Category Archives: Babyboomers

Keeping Breast Cancer Risks on the Move

Exercise. Physical activity. Moving. Along with a clean and colorful diet, there’s almost nothing better you can do for your body than move. The fact is we have to keep moving to keep moving, and here’s another reason why.

Even mild physical activity can decrease a woman’s breast cancer risk. Moving is especially important during the childbearing years and after menopause. Gaining weight, though, will negate these benefits.

Move every day — a little or a lot.

Maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active are the two key ways to keep the risk of breast cancer at bay, according to a recent study led by Lauren McCullough, MSPH, of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Adam Brufsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told dailyRx, “This is very interesting and suggests that even moderate amount of exercise may be enough.”

A number of studies have demonstrated that exercise reduces the risk of new and recurrent breast cancer, but without analyzing the different types of activities or exercise frequency, intensity and timeframes.

McCullough and colleagues looked for the relationship between breast cancer risks and engaging in recreational physical activity at various times throughout a woman’s life.

The study involved 1,504 women with breast cancer, including 233 who had non-invasive and 1,273 with invasive breast cancers. The women ranged in age from 20 to 98.

Here’s what the study uncovered:

  • Exercising during a woman’s childbearing years or after menopause reduced the risk of breast cancer.
  • Women who exercised 10-19 hours a week had a 30 percent reduced risk.
  • All types of exercise performed at all intensity levels offered benefits.
  • Exercise appeared to be particularly helpful in lowering the risk of hormone receptor positive (estrogen and progesterone – ER+ and PR+) breast cancers, which are the most common in American women.

“The observation of a reduced risk of breast cancer for women who engaged in exercise after menopause is particularly encouraging given the late age of onset for breast cancer,” said McCullough.

A personal trainer in New York City, Amie Hoff, CPT, NASM has seen the results of exercise and has helped women with breast cancer achieve them.

“The benefits of exercise are amazing. Besides building strength, my breast cancer clients also increase their flexibility, develop greater balance, re-claim confidence and develop a stronger cardio level.” Hoff told dailyRx in an email.

“Exercise gives them a sense of control over their bodies when they feel they have none,” she adds. “The smile on their faces and sense of accomplishment after the session makes exercise one of the best medicines!”

After dancing with breast cancer, it’s exceedingly important to keep on dancing, according to Randy Blackburn, DO, MBA, director of radiation oncology at Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

There are no boundaries on type and intensity.  “There should be no restrictions that your body does not tell you about. Range of motion exercises need to be life long especially if your have had axillary dissection and /or nodal radiation,” Dr. Blackburn told dailyRx.

All is not rosy, though. Along with exercise, it’s essential that a woman maintain her weight.

Researchers found that women who gained “a significant amount of weight,” especially after menopause had increased risks of the disease.

This finding suggests that packing on the pounds can negate the benefits of exercise in lowering the risk of breast cancer.

So move your way into a new body. Find something you love to do — walking, yoga, Zumba, tai chi, running — whatever makes you happy. Just move and stay out of the food junk drawer, and you’ll see and feel and love the changes you experience.

This study was published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.



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Scottsdale Healthcare sponsors Women of Scottsdale annual event

The Women of Scottsdale held their annual “Spotlight Your Business” luncheon, at the Kierland Weston Resort and Spa, in Scottsdale Arizona on Friday, June 15, 2012. Sponsored by Scottsdale Healthcare, this annual event offers members an opportunity to showcase their companies. This year’s event featured over 50 local Scottsdale businesses.

The Women of Scottsdale is a local organization that promotes quality networking, and career and personal development for women from all walks of life in Scottsdale, Arizona. The organization endeavors to promote professional women who desire to be successful and connect with the community through monthly meetings where members share information, ideas, and contacts.

In addition to Scottsdale Healthcare, this year’s event included a variety of health, beauty, food community and personal care products and services for the health conscious business women.

