Celiac Disease Linked to Increased Risk of Pneumococcal Infection

Patients with celiac disease may have a significantly increased risk of pneumococcal infection, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of three manuscripts, with a final analysis including a total of 50,547 celiac disease patients.

After adjusting for socioeconomic index, diabetes, level of education, sex and age, an increased risk of pneumococcal infection among celiac disease patients was noted. Only one cohort compared the risk of pneumococcal infection in celiac disease to that of the general population, confirming a higher risk of infection among those with celiac disease (HR=3.90, 95% CI=2.20, 7.00). This persisted when the analysis included only biopsy-proven celiac disease (HR=1.46, 95% ci=1.05, 2.03).

Pooled data from the three cohorts found an overall odds ratio of 1.66 (CI 95% 1.43, 1.92) for pneumococcal infection among celiac disease patients compared to inpatient references.

The authors note that post-1998 data, after the pneumococcal vaccine was widely available, showed a lower risk of pneumococcal infection among celiac disease patients. This result, write the authors, supports the prophylactic use of pneumococcal vaccination.

There is currently no vaccine recommendation in place in the US for celiac disease patients. The study authors suggest this is “potentially missing a crucial opportunity to intervene and protect patients with celiac disease.” The authors conclude that, “vaccination against pneumococcal infection in celiac disease should be strongly recommended for all age groups.”

Psoriasis: New Treatments Help Millions Manage Common Skin Condition

For years, psoriasis suffers have battled patches of rough, reddened, and intensely itchy skin that can cause pain as well embarrassment, with little hope of relief.

But major breakthroughs have been logged in the treatment of this potentially debilitating disorder that affects almost 10 million Americans, including small children. And if you are suffering from the disease, it’s time to take action.

To spotlight the treatments that have emerged in recent years, the National Psoriasis Foundation is observing National Psoriasis Action month in August.

The NPF Foundation wants to spread the word that there have been tremendous advancements in the number of treatment options for people living with the condition. The NPF has even launched a website to educate patients, caregivers and health care professionals about the resources to treat psoriatic disease.

“Throughout August, people impacted by psoriasis can participate in interactive quizzes that will help them better understand and manage their disease,” Dr. Michael Siegel, Ph.D, vice president of Research Programs at the NPF tells Newsmax Health.

“Psoriasis often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. While scientists do not know exactly what causes psoriasis, it is known that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development.

“Usually, something triggers the condition to flare. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow at an abnormally fast rate, which leads to painful lesions on the body.”

The genetic link is clear, says Siegal.

“If one parent has psoriasis, there is about a 10 percent chance of a child contracting it. If both parents have psoriasis, the chance increases to 50 percent,” he notes.

Dr. Kenneth Beer, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, tells Newsmax Health that the No. 1 myth about psoriasis is that it is just “dry skin.”

“It’s far more than that,” he says. “Psoriasis is an immune disease in which the body stimulates growth of skin cells in an abnormal way. It is largely genetic and may be associated with stress, infection medication or a range of other issues. In addition to affecting the skin, it can frequently affect the joints of the body.”

Another myth is that the condition is contagious. Not so, says Beer. And while it is not curable at this point in time, it is manageable and treatable. But if you don’t take care of your psoriasis, it can lead to serious medical conditions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with psoriasis are at a great risk for Type 2 diabetes as well as vision problems and heart disease. About 30 percent of people who have psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, according to the NPF.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian revealed that she suffers from the condition and that stress plays a key role in her flare-ups of psoriasis. Two-time Grammy winning songstress LeAnn Rimes kept her struggle hidden until 2008 when she decided to open up about her experience as part of the “Stop Hiding, Start Living” awareness campaign sponsored by Abbott, which makes the psoriasis drug, Humira.

Other celebs with psoriasis include comedian Jon Lovitz and “Leave it to Beaver” star Jerry Mathers, who admits that the condition is “no laughing matter.”

Dr. Gundry reveals the top 3 common foods that you would have never guessed were the cause of your fatigue.

Siegel says that treating psoriasis involves good disease management and paying attention overall health.

“With advances in the number of treatment options available today for people living with psoriasis it’s easier than ever to treat the condition,” he says. “The biggest breakthrough came 10 years ago with the introduction of injectable biologics which changed the lives of patients and their providers.

“By targeting specific pathways in the immune system, these biologics have demonstrated remarkable outcomes in clinical trials. Moving forward, scientists are likely to reveal even more effective treatments and will be able to harness the same targeted therapy for oral and topical treatments as well.”

Some examples of biologic drugs to treat psoriasis include Humira, Enbrel, and Remicade.

Siegel says that some people believe that eliminating certain foods from their diet, such as gluten, dairy, sugar, or red meat can reduce inflammation and therefore lower their chances of a psoriatic flare.

“Others believe that consuming certain vitamins, herbs and supplements, such as fish oil or turmeric, can do the same,” he says. “The truth is that there is not enough scientific evidence to substantiate these claims, and the medical community doesn’t know for sure how diet impacts psoriatic disease.

