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6 truths and myths about apple cider vinegar

Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 2:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 2:33 PM

Is apple cider vinegar really a miracle home remedy for everything from weight loss to a sore throat? Despite claims that vinegar can be used to clean teeth or dentures, it is actually too acidic But the acidity of apple cider vinegar can help get rid of dandruff Considering apple cider vinegar for weight loss? A study showed people only lost an extra 1/3 pound per week over a placebo However, apple cider vinegar can help keep blood sugar levels down after a starchy meal Soothe a sore throat with apple c

Although apple cider vinegar has long been used as a home remedy to treat various ailments, it's recently been touted as something close to a miracle food. 

Proponents claim it can help with everything from weight loss to a sore throat, but are all these purported benefits true?

RELATED: Do you need 8 glasses of water per day? 6 myths and truths about water

The following are five myths and facts about apple cider vinegar:

It can be used to clean your teeth or dentures

This one's definitely a myth. In fact, when CNN asked an expert about the idea, she said it made her cringe.

"You're putting acid on your teeth," Alice Boghosian, a dentist and American Dental Association spokeswoman said, "the last thing you'd want to do to promote oral health." She also said that cleaning or rinsing your dentures with vinegar can harm your teeth, as well as the metal on partial dentures.

A blood glucose level test is administered on a participant in a research trial that provides appropriate food, doctor referrals, diabetes education and regular blood sugar checks at the Houston Food Bank on Jan. 25. Inconsistent access to food can worsen diabetes, and so can the poor nutritional offerings at the pantries many low-income people must rely on. (Erin Hull/The New York Times)(ERIN HULL)

It can help control blood sugar

This one has some promise, but don't expect a miracle. The acid in any type of vinegar can interact with starch-digesting enzymes, so it can help keep your blood sugar level down after a starchy meal, U.S. News & World Report said

In addition, a study found that people with prediabetes who had vinegar before a meal had several positive effects on their insulin resistance and other aspects of prediabetes. The effect lasted for up to five hours after eating.

It can help control weight

This one might have a kernel of truth to it, but not as much as you may hope. 

CNN said that the study most often cited to support apple cider vinegar as a weight loss aid showed that people actually only lost an extra third of a pound a week over a placebo. So if you were looking to vinegar for some serious weight loss help, you'll probably have to look elsewhere.

It can help get rid of dandruff

This one's true, according to Dr. Oz. He said that dandruff can be caused by excess yeast growth on your scalp, and the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp so yeast isn't as likely to grow.

He recommended mixing equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar together in a spray bottle. Spray it on your hair and scalp (watch out for your eyes and ears!), and wrap your head in a towel. Leave it on from 15 minutes to an hour, take the towel off, and wash your hair. Doing this twice a week can help you treat your dandruff without the harsh chemicals that dandruff shampoos can contain.

Apple cider vinegar has been touted as having a wide variety of health benefits, but not all the claims are true.(For the AJC)

It can soothe a sore throat

According to Reader's Digest, this one's true. Most germs can't survive in the acidic environment that apple cider vinegar creates, so you should use some of it as soon as you notice that your throat hurts. Mix a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar with a quarter-cup of warm water, and use it to gargle every hour or so.

It can relieve pain

Some people believe that the beta-carotene in apple cider vinegar can destroy free radicals, which can interfere with your immune system. The vinegar is also thought to be able to help arthritis pain caused by acid crystals that form in the joints. Nope on both counts, said the Arthritis Foundation. The amount of beta-carotene in the vinegar is tiny, and gout is the only form of arthritis that involves acid crystals, which can't be dissolved by apple cider vinegar.

The verdict:

To sum it up, CNN said that if apple cider vinegar is used full strength and inappropriately, you could be doing more harm than good. And there's nothing terribly special about apple cider vinegar when compared to other types of vinegar. Ultimately, CNN recommends checking with your doctor before trying vinegar for health reasons.

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Ohio among states battling sudden rise in Hepatitis A cases

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 12:10 PM

Thirty one cases have been reported in Ohio.

The number of Hepatitis A cases in Ohio and neighboring states has spiked since January, the Ohio Department of Health is reporting.

The are currently 31 cases in the state, the highest since 2015, the Greene County Public Health said in a release Tuesday. In comparison, there were four cases during the same period in 2017, two in 2016 and five in 2015, according to the release. 

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus, the agency said in the release. It is usually transmitted by person-to-person through contact with an infected person’s stool, or consumption of contaminated food or water, the release said. 

“One thing you want to do is make sure your food is thoroughly cooked,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information supervisor at Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County.