They included:

Aspire 2 Wellness; a Scottsdale based business “for women who want to outsmart mid-life weight gain“. Owner, Bonnie Roill, RD, unveiled her new Free E-publication; “10 Real Reasons Women Gain Weight and How to Stop it in its Tracks”, which is due for release to the public Monday June 18, 2012. This 20 page E-book combines cutting-edge science, and behavioral strategies, for women in mid-life to help them discover how to outsmart mid-life weight gain so they can look and feel fit without deprivation and a diet of endless shakes. The Women of Scottsdale were given a special web link to get their copy on Friday. The free e-book can be obtained by the general public at

Hollywood Eye Magic; distributor, Sandy Metter, was featuring an Anti-aging serum treatment which is oxygen infused for immediate results. Lasting up to 12 hours, the serum is promoted as having a cumulative effect with daily use. Sandy also offered on site free demonstrations on the effectiveness of Hollywood Eye Magic products. For more information contact Sandy at

Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH); was represented by Susan Martz. One of the largest children’s hospitals in the country with over 1,000 medical staff, PCH provides specialty and subspecialty inpatient, outpatient, trauma and emergency care for patients throughout Arizona and other Southwestern states. It has six centers of excellence; a Neonatal Intensive Care, a Level One Pediatric Trauma Center, a Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Center of Pediatric Orthopedics, Phoenix Children’s Heart Center, and Barrow Neurological Institute ot Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

NU SKIN; a leader in the skin care industry with scientifically advanced ingredient technologies and skin beneficial formulas. Their skin care line offers over 100 different products. Local representative from the Miralinda Center For Well-Being, LLC, Linda Gerdes Mercer and Donna Bochow were on hand to discuss the NU Skin product line and the Galvanic Spa™ II E. There will be a Free demo in Scottsdale of the latest age-defying beauty Techniques on June 28, 2012. Contact 602-325-9201 for details.

Scottsdale HealthCare; as the sponsors of this years event, was well represented by Suzette Robles, Nancy McCutcheon, and Carol Wolfert. The organization has 3 campuses in Scottsdale; Osborn Medical Center, a 337-bed, full-service hospital, a leader in the fields of trauma, orthopedics, neurosurgery, cardiovascular and critical care; Shea Medical Center, a 433-bed full-service hospital providing emergency, medical/surgical, critical care, obstetric, pediatric, cardiovascular, orthopedic and oncology services; and Thompson Peak Hospital, a 64-bed community medical-surgical hospital.

J. Alexander’s Restaurant; Denise Tysick and Krisen Opalanski handed out samples of fresh baked carrot cake. J. Alexander’s is a contemporary American restaurant, known for its wood-fired cuisine. The menu features a wide selection of American classics including prime rib of beef, steaks, fresh seafood, sandwiches, entrée salads and a varied and rotating selection of features like Seafood Czarina, Tuscan Steak, Grilled Fish with Mango Papaya Salsa and Chicken Milanese.

Discover The Region Magazine; Jodie Wilson, editor in Chief distributed copies of her magazine. The mission of the magazine is to network Business and Community leaders together to bring into focus the opportunities of their part of the world.

Friends of Africa International (FOAI); Co-founder Bonnie Bishop explained the purpose of FOAI was to increase awareness of the wildlife and cultural issues in Africa and the delicate balance facing the African continent. It supports and assist effective and established charitable institutions, research centers, and projects, both in Africa and in the USA, whose mandate is the conservation and protection of African wildlife, environment, and culture, from the constant threat of devastation by outside forces.

Carefree Homecare – Companion Services, Inc.; Carla Sutton, MSW, Vice President and General Manager was available to share information on the personal care, daily assisted living and entertainment services offered. Carefree Homecare is a recognized leader in providing quality non-medical home care services for senior care in Phoenix and Scottsdale and surrounding areas. Disease-Specific Care giving programs include Cancer Care, Alzheimer’s and, Stroke and Parkinson’s. Click here to learn more about Carefree Homecare.

Community Bridges, Inc.(CBI); is a private non-profit organization that provides services throughout Arizona. They offer a full continuum of behavioral health programs and support the community at large. Services include a full continuum of the highest quality substance abuse and mental health treatment, lifesaving interventions, support for women and children, outreach to help the homeless and community-based prevention and education services for youth and families.