“What the medical community does agree on, however, is that people with psoriatic disease should maintain a healthy weight, and that’s where diet and exercise can play and important role. Research has found that maintaining a healthy weight lowers the risk of developing co-morbidities or related health conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.”

Siegel says that another big myth about psoriasis is that there isn’t a treatment available for patients to achieve clear or nearly clear skin.

“This is simply not true,” he says. “There have been tremendous advancements and there are currently a number of safe, effective and affordable options. The first step people living with psoriasis should take is to work with their health care provider to discuss a treatment strategy. By following a goal-oriented, trackable treatment strategy, people living with psoriasis should expect to begin seeing results in three to six months.”

Adds Beer: “Psoriasis is now one of the most researched skin diseases and each year we get better and better treatments. See your dermatologist to get more information.”

© 2017 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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Windsor kidney researchers make game-changing discovery

Local researchers working with Windsor dialysis patients have made a groundbreaking discovery that could save the health-care system millions.

“This could be practice-changing throughout the world,” Windsor kidney specialist Dr. Albert Kadri said Friday, explaining the results of his team’s trial that examined the best dosage for an expensive clot-busting drug used to clear clogs in dialysis catheters.

Alteplase — a clot buster also used for strokes and heart attacks —  is the only drug used for this vital job, and up to now the proper dosage was undetermined, Kadri said. So most doctors went with the higher two milligram dose on each of the two catheters leading into and out of the dialysis machine that cleans the blood for people with kidney failure.

The study conducted in Windsor on about 50 local dialysis patients who use catheters showed that using a lower one mg dose works just as well, Kadri said. The results mean the cost of this drug can be cut in half to clear out catheters, something that has to be done as many as 25 times a year for some dialysis patients.

“The amount this medication is used is astronomical, and to cut the cost in half is crazy — it’s crazy,” he said, explaining that patients coming in multiple times per week for dialysis need the drug an average of at least 10 times a year.

Derrick Soong, a local pharmacist who participated in the study and works with dialysis patients, said a two mg treatment with the drug costs $120. The local dialysis centre spends $5,000 to $8,000 a month on Alteplase, so cutting dosage in half could save up to $50,000 a year, he said. And Windsor’s just an intermediate dialysis centre. Larger centres in Toronto would save much more.

If you multiply the savings across all the centres in Canada, the total would be significant, Soong said, explaining that the cost of the drug is borne by taxpayers. In the United States, there are many more dialysis patients and higher drug prices.

Windsor has about 400 dialysis patients and Ontario has more than 11,000, a number that’s been growing 3.3 per cent annually in recent years due to the aging population and rising rates of hypertension and diabetes that can lead to kidney failure. About 60 per cent of dialysis patients use catheters.

“The catheter is the lifeline for dialysis patients,” said Soong. “If the catheter doesn’t work, we can’t clean their blood,” and a patient could die as toxins build up in his or her body.

He said showing you need just half the dosage of this clot-busing drug “could be potentially a game-changer.”

The study, said Dr. Kadri, is the first randomized controlled trial spearheaded in Windsor and conducted solely in Windsor. It was funded by a grant of almost $100,000 from the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The trial involved giving some patients 1 mg and others 2 mg, and monitoring the results, with neither the patients nor the researchers knowing the dosages until the final data was analyzed. The funding came after the same Windsor group did a retrospective study several years ago, which involved looking back at previous data.

The randomized controlled trial is the highest level of evidence you can get when you’re doing a study, said Kadri.

“We just finished it and we analyzed the data and the data actually showed us something that could be groundbreaking.”

The group, which also includes University of Windsor  nursing professor Maher El-Masri and pharmacist Wasim El Nekidy, is one of two local research projects asked to present their results at this fall’s conference of the American Society of Nephrology in New Orleans. As far as Kadri knows this is the first time Windsor-based research  has been presented at the conference.

The other presenter, Kadri’s nephrology colleague Dr. Syed Obaid Amin, is presenting his experience with a patient, a young man who’d been treated for a rare lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system) with a new chemo drug and ended up in renal failure with hard-to-treat hypertension.

This side effect had never been reported before with this particular drug called Potaninb, said Amin, who’ll relate to the conference the nature of the side effect and how he treated it. Amin arrived in Windsor from Ottawa a few months ago, so the patient he treated is from there. A CT scan showed that the blood vessels to the man’s kidneys had been blocked.

“After we stopped the drug and after we opened up his arteries by angioplasty, his kidney function got significantly better and he came off a lot of his blood pressure medication,” Amin said.


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This drug helps babies with rare form of epilepsy. But its maker is no longer selling it.

For the first six months of Christian Mumm’s life, his family lived on high alert. Christian, who has a genetic disease that causes severe epilepsy, experienced frequent seizures – at his worst, one every 10 minutes – that left him depleted and jumpy. His three older brothers and sisters tiptoed around the house in New Hartford, Connecticut, afraid that if they breathed the wrong way or clinked a dish too loudly, it would set off a storm in his brain.

Christian’s mother, Erica Mumm, recalled one heartbreaking day when her 9-year-old daughter came to her in tears.

