Wellness Research
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Our Wellness Director, Fabiana Cheistwer, MS, EP, CWWPM, CWP, has thoughtfully summarized relevant studies for us. Links to research details will be provided, and as always, the Six Dimensions of Wellness (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Community) provide the foundation.

Enjoy exploring these topics:


More muscle mass at older ages fends off premature death

Body weight and a body mass index (BMI) calculation are often used as measures of health. Researchers pointed out that obesity (a BMI of 30 or higher) has been inconsistently associated with mortality, and that muscle and fat have different metabolic properties. Would the amount of muscle mass be associated with a lower risk of premature death?

STUDY: Data was examined for a group of 3,659 individuals including men ages 55 or older and women who were 65 or older when they participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 1988. Their body composition was measured using bioelectrical impedance, a noninvasive procedure that differentiates between fat and lean body mass. These measurements were used to calculate a muscle mass index (amount of muscle relative to height). Using data from a follow-up survey in 2004, they determined how many people had died.

FINDINGS: All-cause mortality was significantly lower in the people with the highest levels on the muscle mass index compared to individuals with the lowest levels on the muscle mass index.

COMMENT: “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Medicine, online (February 20, 2014)


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning had a number of key findings:

 1. 53% of cleaning products assessed contained ingredients known to harm the lungs; 22% contain chemicals reported to cause asthma.

2. Formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen, is used as a preservative or may be released by other preservatives in a number of cleaning products.

3. The chemical 1,4-dioxane, a suspected human carcinogen, is a widely-used detergent chemical.

4. Chloroform, a suspected human carcinogen, sometimes escapes in fumes released by products containing chlorine bleach.

5. Quaternary ammonium compounds (“quats”) like benzalkonium chloride, found in antibacterial spray cleaners and fabric softeners, can cause asthma.

6. Sodium borate, also known as borax, and boric acid are added to many products as cleaning agents, enzyme stabilizers, or for other functions. They can disrupt the hormone system.

7. Many leading “green” brands sell superior products, but not all cleaners marketed as environmentally conscious score high. Some “green” brands do not disclose ingredients adequately. For a list of brands see: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings.

 The EWG also has suggested that consumers avoid the following completely because they are unnecessary or there is not a better alternative:

1.  Air fresheners contain secret fragrance mixtures that can trigger allergies and asthma. 

2. Antibacterial products can spur development of drug-resistant superbugs.

3. Fabric softener and dryer sheet ingredients can cause allergies or asthma and can irritate the lungs. The alternative: Try a little vinegar in the rinse cycle.

4. Caustic drain cleaners and oven cleaners can burn eyes and skin. The alternative: Use a drain snake or plunger in drains. Or, try a do-it-yourself paste of baking soda and water in the oven.<!--[if !supportLists]-->

For more information on “well” spring cleaning visit: The Environmental Working Guide Website at: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings


Music is good for health as well as the soul

In addition to enjoyment, music has been related to improved academic performance, soothed feelings and reduction in pain, among other benefits (American Music Therapy Association). A new review collected research that linked music to brain chemistry.

REVIEW: A review of 400 research papers was conducted to search for patterns in neurochemical systems relating to reward, motivation and pleasure; stress and arousal; immunity; and social affiliation.

FINDINGS: Music was found to improve the body’s immune system function by increasing both immunoglobulin A (an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity of the mucous system) and natural killer cell counts (the cells that attack invading germs and bacteria). Listening to and playing music reduced levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body and was more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety prior to surgery.

COMMENT: “We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics,” said Professor Daniel J. Levitin at McGill University. “But even more importantly, we were able to document the neurochemical mechanisms by which music has an effect in four domains: management of mood, stress, immunity and as an aid to social bonding.”

SOURCE: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(4):179-193 (April 1, 2013)