Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to Start a Gratitude Habit in 21 Days

Why give thanks? Plain and simple, feeling grateful is good for us. Research shows that counting your blessings has many benefits, from better sleep to reduced depression. “It helps you connect to others and be more optimistic and less likely to ruminate over the negative,” says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD, science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Cementing the habit takes minimal effort. Follow this 21-day path to more appreciative living. 

Week 1: Notice the good

“Gratitude isn’t one-size-fits-all,” says sociologist and happiness expert Christine Carter, PhD. These tips help you be thankful in a way that makes sense for you. 

Think in threes: Start off each morning by identifying three things you’re grateful for (your kids, your comfy bedsheets, your cute toes—anything). Try not to repeat things, advises Carter, and get more specific and detailed as you go: “For a daily gratitude practice to really be effective, there needs to be novelty so you don’t just get on autopilot,” she says. 

Choose your weapon: For some, journaling about the three good things works; others may prefer sharing them with a friend via text or using the voice recorder on their smartphone. 

Talk the talk: The most grateful people have learned to use language that emphasizes gifts, blessings, fortune, and abundance, says gratitude expert Robert Emmons, PhD. “Less grateful people are preoccupied with burdens, deprivations, entitlements, and complaints,” he explains. Instead of saying, “Ugh, I cannot believe I had to wait so long to get a day off,” try, “What an opportunity this free time is.”

RELATED: How You Answer This Question Says a Lot About Your Happiness

Week 2: Go beyond yourself

Improve how you dish out thanks toward your loved ones and community, still keeping in mind the gratitude guidelines from week one. 

Upgrade “thanks”: Express appreciation to someone every day this week, being super specific. “Thank you for taking care of the kids while I was away on business” is much more powerful than “Thanks for everything this weekend.”

Pen a letter: Write a heartfelt note to a mentor, family member, or friend detailing how he or she has impacted your life in a positive way. If possible, read it aloud in person, or schedule a video chat session to share it.

Be of service: “Most people end up feeling extra grateful for their own blessings when they give back in some way," says Simon-Thomas. Find a volunteering opportunity that interests you and schedule time to participate.

RELATED: 22 Ways to Get Happy Now

Week 3: Think outside the box

Now it’s all about seeing good fortune everywhere. 

Look for unexpected heroes: Don’t journal just about people who’ve helped you, says Emmons, but also about those who’ve been there for your loved ones. When you list your three good things this week, call out these indirect joy bringers (like the caretaker who assists your ailing mom, the teacher who is endlessly patient with your child or the great guy about to marry your BFF).

Find silver linings: Write down three less-than-perfect experiences and consider how they actually benefited you. Perhaps quitting a bad job opened the door to a new opportunity. Or maybe you’re thankful that an ex was brave enough to end your relationship when you both knew it wasn’t working anymore.

Take it to the office: "The workplace is one of the places gratitude is lacking the most,” says Simon-Thomas. Show a boss, peer, or intern some appreciation this week. Don’t be surprised if the good vibes come back to you. Gratitude often has a boomerang effect.



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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Looking at Selfies Affects Your Happiness

What To Know About the ‘Flesh-Eating Bacteria’ That Killed a Man in Maryland

Headlines this week about a man who died after contracting a “flesh-eating bacteria” in Ocean City, Maryland, may have you spooked to go near the water, or even near seafood. Michael Funk, 67, began to feel ill within hours of cleaning out crab pots at his beach home, and died just four days later.

Doctors say that a cut on Funk’s leg was exposed to a strand of Vibrio bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus, which lives in warm, coastal waters like Ocean City’s Assawoman Bay. He was diagnosed at the hospital with the infection caused by Vibrio, called vibriosis, and had infected skin removed from around the wound. But the bacteria had already entered his bloodstream. Despite having his leg amputated, Funk did not survive.

His wife told local newspaper The Daily Times that the experience was “like something out of a horror movie,” expressing concern that there had been no warning from Ocean City officials about the bacteria or their risks. (The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is investigating the incident. A public advisory has not been issued, although information about Vibrio can be found on the official state website.)

While tourist season on the Maryland coast is over, there are still plenty of places in the United States where people swim, boat, and catch seafood year-round. So Health spoke with Gabby Barbarite, PhD, a Vibrio researcher at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, to find out how much of a risk these bacteria pose to the average person. Here’s what you should know, and how to keep yourself safe.

Vibrio bacteria aren’t new

There are about 12 Vibrio species that make people sick, and they've been around for many years. This is likely not the first time you’ve read about them in the news, either. In Florida, at least two people died last year (and at least seven died in 2014) as a result of vibriosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vibriosis causes an estimated 100 deaths in the U.S. each year. It also causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses—52,000 of which are from eating contaminated seafood like raw oysters.

Vibrio bacteria live in coastal bodies of salt water or brackish water. They’re found year-round in warm climates like Florida; further north, their levels peak in late summer and early fall, when water is warmest.

“People often ask why we don’t just get rid of the bacteria,” says Barbarite, “but in reality, we’re never going to get rid of it all. What we can do is teach people how to stay safe—how they can safely handle seafood and safely spend time in the water.”

RELATED: 12 Germs That Cause Food Poisoning

In most cases, it’s not as scary as it sounds

Vibrio has been dubbed a type of flesh-eating bacteria, thanks to the blistering skin lesions that can spread quickly across the body if an infection isn’t treated. But Barbarite says that term isn’t quite right.

“The words flesh-eating might make you think that if you touch it, it will degrade your skin on contact, and that’s not true,” she says. “You have to have a pre-existing cut—or you have to eat raw, contaminated seafood or chug a whole lot of contaminated water—for it to get into your bloodstream; it can’t break down healthy, intact skin.”

Men over 50 are at higher risk

Almost every case of serious illness or fatality from vibriosis occurs in men over 50, says Barbarite, and most are people with compromised immune systems because of a condition like liver disease, heart disease, or diabetes. (Healthy immune systems are usually able to fight off infections before they become life-threatening. News reports have not identified whether Funk had any pre-existing health conditions.)

“Studies have shown that estrogen can actually combat infections, so that’s why we see it more in males than in females,” says Barbarite. Men also tend to have higher levels of iron, she adds, which the bacteria need to thrive.