Gabriel’s Angels; Gabriel’s Angels is the only program in Arizona that delivers healing pet therapy to abused, neglected and at-risk children. The short term goal is to instill in children an overall emotional sense of well-being, safety and happiness. Long term aspiration is to help children learn core social skills that will prevent them from continuing the cycle of violence as adults. Presently they provide pet therapy services to over 115 agencies and serve 13,000 children annually through nearly 155 Pet Therapy Teams, free of charge.

Additional information: Click Here for photo gallery form previous Women of Scottsdale events

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The Longest Day- Is Happening Today!

For the people involved in this event, this challenge is one day. For people with Alzheimer’s, it’s every day. Run, walk, bike or challenge yourself to some other endurance activity to honor those facing Alzheimer’s. Learn More

On June 20, 2012, the longest day of the year, participants across the northern hemisphere will push their limits in a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. It’s one day to honor the passion, dedication and strength displayed by people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers every day.

Join us for year one of this exciting and innovative event! The Longest Day allows you to participate with ultimate flexibility – you choose your activity, route and time of day to get active. The only rule is that someone on your team is in motion throughout the 16 hours of daylight on the longest day. The Alzheimer’s Association will provide fundraising support and connect you to a virtual community of other participants. We’ll also be cheering you on throughout The Longest Day!

Each team member pledges to raise a commitment fee and is asked to raise a minimum of $100/hour of activity (suggested minimum: $400). Participants will receive a virtual fundraising toolkit, an event day experience kit (including a T-shirt and awareness and celebration materials) and ongoing staff support to help plan a great day and reach fundraising goals. Through smartphone technology and social media, every participant will be able to showcase their efforts and share their stories as part of the global movement to fight against Alzheimer’s.

We’re in it until Alzheimer’s is finished. Show your support for the cause by donating to a team or participant in The Longest Day. Give to honor the more than 35 million people worldwide who are living with Alzheimer’s and the countless caregivers who face this disease so bravely every day.

Follow the event now and donate!

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Study Shows Stress Decreases With Age

If you’re feeling more stressed than ever these days, you’re not alone: A scientific analysis of stress over the past 25 years finds that American stress levels increased 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men from 1983-2009. But there’s a silver lining: The study also found that stress decreases as we age.

Thirty-year-olds have less stress than 20-year-olds, and 40-year-olds have less stress than 30-year-olds,” said lead researcher Sheldon Cohen.

Cohen and his Carnegie Mellon colleague analyzed data from three surveys (one in 1983, one in 2006 and one in 2009) and about 6,300 people, in what’s considered the first historical comparison of stress levels across the United States. The results show increases in stress across almost every demographic category.

In all three surveys, however, those 55 and older showed the lowest levels of stress.

Those most negatively affected by the recent recession, in terms of stress, were white, middle-aged men with college educations and full-time jobs.

Friday Quick Hits: 

  • Advanced Style. Twenty-something photographer Ari Seth Cohen has been shooting New York’s 60+ set, whose images he collects on his blog, “Advanced Style,” and published in a book of the same name last month. A lot of these older women “don’t have a job, they don’t have to impress their bosses, their children, their lovers,” said Cohen. In dressing, “they have no one to please but themselves.”
  • A century of weather. Nearing 100 years old, meteorologist Robert Simpson–who helped develop the hurricane wind scale–has seen firsthand some of the worst weather disasters in U.S. history.

Photo: Sporrer/Rupp / Cultura / Aurora Photos

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June is National Safety Month

Each June, the National Safety Council encourages organizations to get involved and participate in National Safety Month. NSM is an annual observance to educate and influence behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. Each week carries a theme that brings attention to critical safety issues. 

Small changes can make a big difference to your health and wellness. If people made the choices to eat better, engage in more physical activity and quit smoking, at least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes – and up to 40% of cancer – could be prevented, according to the World Health Organization.

Ergonomics involves designing the job environment to fit the person and is important to take into consideration at work, but also while working on projects at home. It’s about learning how to work smarter and preventing conditions such as overexertion.

Most falls are preventable. Many people attribute falls to being clumsy or not paying attention, but many risk factors exist. Risk factors include physical hazards in the environment, age-related issues and health conditions. Reduce your risk and find fall hazards in your workplace and home to prevent injuries and keep others safe round the clock.

