Health Front: Get Some Morning Rays and Avoid Diet Soda

By DR. JERRY DeCAPUA, TRT Contributing Writer

• Spending time in the bright morning light may help you slim down, suggests new research from the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. Dr. Phyllis Zee, the university director of sleep disorders, notes an association between the timing and amount of light exposure and lower weight. Her study included 54 adults who wore a monitoring device that measured light exposure, sleep and duration of sleep for seven days.

Researchers calculated body mass index (BMI), a rough estimate of a person’s body fat. Zee said the strongest association was seen in people exposed to light that was at least 500 lux, which is equivalent to a well lit room. Outside on a sunny day provides 1,000 lux or higher, while most indoor rooms are under 300 lux.

But, the timing of the light also mattered. Those who were exposed to brighter light earlier in the day were the slimmest. “For every hour later in the day that you reach 500 lux that translates to an increase of 1.28 BMI. The earlier the light exposure, the lower the BMI,” said Zee. She is recommending 20 to 30 minutes of bright morning light before noon. It is not really known yet how morning light influences metabolic changes and possibly plays a role in BMI. There are a number of ways light might influence weight. One is by altering circadian rhythms – the body’s internal time clock – improving sleep patterns and hormones, while delaying appetite and calorie intake.

• Women who are heavy consumers of diet drinks, especially sodas, appear to be more likely to experience heart attacks, dangerous blood clots and other cardiovascular problems than those who rarely or never consume artificially sweetened beverages, concludes a large new study.

Researchers divided 60,000 postmenopausal women (average age 63) in the United States into four groups based on their overall consumption. Nine years later, researchers checked to see how many women had experienced any heart related problems, strokes, or clots in their arms or legs.

Heavy consumers of diet soda drinks were about 30 percent more likely to have suffered heart trouble than women who rarely or never had artificially sweetened beverages. Nearly 9 percent of frequent consumers had a serious heart event, while those that abstained had a lower percentage.

“This should not come as a surprise to us anymore,” said Susie Swithers, Professor of Psychology at Purdue University. While animal studies have shown a relationship between diet soda intake and the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, “this is the first study to show a relationship.” The research study demonstrating that two diet sodas a day is unhealthy will be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Washington, D.C.

• Wait a minute Bayer aspirin. Hold that promotional ad that claims there are health benefits in taking daily aspirin. A new study has found that giving aspirin to patients around the time of surgery may do more harm than good. Surgery of any kind – not just heart surgery – may raise a person’s risk for having a heart attack. Doctors often start patients on a low dose of aspirin shortly before and after their procedures. But a new large study, which pitted aspirin against a dummy pill in over 10,000 patients who were having major surgeries, found that not only did aspirin fail to prevent heart attacks, it significantly increased the risk of major bleeding.

The most common surgeries in the study were orthopedic procedures like joint hip replacements. Nearly the same number of patients, about 7 percent in the study had a heart attack or died right after surgery. It did not matter if they took aspirin or the placebo. But significantly more patients in the aspirin group experienced major bleeding than those who took the placebo. This contradicts any previous studies that suggested that aspirin could help prevent heart attacks, especially after surgery.

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April 25th, 2014

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