“I kissed him, Mommy, and he had a seizure,” her daughter said. “I can’t kiss him anymore.”

After a half-dozen drugs failed to help Christian, doctors suggested the family try one called Potiga.

The medicine has had a powerful effect. Seizures that once struck multiple times an hour now come once every five or six days. But the drug came with a deadline: At the end of June, GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug company that sells Potiga, pulled it off the market because of declining sales, forcing families to stockpile supplies or wean their children off a drug that dramatically improved their quality of life.

The dilemma faced by parents whose children benefited from Potiga – and future families who potentially may never have access to the drug – highlights the limitations of drug companies’ business model.

Drug companies’ investor-driven business model allows them to make risky research bets to develop innovative drugs. But at the end of the day, it means products that are essential to sick people are being made by businesses.

That may leave few options to small patient populations who depend on a drug.

“There are people who’ve already been taking the drug, and based on their perceptions, it’s helping. I actually find this one more heart-wrenching,” said Alison Bateman-House, an assistant professor in the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Health. “Yes, we realize you were getting benefits, but because of financial realities, and just what we choose to do with our business, we’re not going to make the drug anymore.”

GlaxoSmithKline said it has recently been in touch with two families, including the Mumms, to find a way to make the drug available. But the company is not presently making commitments to future patients, and its ability to supply the drug is not indefinite, because the remaining supply will eventually expire.

“We care deeply about patients and realize that any time a medicine is removed from the market it can be challenging,” GSK spokeswoman Sarah Spencer said in an email. “At this time, our focus is on the very small number of patients who are currently receiving the product.”

Christian’s severe form of epilepsy stems from a mutation in a gene called KCNQ2. That mutation causes electrical signaling in Christian’s brain to go haywire, and Potiga – though it was approved as a general seizure drug for adults – had a unique mechanism among epilepsy medications. It worked by targeting the precise biological defect that was at the root of Christian’s disease.

Christian still suffers developmental delays, but his quality of life is vastly improved. On the drug, he can interact with his siblings. He babbles and can learn and build on simple abilities, such as eating by mouth and smiling.

Physicians who treat and study patients like Christian say Potiga is a quintessential example of how 21st-century medicine is supposed to work. As scientists learn more about the biological causes of disease, they will be able to design drugs or rediscover old ones that treat not just symptoms but also the root causes of illness. Potiga was developed and approved to control seizures in adults with epilepsy, but it came with a bonus – it worked in a new way, by targeting potassium channels in the brain.

“Here we have 30 years of NIH-sponsored and industry-sponsored research leading to the specific understanding of a catastrophic illness. We have a drug that acts on that mechanism,” said Edward Cooper, an associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine. Taking it off the market “goes exactly against what our policymakers are explicitly trying to do, which is make available precision medicines to address unmet medical need.”

According to a 2011 study in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 118 novel drugs were withdrawn from the market between 1980 and 2009. Only a fifth of them were withdrawn primarily because of safety issues.

The plight of families who depend on Potiga is far from common, but it could become more so with the increasing recognition that a medicine that fails one group of people may be critical for another subgroup. There’s a major push in medicine toward using science to identify the set of people for whom a drug works.

But when drugs live or die depending on commercial viability, mass-market drugs that don’t fulfill their initial purpose may not be available.

From another point of view, Potiga is simply not a very good drug – an epilepsy medicine that was only ever approved for adults and turned out to have a big safety downside.

After it was approved in 2011, a scary side effect that caused blue-tinged skin and possible vision problems was uncovered, leading to a severe “black box warning” on the drug’s label. The safety problems made Potiga considerably less attractive than the other options available to the people it was approved to treat – adults with epilepsy. The drug was never tested in children because of the safety concerns and a hold on trials by federal regulators, according to Spencer, the GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman.

“No neurologist has become dehydrated for weeping tears over the removal of a drug with so much promise and so little performance!” Robert Clancy, a professor of neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, wrote in an email.

Potiga sales peaked in 2013, at $14 million in U.S. sales, according to data from QuintilesIMS, a company that tracks health-care data – far from analysts’ original estimates that it could reach more than $200 million per year. When GSK announced it would discontinue the drug last summer, there were fewer than 500 prescriptions per month.

The Mumms have stockpiled as much of the drug as they could, spending about $1,200. They have about three months left. In late July, they finally got word that the company would help them get access to the medicine, but they have no idea how long the commitment will last.

“If they can do this to my kid, they can pull any other drug off the shelf of your medicine cabinet and do this to anyone else, without a second glance,” Erica Mumm said. “These companies have great power, and they shouldn’t be driven solely by profit. They do have an ethical responsibility to the patient.”

Spencer said that GSK is open to discussions with other companies that may want to acquire Potiga but has not seen significant interest in the drug. She also noted that if a company acquires the rights to Potiga, it would still be approved only for use in adults.

Doctors can prescribe drugs for off-label use as they see fit, but if the company wanted to market Potiga specifically for a rare disease, it would need to conduct a trial to get approval. It would have to get the hold on pediatric research lifted.