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities you will do each day. As traffic on the roads increases during the summer months, keep in mind tips on issues such cell phone distracted driving, safety belt use, impaired driving and aggressive driving to stay safe when driving for work or pleasure.

Free online training opportunity
Car crashes are the leading cause of unintentional death among our nation’s teens. Register for the Alive at 25 Parent Program between June 24 and June 30 for a free chance to learn more about teen driver safety. You will have 30 days from the date of registration to complete your training.

Special thanks to for providing this free Alive at 25 Parent Program online course. Over the past three years, more than 3,000 parents have taken advantage of this exceptional offer during this annual NSC observance.

By National Safety Council,

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The Y Expands Efforts to Ensure Healthy Living is Accessible to All

Ten Ys receive Community Transformation Grants to support the health and well-being of African American and Hispanic communities

YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the nation’s 2,700 YMCAs, announced that 10 Ys will

receive grants of $65,000 each to lead efforts in their communities to ensure healthy opportunities are available to all.

The grants are part of the Community Transformation Grants program (CTGs) – a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and lower health care costs. Y-USA – one of seven national organizations to receive funding through CTGs – will work with 10 Ys to deepen their efforts to implement programs and strategies that support the health and well-being of individuals in their communities, with a specific focus on African American and Hispanic individuals.


YMCA (Photo credit: reidmix)

“As a leading nonprofit committed to improving the nation’s health, the Y believes that all people deserve to live life to its fullest regardless of where they live,” said Neil Nicoll, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “The Y exists to fulfill community needs, and creating greater access to opportunities that promote health is one of our highest priorities.  The Community Transformation Grants program will help Ys ensure that their programs and initiatives are helping individuals who face the greatest barriers to healthy living.”

The Y’s CTGs efforts will focus on two main areas:

  1. Coordinating and linking systems between health care providers, clinical settings and community-based organizations in predominately African American and Hispanic communities to help guide individuals to prevention efforts/programs such as the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program that are proven to increase health outcomes.
  2. Enhancing local efforts to implement community-wide strategies that create environments in early childhood and afterschool settings that ease the adoption of healthy eating and physical activity standards with an emphasis on locations serving African American and Hispanic populations.

The 10 Ys selected to receive funds through CTGs are:

Community Y of Marshalltown Marshalltown, IA
Rye YMCA Port Chester, NY
YMCA of Central Kentucky Lexington, KY
YMCA of Delaware Wilmington, DE
YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Cincinnati
YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, IN
YMCA of Greater Indianapolis Indianapolis
YMCA of Greater Louisville Louisville, KY
YMCA of Greater Seattle Seattle
YMCA of Southern Arizona Tucson, AZ

“The CDC congratulates all of the new community awardees. The success of the Community Transformation Grants program is in its multi-sectoral partnerships, which maximizes community efforts to improve health where we live, work, play and learn,” said Dr. Rebecca Bunnell, Acting Director of the Division of Community Health, CDC. “The Y has an excellent track record of fostering healthier communities and these new awardees will help expand access to healthy food and physical activity community-wide. This type of local action is critical in our efforts to prevent diabetes and reduce the disturbing increases in childhood obesity that we’ve seen over the past 20 years. We are so pleased to work with outstanding partners like Y-USA in our joint commitment to make healthy living easier.”

The 10 YMCAs will work over a period of 16 months to deepen their efforts and learn new ways to improve the health and well-being of African Americans and Hispanics in their communities.  The outcomes and learnings from the initiative will help generate leading practices that will be shared with other YMCAs, as well as the CDC, in order to make an impact across the nation.

About the Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

For Immediate Release Contact:
Kelly Kennai
YMCA of the USA


WASHINGTON, June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

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Differences in Blood Pressure Between Arms May Signal Blood Vessel Problems


Differences in blood pressure readings taken from the left and right arms may be a sign of heartand blood vessel disease and death risk, according to a new review of recent research.

Researchers found that a difference of 15 points or more in the readings between the left and right arms raised the risk of peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing or blockage of the arteries, by two-and-a-half times.

That same 15 point-difference in systolic readings (the top number in a blood pressure reading) also increased the risk of cerebrovascular disease by 60%. Cerebrovascular disease is associated with thinking problems, such as dementia, and an increased risk of stroke.