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A confirmed case of hepatitis A includes both a positive laboratory test and symptom onset, with either jaundice or elevated liver function tests.

Outbreaks have been linked to contact with known hepatitis A case; homelessness; IV drug use; and men who have sex with men, the release said. 

Ohio is the latest state to be affected by the Hepatitis A outbreak. Neighboring states such as Indiana, Kentucky and  Michigan have all been affected. 

Ohio included in ice pop recall list for possible listeria 

Health officials say people can be vaccinated to protect themselves from hepatitis A, but the two doses have to be taken over a six month period. 

According to Greene County Public Health, hepatitis A contact can occur by: 

• eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom

• drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water

• placing a finger or an object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person’s stool

• having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill 

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One cannot get hepatitis A from:

• being coughed on or sneezed on by an infected person

• sitting next to an infected person

• hugging an infected person 

A baby cannot get hepatitis A from breast milk.

Who is at increased risk for acquiring hepatitis A virus infection?

•Persons with direct contact with persons who have hepatitis A

•Travelers to countries with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis A

•Men who have sex with men

•Users of injection and non-injection drugs

•Persons with clotting factor disorders

•Household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly arriving from countries with high or intermediate hepatitis rates.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A:

Some people have symptoms two to six weeks after they come in contact with the virus.

People with hepatitis A typically get better without treatment after a few weeks. In some cases, symptoms can last up to six months. 

These symptoms may include:

•dark yellow urine

•feeling tired

•fever

•gray- or clay-colored stools

•joint pain

•loss of appetite

•nausea

•pain in the abdomen 

•vomiting

•yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice

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5 centenarians share strange secrets to longevity

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 2:45 PM

What is the secret to longevity? This question taunts all of humanity. 

Although we have yet to discover a fountain of youth, centenarians – individuals who live to be over 100-years-old – can potentially give us clues on to how to live longer, healthier and happier lives. By taking a closer look at their lifestyles, genetics and social dynamics, some scientists are trying to find patterns that can show us their secrets.

»RELATED: Alcohol better than exercise to live past 90, study says 

At the same time, if you ask the centenarians themselves, they often give answers ranging from the seemingly logical to the downright bizarre.

Here are five unusual things centenarians have given credit for their long lives.

(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Sumo wrestling and hot springs

Just this week, Guinness World Records crowned Masazo Nonaka as the world's oldest living man. At 112, the elderly Japanese man was born all the way back in 1905. That means he would have turned nine the year that World War I began.

Although he moves around in a wheelchair, Nonaka reads the newspaper every morning and feeds himself breakfast. As to the secret to his long life? Well, the centenarian soaks regularly in northern Japan's hot springs and considers watching sumo wrestling to be one of his favorite pastimes.

»RELATED: Here’s why women outlive men even in the harshest conditions, study says

2. Humor and chocolate

Jeanne Louise Calment of France still holds the Guinness record as the world's oldest living person. She died at the impressive age of 122 years and 164 days in 1997. Having definitely lived a full life, Calment sold painting canvasses to Vincent Van Gogh, smoked from the age of 21 to 117 and even became a recording artist at 120-years-old.

Calment accredited her longevity to her sense of humor. When she turned 120, journalists asked her what kind of future she expected. She replied quickly: "A very short one." Also an avid lover of chocolate, Calment reportedly consumed about 1 kilogram (2 pounds 3 ounces) of the stuff each week.

3. Eating less

Currently holding the record as the man to live the longest, Jiroemon Kimura of Japan lived to be 116 years and 54 days. He died in June of 2013. 

Born in 1897, Kimura worked at the post office until he retired at the age of 65. He then went on to live more than another half a century.

And what was his secret? According to him, eating less was the key. He reportedly said that his personal motto was: "eat light to live long". Notably, Kimura's philosophy has increasing support among the scientific community. 

Many scientists and nutritionists believe that a 30 percent reduction in daily calorie intake may significantly slow down the physical processes that make cells heal slower, which opens up the brain and body to disease. Studies have also shown that calorie restrictive diets in mice help combat the effects of aging on the brain.

If the scientists – and Kimura – are right, cutting down on your daily consumption can help you shed a few pounds while also keeping you young.

4. Eat everything ... except pork and chicken

In July of last year, Violet Moss-Brown of Jamaica became the oldest living woman and the oldest living person. She claimed both titles at the age 117 years and 139 days old. A few months later, she died, proud to know that she had claimed both world records.

When asked about her secrets to long life, Moss-Brown suggested there wasn't much to it. However, she did say she never ate pork or chicken. 