Other than selling the drug to another company, there may be other options.

“There are these really niche markets in the corners of the pharmaceutical marketplace that need extra attention,” said Aaron Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “If there was a nonprofit pharmaceutical manufacturer that wanted to jump in, this is the sort of place that could be a good possibility.”

The current solution is a piecemeal approach.

Amy Buches has been told the company will find a way to provide the drug to her son, Stephen. The Bucheses are one of the two families that GSK has agreed to help get the drug.

Buches said that she is personally satisfied. “Yet, it is unsettling to know that there could be an infant born in the world this very moment that would benefit from Potiga, but will not be able to use it,” she said in an email.

Mumm knows firsthand what it would mean to lose access to the drug.

In May, the Mumms – having heard that the company would not be making the drug available – began to wean Christian off Potiga. His seizures started up right away, multiple times an hour.

Mumm was in despair. Without the ability to control his seizures, the doctors were sedating her son. She emailed his palliative-care doctor. What was she supposed to do? Bring her son home in a fog of medicine and watch him disintegrate?

Just a few weeks earlier, Mumm had been hopeful, thinking about starting a new kind of therapy that could aid Christian’s development, thanks to the improvements she had seen while he was on the drug.

Instead, she found herself asking if there would be a way to ensure her son had a peaceful death.

“I want to get all my ducks in a row with knowing options,” Mumm wrote.

Mumm demanded that the doctors stop tapering his medicine, and her family went about securing as much of the drug as they could stockpile.

In July, company representatives got on a conference call with the family and Christian’s medical team to find a way to give him access to the drug.


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Could City Lights Raise Breast Cancer Risk?

Study found link between ambient light and higher odds in young, smoking females, but more research needed

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) — New research reveals an unexpected potential risk factor for breast cancer: city lights.

The Harvard Medical School study found an association between living in areas with high amounts of ambient nighttime light and slightly increased odds for breast cancer in younger women who smoke.

“In our modern industrialized society, artificial lighting is nearly ubiquitous. Our results suggest that this widespread exposure to outdoor lights during nighttime hours could represent a novel risk factor for breast cancer,” study author Peter James said in a Harvard news release. He’s assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard’s Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

As the investigators explained, earlier research had suggested that high levels of exposure to light at night disrupts the body’s internal clock. In turn, that might lower levels of a hormone called melanin which, in turn, might boost the risk of breast cancer.

Testing the theory further, James’ group tracked almost 110,000 U.S. women, followed as part of a long-term study of nurses from 1989-2013.

The researchers used nighttime satellite images and records of night shift work to help figure out the amount of nighttime light each woman might have been exposed to.

The study wasn’t designed to prove cause and effect. However, the Harvard group found that breast cancer levels in premenopausal women who currently smoked or had smoked in the past grew by 14 percent if they were in the 20 percent deemed to have had the most exposure to outdoor light at night.

Furthermore, as levels of outdoor nighttime light went up, so did the likelihood of breast cancer for this subgroup of women, James’ team said.

Older women, and women who’d never smoked, did not seem affected, the researchers said.

The study also found evidence that working night shifts might boost the breast cancer risk.

Given that millions of younger women have little control over the amount of nighttime ambient light they’re exposed to, what, if anything, should be done?

One expert in breast cancer care said it’s just too soon to take anything concrete from this research.

“The findings in this study have to be taken with caution,” said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Although circadian rhythm disruption may be a factor in increasing the risk of cancer, it could be other factors related to working at night as well.”

For example, she said, “women who work night shifts may not eat well or exercise, both of which affect breast cancer risk. Also, the study found the risk greatest in smokers — which leads one to believe these women might not be living as healthy a lifestyle as the group that was sleeping at night.”

Overall, Bernik said, “more insight as to the root cause of the increased rate of cancer in night owls is needed.”

The study was published Aug. 17 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

WebMD News from HealthDay
SOURCES: Stephanie Bernik, M.D., chief, surgical oncology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health, news release, Aug. 17, 2017

New pill could help Alzheimer’s patients


PHOENIX – It was just last week that the world said goodbye to the Rhinestone Cowboy. Country music star Glen Campbell passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. For the millions of Americans with the same diagnosis, there’s not much the medical world can do to help, but there’s a new drug being tested right now that could change lives.

On a Thursday afternoon, Doctor William Burke is making his rounds at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix. One of his patients is Diane Scheel. She was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.

“It was really hard on me,” says Scheel. She’s 61. She’s already stopped driving and even had to give up being a dental hygienist – a career she had for 30 years.

“I was always active and everything like that and I never would have thought in a million years that I would have it – but it was there.”

The fact is, there are five million Americans right now living with Alzheimer’s. About 130,000 are right here in Arizona. This year the disease will cost the nation $259 billion. By 2050 the cost will go up to $1.1 trillion according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Right now there are two FDA-approved drugs that help control the disease. You take them at the same time. Banner is testing a third pill to see if it will help those other drugs work better.

“It has been a decade since there’s been anything new approved so this would be the third medication,” said Dr. Burke.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, since 2000, deaths from heart disease have decreased by 14 percent while deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 89 percent.

