to manage some of these long-term side effects of cancer treatments,” noted Scott. “Many patients aren’t dying from their cancer, but they’re now at risk of dying from these side effects. Using NASA’s exercise plan could help with this.”

Researchers suggested even walking on a treadmill might help cancer patients. Tests are also needed to monitor their fitness over time to develop a baseline level and reduce the risk of heart problems that might occur as side effects from treatment.

Scott’s team at Sloan Kettering is currently investigating how exercise may offset these treatment side effects. They’ve provided patients with treadmills in their homes and video call capability to help them exercise before, during and after treatment.

International Space Station The International Space Station is cleaner than your bathroom. Pixabay Public Domain

“A tremendous opportunity exists to leverage 60 years of space medicine to establish a program of research that optimizes preparation for, tolerability of, and recovery from a cancer diagnosis and treatment,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers said in order for the countermeasures program to be viable, it will need to be cost-effective and provide the desired outcomes and benefits. If it works, it could “change the landscape of cancer care and management.”

“We really need to do a lot more research and a lot more work,” Scott pointed out. “But it’s very promising that this NASA exercise framework could be applied to help the approximately one million individuals that will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States this year, as well as the over 15 million cancer survivors in the United States today.”

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