Researchers say the results suggest that doctors should routinely compare blood pressure readings from both arms to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Although the practice of taking blood pressure from both arms as a part of heart disease screening has been adopted in Europe, and some guidelines in the U.S. recommend it, American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, MD, says it’s not routinely done in the U.S.

“This is very interesting,” says Stein, professor of cardiology at the New York University School of Medicine. “It can translate immediately, as we learn more about it, into better detection of people at higher risk of disease.”

Is 2 Better Than 1 for Blood Pressure?

In the study, British researchers examined 20 studies covering differences in systolic blood pressure — the pressure of blood in arteries when the heart is contracting — between arms.

The results, published in The Lancet, showed that a difference of 15 points or more in the systolic readings between the left and right arms was associated with an increased likelihood of several heart-related risks, including:

  • The risk of peripheral vascular disease was two-and-a-half times higher.
  • The risk of cerebrovascular disease was 60% higher.
  • The risk of dying from heart and circulatory diseases rose by 70%.

The risk of peripheral vascular disease was also higher when there was a difference in blood pressure readings of 10 points or more.

If peripheral vascular disease is detected at an early stage, treatments such as stopping smoking, lowering blood pressure, or offering statin medication can reduce death rates.

“Findings from our study should be incorporated into future guidelines for hypertension and blood-pressure measurement … to promote targeted screening for peripheral vascular disease and aggressive risk factor management,” write Christopher Clark, MD, of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, and colleagues.

More Research Needed

Commenting on the research, Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says in an emailed statement: “Theoretically, measuring blood pressure on both arms to assess vascular disease risk is a quick and simple task. But it’s too early to say whether this idea could become part of standard health care practice and so we need more research to confirm the findings.”

“It’s very important that other risk factors, apart from high blood pressure, are taken into account to establish whether doctors need to take a closer look at someone’s heart disease risk,” she says.

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Richard McManus, MD, of the University of Oxford, and Jonathan Mant, MD, of the University of Cambridge write that more research is needed to clarify whether differences in blood pressure readings justify the preventive measures suggested.

“Overall, Clark and colleagues’ systematic review and meta-analysis support existing guidelines stating that blood pressure should be measured in both arms,” they write. “Ascertainment of differences should become part of routine care, as opposed to a guideline recommendation that is mostly ignored.”

By WebMD

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Overweight people with large waists have almost equal risk of developing diabetes as obese people

Overweight people who have a large waist size might have the same chance of developing type 2 diabetes that people who are obese.

A new study, published in PLoS Medicine on June 5, shows that overweight individuals who have a large waist – which is defined as 35 inches or more in a woman or 40 inches or more in a man – have an almost equal risk of developing diabetes within 10-years as an obese person does.

Rising diabetes rates among overweight teens could lead to heart problems, researchers say
Is BMI less important than belly size?

The distinction between overweight and obese is determined by the body mass index (BMI). Individuals with a BMI of 25 – 29.9 are considered overweight, while those who have a BMI over 30 are considered obese. However, the National Institute of Health points out that BMI is an estimate of body fat, but can be inaccurate and overestimate fat in athletes and those with a muscular build and underestimate body fat in older persons and those with less muscle. By checking someone’s waist size, doctors can get a more accurate measure of abdominal fat, which has been linked to diabetes.

Researchers pulled data from 25 centers in eight European countries of 12,400 people with type 2 diabetes and 16,100 people who did not have the disease. Underweight people were not included in the study. Paying attention to their waist and BMI, they found a strong link between higher waist size, higher BMI and type 2 diabetes.

Obese women with a large waist were 32 times more likely to get diabetes than women with low-normal BMI (18.5 to 22.4) and a smaller waist (less than 31 inches). Obese men with a large waist were 22 times more likely than men with a low-normal BMI and a smaller waist (less than 31 inches) to develop the disease.

Breaking it down further, this meant that 7 percent of men and 4.4 percent of women who were overweight and had a large waist would develop diabetes in a 10-year period. The stats were similar or even higher for obese people.