Scheel is on the clinical trial and is hoping the new drug will work for her and everyone else battling the same thing. “I’m stronger than I thought I was,” said Scheel. “But it was hard because there was a lot of tears – but I think I can handle it.”

Interested people and caregivers interested in participating in the SUVN-502 study can contact Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix by calling 602-839-4894, or Banner Sun Health in Sun City at 623-832-6530.


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Losing sense of smell could signal Alzheimer’s: McGill researchers

If you have a hard time identifying specific smells, it could be a sign that you are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, a group of McGill researchers has found.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, looked at whether a simple smell test could reveal someone’s susceptibility to the disease.

“Despite all the research in the area, no effective treatment has yet been found for Alzheimer’s disease,” John Breitner, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. He is the director of the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease at the Douglas Mental Health Research Centre of McGill University.

“But, if we can delay the onset of symptoms by just five years, we should be able to reduce the prevalence and severity of these symptoms by more than 50 per cent,” Breitner added.

The study looked at nearly 300 people, with an average age of 63, who were considered at risk of developing Alzheimer’s because they had a parent who had the disease. Of those, 100 volunteered to have regular lumbar punctures to measure the levels of Alzheimer’s-related proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid.

The participants were given multiple-choice scratch-and-sniff tests and asked to identify such scents as bubble gum, gasoline or lemon.

Researchers say the tests revealed that those who had the hardest time correctly identifying the smells also had the more evident biological signs of Alzheimer’s.

“This is the first time that anyone has been able to show clearly that the loss of the ability to identify smells is correlated with biological markers indicating the advance of the disease,” Marie-Elyse Lafaille-Magnan said in a statement. She is a doctoral student at McGill and the first author on the study.

“For more than 30 years, scientists have been exploring the connection between memory loss and the difficulty that patients may have in identifying different odours. This makes sense because it’s known that the olfactory bulb (involved with the sense of smell) and the entorhinal cortex (involved with memory and naming of odours) are among the first brain structures first to be affected by the disease.”

Despite the results, researchers say that more work must be done to see how the loss of the sense of smell relates to the progression of Alzheimer’s.


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12 Simple And Effective Home Workouts That Will Make You Forget The Gym

Get fit without spending a bit!

Getting a gym membership and squeezing in time to travel to that gym is not as easy as it seems. To add to it is the privacy breach that doesn’t make some people comfortable, especially when they are beginners. So here we are with some home workouts and exercises that can help you get fit without the need to go to the gym or buy expensive workout equipment.

Get fit without spending a bit!

1. Jumping rope


A high-intensity workout, skipping or jumping rope works well for your cardiovascular system and will get you sweating in no time.

2. Yoga


Yoga not only does good for your health and body but also improves your mental well-being. You can find many videos on YouTube that will help you with the basics of yoga and meditation.

3. Squats


One of the best body-weight exercises you can do at home is squats. They help in knocking off the extra pounds by removing fat from your body, develop your leg muscles, and strengthen your core. However, it is important you learn the correct style and do it the right way for best results.

4. Plank


Designed to improve and strengthen your core, this body-weight exercise is one of the best ways to get those six-pack abs without sweating it out in the gym. Start by lying parallel on the ground on your tummy and when ready, push your body up by resting on your elbows and toes. Try to stay parallel to the ground without slopping and hold this position for as long as you can. You can also do a side plank by resting your body on one hand and one side foot in a side position.

5. Push ups


Focussing mainly on your arms and core, push ups are an all-time favorite of those who want to develop their body muscles without any gym equipment. It is important you do it the right way to avoid any injury. Watch this video to understand how to do push ups in a proper manner.

6. Pull ups


Aimed at developing shoulder and back muscles, pull ups – also known as chin ups – are a great workout that can be done in the comfort of your home. All you need is a pull-up bar and dedication. If you find it difficult to pull yourself up, begin by resting your feet on a chair and eventually proceed to higher levels.

7. Burpees.


A full body workout that develops every muscle and system in your body, burpees can be done by anyone anywhere anytime. You will find yourself sweating in no time and your body will thank you for this amazing deed.

8. Sit ups/crunches.


If you want to focus on strengthening your abdominal muscles and develop core muscles, then sit ups and crunches are the best for you.

9. Lunges

If you are looking for a workout to target your glutes, then go for lunges. You don’t need any equipment or fancy set up to practice this simple exercise.

10. Swimming


If you have a pool in your house, then swimming can be an ideal way to get your heart rate up and shed some weight. With the summer sun shining bright, a workout in the lap of water seems like the most preferred option.

Here are some water-friendly exercises you can do in that pool if swimming doesn’t interest you as much.

11. Walking/running/jogging.


What better than a walk or jog in the park or even around your house to sweat it out without hitting the gym. It is fun to be going for a jog or run with a group of people, especially in the morning that will also get some fresh air into your lungs.

