As scientists look into the effects of diet on health, they’re finding that more and more everyday foods offer benefits that go well beyond making dishes tastier. Garlic, an ingredient found in almost every cuisine, has emerged as one such superfood. Part of the allium family, which includes onions and leeks, garlic has a number of compounds that supply its health-boosting effects as well as its pungent aroma. According to wide-ranging research, garlic can seemingly improve immunity and heart health, possibly help prevent as well as fight certain cancers, and lower triglycerides and total cholesterol. Its many compounds include antioxidants and allicin, which has anti-bacterial properties, researchers report. Some of these benefits can be seen after eating just one meal with raw garlic. Yet overall there’s enough evidence to have at least half of a clove every day. To get the most benefits, first chop, slice or crush fresh garlic — this fires up a process that makes its compounds more potent. Wait 5 to 10 minutes before eating or using in a dish, especially if you’ll be mixing it with a highly acidic food like lemon juice. Here are some easy ways to use raw garlic: Mash into avocado for guacamole. Blend into Caesar salad dressing. Puree with chickpeas for hummus or with white beans for bean dip. But you don’t have to always…  read on >

Employees struggling with depression take less time off from work if they receive support and help from their managers, a new study suggests. Many people suffer depression at some point during their working lives. But they often don’t disclose their condition or seek help because they’re afraid of repercussions, according to the researchers. The new findings — based on surveys in 15 countries — show the value of active mental health workplace policies, the study authors said. “Manager reactions to employees with depression can reflect broad cultural and organizational features that directly relate to employee productivity,” Sara Evans-Lacko and colleagues concluded. Evans-Lacko is in the social services research unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science in England. For the study, her team analyzed data from a survey of more than 16,000 employees and their managers in the United States, Canada, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. Nearly 3,000 of the workers said they were or had been depressed. In general, managers in Asian countries tended to avoid employees with depression and were less likely to offer active support than managers in other parts of the world. Managers in Japan and South Korea were least likely to offer help to employees with depression, while those in Mexico and South Africa were most…  read on >

Black men in the United States have higher rates of aggressive prostate cancer than other males. Now, a $26.5 million study is underway to figure out why. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Prostate Cancer Foundation have launched the study to investigate social, environmental and genetic factors behind this disparity. “No group in the world is hit harder by prostate cancer than men of African descent, and, to date, little is known about the biological reasons for these disparities, or the full impact of environmental factors,” Dr. Jonathan Simons said in an NIH news release. He’s president and CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black men disproportionally experience aggressive prostate cancer — meaning tumors that grow and spread quickly. Black American men have about a 15 percent chance of developing prostate cancer, compared to about a 10 percent chance for white men, according to the news release. And black men also have a higher prostate cancer death risk than white men — 4 percent versus 2 percent, respectively. The NIH agencies supporting the new research are the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the U.S. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. A team of scientists nationwide will conduct the research. “Understanding why African-American men are more likely to be diagnosed…  read on >

While some politicians are snubbing science, the American public is choosing to do the opposite, a new study suggests. “In the context of debates regarding the loss of trust in experts, what we show is that in actual fact, when compared to a government working group, the public in the U.S. and U.K. judge scientists very favorably,” said study author Magda Osman. “This means that the public still [has] a high degree of trust in experts, in particular, in this case, social scientists,” she added. Osman is with Queen Mary University of London’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. The findings, which stem from three large experiments, were published July 11 in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology. For the study, the scientists presented volunteers with public health guidance presented either by experts or by government officials. Some of the ideas were real and had been implemented, such as using catchy pictures in stairwells to encourage people to take the stairs. But others were outlandish, such as suggesting that stirring coffee counter-clockwise for 2 minutes would ward off cancer. What did the research team find? Trust was higher for scientists than for government officials, even when the ideas being proposed were fictitious. “While people judged genuine [ideas] as more plausible than fictitious [ideas], people trusted some fictitious [ideas] proposed by scientists as more plausible…  read on >

Eating a healthful diet is easier when nutritious foods are more accessible. But it’s not enough to simply buy better choices. To make a habit of choosing healthy over less-healthy options, you want to make them as easy to eat, as visually appealing, and as everyday as the packaged treats that tempt you. That’s as important for kids as it is for adults. Convenience foods got their name because they’re ready to grab and go. To make healthy diet foods more convenient, put them front and center on your counter and at eye level in the fridge, not hidden on a shelf or buried in a dark corner of a cabinet. Make healthy foods more attractive — the same way that your grocer makes beautiful displays to entice you to buy. Create a visually appealing fruit bowl or raw veggie platter for easy munching. Making healthy food the norm at your house also can involve steps like getting in the habit of serving a vegetable at every meal, and cutting up fruit chunks for breakfast the night before. This will help make grabbing a handful of cherries, rather than a handful of chips, second nature to you and everyone in your family. Additional small yet important changes all around the kitchen will support this new approach. Arrange the freezer so you see frozen peas and…  read on >