Contact with contaminated fish and shellfish is also a risk factor, and crabs are known to carry Vibrio bacteria on their shells. “If that bacteria gets into a cut, it can get into your bloodstream and progress very rapidly,” says Barbarite. “Within 12 hours it could be fatal.”

RELATED: What You Really Need to Know About Brain-Eating Amoebas

Prompt attention is vital

Healthy people don’t need to avoid the water or stay away from seafood, says Barbarite. Still, it’s important to keep open wounds away from seawater and raw seafood. If you do get cut in or around a marine environment, wash the area thoroughly, and as soon as possible, with soap and clean water.

“People need to know that if they get cut, to clean it out right away and to seek medical attention within four to five hours if they see redness or swelling,” says Barbarite. Fever and nausea are also red flags that the vibriosis infection has spread to the bloodstream. If caught early enough, treatment with antibiotics can be life-saving.

Climate change may mean more infections

In August, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that warmer ocean temperatures may be fueling the growth of dangerous bacteria—including Vibrio—in northern seas. This could explain an increase in the number of people in Europe (where the study was conducted) getting sick from swimming or eating tainted seafood, say the study authors, and it could make infections more likely in other warm climates as well.  



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Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Things That Prevent Cancer

We admit it: We have a love-hate relationship with our breasts. We show em off when they’re proud and perky, but freak the second they start to sag. We squeeze them into bras that don’t fit, complain if they bob when we jog, and obsess over every little imperfection. But the minute we find a lump or feel a twinge of pain, we realize just how much we want them around—no matter their flaws. That’s why we created this A-to-Z Guide to help keep your breasts——and you—healthy.

A: Alcohol

The numbers don’t lie: Alcohol is to blame for 11% of all breast cancers, according to data from the United Kingdoms Million Women Study. That’s because beer, wine, or cocktails—even just one or two drinks a day—hike your risk, and that risk increases with each additional drink. Scientists are still probing the alcohol-cancer connection but, for now, moderation is a must. “If you don’t drink, don’t start,” says Susan Love, MD, president of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and clinical professor of surgery at UCLA. “If you do, three drinks a week or less is probably OK.”

B: Breast-feeding

Yes, babies are more likely to attend college if they nurse, but what’s really surprising: Breast-feeding may save your life. Women’s Health Initiative data suggests that moms who breast-feed 12 months or more throughout their lives have less heart disease than women who don’t nurse. And a new study shows that women with a family history of breast cancer cut their risks of getting the disease before menopause if they breast-feed their kids.

C: Caffeine

You’ve heard theres a link between caffeine and breast cancer? The truth: About 200 to 300 milligrams of the stimulant per day—the amount in two to three cups of coffee or (strong) tea, an energy drink or two, or about five diet sodas—probably wont hurt you, says Liz Applegate, PhD, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis. But to be safe, don’t overdo it.

D: D├Ęcolletage

There’s a simple reason you see freckles, sun spots, and those dreaded vertical wrinkles on your cleavage—youre not using enough sunscreen on the delicate skin there. Baby your bosom with a high SPF, plus a moisturizer, says Amy Taub, MD, a Chicago-area dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Try Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($13.99). It offers sun protection and spot-reducing soy.

E: Eat right

Loading up on fruits and veggies and cutting back on fatty meat keep your whole body healthy. But which foods specifically help you fight breast cancer? Recent studies suggest you eat more: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy. They contain potential cancer-fighting compounds called isothiocyanates. Fish like salmon, tuna, and trout. They’re rich in omega-3s and are a healthier protein source than meat. Bell peppers and broccoli They’re full of flavonoids, a powerful good-for-you antioxidant. Kefir yogurt Its a yummy source of vitamin D and healthy bacteria (probiotics).

F: Fit

If you’re like most women, you’re wearing a bra that doesn’t fit right. Blame the fact that your bust measurements change at least six times in your adult life. To make sure you’re getting the right support, talk to a fitter in a department or lingerie store, or do your own sizing. Elisabeth Squires, author of Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls, swears by Size Me Up!, a doctor-designed system that measures the width of each breast to more accurately determine cup size. 

G: Genes

Most women who get breast cancer don’t carry the harmful gene mutations known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who do (roughly 1 in 500) tend to get cancer under age 50 and may have multiple cases of breast and ovarian cancer in the family. Who should be gene-tested? If relatives (sisters or other women on your moms or dads side) have had breast or ovarian cancer, its most helpful for one of them to be tested before you. Testing costs about $3,000, and most insurers don’t cover it. If a mutation doesn’t show up, your risk is still higher because of your family history. But if your relative has the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, your risk could be elevated even more, and you may want to talk with a genetic counselor about your own test.

H: Hormone therapy

If you’re on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), its probably for a good reason: The treatment, usually a combo of estrogen and progesterone, can help relieve hot flashes, irritability, and night sweats. But many researchers are now convinced that using combo HRT for five years or more can double your breast cancer risk, which is why women should use the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Fortunately, studies show that within two years of stopping hormones, your breast cancer risk goes back to normal.

I: Inflammatory breast cancer

If you don’t know about IBC, you should. The five-year survival rate of this rare but aggressive disease is about half that of regular breast cancer. Symptoms can include redness and painful swelling around the breast; sometimes the skin feels warm and has the texture of an orange. If you have signs, see your doctor right away.

J: Jiggle

Too much jiggling can make you sag: According to one British study, breasts move during exercise up to 8 vertical inches, adding painful pressure on supporting ligaments. Solution: Make sure your sports bra is up to the job. Small-breasted women usually just need a compression, or “uniboob,” bra. If you’re large, try encapsulating styles, which surround each breast separately. Champion makes good low-cost running bras, and sportswear companies like Title Nine even offer special rating systems for each bras support level.

K: Know em well

Take a good look in the mirror—is one breast bigger than the other? (That’s typical.) Are your nipples inverted? Does anything look or feel different? You need to know your breasts well so you’ll notice any changes during your monthly breast self-exam (BSE), which is an important way to catch abnormalities like lumps or swelling.