"When people ask what I eat and drink to live so long, I say to them that I eat everything, except pork and chicken," she told Guinness

»RELATED: Women happier after age 85 once spouse dies, psychiatrists say

5. Smoking cigarettes

Batuli Lamichhane, who was reportedly 112 in 2016, claimed that her secret to long life was smoking cigarettes.

Born in March 1903, Lamichhane started smoking when she was 17. The centenarian told The Mirror that she smoked some 30 cigarettes a day for the past 95 years.

"I have been smoking for over 95 years. There is nothing wrong with smoking," she said.

But before you rush out to buy a pack of cigarettes, remember that any doctor or scientist will explain to you that smoking significantly increases your risk of heart disease, cancer and a range of other health issues.

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Death of loved one during pregnancy may affect child's mental health, study says

Published: Sunday, April 08, 2018 @ 6:32 AM

10 Signs of Depression

Grieving the death of a loved one can affect an entire family, including babies. In fact, losing a relative during pregnancy may affect the mental health of a child later in life, according to a new report.

>> On AJC.com: Smoking while pregnant study: 1 in 14 women still smoke while pregnant

Researchers from Stanford University recently conducted a study, published in the American Economic Review, to determine the effect a family member’s death may have on children.

To do so, they examined Swedish infants born between 1973 and 2011 whose mother lost a close relative, such as a sibling, parent, maternal grandparent, the child’s father or her own older child, during her pregnancy.

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They followed those children through adulthood, comparing their health outcomes to kids whose maternal relatives died in the year after their birth. They gathered the data from their medical records and Sweden’s novel prescription drug registry, which contains all prescription drug purchases.

Lastly, they considered the impact the death may have had on the fetus, including fetal exposure to maternal stress from bereavement and even changes to family resources or household composition.

>> On AJC.com: Is light drinking while pregnant really dangerous?

After analyzing their results, they found that “that prenatal exposure to the death of a maternal relative increases take-up of ADHD medications during childhood and anti-anxiety and depression medications in adulthood,” the researchers wrote in a statement.

Furthermore, they discovered the death of a relative up to three generations apart during pregnancy can also create consequences. 

“Our study offers complementary evidence linking early-life circumstance to adult mental health, but breaks new ground by focusing on stress,” the authors wrote, “which may be more pertinent than malnutrition in modern developed countries such as the United States and Sweden, and by tracing health outcomes throughout the time period between the fetal shock and adulthood.”

>> Read more trending news 

To combat the issue, the researchers recommend that governments implement policies to help reduce stress during pregnancy. They believe such policies should especially target poor families as they are more likely to experience stress than more advantaged ones. 

Although their findings are concerning, they hope they can better help expecting mothers have healthier pregnancies and birth healthier children. 

“Of course, you cannot prevent family members from dying, and we certainly do not want our findings to constitute yet another source of stress for expecting mothers,” the scientists said. “But our findings potentially point to the importance of generally reducing stress during pregnancy, for example through prenatal paid maternity leave and programs that provide resources and social support to poor, pregnant women.”

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Breast cancer patients may help boost survival chances by building muscle, study says

Published: Sunday, April 08, 2018 @ 5:51 AM

What You Need to Know: Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for breast cancer. However, building muscle may also help boost chances of survival, according to a new report. 

>> On AJC.com: Breast cancer treatment may trigger heart problems, study says

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Oncology, to determine the association between muscle quality and the disease. 

To do so, they examined 3,241 women from Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The participants were diagnosed with stages II or III breast cancer between January 2000 and December 2013. Scientists then used CT scans to observe muscle tissues.

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After analyzing the results, they found that higher muscle mass upped survival rates, while lower muscle mass was linked with a higher risk of death.

In fact, more than one-third of the individuals with sarcopenia, a condition that causes muscle loss, “had a significantly increased risk of death compared with patients without sarcopenia,” the authors wrote in the study.

>> On AJC.com: Study: Fat linked to breast cancer even if you have healthy weight

Furthermore, building muscle may also help with other cancers.

“Our findings are likely generalizable across many other nonmetastatic cancers because the associations with muscle and improved survival for those with metastatic cancer has been observed across a variety of solid tumors,” they said.

While the scientists did not thoroughly explore why low muscle mass is connected to low breast cancer survival rates, they think inflammation may be a factor as cancer-related inflammation can decrease muscle mass and increase fat.

The researchers now hope to continue their investigations and believe their findings will lead to better treatment practices.

“We should also consider interventions to improve muscle mass, such as resistance training or protein supplementation,” they said. “In the era of precision medicine, the direct measurement of muscle and adiposity will help to guide treatment plans and interventions to optimize survival outcomes.” 

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