12. Aerobics and dance cardio moves.


Get your heart pumping and make your workout fun with aerobics and cardio dance moves. Play your favorite fast-beat songs or look up a dance workout video on youtube; you will be sweating, and toning your body without making it seem tedious or challenging. Click here for 5 dance moves that you will love to follow.


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10 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes You Should Avoid

It’s common to make the decision and jump head first into a weight loss effort. But after a great start, many people gradually lose their motivation when reality doesn’t meet their expectations.

Not having a solid, realistic weight loss plan and being impatient are two very common problems that discourage people.

Realistic goals can help keep you on track and motivated so that you hit your mark. Don’t expect to lose several pounds within a few days. Gradual and slow weight loss is not only healthy but also more sustainable.

A weight loss program is not a straitjacket. You can be successful if you follow the rules 90 percent of the time and avoid some of the common mistakes.


Here are the top 10 biggest weight loss mistakes you should avoid.

1. Skipping Meals


Eating patterns, such as frequency and distribution of eating throughout the day, can have a huge impact on your weight loss progress.

Many people think reducing calorie intake by skipping meals will help speed up weight loss. But in reality, skipping a meal can often lead to overeating at the next meal because you are even hungrier.

Plus, skipping meals can negatively impact your blood sugar level, metabolism and energy level.

A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggested that eating patterns are associated with obesity even after controlling for total energy intake and physical activity.

Moreover, the risk of obesity was lower among subjects with greater numbers of eating episodes per day. Plus, skipping breakfast was associated with an increased risk of obesity.

In another study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2006, researchers studied 9,919 adolescents up until adulthood and found that the trend of skipping breakfast increased with age and caused an increase in weight gain.

A recent 2015 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry shows that skipping meals leads to abdominal weight gain.

It can also lead to the development of insulin resistance in the liver, a telltale sign of pre-diabetes.

So, if you’re a born eater at regular intervals, keep it up. Just be sure to choose healthy foods.

2. Relying on Low-Fat and Diet Foods

diet drinks

When trying to lose weight, many people adopt the habit of looking for ‘low-fat’ or ‘diet’ labels before deciding whether a food is diet-friendly.

Such foods, however, may contain abundant fats and hidden calories as well as artificial sweeteners.

Furthermore, eating such foods can cause sugar cravings, reduce your energy level and lead to weight gain over time.

Foods high in saturated fats should be replaced with foods high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats. This means you should focus on eating foods made with liquid vegetable oils but not tropical oils.

A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Obesity reports that a healthy diet can be moderately high in fat, with saturated and trans-fatty acids kept low and the remainder as a mixture of omega-9, omega-6 and omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids.

Just like low-fat foods are not always the best choice for weight loss, switching to diet drinks is more harmful than good.

Diet drinks contain artificial sweeteners that may trigger your appetite and even inhibit the brain cells that tell you that you are full.

A recent 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reports that diet soda intake is associated with long-term increases in waist circumference.

This escalating abdominal obesity is a potential pathway for cardio-metabolic risk in the aging population.

For weight loss, it is better to follow a low-carbohydrate diet. This type of diet is highly effective, as it helps reduce insulin resistance and even addresses the underlying problem rather than just treating the symptoms.

3. Being Sleep Deprived

lack of sleep

If you are not losing weight despite exercising a lot and following a strict diet, the reason can be sleep deprivation.

In fact, not paying attention to getting proper sleep is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight.

Sleep levels are linked to our hormone levels. Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in the secretion of the hormone cortisol, which triggers fat storage.

It can also cause fluctuations in the key hunger hormones, leptin (a hunger-inhibiting hormone) and ghrelin (a hunger-inducing hormone).

A 2004 study published in the Annals of Medicine found that sleep restriction caused reduced levels of leptin, increased levels of ghrelin and an overall increase in appetite.

A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that short sleep duration is associated with a modest increase in future weight gain and obesity.

However, it noted that further research was needed to understand the mechanisms by which sleep duration may affect weight.

The mechanism was explained in a 2012 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

In this study, researchers reported that acute sleep deprivation leads to increased brain activity in response to food images, independent of calorie content and hunger ratings. However, no change in fasting plasma glucose concentration was found.

To make your weight loss target a reality, try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep daily.

4. Going Through Stress


Stress is a fact of life, but unfortunately excess stress can prevent you from losing weight. Even worse, it can add some extra pounds despite eating healthy and exercising daily.

During stress, your brain instructs your cells to release cortisol, a hormone that makes you crave sugary and high-fat foods.

A 2007 study published in Nutrition suggests that stress-induced eating may be one factor contributing to obesity. The effect is more common in men than women.

The burst of adrenaline during stress ultimately leads to adrenal fatigue, which causes your body to store more fat. This ultimately results in weight gain.

A 2009 study published in the Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity shows that alterations in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis during chronic stress may contribute to an increased risk for obesity as well as metabolic disease.

A recent 2015 study published in Preventive Medicine suggests there is a relationship between long-term exposure to three specific types of family stressors and children becoming obese by the time they turn 18 years old.

Obviously, getting rid of all anxiety and stress is not possible. However, you can manage your stress to keep your cortisol levels and weight under control. Try relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing to help reduce stress.