L: Lumps

The vast majority of breast lumps are benign—and more than 60% of women have fibrocystic, or naturally lumpy, breasts. Still, you should get all lumps and bumps checked, especially if they change. “Women get into trouble when they ignore lumps because they’re afraid,” says Joan Bull, MD, director of the Division of Oncology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. The doc may recommend an ultrasound, mammogram, or biopsy to figure out what’s up.

M: Mammograms

No one likes having her boobs squeezed flat in what feels like a refrigerator door. But its worth it: Early detection from regular mammograms is estimated to reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by at least 15%, according to a recent research review. Are there any downsides to recommended annual screening mammos? A report in the British Medical Journal suggested they could lead to overdiagnosis—detecting tumors that turn out to be harmless—and unnecessary treatment. But experts insist that the benefits far outweigh the potential costs.

N: Nipples

Smooth or bumpy, inverted or standing at attention on a chilly day, nipples seem to have a mind of their own. Together with the surrounding areola, they even change color during and after pregnancy. Here are some of the most common problems and how to, well, nip em in the bud.

O: Ouch!

About 10% of us have breast pain more than five days a month. Usually the ache (also called mastalgia) goes in cycles, since monthly hormone changes can make breasts extra achy. If the pain is unbearable, try tracking when it hurts most. Then talk to your doctor, and, if you’re over 35, consider a mammogram. The doc may recommend pain pills, birth control pills (if you’re in your 20s), or possibly evening primrose oil, which might bring relief for some women. Talking to your doc may ease your fears, too, since many women worry that breast pain is always a sign of cancer. It isn’t.

P: Plastic surgery

Even in a down economy, boob jobs aren’t sagging. But a lesser-known surgery is also on the rise: breast reduction. For top-heavy women, the surgery can bring much-needed relief from back, shoulder, and neck pain. If you want breast surgery—to get bigger or smaller—talk to the doc about scarring, healing time, and final appearance, says John Canady, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Q: Number-one question to ask your doc: “Are my breasts dense?”

Women with dense breasts are five times more likely to develop breast cancer, Dr. Love of UCLA says, although its unclear why. The only way to find out density is after a mammogram—the info is in the results. Bring it up with your doc after the test or have the report mailed to you.

R: Rest 

One more reason to get your sleep: Getting enough zzzs may help protect you from cancer. In a recent study of nearly 24,000 Japanese women, those who slept six hours or less each night were 62% more likely to have breast cancer than the women who slept seven hours. Researchers think that the sleep hormone melatonin seems to regulate the release of estrogen.

S: Soy

Soy contains phytoestrogens, chemicals similar to estrogen. Docs say soy has many benefits, if you get it in natural forms like edamame. But concentrated forms found in supplements may be harmful—especially if youre at high risk for breast cancer, says Applegate, PhD, of UC Davis.

T: Tomosynthesis

Watch for the looming debut of this new digital imaging system, which allows doctors to slice and dice super-clear 3D pictures of the breast, while applying less pressure to your boobs than standard mammos (hooray!). Early research shows the new technique may more accurately spot tumors, especially in very dense breasts.

U: Underwires are dangerous (and other myths)

Relax—, your sexy new number from Victoria’s Secret wont give you cancer. Experts say the notion that underwires trap toxins just doesn’t hold up. Ditto for antiperspirants, living near power lines, and being hit in the chest. Theres no evidence that any of these things causes breast cancer, Dr. Love of UCLA says.

V: Vaccine

Stimuvax, a vaccine currently in testing, may help women who have inoperable breast cancer live longer. The drug is designed to juice up the immune system so it can kill malignant cells. Its also being eyed for lung, prostate, and colon cancers.

W: Weight

Women who gain 55 pounds or more after age 18 have nearly 1 ½ times the risk of breast cancer compared with those who keep their weight steady. But losing the weight substantially lowers risk as you age.

X: X-Rays

Radiation can cause cancer. That’s why doctors say that younger women and girls should avoid unnecessary X-rays (a typical X-ray administers radiation at a higher dose than a mammogram). If your doctor recommends an X-ray for anything, ask how having it will change your treatment plan. If it won’t, reconsider.

Y: Yoga

To keep “the girls” from sagging, Health expert Sara Ivanhoe, creator of the Yoga on the Edge DVD, recommends this Plank Sequence: Start with hands and knees on a mat, hands directly under shoulders and knees below hips. Firm your abs to support your lower back; extend right leg backward, curl toes and place them and on the ground; repeat with left leg. (Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.) Hold for 5 full breaths. On an exhale, slowly lower yourself to the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in. Your chest and belly should touch the floor at the same time. On an inhale, push back to lean on your hands and knees; exhale into plank, hold for a full inhale, then exhale and lower again, then up into plank. Repeat 5 times.

Z: Zero!

That’s the number of new breast cancer cases we all hope to see in our lifetimes—, and a project launched by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and Avon Foundation for Women may get us there. The Love and Avon Army of Women’s mission: Recruit 1 million women to participate in life-saving research. Sign up online at ArmyOfWomen.org.


 


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Saturday, October 22, 2016

7 Health Truths We Wish We Knew in Our 20s

Your 20s aren’t exactly a breeze. Most quarter-lifers are just starting to live on their own, figure out a career path, and look for a life partner, all at the same time. As a result, good-for-you habits don’t always feel like a top priority—but some really do matter. That’s why we tapped our editors over 30 to share the health truths they wish they’d known in their younger years. Read on if you still think instant ramen is a well-balanced meal…

RELATED: How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis and Find Your True Purpose

Make friends with fat

“Fat is not the enemy. It’s an essential nutrient, important for so many major functions in the body, and essential for brain health. Eat more fat!” —Beth Lipton, food director 

Listen to your body

“I wish I had known to take better care of my joints and not to ignore the signs something was wrong. I never thought about the importance of mobility exercises, stretching, foam rolling, or recovery, because I could easily go running or do CrossFit classes without feeling much pain or discomfort. It never occurred to me that maybe someday I wouldn’t be so invincible. Then, at the ripe old age of 28, everything started to hurt all the time—especially my right hip. To make a long story short, I now have permanent damage to that joint because I had ignored a lot of warning signs that I was injured. These days, I am much more diligent about foam rolling before and after every workout, warming up and cooling down properly, and generally just treating my body in a way that will ensure I’ll be able to stay active and fit for the rest of my life.” —Christine Mattheis, deputy editor 

