Men looking for a wife might need to get a grip — a strong hand grip, that is. Researchers examined data from more than 5,000 adults in Norway to study the association between their marital status and grip strength. They were between ages 59 and 71. Although the study couldn’t prove cause and effect, it found that men with a stronger grip were more likely to be married than men with weaker grips. Grip strength was not associated with women’s chances of being married. “Our results hint that women may be favoring partners who signal strength and vigor when they marry,” said study researcher Vegard Skirbekk, a professor at Columbia University’s Aging Center and School of Public Health in New York City. As his team pointed out, prior research has linked grip strength with a person’s ability to cope independently and as a predictor of risk for heart disease and death. So Skirbekk theorized that “if longer-lived women marry healthier men, then both may avoid or defer the role of caregiver, while less healthy men remain unmarried and must look elsewhere for assistance.” “The fact that many men are alone with a weak grip — a double burden for these men who lack both strength and a lack of support that comes from being married — suggests that more attention needs to be given to…  read on >

The so-called “Paleo” diet, which cuts out a number of food groups to bring about weight loss, has been around for several years now and at first blush may sound like just another fad. But some recent scientific studies since the diet became popular have found that the regimen that makes up the diet’s requirements could have merit. A Paleo diet requires people to eat foods similar to those available to humans during the Paleolithic period, which dates from 10,000 to 2.5 million years ago, according to the Mayo Clinic. The diet typically includes foods that could be obtained by hunting and gathering — lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — and limits foods that became common with the advent of farming, such as dairy products, grains and legumes. This premise, however, is challenged by some experts who say that comparing modern conditions to those of our ancient ancestors is not realistic. Nevertheless, one possible benefit is that the Paleo diet can improve risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. One research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the Paleo diet did a better job of reducing waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar than diets based on general health guidelines. Another study published in the…  read on >

With summer comes the stings of bees and wasps, but one expert has advice on how to keep the pain to a minimum. “The first thing to do is to get the stinger out quickly,” said Dr. Carrie Kovarik. She’s an associate professor of dermatology, dermatopathology and infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania. “The longer the stinger stays in the skin, the more venom it releases, adding to the person’s pain and swelling,” Kovarik explained in an American Academy of Dermatology news release. If the stinger is still in your skin, remove it by scraping over it with your fingernail or a piece of gauze. Never use your fingers to remove a stinger because squeezing it can release more venom into your skin, Kovarik said. Then wash the area of the sting with soap and water, and apply a cold pack to reduce swelling, she suggested. Taking over-the-counter painkillers — such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) — can help relieve the pain. And over-the-counter antihistamines can ease itchiness. Seek emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction, such as: swelling in the face, neck or other parts of the body away from the sting site; difficulty breathing; nausea; hives; or dizziness, Kovarik said. People with a known allergy to insect stings should talk to their doctor about carrying an…  read on >

Finding the right work-life balance isn’t easy. For many people, 9 to 5 has stretched to 9 to 7 — or longer. And responsibilities can start much earlier in the day, especially for those with kids to corral in the morning. Burnout is nothing new — it was described back in the 1970s as a work-related state of distress, with symptoms like exhaustion and reduced productivity. Even more alarming, without intervention, it becomes chronic — a way of life. Though burnout stems from work-related pressures, it can affect relationships and every aspect of your life. In extreme cases, you might stop functioning well on any level. To get back in balance, take your needs off the back burner and take steps to care for yourself. If you’ve been neglecting good health habits — like eating well, exercising, and engaging with family and friends — start to carve out more personal time. If you make a plan with a loved one, you’ll both be more likely to keep the date. Re-evaluate your work situation. Resist the impulse to compete with colleagues by taking on more or bigger projects. If your managers expect you to live for work and be there around the clock, try to re-establish boundaries. Determine what’s an acceptable number of work hours to you and advocate for yourself with your boss. If you…  read on >

A single session of meditation can lower your anxiety levels, a small new study finds. “Our results show a clear reduction in anxiety in the first hour after the meditation session, and our preliminary results suggest that anxiety was significantly lower one week after the meditation session,” said study author John Durocher. He is an assistant professor of physiology at Michigan Technological University’s department of biological sciences. Anxiety can raise the risk for heart disease: Previous studies have shown that arterial stiffness may be worsened by traumatic life events, job strain, depression and either short-term or chronic anxiety, the researchers said. Heart changes linked with anxiety can lead to high blood pressure and organ damage. For the study, Durocher and his colleagues recruited 14 participants with normal blood pressure but high levels of anxiety. The investigators evaluated the volunteers’ heart rate, blood pressure, aortic blood pressure and arterial stiffness before and after a 60-minute guided beginner mindfulness meditation session. This type of meditation focuses on breathing and awareness of one’s thoughts. “This study is different because we examined the effect of a single mindfulness meditation session on anxiety and cardiovascular outcomes, while other studies have examined the effect of several days or weeks of mindfulness meditation,” Durocher explained. The study was to be presented Monday at the American Physiological Society annual meeting, in San Diego.…  read on >

