Interesting Studies


Athletes aren’t the only people suffering dangerous head trauma.  The media has been filled with lots of news about the longer-term damage many athletes (mostly football players) face resulting from concussions.  The individuals most at risk from suffering concussions are men aged 15 to 24 – most likely because of their involvement in sports.  But another group that’s highly vulnerable to concussions and brain trauma is people over the age of 65. 

The U.K. National Health Service describes being over the age of 65 as a major risk factor for having a concussion.  Falls cause most of the concussions in people over 65.  About one-third of people over 65 fall every year, and 30% of those falls lead to head trauma.  Compounding the problem: less than 50% of seniors seek medical attention after a fall, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  This is incredibly dangerous.  Also, the older a person is, the longer it takes to recover from a concussion and the more severe the symptoms.

One of the best ways to prevent falls is to exercise regularly.  Walking, yoga, and working in your garden are all low-impact ways to maintain balance and muscle and bone strength.  You can also get rid of tripping hazards and add grab bars to your shower or bath.

Don’t Let Stress Kill You

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year.  Not only are we dealing with our everyday stresses like work and home life, we’re piling on stress about buying gifts, traveling, visiting family, and getting sick.  These stresses are shortening your lifespan.

Several studies show stress actually alters the structure of your cells, shortening the things called “telomeres” – which are like “caps” on chromosomes.  These caps protect the chromosome from damage and keep it from sticking to neighboring chromosomes.  Telomere length also predicts lifespan.  As we age, telomeres naturally shorten.  Although the exact mechanism is unknown, the medical community generally accepts that the longer the telomeres, the longer a person will live.

Recent studies found stress accelerates the shortening of telomeres, thus raising the risk of chronic diseases and shortening lifespan.  Reducing stress (or more likely your reaction to it) helps reverse the effects.

A new study published in the British medical journal The Lacet, found men adhering to healthy lifestyles (stress-reduction education, diets higher in whole foods, and adequate exercise) had longer telomers than men with unhealthy lifestyles.

Stave Off Dementia By Learning Spanish (or any other second language!)

A new study – published  in medical journal Neurology – found that signs of dementia appeared four years later in bilingual people than people who only speak one language.  Scientists believe part of the reason is that learning another language increases the brain’s cognitive reserve.  Cognitive reserve is a term used to refer to the brain’s ability to function properly despite damage (such as the damage seen in demetia patients).

Learning a new language is more convenient than ever.  You don’t have to spend money on classes or expensive language courses.  Apple’s iTunes ( is full of podcasts that allow you to listen to language lessons for free.


Despite mounting research that shows the benefits of sleep, scientists still don’t know why humans sleep.  But new research is shedding light on a possible answer.  Sleeping helps clean the brain, clearing away toxins that build up during the day.  The study, recently published in the journal Science, found that the brains of sleeping mice cleared away beta amyloid (a substance associated with Alzheimer’s disease) better than the brains of mice who were awake.

Researchers believe the brain can clear out waste easier while a person is asleep because brain cells shrink during sleep.  This gives waste a wider physical passage to get out of your brain.  It’s looking likely that waste buildup in the brain contributes to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.  So make sure you’re getting enough.