Lather up 

“Wear sunscreen every day. Seriously, every day. I apply SPF on my face and neck and whatever’s left over, I put on the back of my hands. Also, self tanner is your bff.” —Tomoko Takeda, acting beauty director

RELATED: What You Can Do in Your 20s and 30s to Prevent Physical Decline in Your 50s and 60s

Eat right

“One big thing I have learned since my 20s concerns nutrition/diet and basic eating sense. I had very little nutritional literacy in my 20s, very little idea about what made up a balanced, healthy diet, and very little consciousness about how food choices affected energy levels, mindset, and a general sense of well being. I might get a bad night’s sleep, then eat a Big Mac or a giant Italian hoagie for lunch the next day, each loaded with refined carbs, and then be mystified about why I would hit a carb crash and slip into a food coma for the next two hours. It wasn’t until years later (and in part by starting to work at Health!) that I picked up some basics about nutrition, cooking, creating balanced meals that gave me energy. Now my number one prerogative when I eat lunch is what will keep me feeling as energized and alert as possible, and I know the ingredients to put into the meal that will help me do this.” —Michael Gollust, research editor

Strengthen, strengthen, strengthen

“I wish I had done more strength training in my 20s! I was all cardio, all the time, not realizing that you can strengthen your bones up to age 30, but after that it tends to decline. You might say I wished I stashed more in my ‘bone bank’ when I was younger. It’s not impossible to 'save up' after age 30, but it’s harder.” —Theresa Tamkins, editor-in-chief, Health.com

Just do you

“Stick to what feels right for you, regardless of what a friend or a significant other is doing. At times I gave into eating or drinking in ways that didn’t feel right for me because I didn’t want to be different from friends, or to go along with what my partner wanted to do. You know, that social eating/drinking pressure. As I got older I realized that wasn’t necessary. I can be with a friend and have a water during happy hour if I don’t feel like drinking, or say no if my hubby wants to split an order of fries. It’s not at all about depriving myself (in fact, looking back I felt like I was depriving myself of feeling good when I gave in); it’s about knowing and honoring what feels right for you in that moment. Splurging sometimes is great, even important, but do so on your own terms.” —Cynthia Sass, contributing nutrition editor

Love yourself

“This isn’t really a health truth, but more a life truth: I wish every woman in her 20s knew how beautiful she was! I look at pictures of myself in my 20s, when I often felt gawky and unsure, and wish I’d realized that I was actually so lovely—not because I think I’m such hot stuff, but because there’s this vibrant energy that you have when you’re that age that’s really wonderful and attractive. Everyone has it! Women in your 20s, own it!” —Jeannie Kim, executive deputy editor



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Mediterranean Diet, Caffeine May Be Good for Your Eyes

THURSDAY, Oct. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Eating a Mediterranean diet and consuming caffeine may lower your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness, according to a new study.

Previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet—high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats and fish—benefits the heart and lowers cancer risk. But there has been little research on whether it helps protect against eye diseases such as AMD, the researchers noted.

Using questionnaires, the researchers assessed the diets of 883 people, aged 55 and older, in Portugal. Of those, 449 had early stage AMD and 434 did not have the eye disease.

Closely following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of AMD, and eating lots of fruit was especially beneficial.

The researchers also found that people who consumed high levels of caffeine seemed to have a lower risk of AMD. Among those who consumed high levels of caffeine (about 78 milligrams a day, or the equivalent of one shot of espresso) 54 percent did not have AMD and 45 percent had the eye disease.

The researchers said they looked at caffeine consumption because it’s an antioxidant known to protect against other health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the study did not prove that consuming coffee and following a Mediterranean diet caused the risk of AMD to drop.

The findings were to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), in Chicago.

“This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration,” lead author Dr. Rufino Silva, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Coimbra, in Portugal, said in an AAO news release.

“We also think this work is a stepping stone towards effective preventive medicine in AMD,” Silva added.

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Eye Institute has more on age-related macular degeneration.



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Right-Handedness Might Go Back Almost 2 Million Years

THURSDAY, Oct. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Human’s preference for using the right hand may have developed earlier than thought, a new study suggests.

Striations on teeth in a 1.8-million-year-old Homo habilis jaw found in Tanzania offer the earliest fossil evidence of right-handedness, according to researchers.

The striations on the lip side of the upper front teeth mostly veer from left down to right, suggesting they were made when a stone tool held in the right hand was used to cut food held in the mouth while pulling with the left hand.

Those marks suggest that this Homo habilis was right-handed and is the first potential evidence of right-hand dominance in pre-Neanderthal humans, according to the study. It was published online Oct. 20 in the Journal of Human Evolution.

“We think that tells us something further about lateralization of the brain,” said study author David Frayer, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kansas.

“We already know that Homo habilis had brain lateralization and was more like us than like apes. This extends it to handedness, which is key,” he said in a university news release.

“Handedness and language are controlled by different genetic systems, but there is a weak relationship between the two because both functions originate on the left side of the brain,” Frayer said.

“One specimen does not make an incontrovertible case, but as more research is done and more discoveries are made, we predict that right-handedness, cortical [outer brain] reorganization and language capacity will be shown to be important components in the origin of our genus,” he said.

Ninety percent of people are right-handed, while the ratio is closer to 50-50 in apes.

More information

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has more on human evolution.



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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Millennials Are Just as Hard-Working as Baby Boomers, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 14, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Boomers brace yourselves: You don’t have a stronger work ethic than those in later generations, a new study finds.

Baby boomers are said to place work at the center of their lives, to avoid loafing and to be ethical in their dealings with others. Their work ethic is also associated with greater job satisfaction and performance, and greater commitment, according to the researchers.

But an analysis of 77 studies turned up no significant difference in work ethic between boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (1965 to 1980), and millennials (1981 to 1999).

The investigators looked at 105 different measures, including hours worked and commitment to family and work.

The results, published online Oct. 11 in the Journal of Business and Psychology, support those of previous studies, the authors behind the new study said.

