News From the World of Medicine

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Health -

Home Mas­sages: To Give Is to Re­ceive

Some things are best left to the pros, but the DIY ver­sion of a re­lax­ation mas­sage works well, ac­cord­ing to a study from Northum­bria Univer­sity in the U.K. Healthy but fraz­zled cou­ples took a three-week course to learn a hand­ful of sim­ple mas­sage tech­niques. Their per­ceived stress lev­els di­min­ished, both dur­ing the train­ing and af­ter­wards, as they used their new skills. What’s more, both the part­ner who re­ceived the mas­sage and the one who pro­vided it got a well­ness boost across eight do­mains, in­clud­ing en­ergy, pain and mood.

Spice Your Meat to Block Car­cino­gens

Cooking meat at high temperatures— grilling or broil­ing, in other words— cre­ates car­cino­genic com­pounds called het­e­ro­cyclic amines (HCAs).

The good news for bar­be­cue lovers is that cer­tain sea­son­ings can pre­vent HCAs from form­ing. A Kansas State Univer­sity ex­per­i­ment showed that a gram of black pep­per al­most to­tally in­hibits the HCAs on 100 grams of ground beef by bind­ing with the free rad­i­cals in­volved in their for­ma­tion. Pil­ing on an­tiox­i­dant herbs and spices works equally well, the most ef­fec­tive ones hail­ing from the mint (rose­mary, thyme and oregano, for ex­am­ple) and myr­tle (cloves and all­spice) fam­i­lies.

There Are Up­sides to Wor­ry­ing

Fret­ting can be hard on the mind and body, but some­times it does more good than harm, says a re­cent re­port out of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia. First, wor­ry­warts are more likely to take pre­ven­tive health and safety steps such as wear­ing seat belts or us­ing sun­screen. A bit of anx­i­ety also makes you brace for the worst, which means you’ll be emo­tion­ally ready for a bad out­come and re­lieved if there’s a good one. In short, a sur­plus of con­cern is par­a­lyz­ing, but a bit from time to time is noth­ing to worry about.

Short-Term Oral Steroids Carry Risks

Cor­ti­cos­teroids are pow­er­ful an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory drugs that mimic hor­mones. They are pre­scribed spar­ingly for the long term be­cause of com­pli­ca­tions such as blood clots and os­teo­poro­sis. How­ever, they are still com­monly used as a short-term mea­sure against prob­lems such as res­pi­ra­tory-tract in­fec­tions and al­ler­gies. A co­hort study of 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple in the U.S. found that within the first 30 days fol­low­ing a short pre­scrip­tion, cor­ti­cos­teroid pills more than tripled the risk of blood clots and mul­ti­plied the risk of sep­sis by five. The re­searchers ac­knowl­edged that oral steroids can be very help­ful but urged peo­ple not to take a higher dose than needed.

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