In a blog post for PLoS, Dr. Peter Janiszewski, an editor/expert scientific reviewer for the Edanz Group, wrote that the results shouldn’t be shocking. Previous studies have linked body shape to higher risk for developing diabetes. Another study showed that those with a higher waist size had a greater chance of dying from all health causes regardless if their BMI was normal or not.

“If your waist circumference is greater than 102 cm (men) [40 inches] or 88 cm [35 inches] (women), you may be at risk of disease and premature death even if you are at a healthy weight,” Janiszewski wrote. “Conversely, if your BMI is in the overweight or obese range, but your waist circumference falls below the above cutpoints, you may not have much to worry about.”

By CBS News

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Keeping the heart healthy benefits the brain

Those who have concerns over the health of their heart may avoid foods containing saturated fats or make exercise a regular part of their day. Now, it turns out that taking these steps has the potential to benefit these individuals’ brains as well.
Some fats are good for the brain

In a recent study, the results of which appear in the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society journal “Annals of Neurology,” researchers linked the consumption of saturated fat to poor cognitive function. At the same time, monounsaturated fat was tied to improved cognitive function and memory.

Saturated fat can be found in food products like butter, cheese and chocolate, while mono-unsaturated fat exists in olive oil and avocados.

To see what impact different types of fat have on people’s brains, the researchers looked at data from the Women’s Health Study – specifically, a subset of 6,000 women over the age of 65. Every two years, these participants took three cognitive function tests and provided detailed information on their eating habits.


The researchers found that women who consumed more saturated fat had worse cognition and memory than those who had less of this fat in their diet. Those who tended to eat foods with more monounsaturated fats received better cognitive scores.

“Our findings have significant public health implications,” said Olivia Okereke of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Substituting in the good fat in place of the bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent decline in memory.”

For children, eating right can mean higher IQs

For adults, too much pizza and potato chips is never good for the heart. However, it appears that a diet consisting of these items has the potential to prevent cognitive development in children under the age of 3, according to The Daily Mail. When compared to kids who are fed more fruits, vegetables and home-cooked meals, there could be a difference of as much as five IQ points.

What is perhaps most troubling is the fact that even if children begin to eat healthier over time, it may be too late to reverse the damage their diet has caused.

These results come from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which tracks the long-term health of kids who were born in the early 1990s. According to the researchers’ findings, youths who consumed more fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and home-cooked meals also tended to have better IQ scores.

The news source also reported that 20 percent of 3-year-olds whose diet consisted of fats, sugar and processed food had IQs that were five points lower than children with healthier eating habits when they were tested at 8 years old.

“The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years and good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth,” said researcher Pauline Emmett, as quoted by the news outlet. “By the age of 3, brain development is slowing down, which is perhaps why the diet doesn’t have much effect afterwards.”

Exercise and genes play a role in IQ

Going for a run can keep the heart healthy, but physical exercise may also benefit one’s learning abilities, as long as you have the right genes.

New research from Dartmouth College professor David Bucci reveals that a specific gene shows how effective exercise can be on the brain. The degree of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor that an individual possesses signals how well they will reap the mental rewards of exercise.

Whether individuals have been eating right from a young age or exercise daily, taking an IQ test may help them see what impact their behavior has had on their cognitive abilities.

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Baby boomers’ health demands will pose challenges

Rebecca Koch, 100, of Toronto is one the country's more than 5,800 centenarians.

Baby boomers are starting to reach the stage in life when things start aching or stop working, when age starts to steal away progressively larger bits of physical and cognitive function.

“This is on absolutely everyone’s radar, without a doubt,” said Jennifer Ryan, a senior scientist in the field of cognitive neuroscience of memory at Baycrest, a Toronto teaching hospital that specializes in studies in aging and the brain.

“As scientists, we are aware of the approach of the baby boomers towards 65 and older. And funding agencies as well are very aware of the challenges that are going to arise as a result. People are working, I think, as fast as they can to really improve the lives of the boomers who are approaching that later stage in life.”

The preparatory work ranges from trying to predict the demand for medical specialists like the orthopedic surgeons who replace worn-out hip and knee joints, to devising screening tools to spot adults who are developing memory problems, to figuring out how to adapt living spaces so that aging boomers can safely stay in their own homes for as long as possible.

