Stress Gene May Lead to Heart Attacks, But an Apple a Day Helps Prevent Them: Week in Health
This week, we've already learned that pot may give you schizophrenia, and that multivitamins are basically ineffective. So, when it comes to maintaining your health, what's a girl to do? After all, this just may be the most stressful time of the year. Did you buy all of your last-minute Christmas presents? Are your coworkers scrambling to meet deadlines before everyone goes on vacation? Are you looking forward to your grandma nudging you about when she can expect grandchildren already? Did I just make you more stressed out? Sorry. Join the club.
But there are plenty of other health studies this week that promise to help keep you in good shape. (Or at least, informed.) With the help of Home Alone gifs, we can jump on those New Year's resolutions come Jan. 2.
Stress Gene May Cause Heart Attacks
First of all, the bad news: There is a gene that induces extremely high levels of stress in some people. (Raise your hand if you think you have this! Hint: You are probably hyperventilating at this information.) Researchers found that people who carry the gene 5HTR2C have twice as much of the stress hormone cortisol. Worse news: The gene is linked to a 38 percent higher risk for heart attack or death.
Before you start freaking out, the study has a silver lining: Researchers want to use the findings to prevent deaths from heart attacks. So when stress levels are running at their highest during the holidays, just try to calm down. Step away from your family and take a break with a great meditation app like Calm or Complete Relaxation.
Yep, An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
So the meditation stuff isn't cutting it for you, huh? Well, try this instead: a new study suggests that eating an apple a day prevents heart attacks. Scientists at Oxford University say that one portion of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 12 percent. It may even be as effective as taking statins (drugs used to lower cholesterol levels).
"Prescribing an apple a day to everyone aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 heart attacks and strokes a year in the UK," according to the British Medical Journal. So even though it's perfectly fine to dig in to some Christmas leftovers, you may want to stay away from bingeing on ice cream like Kevin McCallister.
Road Rage May Be Physical
It's called "intermittent explosive disorder" — extreme aggression that pops up over minor inconveniences like traffic on the highway, or a store clerk taking too long. But University of Chicago scientists have recently discovered some interesting findings about the disease.
After taking blood tests of 200 people, they found that levels of chronic inflammation were twice as common in those with the disorder, as compared with healthy people. Of the 16 million Americans with the disorder, only about half respond effectively to treatment. During the busy holiday season, many roads — which can be slick or snowy — are gnarled with shoppers and travelers. So if you fear the road rage monster will creep up and attack you this holiday season, you might want to step away from the wheel.
Oops, You May Not Actually Have High Blood Pressure
In between the baking, planning, and buying, there's a good chance that your blood pressure will climb up a bit during the holidays. However, new just-released guidelines indicate that people diagnosed with hypertension can actually manage higher blood pressure readings. According to the updated guidelines, people over age 60 should now keep their blood pressure at 150/90, instead of the previous 140/90. Experts estimate that millions of people may not have to be on heart medications anymore. This new information isn't a reason to get lax about your health, but it may give more people some peace of mind. We still would't suggest starting a yelling match with your older relatives about politics. That's bound to get ugly very quickly.
Alcohol Might Help You Prevent a Cold
Listen, we've already established that the holidays are super stressful, so you may be tempted to break into the bourbon chest. Now, we finally have some awesome news: apparently, drinking alcohol can actually boost your immune system. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, studied Rhesus monkeys and determined that the ones who drank in moderation actually reacted better to vaccinations. (Note the moderation: their immune systems were not in great shape when drinking was excessive.) Still, this study may help to determine disease prevention in humans. Merry Christmas indeed.