“The finding that generational differences in the [so-called] Protestant work ethic do not exist suggests that organizational initiatives aimed at changing talent management strategies and targeting them for the ‘very different’ millennial generation may be unwarranted,” said study leader Keith Zabel of Wayne State University in Detroit.

“Human resource-related organizational interventions aimed at building 21st century skills should therefore not be concerned with generational differences in Protestant work ethic as part of the intervention,” he added in a journal news release.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stress-reducing tips for working parents.



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Friday, October 14, 2016

5 Powerful Mantras to Help You Quiet Anxiety, Beat Self-Doubt, Manage Stress, and More

What if you could stop worrying (or feel more confident, or less stressed) with just a few simple words? That’s the premise behind Habit Changers ($22, amazon.com), a powerful little book filled with one-line mantras meant to help you reprogram your brain.

Inspired by a Tibetan Buddhist mind training practice called Lojong, author and executive coach M.J. Ryan has been using simple slogans with her clients to interrupt the habitual thought processes that hold them back. The mantras work, she writes, because they override the brain's automatic response, “help you become consciously aware of what you’re doing—and serve as a reminder of what it is that you want to do." 

Below are five of these simple but profound phrases. Choose the mantras that resonate most with you, and recite as needed.

To gather courage: “Handshake your fear”

Whether you’re generally anxious or find yourself afraid in particular circumstances—like public speaking or when expressing opinions to important stakeholders at work—fear can be debilitating. Not only can it keep you from realizing your goals, but it can also prevent you from simply enjoying your day to day life. I know because I was ruled by fear for decades—and I’m not alone.

This is an issue many people talk to me about. Part of the problem is that in Western culture fear is something we’re generally taught to ignore or suppress; when we can’t, we get even more overwhelmed.

The Buddhists have a different approach. They suggest you befriend your fear, turn toward it as you would toward someone you loved who was feeling afraid: “Oh, you poor thing, I see you are afraid. You’re not alone. I’m right here with you.”

In saying this you give your fear attention, neither ignoring it nor making more out of it than there is. It sounds backward, but oftentimes, paying attention to a feeling can make it lessen or even disappear. These words can also help you to see that you’re more than your fear. Yes, there is the scared person inside you. But there is also the bold, wise part of you. Getting in touch with that wiser, braver self helps you act from confidence rather than fear—act not out of fear but in spite of it.

RELATED: Self-Compassion: The New Secret to Being Slim, Fit, and  Happy for Life

To find confidence: "Undistort the distortion”

This is an idea that Sheryl Sandberg wrote about in Lean In, and it’s based on the fact that, according to many studies across a wide range of disciplines, women are plagued by much lower self-confidence than men. This unfortunate phenomenon shows up in various ways. For instance, women consistently judge their performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their performance as better than it is. And when it comes time to apply for a job, women don’t feel qualified enough to apply unless they match 100% of the criteria, while men through their hats into the ring if there is a 50% match.

Even when we understand this phenomenon is social, not personal, it can be very hard to change. In writing about it, Sandberg noted about herself, “I learned over time that while it was hard to shake feelings of self-doubt, I could understand that there was a distortion. … I learned to undistort the distortion.”

The words jumped off the page at me as fodder for a wonderful habit changer. Since then, women I’ve worked with have used it to recognize when they’re doubting themselves and to act in spite of their self-doubt, knowing that if they waited until they felt self-confident, they would wait forever. As one woman who used it to start her own business put it, “It helps me remember by feeling of unworthiness is a lie so I don’t have to listen to it as much.”

RELATED: 8 Promises Every Woman Should Make to Herself

To manage stress: “This is only a paper tiger”

When you’re stressed out about something, it can feel a bit like a ravenous tiger is about to devour you, right? The problem seems overwhelmingly daunting and you don’t see how you can are possibly going to cope. But there is a way out—recognizing that what you are facing is only a paper tiger, not a real one.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem, just that it’s not one that threatens your life. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson created this metaphor to illustrate the fact that the stress response was designed to save you from physical danger—like a tiger chasing you. But your amygdala, which is where the stress responsive originates, can’t differentiate between a tiger and a traffic jam. So it responds as if a tiger were after you when you’re only stuck in line, experiencing a flight delay, or anticipating an important presentation.

Using this habit changer whenever you are stressed reminds your body/mind you’re not in mortal danger so you can clam down and figure out how to deal with that line, delay, or presentation. “This habit changer has been a life saver,” one stressed-out client said to me recently.  “It’s made it possible for me to stop, figure out if there even is a problem, solve it when needed, and then proceed with my day more calmly.”

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Can Hurt Your Health

To quiet anxiety: “Don’t go in your mind where your body is not”

Do you constantly worry about all the terrible thing that might happen? Many of us torture ourselves with this brand of magical thinking: If I worry now, it will help keep the bad thing away.

Actually all you do is make yourself miserable now as you focus on the prospect of misfortune and the unhappiness you will feel if it occurs, which it usually doesn’t! If you’re a chronic worrier, try this habit changer, which comes courtesy of an English-as-a-second-language client of mine.

I was working with her to stop worrying about all the possible future catastrophes that could befall her and suggested that she say to herself, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Soon after that we came to the end of her coaching engagement and she moved on to an overseas work assignment. A couple years later, she called me out of the blue to say how helpful it had been to learn to “not go in her mind where her body is not.” It had completely eliminated her worrying.

I was so delighted with her translation that now I give it to all my worriers. Use it to remind yourself that all worries are in the future and likely will not come to pass. You’re not there yet—it’s all happening in your mind. And if some terrible thing does indeed happen, you can deal with when it arrives.

RELATED: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

To summon strength: "Look how far I’ve come”

This is a strategy long-distance runners use to resist the temptation to give up when they’re tired or in pain. Scientists call it the horizon effect. Rather than focusing on how far they still have to go, they encourage themselves to keep at it based on the progress they’ve already made.

When I have clients with a tendency to focus on their mistakes when they’re learning a new behavior, I give them this habit changer to help them cultivate the resilience to keep at it. Because of the brain’s tendency to be Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive, as Rick Hanson describes our inborn negativity bias, when people encounter a minor setback, they often lose sight of the progress they’ve made.