“Who wants to end up in a 200-square foot room with a cupboard? I mean, really,” said bioengineer Geoff Fernie. “People are saying, ‘No, I want something better.”‘

Fernie is the research director at Toronto Rehab, a rehabilitation hospital and research institute affiliated with the University of Toronto. His team is working to solve the practical, day-to-day problems that can plague older adults.

How do you use the toilet when you cannot lower yourself onto it or hoist yourself up? How can you shower safely? Is there footwear that can lower your risk of falling on the stairs or outside during the winter?

Fernie calls it “coming up with affordable things to help people manage.” His team has already developed and marketed “Toilevator,” a simple and inexpensive platform that raises a toilet to a level that’s more accessible for those with stiff spines or stiff knees.

‘People are wanting joint replacements done earlier now.’— Dr. Cy Frank

Fernie’s bioengineering team has a multitude of projects in the works that he said he believes boomers will need as they age.

“Once upon a time, people expected to end up in bed and be sick and die early and put up with things and be in misery,” he said. “And now they realize that just because you’re old doesn’t mean you have to put up with this stuff.”

Ryan and others see the same challenge. The boomer generation isn’t just a huge group of people. It’s a huge group of people with attitude.

By dint of its size, the baby boom generation is used to getting its own way. Boomers have had great expectations for their lives. And that isn’t about to change just because they’re becoming eligible for discounted bus fares.

“The baby boomers, I think, will not accept aging particularly well. They won’t go grey any time soon. And I think that they have a value around preserving not just their looks, but I think their health as well,” said Susan Kirkland, an epidemiologist in the department of community health at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

“What’s unique about them is that they’ve kind of changed the face of health and health care all the way through their lives. And they’re much different than previous generations in terms of how they deal with their health, what kind of services they expect and those kinds of things.”

Slowing cognitive decline

Kirkland is a principal investigator of a large national study that’s recording the ups and downs of aging experienced by more than 50,000 Canadians over the next 20 years. The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is enrolling adults aged 45 to 85 with a view to getting a sense of how they are living as they age.

What problems they are facing? How healthy are they? Are government policies helping or hindering their passage through the last phase of life?

She doesn’t expect to see boomers accept the physical limitations of age the way previous generations did. And she’s not alone. Orthopedic surgeons — the medical specialty that deals with bones and musculoskeletal problems like cartilage damage and ligament tears — are already seeing the impact of the baby boom generation.

“People are wanting joint replacements done earlier now,” said Dr. Cy Frank, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee surgery. “People are wanting them now when they’re in their … 40s and 50s, not in their 60s and 70s. So that’s increased the demand.”

That’s the boomer generation. If something hurts, they are not going to grimace and bear it. These are not going to be the grandparents of old, with tight perms or bad comb-overs, pressing a bag of frozen peas to arthritic knees in the hope of some fleeting pain relief.

“They expect more. And they want to be fixed,” said Frank, the executive director of the Alberta Bone and Joint Institute. “They want things repaired or replaced so that they can continue to live long, happy lives.”

Frank, meanwhile, is concerned there may not be enough specialists to handle the work. He recently applied for a grant to do some modelling to try to figure out how to address the coming demand. One of his favoured approaches is team work —orthopedic surgeons working with podiatrists and chiropractors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to use resources rationally.

He also favours early intervention. If boomers can be taught to spot looming problems before they hit the crisis stage, rehabilitation or minimally invasive procedures could forestall major surgeries and should help keep boomers active longer, he said.

Ryan, too, sees early intervention as key to what is seen as one of the biggest problems the aging baby boomers may face — dementia.

Her field is working to develop better tools to screen for signs of memory loss that could be the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other degenerative cognitive conditions. She foresees a time when aging adults are urged to schedule memory screening tests in the same way they are encouraged to undergo colon cancer screening or mammograms for breast cancer.

“The idea is if you can catch some problems really early, then maybe you have a better chance of intervening or providing some kind of rehabilitation or compensatory strategy in order so that people can manage this declining cognitive function or maybe even keep it from declining further,” Ryan said.

“We want to slow down the decline.”

The Canadian Press

Posted: May 29, 2012 12:04 PM ET

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