Men under 50 who smoke cigarettes are increasing their risk for a stroke, researchers warn. And the more they smoke, the greater their stroke risk, reported the University of Maryland investigators. The bottom line: quit. But if you can’t, smoking fewer cigarettes may help reduce your risk, the researchers said. “We found that men who smoked were 88 percent more likely to have a stroke than men who never smoked,” said lead researcher Janina Markidan, a university medical student. At the lower end, men who currently smoked fewer than 11 cigarettes daily were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked, she said. But heavier smokers — those with a two-pack-a-day or greater habit — were nearly five times more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked, Markidan said. These findings are particularly important because ischemic strokes among younger adults are increasing. And tobacco use among young adults is also on the rise, she said. Markidan’s team’s prior research identified a strong link between smoking and stroke in young women, but less was known about the relationship in younger men, the researchers said in background notes. Ischemic strokes — the most common kind — occur when blood supply to the brain is blocked. Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association.…  read on >

Women are more likely than men to suffer a knee injury called an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. But — surprisingly — the injury occurs the same way in both genders, a new study reveals. Prior research suggested women are two to four times more likely to suffer ACL tears due to differences in how this type of injury occurs in the sexes, researchers at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., noted. But that theory is wrong, according to the results of a new study of 15 women and 15 men with torn ACLs. Those prior studies were based on slow-motion replays of injuries, while the new work relied on scans and other advanced techniques. “Based on watching videos of athlete injuries, previous researchers have suggested that females may have a different mechanism of injury than males. But it’s difficult to determine the precise position of the knee and the time of injury through footage,” said study leader and biomedical engineer Louis DeFrate. “We used MRI scans taken within a month of the ACL rupture and identified bruises on the surface of the two large bones that collide when the ACL tears — the femur and the tibia — then used 3-D modeling and computer algorithms to reconstruct the position of the knee when the injury occurred,” he explained in a Duke news release. “Our results…  read on >

For most, playing online video games is largely a harmless hobby. But a new review finds that some fall prey to what experts call “internet gaming disorder.” The concept that gaming could become an addiction first gained traction in 2013 when the disorder was included in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM). At the time, the disorder was only listed as a “condition for further study.” Now, a broad review of prior research has done just that. The new review looks back at more than 40 investigations conducted worldwide between 1991 and 2016. It concludes that — like other types of addiction — internet gaming disorder is a complex condition that arises when fun morphs into a loss of control, turning into an obsession. “Excessive gaming may lead to avoiding negative moods and neglecting ‘normal’ relationships, school or work-related duties, and even basic physical needs,” review author Frank Paulus said in a statement. Paulus is the head psychologist in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, Germany. Still, the investigators stressed that internet gaming addiction remains the exception among players rather than the rule. They note that “for most individuals, computer gaming is an enjoyable and stimulating activity.” The reviewers also point out that the way in which the disorder is defined varies widely among studies…  read on >

If you have asthma, it may help to reduce your exposure to allergens. Previous research has shown that roughly two-thirds of all people with asthma also have an allergy, allergy experts say. “What many people don’t realize is that the same things that trigger your seasonal hay fever symptoms — things like pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander — can also cause asthma symptoms,” said Dr. Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “If you have allergies, and you are wheezing or coughing, see an allergist to find out if you also have asthma,” he advised in an ACAAI news release. “Allergists are also specialists at treating asthma and can put together a treatment plan to help you deal with both allergies and asthma,” Chipps added. Allergic asthma — where allergies trigger asthma symptoms — is the most common type of asthma. As many as 80 percent of children with allergies also have asthma. Also, 75 percent of asthma sufferers aged 20 to 40, and 65 percent of those with asthma aged 55 and older, have one allergy or more. “Effective treatment of allergic asthma includes identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger symptoms. After diagnosing asthma, we usually move on to using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan to deal with severe attacks,” Chipps said. “If…  read on >

Anger isn’t just an emotional reaction — it can affect you physically, too. It’s been shown to raise your risk for heart disease and other problems related to stress — like sleep trouble, digestion woes and headaches. That makes it important, then, to diffuse your anger. Start by figuring out what it is that makes you angry. Researchers from George Mason University, in Virginia, studied just that, and identified five common triggers: Other people. Distress — psychological and physical. Demands you put on yourself. Your environment. Unknown sources. Anger was more intense, the investigators found, when people were provoked by issues with other people or by influences that couldn’t be pinpointed. Once you’ve identified the sources of your anger, take steps to change how your deal with it, the researchers suggested. Decades ago, people often were encouraged to let their anger out. Primal screams and pounding pillows were suggested tactics. Today? Not so much. Studies have shown that therapies that involve letting anger out in a rage don’t really help. They might even make you more angry. Still, it’s important to not keep anger bottled up. But, managing it can keep you from saying or doing things you might regret once the anger has passed. What to do? Start by becoming a calmer person in general. Practice a relaxation technique every day — yoga or…  read on >