5. Neglecting Protein

dont neglect protein

Several nutrients play a key role in several aspects of body-weight regulation and protein is one of them.

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and it helps keep sugar cravings at bay and prevent excess fat deposits due to sugar overloads. So, increased dietary protein along with physical activity and an energy-controlled diet can help reduce weight.

A 130-pound adult should try to eat at least 47 grams of protein daily.

Protein aids in thermogenesis, a metabolic process in which the body produces heat to burn calories.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports that a high-protein diet increases thermogenesis in the body as well as improves satiety and promotes weight loss.

Another study, published in Obesity in 2011, notes that a high-protein intake induces satiety and improves appetite control in overweight/obese men during energy restriction-induced weight loss.

A key finding in a 2014 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition was that consuming a hyper-caloric, high-protein diet has no effect on body composition in resistance-trained individuals.

Include protein-rich foods in your diet to enhance fat burning, reduce appetite and improve your overall health.

6. Not Staying Hydrated

drinking water

Water makes up over two-thirds of a healthy body and plays a significant role in determining your body mass and overall weight.

Dehydration affects how your body burns fat, encourages excessive calorie intake and slows down your metabolism. It also causes a drop in your energy level, leading to increased tiredness that makes it difficult to be active.

In a 2005 study published in Obesity Research, researchers analyzed 4,755 adults whose food and beverage consumption was studied from 1999 to 2001.

Out of these adults, 87 percent consumed 51.9 ounces of water every day. Water intake was found to be linked to consumption of fewer sodas and fruit drinks as well as calories every day.

A 2012 study published in Nutrition Reviews suggests that when it comes to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, increased water intake may reduce caloric intake for some individuals. However, future studies are needed to determine the total recommended fluid intake.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in 2013 shows that drinking 500 ml (a little more than 2 cups measuring 8 ounces) of water three times per day (30 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner) can lead to highly significant weight loss.

Also, we often tend to confuse the brain’s signal for thirst as that for hunger because both originate from the same region of the brain– the hypothalamus.

Instead of eating something the next time you are hungry, drink a glass of water. Your body may be thirsty.

7. Following a Liquid Diet

packaged juices

Those who wish to lose weight with minimal effort often opt for a liquid diet. This is another weight loss mistake people make.

Replacing healthy meals with green juices, fruit juices and smoothies will not provide your body with all the essential nutrients. Juices lack fiber and protein, which are key nutrients in keeping you full.

Moreover, fast-food smoothies and prepackaged juices are often loaded with artificial sugar, preservatives and harmful chemicals.

Drinking prepackaged juice will raise your blood sugar level, leading to hunger and overeating.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages caused weight gain and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.

This happened mainly due to the high calories and large amounts of rapidly absorbable sugars present in the beverages.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2009 notes that intake of fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in obese people.

To aid weight loss, follow a diet that includes both solid food and liquids. This will help control the number of calories you eat and provide your body with all the essential nutrients.

8. Relying Only on Exercise

exercise and diet

Another mistake that people often make is simply relying on physical exercise.

Exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle and for getting rid of the extra pounds. But if exercise is not combined with a strict diet plan and other lifestyle changes, you can forget about your weight loss goal.

A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that it is possible to achieve and maintain significant amounts of weight loss with the help of six key strategies:

  • Engaging in high levels of physical activity
  • Eating a diet that is low in calories and fat
  • Eating breakfast
  • Self-monitoring weight on a regular basis
  • Maintaining a consistent eating pattern
  • Catching “slips” before they turn into larger regains.

Moreover, people who are newly engaged in physical exercise often overestimate the calories burned through exercise.

They even make the mistake of increasing their calorie intake to fuel or reward their workouts. This in turn leads to weight gain rather than loss.

A recent 2014 study published in Marketing Letters found that people who indulged in a 1-mile walk for exercise ate about twice as much afterward as compared to those who took the walk as an outing for fun.

For maximum weight loss benefits, forget the notion that an hour of rigorous exercise gives you the license to eat anything you like. Try to incorporate both exercise and necessary dietary changes into your daily routine.

9. Doing the Same Exercise Daily

repeating same exercise daily

If you are used to doing just one exercise over and over again, it is another weight loss mistake.

When you perform the same exercise daily, your body gets used to it, leading to little or no weight loss, or strength gains. It can even cause muscle development in some areas of the body more than others.

Plus, indulging in the same physical routine leads to boredom and soon you stop doing it.

A 2009 study published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders reports that short-term, high-intensity aerobic exercise training helps reduce the visceral fat in elderly, overweight adults.

However, it does not cause any significant change in abdominal subcutaneous or thigh fat.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Obesity notes that engaging in a greater variety of self-reported moderate-to-vigorous activities help in successful maintenance of weight loss.

If you’ve being doing the same exercises and workouts repeatedly, then stop and include a variety of exercises in your routine.

10. Overindulging on the Weekends

overindulgence in food

After following a strict diet and exercise routine all week, most people get lazy during the weekend. This can significantly hinder weight loss efforts.