I’ll never forget the client who called me to say she was a “total failure” at managing her anger because she’d stomped down the hall after a meeting. She was ready to give up on her anger-management efforts altogether. I reminded her that it was the first time she’d lost her temper in three months, whereas before it had been a weekly occurrence. Once she adopted this habit changer, it helped her stick to the techniques she’d found useful. Plus it helped her get back on the horse when she messed up, because she was able to see it as just an occasional slip-up rather than a fundamental failure. Use this mantra when you need help sticking to whatever it is you’re’ working on.

Adapted from Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals by M.J. Ryan, available from Crown Business/Crown Publishing Group.



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See What It’s Like to Be Color Blind With These Eye-Opening Gifs

Imagine a sunflower that’s slightly blue. Or a stop sign that’s not red. These may be everyday sights for a person who's color blind—which means they perceive wavelengths of light differently than most people.

“Color blindness is usually inherited,” says Jessica Lattman, MD, a New York City-based ophthalmologist. Several genes are needed to make the color-detecting molecules, or photopigments, in the cone-shaped cells of the retina (known as cone cells). Abnormalities in those genes can lead to difficulty seeing reds and greens, or blues and yellows—or in rare cases, an inability to see any color at all.

“Because most forms of the disorder are linked to the X chromosome, [it] affects men far more commonly than women,” says Dr. Lattman. It’s estimated that 8% of men and just 0.5% of women of Northern European descent have the common type, red-green blindness.

While there’s no cure for color blindness, treatments do exist: “Some people find that wearing tinted glasses helps them detect colors better,“ Dr. Lattman says. "And there are actually smartphone apps now that allow people to take a picture of something and be informed of what color it is.”

To show how color blindness can affect a person’s view of the world, the UK site Clinic Compare created the eight GIFs below. Each one portrays a different type of the disorder.

RELATED: These GIFs Show What It’s Really Like to Have Glaucoma and Other Eye Problems

Red-Green Color Blindness

Red-weakness (protanomaly)

Red-weakness—in which reds, oranges, and yellows appear greener and less bright—doesn’t tend to interfere with a person’s daily life. About 1% of men have this mild, X-linked type, according to the National Eye Institute.

Red-blindness (protanopia)

Also affecting about 1% of men, red-blindness means red appears back; and shades of orange, yellow, and green may register as yellow. 

Green-weakness (deuteranomaly)

Green-weakness is the most common form of color blindness, says Dr. Lattman. Five percent of men have it. To them, yellow and green appear redder; and blue and violet look the same.

Green-blindness (deuteranopia)

With this X-linked type affecting 1 in 100 men, greens appear beige; and reds look brownish-yellow. 

Blue-Yellow Color Blindness 

Blue-weakness (tritanomaly)

"Tritantomaly is very rare,” says Dr. Lattman, “and it affects both men and women equally." A blue-weakness, this form of color blindness makes blue appear greener. It also makes it tough to differentiate yellow and red from pink.

Blue-blindness (tritanopia)

Blue-blindness is extremely rare, and also occurs in both men and women. People with tritanopia see blue as green; and yellow as violet or light grey.

Complete Color Blindness

Cone monochromacy

There are three types of photopigments—red, blue and green. But in people who have cone monochromacy, two of the three aren’t functional. People with blue cone monochromacy (shown above) are often also near-sighted and have reduced sharpness in their vision, says Dr. Lattman. 

Red monochromacy (achromatopsia)

In people who have monochromacy, the most severe type of color blindness, none of the photopigments are functional. "These people see the world exclusively in black, white, and grey,” Dr. Lattman says.They also tend to be very sensitive to bright light. 



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How to Stop Blushing So Much

Literature is full of blushing characters: Everyone from Elizabeth Bennet to Hermione Granger—heck, even the ax-wielding Annie Wilkes from Misery—occasionally blushes, and as a result, the reader tends to like them all the more. (Until, you know, that ax scene.) But what’s cute in a Jane Austen novel isn’t necessarily endearing to the shareholders at your annual company-wide meeting. … Or is it? 

“Blushing is quite unique,” says Rowland Miller, PhD, a psychology professor at Sam Houston State University who specializes in social emotions. When humans are faced with certain threats, the fight-or-flight response kicks in, and blood is diverted away from the skin, to the muscles. The opposite occurs when we blush—the blood flow increases to the skin via the veins of the upper neck, chest, and face.

So why does your autonomic nervous system want to throw you under the bus? Well, it may actually be trying to help you. “Blushing serves a useful function,” says Miller. “It’s an authentic, non-verbal apology for misbehavior.” And socially speaking, “misbehavior” has a pretty broad definition—leaving your fly unzipped or mispronouncing a word can count.

RELATED: These Personality Traits Are Linked to a Healthier Sex Life

Blushing is important, Miller says, because people who convey remorse are less likely to be ostracized by their peers. “If someone misbehaves and remains calm, they aren’t as well liked,” he explains. Example: If you knocked your friend’s iPhone into a swimming pool and just shrugged your shoulders, you would likely then have one less friend.

Research supports the theory that blushing helps us: People think better of us if we turn a little red after we make a social faux pas—more so than if we don’t blush, according to one 2009 study in the journal Emotion. And a 2011 study by the same group of researchers found that people who blushed after doing something wrong were more likely to regain their partner’s trust during a subsequent task. (Interestingly, people were less likely to trust partners who expressed embarrassment by averting their gaze and suppressing a smile; that expression was perceived as amused rather than ashamed.)

“You can’t blush on command, so if you do [blush], you’re perceived to be truly remorseful,” says Miller.  “You can’t be embarrassed about something if you don’t care [about it].”

RELATED: How You Feel About Facebook ‘Likes’ Says Something About Your Personality

Okay, you might ask, then why do I blush when I give a speech in public? One theory: Back in grade school, being singled out for good or bad behavior usually resulted in some kind of consequence, either from your peers or your teachers, says Dr. Miller. And those memories (do we ever get over 5th grade, really?) might be enough to trigger a blush as an adult, he explains.

