Take Hibiscus to Fight Breast Cancer

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Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is much more than a brilliant scarlet tropical flower: New laboratory research from Canada’s University of Windsor found that a hibiscus flower extract selectively kills off triple-negative breast cancer cells. This is one of the most difficult to treat types that affects 15 to 20 percent of breast cancer patients. Hibiscus is particularly effective when combined with chemotherapy, researchers say, and works as well with very low doses of the chemicals as with higher doses. The flower’s low toxicity and precise targeting of cancer cells also offers hope for long-term treatment. Previous studies have shown hibiscus to be effective on prostate cancer, leukemia, gastric cancer and human squamous cell carcinoma.

Say No to the Third Cup of Joe to Avoid Migraines

Coffee has been the subject of controversy among the one in six adults worldwide that suffer from periodic migraines: some say it triggers symptoms, while others report it wards them off. A new study from Harvard and two other teaching hospitals of 98 migraine sufferers used six weeks of daily journals to investigate the link and found that drinking up to two servings of caffeinated beverages a day had little effect, but three or more raised the odds of a headache that day or the next. Among people that rarely drank such beverages, even one or two servings increased the odds of having a headache that day. A serving was defined as eight ounces or one cup of caffeinated coffee, six ounces of tea, a 12-ounce can of soda or a two-ounce can of an energy drink,

Dance to Improve Quality of Life With Dementia

Older people with dementia, often viewed as being passive and immobile, responded to simple dance movement lessons with visible humor and imagination and reported a higher quality of life after six sessions, report researchers from New Zealand’s University of Otago. The 22 participants between the ages of early 60s and mid-90s had dementia ranging from mild to advanced. They took 10 weekly classes in which the music was “reminiscent” and the movement routines were intuitively easy. “Positive responses such as memory recalling, spontaneous dancing and joking with each other were observed in every session,” reports lead author Ting Choo.

Help Avoid Skin Cancer with Vitamin A

Using the three-decade longitudinal health records of about 123,000 men and women from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, researchers from Brown University found that people with diets rich in vitamin A had a significantly reduced risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma  (SCC) skin cancer, which occurs in 7 to 11 percent of the population. “We found that higher intake of total vitamin A, retinol and several individual carotenoids, including beta cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, was associated with lower risk of SCC,” wrote the authors.

Pass Up Sugary Drinks for a Strong Liver

Sugar-sweetened drinks, already linked to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, carry another risk: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In a meta-review published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Iranian researchers analyzed six high-quality studies that included 6,326 men and women and 1,361 cases of NAFLD. They found those that drank the most sugary drinks had a 40 percent higher risk of developing the disease compared to those that consumed the least. Sugary drinks include soda, cola, tonic, fruit punch, lemonade, sweetened powdered drinks, and sports and energy drinks.

Try Acupuncture for Pain-Free Sleep

Chronic pain, affecting 10 to 25 percent of adults, disturbs sleep for two-thirds of them, increasing the risk of depression and aggravating pain symptoms. Chinese researchers analyzed nine studies of 944 chronic-pain patients and found that acupuncture treatments were significantly better than drugs at helping patients sleep. It also improved their quality of sleep as self-measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and lowered their scores of perceived pain.

Eat Organic to Shed Insecticides

Switching to organics has quick payoffs, reducing agrochemicals in the body by 94 percent within a month, Japanese researchers report. They tested the urine of study participants looking for six neonicotinoid insecticides and another substance generated as a result of their decomposition in the human body. “I think the research results are almost without precedent and are highly valuable in that they present actual measurement values showing that you can dramatically reduce the content levels of agrochemicals in your body simply by changing the way you select vegetable products,” commented Nobuhiko Hoshi, a professor of animal molecular morphology with the Kobe University.

Another study from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley studied 16 children and showed that one week after switching to an organic diet, malathion pesticide urine levels were reduced by 95 percent; clothianidin pesticide levels by 83 percent; and chlorpyrifos pesticide levels by 60 percent.