Fewer than 14 percent of American adults smoked cigarettes in 2017, the lowest level seen since data collection started in 1965, government health officials reported Tuesday. “Certainly, it is fantastic that the U.S. smoking rates continue to drop,” said Dr. Adam Lackey, chief of thoracic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital. “I suspect education is a large part of why the rates are dropping.” “Unfortunately, I suspect part of the drop is also related to more and more people switching to the various other methods of consuming nicotine,” he noted. “Vaping seems to be taking off, and I am always dismayed to have patients proudly tell me that they don’t smoke, and thank goodness for all those vaping products that they use now.” “Yes, vaping doesn’t have the high levels of tar and soot that are the major contributors to the cigarette lung cancer risk,” Lackey said. “But you are still inhaling heated chemicals into your body. And you are still getting nicotine, which in and of itself is not particularly healthy, aside from the addiction standpoint.” Meanwhile, the report unearthed some bad news along with the good. Twice as many of those who smoked lived in rural areas and smaller cities than in cities of 1 million or more — about 22 percent versus 11 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control…  read on >

Liver cancer cases in several developed countries have doubled in the past 25 years, due to the continuing obesity epidemic and a spike in hepatitis infections, new research suggests. Even worse, the sharp rise in liver cancer cases is starting to swamp the limited number of liver specialists in those nations, the researchers added. In the four countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada — liver cancer is the only major cancer for which death rates are rising. “While the individual rates in these countries differ, the trends are the same,” said lead researcher Dr. Morris Sherman, from the University Health Network and the University of Toronto. “The prospects for surviving liver cancer are bleak, so our only hope is to intervene early and prevent the cancer happening in the first place or to find early curable cancers,” he added in a health network news release. Liver cancer incidence is highest in the United Kingdom (9.6 per 100,000 people), followed by 9.2 in the United States, 7.4 in Australia and 6.0 in Canada. The rankings are the same for liver cancer deaths. Cancer Research UK predicts a further 40 percent increase in liver cancer cases by 2035. “While the obesity epidemic is showing no signs of abating, we could make a huge impact on future liver cancer rates by investing more…  read on >

As Americans, we’re making some headway in our efforts to improve the quality of our diet, but we’re far from ideal levels. Research shows that healthier eating prevented over a million premature deaths in the 13-year period from 1999 to 2012, along with 8.6 percent fewer heart disease cases, 1.3 percent fewer cancer cases, and 12.6 percent fewer type 2 diabetes cases. An index that measures diet quality increased from 40 to over 48, but that’s still a long way from the perfect score of 110. Also, most of the improvement came from just two steps — reducing consumption of trans fat (largely because of government action to ban it) and sugar-sweetened beverages. Little progress was made in most of the key components of a healthy diet. An analysis of data from the USDA Economic Research Service by the Pew Research Center found that while we’re eating more chicken and less beef, we’re also each consuming 36 pounds of cooking oil a year — three times the amount Americans ate 50 years ago. We’re also each eating on average 23 percent more calories than we were back then. It’s no wonder obesity rates are so high. And yet it only takes small changes to make a difference. For instance, one report found that what’s needed to turn the average diet into one that can reduce…  read on >

A growing number of American men are having cosmetic surgery to improve their looks and increase their confidence, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports. More than 1.3 million cosmetic procedures were performed on U.S. men in 2017, according to the group. “For a lot of men, just having a procedure on an area of their body that they’re self-conscious about can really make a positive impact on how they see themselves,” Dr. Lorelei Grunwaldt, a plastic surgeon in Pittsburgh, said in a society news release. Over the past five years, there was a 23 percent increase in liposuction and a 12 percent increase in tummy tucks among men, and a 30 percent increase in male breast reductions, according to the society. Young men tend to focus more on enhancing their bodies, while older men have more minimally invasive facial procedures to look younger. In 2017, nearly 100,000 men had filler injections, a 99 percent increase since 2000, with a fourfold increase in Botox injections, the group said. Dr. Jeffrey Janis, president of the society, noted that it is important to have cosmetic procedures done by a board-certified surgeon. “The extensive training that these doctors go through gives them the versatility to offer their patients more choices so that each person receives the right procedures to meet their goals,” he said. More information The U.S.…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Wearing athletic shoes that don’t fit can lead to injury, pain and poor performance. The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society suggests how to select the right shoes: Buy footwear from a specialty store, where the staff can offer advice and fit you for the right shoes. Try on shoes later in the day or after a workout, when your feet are larger. Try on shoes with the socks that you will wear during athletics. Make sure you can wiggle all of your toes inside the shoes. The shoes should be comfortable as soon as you try them on. Walk or run a few steps in the shoes to see if they are comfortable. The shoes should grip your heels firmly, preventing the heels from slipping while you run or walk. Replace shoes after 500 miles of running or 300 hours of aerobic activity.