So how do you make yourself stop blushing? It’s actually pretty hard. And, in fact, thinking about it might make it worse: One study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy found that people who were told they were blushing (even if they weren’t), blushed more. “Believing that one will blush can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the study authors wrote.

If you can’t psych that redness out of your cheeks, you can do the next best thing: Pretend as if it doesn’t bother you. Because really, it shouldn’t. Even though research shows that people think others look down on them for blushing, the exact opposite is true, says Miller. “Blushing is charming, and audiences judge people who are blushing more positively.” Realizing that your blushing makes you even more likeable, he says, might just be the best way to keep it under control.



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4 Ways Technology Is Injuring Your Body

You probably already know that your cell phone can be a pain in the neck. (And back. And shoulder.) It’s something that both researchers and doctors alike have been noticing for the past five years or so. But fast forward to today: Are our texting/Snapchatting/selfie-taking habits getting any healthier?

Probably not, says Jocelyn Szeto, MD, a primary care sports medicine physician with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Texas Medical Center. In fact, if Hoda Kotb’s “selfie elbow” is any indication of our progress, it seems like we’re finding totally new ways to injure ourselves.

It’s hard to know exactly how many people suffer from tech-related aches—“the incidence rate is still underreported,” says Dr. Szeto—but she sees plenty of people who are bothered by tight tendons and overuse injuries.

The culprit, she says, is pretty much one thing: repetition, repetition, repetition. Problem is, we not only text, type, and selfie often, we also do so without really noticing it, she says. Time to change that. Here are four tech-related injuries to be aware of, and ways to ward them off.

Selfie Elbow

Selfies are all about finding the best angle for your face, not your joints: With our arms stuck out in front of us and our elbows held at an awkward angle—sometimes for 10 to 15 seconds at a time—"it’s not a very ergonomic position,” says Dr. Szeto.

The problem: Taking tons of selfies can strain one of the forearm muscles that helps stabilize your arm. And when you use that muscle too often, tiny microtears form around the part of it that connects to the elbow joint, causing inflammation. “It’s the same muscles that are affected in ‘tennis elbow,’” she says.

The fix: Scale back on the selfies, which should give your muscles a much-needed break. Alternating your camera hand can help, too. (Or you can always ask a friend to take the picture for you.)

RELATED:  6 Ways Your Mobile Devices Are Hurting Your Body

Thumb Strain

Whether you’re a stickler about cleaning out your inbox, still playing Candy Crush, or are just really active on Tinder, you can trigger an overuse injury by repetitively swiping your thumb.

The problem:  Scrolling, swiping, typing—your thumb is probably doing way more work than you give it credit for. And repeatedly moving your thumb in the same manner can cause inflammation in the tendons in your thumbs. (Dr. Szeto notes that this can also occur in the tendons of a person’s forefinger, which is often used for typing on a tablet or phone.)

The fix: Taking a break every few minutes or so to rest your fingers and thumb can help prevent overuse. Try switching up your typing fingers too.  

Tablet Neck

Any hand-held mobile device can cause posture problems, but it’s hard to hold a tablet in an ergonomically friendly way, says Szeto. Most people hold their tablets too low—i.e., resting on their laps or propped against their thighs.

The problem:  When you look down at your tablet screen, you’re also transferring more pressure to your upper spine; when that happens, your neck muscles have to work overtime to support your head, upping the odds that you’ll strain those muscles.

The fix: If you’re watching a video clip, prop up your tablet on a table at eye level; if you’re typing, try to use the device in the same way you’d use a desktop computer (as much as possible anyway). For example, use a keyboard and place the screen on your desk at eye level. And take a break every few minutes, says Dr. Szeto.

RELATED: 15 Natural Back Pain Remedies

TV Neck

The empty space about the fireplace mantle is an aesthetically-pleasing spot for a flatscreen. But it means you’re constantly craning your neck to watch your favorite shows.

The problem: When you look up at a TV, your neck is “hyperextended”— medical speak for “bent in an awkward position.” And since that puts extra stress on your neck muscles, you could wind up with a sore neck. (More incentive to move the TV to a more ergonomically-ideal place: Americans spend almost three hours a day in front of the tube, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor.)

The fix: You should always put the TV at eye level, says Dr. Szeto, so you’re looking straight ahead. This way, your neck and spine will be in the “neutral position”—i.e., you won’t have to lift or twist it to see the screen. Think of it like this: “No one fights to sit in the front row when they go to the movies,” Dr. Szeto points out. Besides, whose family room actually looks HGTV-ready in real life?



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Saturday, October 8, 2016

How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis and Find Your True Purpose

During my quarter-life crisis, I felt paralyzed to make a change. I felt like I was at the intersection of hopeless, stuck, and FOMO (or fear of missing out).

I said to myself, “I hate my job and I want to do something else, but I don’t know where to start. I’m interested in so many things, but none of them seem perfect. All my friends on Facebook are so happy and successful. My friend is a Forbes 30 Under 30. My buddy is traveling around Thailand. My friend just got engaged. I’m tired of being single. I’m a failure.”

Everything feels impossible during a quarter-life crisis, even small decisions like which shampoo to buy, or which show to watch on Netflix. 

But the five simple steps below helped me get through that period of intense confusion—and eventually, find my true purpose. I hope these tips will be helpful as you discover yours.

Stop the comparisons

Social media has made it all but impossible to avoid comparing yourself to others. We see only the coolest parts of our friends’ lives, like when they get a new job, fall in love, or travel somewhere beautiful. We think, “Wow, I really need to get my act together.”  All of us are figuring it out, even our friends whose Instagram grass looks really green. All of us are on different paths, with no right or wrong answer. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Stop worrying about what other people think and start figuring out what you want.

RELATED: Elizabeth Gilbert Shares Her Secrets to Living a More Creative Life

Pursue what’s meaningful to you

If you want to turn your quarter-life crisis into a breakthrough, you have to stop focusing on everyone else’s noise, and start asking yourself why you’re here. What do you care most about? What do you want to do for the world? What are you really good at? What types of people do you want to surround yourself with? How much money do you need to live your desired lifestyle? I call this finding alignment between who you are and how you’re spending your days.

