Booster Shots

Oddities, musings and news from the health world

Category: stress

Women's health priorities: sleep, relax, drink water, exercise, before sex

August 25, 2009 |  1:13 pm

The magazine Cooking Light has found that when it comes to getting and staying healthy, women have the burner turned down pretty low on getting "enough sex." Finding time to exercise was hardly at the top of their list, either.

In an online survey, 1,020 randomly selected women over 25 were asked to rate their priorities in terms of health and well-being. The results: Right up there at the top was getting enough sleep--the other activity often conducted between the sheets. Keeping stress levels low, finding time to relax, eating healthfully, drinking the recommended amount of water: respondents listed these priorities, respectively, as their top five priorities for their personal health.

Where did they rank "having enough sex"? Right there, in seventh place, behind "finding time to exercise."

Perhaps the women respondents didn't value "having enough sex" because there are no guidelines issued by medical specialty groups or the federal government recommending target levels of sexual activity for Americans. After all, there are recommendations for women's top priority, sleep, as well as for nutritional intake, daily water consumption and exercise. There are, however, no specific consensus guidelines for maintaining a healthy stress level, or recommendations concerning time spent relaxing, women's priorities two and three.

Go figure!

In other findings, the Cooking Light survey found that women would rather be seen as healthy than trendy, wealthy, powerful, beautiful, sexy or successful. The only quality they esteemed higher than healthy was smart. Most women say they look younger (69%) and feel younger (58%) than they are. And majorities say their self-confidence is influenced by their appearance (74%) and their overall health and wellness (72%).

-- Melissa Healy

Rodent of the Week: Don't chuck your hair dye yet

June 12, 2009 |  2:00 pm

Rodent_of_the_week People develop gray hair as they age, but the real cause of the color change is stress, researchers say. If people experienced less stress, they might keep their natural locks longer.

Stress actually damages DNA and depletes the melanocyte stem cells within hair follicles that are responsible for making the pigment-producing cells. The depletion leads to irreversible hair graying, the lead author of the study, Emi Nishimura, of Kanazawa University in Japan, said in a news release. The study is published today in the journal Cell.

Using mice, the researchers also showed that a "caretaker" gene called ATM serves as a checkpoint to protect against melanocyte stem cell changes. That's why people with an aging syndrome called Ataxia-telangiectasia, which is caused by a mutation in the ATM gene, go gray prematurely.

Gray hair is one of the most obvious signs of aging. But changes to other body stem cells have been reported, and it appears stresses on the stem cell pool and maintenance failures in the function of cells are strongly linked to accelerated aging. But it's not clear if anything can be done to stop these process -- at least not yet. Hang on to your L'Oreal and Just for Men.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Advanced Cell Technology.


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