Study Confirms that Smoking Causes Emphysema

…due to incomplete combustion of insoluble nanoparticulates of carbon.  The longer you smoke, the worse it gets.

Many people who pass away from severe emphysema are found, at the time of autopsy, to have black lungs. The discoloured lungs are most strongly associated with people who have smoked heavily or worked in certain industries.

Source: New Study Confirms The Lethal Effect Of Smoking

Why is this study is important?  We knew that the black stuff was carbon and nanoparticles are bad, but we weren’t quite sure how much of emphysema was from poisons in the smoke, and how much was from immune cells that ingested the carbon particles (and the underlying mechanisms).  But it would make diagnosing smoking as the cause, and assessing overall health risk from smoking easier… But because of the way the tobacco industry operates, and the limited restrictions placed on it, it probably won’t help many people until it’s too late, but this data can be used to possibly find ways to combat some of it’s harmful effects in the future.

Inhaling smoke from any burning organic matter is likely to be just as hazardous.  Puff, puff, pass on that 😉

What About Diagnosing with X-Rays?

X-ray scans only differentiate between atoms, not molecules. This is because the energy is so high (in order to penetrate through the body) that “molecules” aren’t even visible to the x-ray (it has a small interaction cross section), only individual atoms can block them.

A High-Protein Diet May Help Lower Blood Pressure

A new study has found that eating high-levels of certain proteins found in meat and plant-based foods can lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness leading to better heart health. According to researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), eating foods rich in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, could be good for your heart.

Source: Load Up! A High-Protein Diet May Help Lower Blood Pressure

The nice part is the next paragraph details that protein can be sourced from various places, not just meat.  There’s a very good reason to not source protein from red meat: Study: Large Red Meat Consumption Triggers Immune Response, Leading to Cancer.  Also, a good article on the 1 lb to 1 gram of protein myth with relation to exercise.

Mortality Gap: Why Women Live Longer than Men

In every single country on the planet, women live longer than men. In response to this unpleasant fact, men are fond of replying, “That’s because we have to put up with women.” Humorous though it may be, that’s not the actual reason women live longer than men. In fact, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th Century that the “mortality gap” between men and women became so striking.

To investigate the underlying reason for the gender gap in life expectancy, a team of researchers examined mortality data for people born between 1800 and 1935 in 13 developed countries. Using this data, they were able to determine changes in the male-female mortality ratio, as well as determine when and why women began to outlive men.

Source: Mortality Gap: Why Women Live Longer than Men

The over 40 sample is great because it eliminates the two biggest gender specific dangers – childbirth and war.  I would really like to see a study comparing the life spans of childless women, compared to those with children.  One advantage of pregnancy prior to age 30 is a reduced risk of breast cancer.  But pregnancy increases risk for osteoporosis associated complications.

How Does Lung Capacity Increase?

Alveoli are the sites in our lungs where oxygen moves from the air to the blood stream.  You can do things like smoking, which damages the alveoli to give you bigger open spaces with less surface area. Less surface area means less efficient. Things like diabetes, or high blood pressure, can cause the space between the alveoli and the blood vessels to increase, making it harder for oxygen to diffuse across and decrease efficiency.

You can’t increase alveoli/surface-area because your lungs are already packed full of them. Thus, you can’t decrease diffusion distance because the space is already as thin as it can be. You can’t increase total volume of your lungs because their size is limited by your ribcage.

The best you can do is just avoid things that make them worse. However, you can increase efficiency of the cardiovascular system which works with the lungs.

There are other things that effect the total picture of “increase stamina” such as increasing stored glycogen in the muscles or increasing one type of muscle fiber and decreasing another type of muscle fiber that is better suited to the activity you are performing (such as for long distance running you will increase Type 1 muscle fibers and decrease Type 2 muscle fibers).

TLDR: Your body becomes more efficient. The blood cells that carry oxygen work better after doing cardio for a while.

How does compare to trying to increase time you can hold your breath?

Holding your breath isn’t the same as cardio. You feel the need to breathe when you have too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in your system, instead of not enough oxygen.

You can train your mind to ignore higher levels of CO2 to pretty absurd degrees.  Another trick is to hyperventilate 3 times before holding your breathe. This rids your body of more CO2 than usual, allowing you to hold your breath for a longer amount of time.

Your lungs never really expand past peak capacity, your body simply uses the air more efficiently.

Study: Pesticides May Be Killing Off Your Sperm

Men who consume the pesticide residue found in many fruits and vegetables may have nearly 50 percent lower sperm count, according to a paper published in the journal Human Reproduction. The study, conducted by a team of Harvard researchers, is the first to examine the link between pesticide consumption and reproductive health.

Source: Pesticides May Be Killing Off Your Sperm

They didn’t actually address pesticides directly. They asked each man what he ate, then went to a USDA database to estimate their pesticide consumption based on what fruits and vegetables they ate Different fruits and vegetables have different amounts of pesticides residues. No specific pesticide was measured or estimated, just pesticide residue in general.

The men were also selected in a biased fashion, as they were all a part of couples seeking fertility treatment.  The observed sperm count was 50 % lower with men estimated to have consumed the most pesticides, so it was a pretty pronounced effect. This finding is consistent with other studies that showed that agricultural workers who work directly with pesticides have a lower sperm count.  However the study size was small (~150 men), and they did not actually measure pesticide exposure or pesticide metabolites.

Loneliness and Social Isolation: as Threatening to Longevity as Obesity

 Loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. The effect occurs even for people who like to be alone. Lack of relationships is a bigger health risk for people under age 65.

…Controlling for variables such as socioeconomic status, age, gender, and pre-existing health conditions, they found that the effect goes both ways. The lack of social connections presents an added risk, and the existence of relationships provides a positive health effect. The new study appears in Perspectives on Psychological Science.

… puts the heightened risk of mortality from loneliness in the same category as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being an alcoholic. This current study suggests that not only is the risk for mortality in the same category as these well-known risk factors, it also surpasses health risks associated with obesity.

Source: Loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity

This is the empirical other-side-of-the-coin to a recent post about how powerful friendship is.  But there is a counterpoint study:

Social contact frequency is a well-defined and relatively objective measure of social relationships, which according to many studies is closely associated with health and longevity. However, no previous meta-analysis has isolated this measure; existing reviews instead aggregate social contact with other diverse measures of social support, leaving unexplored the unique contribution of social contact to mortality. Furthermore, no study has sufficiently explored the factors that may moderate the relationship between contact frequency and mortality. We conducted meta-analyses and meta-regressions to examine 187 all-cause mortality risk estimates from 91 publications, providing data on about 400,000 persons. The mean hazard ratio (HR) for mortality among those with lower levels of social contact frequency was 1.13 (p < 0.05) among multivariate-adjusted HRs. However, sub-group meta-analyses show that there is no significant relationship between contact and mortality for male individuals and that contact with family members does not have a significant effect. The moderate effect sizes and the lack of association for some subgroups suggest that mere social contact frequency may not be as beneficial to one’s health as previously thought.

The answer is: It Depends™.  Because I’ve encountered a lot who will push, beyond recommendation, to ignore quality issues.  Codependency is just as bad, and studies like the first link do not mention this.  To be more clear – is an abusive relationship (doesn’t have to be physical) better than the alternative?  My rule is: forgiveness to a point, after which it’s no longer forgiveness – that’s just condoning abuse.  My experience to date is that no abuser changes for the better, part of which I believe is due to falling into familiar patterns.