Weekend routines differ considerably from weekdays, often providing more opportunities for eating and drinking as well as less exercise.

Social events and outings during the weekends often include eating and drinking. In fact, during the weekends, people consume more alcohol and more calorie-dense foods, which is a recipe for easy weight gain.

Moreover, people tend to spend less time exercising during the weekends.

A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Obesity reports that activity levels dropped dramatically in overweight adults on a Sunday.

Another 2008 study published in Obesity reports that weight gain occurs more during weekend days than weekdays. This effect is attributable predominantly to higher calorie intake and lower physical activity on weekends.

To avoid the weekend weight-gain, it does not mean you need to miss all the weekend fun. Plan your weekend in advance and choose your food and drinks wisely. Pay close attention to portion size, weigh yourself daily and strictly watch your alcohol intake.



Hampstead teenagers form business to help people with breast cancer

HAMPSTEAD — “The Pink” comes from the color that represents the fight against breast cancer. “Bowz” comes from the teens’ experience with cheerleading.

Alleigh Wiggs, Kayleigh Riker and Anna Williams were all on the Topsail High School cheerleading team at the time they began The Pink Bowz.

It started when Wiggs and Riker heard one of their friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2015. A few weeks prior, Riker said Wiggs had sent her a text saying, “Hey, we should do something charity-wise for people.” After learning of their friend’s mother, Wiggs and Riker saw this as their opportunity and teamed up with Williams to start brainstorming ideas on how to raise money.

“We were getting to talking one night before the fundraiser, and were like, ‘You know, we should really continue this — do something more with it,’” Riker said.

And “something more” they did. On Aug. 3, 2015, Riker, Wiggs and Williams filed The Pink Bowz as a business.

Aug. 15, 2015, The Pink Bowz completed its first fundraiser at the Hwy 55 in Hampstead, raising $670 to donate to their friend’s mother.

Local impact

“It’s our community,” Riker said. “We want to give back to the community that’s given so much to us.”

The American Cancer Society estimated that for 2017, there will be 8,580 new cases of female breast cancer in North Carolina alone. Nationally, they estimated 255,180 cases of breast cancer will arise in 2017.

In the 2016 Cancer Annual report, New Hanover Regional Medical Center reports that in 2015, there were 421 total cases of breast cancer, while 418 of those were female breast cancer.

In two years, The Pink Bowz has donated $6,000 to seven women in the Hampstead and Wilmington area. Their goal is to donate $10,000 before they graduate from Topsail High School in June 2018.

The fundraisers

As cheerleaders, Wiggs said they wore and made many bows for cheerleading alone, so they started making bows to sell to raise money for their business.

However, after participating in Hampstead’s annual Spot Festival, Wiggs said they realized the amount of work that goes into making so many bows, so they switched their emphasis from bows to bigger fundraisers.

“We found a niche to where it worked out a lot better to do these bigger fundraisers rather than try and sell bows because the market around here is a lot smaller, so we do it sometimes, but we definitely found greater success with other stuff,” Wiggs said.

The Pink Bowz has grown into a club at Topsail High School as well, allowing more students and the community to be involved in the fundraising events.

Molly Johnson was one of the students who joined the club.

She said one of her favorite fundraisers The Pink Bowz has done is the Krispy Kreme doughnut fundraiser because she is “not afraid to go door-to-door with some doughnuts.”

In addition to the pancake breakfasts and Krispy Kreme fundraisers, The Pink Bowz has had penny wars between grade levels at school; “pink-out” games for volleyball, football and basketball; a bowling night; an ice skating night; and putt-putt. They are currently planning a 5K, which they are hoping will happen within the next year.


The four girls do not only focus on one person at a time, but they also share other stories about people with breast cancer in the area.

“We like to hear people’s stories,” Riker said. “We like it if they have a GoFundMe because we can repost it to our Facebook, our Twitter, Instagram, and get the word out because not only can our followers help other people, but it’s getting shared then and going around social media.”

But it’s not just the story — it’s the personal touch the girls find most beneficial in receiving donations.

“Knowing the story behind who you’re donating to makes it a more personal experience because you’ll scroll through Facebook any day and see GoFundMes everywhere, but if you actually see a face with a name and a story … it definitely pulls at your heartstrings more,” Johnson said.

Wiggs said they try to give each person $1,000.

“You know, even if these people are financially stable, this money does help them in some way take care of their costs,” she said. “Because you know they’re having to give up their paycheck to having cancer.”

Where is The Pink Bowz going?

The business is in transition.

Riker, who graduated from Topsail High School earlier this year, is now beginning her freshman year at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. She plans to spend her weekends home doing fundraising events with The Pink Bowz.

“I’m not done. There’s no way I’m done,” she said.

Johnson, Wiggs and Williams are finishing their time at Topsail High School.

But even though they all plan to leave the Hampstead area for college, they hope to bring The Pink Bowz with them wherever they go.

“I think if everything works out well, I want to keep it going while I’m in college,” Wiggs said. “Hopefully it’ll see even better days than it has already.”


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