Turn your doubt into action

When I was stuck in my old job, fear of the unknown often kept me up all night. This doubt never really goes away, but I’ve learned that we can turn our doubts into research, into positive energy that takes us closer to our next lily pad. If you write your doubts and fears on paper, you can begin to take tangible action steps toward figuring out what’s next in your life. This might mean reading a book that interests you, signing up for a class, launching a crowdfunding campaign for a creative project, starting a blog, attending a cool conference or event, traveling somewhere you always wanted to go, having coffee with a mentor, or pursuing an apprenticeship or volunteer opportunity that excites you.

Find a community of people who believe in the beauty of your dreams

Surviving a quarter-life crisis is the result of both hard work and finding the right people to support your journey. You can’t do it alone. Building a community of believers is the difference between your breakthrough being a dream and a dream come true. So, start finding people who make you better. People who inspire you; who are creative, who are living for others, who hold you accountable. Depending on where you live, believers might be easy or incredibly difficult to find. Attend conferences, ask your network for ideas, and use social media to find local meet-up groups based on your interests.

RELATED: 8 Promises Every Woman Should Make to Herself

Practice weekly self-care rituals

When I was stuck in my quarter-life crisis, overworked and stressed, I definitely wasn’t taking care myself—and I got shingles! I didn’t give myself time to eat well, see friends, meditate, write in my journal, or exercise. If you don’t take care of your body, it’s nearly impossible to reach your goals or help anyone else reach theirs. Finding your purpose doesn’t translate to applying to as many to jobs online as you possibly can. Finding your purpose means spending time doing the things you love, with the people you love most. It also means learning how to be kind to yourself. So, what are three things you can do to be kind to yourself this week? Think about ways you can treat yourself, take care of yourself, and create yourself.

If you’re lucky, practicing self-love might even bring you closer to the purpose you’ve been searching for.

Adapted from The Quarter-Life Breakthrough: Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work, and Build a Life That Matters by Adam Smiley Poswolsky, available from TarcherPerigee/Penguin Random House. Subscribe for more career resources at smileyposwolsky.com.



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Friday, October 7, 2016

The Upper Limit of Human Lifespan May Be 125 Years, Study Suggests

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Hoping science might help you live to be 200? Sorry, new research suggests that might now be impossible.

U.S. researchers pored over the data on human longevity and concluded that people’s life spans may have nearly hit their limit.

That doesn’t mean more people won’t be living to very old ages—just probably not much beyond the record age of 122, the researchers said.

“Further progress against infectious and chronic diseases may continue boosting average life expectancy, but not maximum life span,” said study senior author Jan Vijg, chair of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

As the researchers noted, average life expectancy has risen substantially since the 19th century due to improvements in diet, public health and other areas.

For example, babies born in the United States today can expect to live until age 79, while the average life expectancy for those born in 1900 was only 47 years, the study authors said.

And since the 1970s, the ages of the oldest people worldwide have also increased. A French woman named Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997, had the longest documented life span of any person in history at 122 years.

In the new review, Vijg’s team tracked data from the Human Mortality Database, which looks at statistics on deaths and other population data from more than 40 countries.

The researchers found that the percentage of people who lived to enjoy old age kept climbing from 1900 onward.

However, for people who made it to the 100-year mark, survival after that birthday didn’t really budge much, regardless of what year the person was born. Their age at death did rise a bit between the 1970s and early 1990s, but seems to have leveled out since then, the study found.

“This finding indicates diminishing gains in reducing late-life mortality and a possible limit to human life span,” Vijg said in a school news release.

So, based on current data, his team believes the average maximum human life span is 115 years, and that the absolute limit of human life span will be 125 years.

And the probability of any one person worldwide reaching age 125 in a given year is less than one in 10,000, Vijg and his colleagues said.

“Demographers as well as biologists have contended there is no reason to think that the ongoing increase in maximum life span will end soon,” Vijg said. “But our data strongly suggest that it has already been attained and that this happened in the 1990s.

"While it’s conceivable that therapeutic breakthroughs might extend human longevity beyond the limits we’ve calculated, such advances would need to overwhelm the many genetic variants that appear to collectively determine the human life span,” he explained.

“Perhaps resources now being spent to increase life span should instead go to lengthening ‘health span'—the duration of old age spent in good health,” Vijg added.

The study was published online Oct. 5 in the journal Nature.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on life expectancy.



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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

When You Cry At Work, This Is What Happens

If you’re a baby, bursting into a puddle of tears (in public or in private) helps you get what you want. But if you’re a grown-up, crying at work will only get you left behind, a new study suggests.

In a series of three experiments, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, researchers asked about 1,000 people their impression of a person in a photograph. In one photo, the person had visible tears on their cheek—making it obvious that they were crying—or showed no tears, because they’d been digitally removed. The presence of a tear made all the difference; people perceived the tearful person as sadder, warmer—but also less competent—than the very same person when the tears had been edited out. People looking at the photos said they were more likely to approach a tearful person to offer help than one without tears.

But in another experiment in the study, people were shown the photographs and asked a different question: “If you would arrive at work, and your manager asks you to finish an important project that afternoon, would you like to do that with this person?”

People in the study said they wanted to approach the woman in the photo to see if they could help, but weren’t too eager to work with her on a big project. “It seems that people who cry are seen as less competent persons in general,” says Niels van de Ven, associate professor in marketing at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and one of the authors of the study. “We did not give reasons about why people were crying, but still, it reflects badly on their perceived competence.”

Why adults cry has been a mystery to scientists for centuries, as TIME recently reported. One prominent theory is that crying signals to others an inability to cope with something happening at that moment, and tears trigger bystanders’ desire to help. Several studies, including this one, have shown that tears do compel people to approach someone who’s crying. But the new work shows that the effects of those tears are not all positive and may depend on context. “Work is definitely a place where crying seems to be not really appreciated,” van de Ven says. “Work is a setting where typically everything is about competence.”

Thankfully, though, the office is not the most popular spot to cry. In one comprehensive survey, 74% of people said the last place they cried was at home, while only 6% reported crying at work or school. Wondering how your crying habits measure up to the those of your colleagues? Take our quiz to find out what kind of crier you are.

This article originally appeared on Time.com.



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