Study shows diet fizzy drinks ‘increase risk of dying’ as much as full-sugar

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So-called diet drinks which are marketed as lower calorie versions are actually no better for your health than the full-sugar variety, new research suggests.

Drinking beverages made with artificial sweeteners “raises your risk of dying young” with consumers more likely to die from heart disease, the report shows.

Experts from Zhengzhou University in China tracked 1.2million adults over more than 20 years to learn about their consumption of soft drinks.

They recorded 137,310 deaths during this time with the risk of dying increasing for every 250ml consumed each day.

A standard can of pop is 330ml with a bottle hitting 500ml.

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Writing in the Journal of Public Health, the leading author of the study, Dr Hongyi Li, said that people who drank sugar-sweetened drinks had a 5% increased risk of dying from any cause.

And they had a 13% increase in risk of dying from heart disease, reports The Sun.

People who drank the most sugar-sweetened drinks were 12% more likely to die from any cause and 20% more likely to die from heart disease when compared to those who drank the least.

Meanwhile, when looking at artificially sweetened drinks the researchers discovered that people were 4% more at risk of dying from any cause and 7% higher risk of drying from heart disease.

People who drank more of the artificially sweetened drinks were 12% more likely to die of any cause and 23% more likely to die of heart disease.

That’s just a 3% increase on those drinking the drinks including sugar.

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Experts said that people should avoid drinking these drinks ideally, but that they are fine as part of an overall healthy diet.

Dr Li said: “High consumption of both artificially sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages showed significant associations with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.

“This information may provide ideas for decreasing the global burden of diseases by reducing sweetened beverage intake.”

Meanwhile, a whopping two thirds of Brits said that they would rather sacrifice years of their life than give up eating meat.

  • China
  • Weight Loss
  • Science

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Pfizer says South African variant could significantly reduce protective antibodies

(This February 17 story corrects headline and first paragraph to show the reduction was in the protective antibodies elicited by the vaccine, not the protection of the vaccine overall)

Slideshow ( 2 images )

(Reuters) – A laboratory study suggests that the South African variant of the coronavirus may reduce protective antibodies elicited by the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE vaccine by two-thirds, and it is not clear if the shot will be effective against the mutation, the companies said on Wednesday.

The study found the vaccine was still able to neutralize the virus and there is not yet evidence from trials in people that the variant reduces vaccine protection, the companies said.

Still, they are making investments and talking to regulators about developing an updated version of their mRNA vaccine or a booster shot, if needed.

For the study, scientists from the companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) developed an engineered virus that contained the same mutations carried on the spike portion of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa, known as B.1.351. The spike, used by the virus to enter human cells, is the primary target of many COVID-19 vaccines.

Researchers tested the engineered virus against blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine, and found a two- thirds reduction in the level of neutralizing antibodies compared with its effect on the most common version of the virus prevalent in U.S. trials.

Their findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Because there is no established benchmark yet to determine what level of antibodies are needed to protect against the virus, it is unclear whether that two-thirds reduction will render the vaccine ineffective against the variant spreading around the world.

However, UTMB professor and study co-author Pei-Yong Shi said he believes the Pfizer vaccine will likely be protective against the variant.

“We don’t know what the minimum neutralizing number is. We don’t have that cutoff line,” he said, adding that he suspects the immune response observed is likely to be significantly above where it needs to be to provide protection.

That is because in clinical trials, both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and a similar shot from Moderna Inc conferred some protection after a single dose with an antibody response lower than the reduced levels caused by the South African variant in the laboratory study.

Even if the concerning variant significantly reduces effectiveness, the vaccine should still help protect against severe disease and death, he noted. Health experts have said that is the most important factor in keeping stretched healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed.

More work is needed to understand whether the vaccine works against the South African variant, Shi said, including clinical trials and the development of correlates of protection – the benchmarks to determine what antibody levels are protective.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they were doing similar lab work to understand whether their vaccine is effective against another variant first found in Brazil.

Moderna published a correspondence in NEJM on Wednesday with similar data previously disclosed elsewhere that showed a sixfold drop antibody levels versus the South African variant.

Moderna also said the actual efficacy of its vaccine against the South African variant is yet to be determined. The company has previously said it believes the vaccine will work against the variant.

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COVID-19: Science scepticism may be reinforced by UK rush to approve vaccines


Former director of public health Professor John Ashton has said that scientific scepticism may be reinforced by the UK’s rush to approve COVID vaccines for public use and the apparent political desire to be the first out of the blocks in contrast to our European neighbours.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Prof Ashton says that to risk the trust of the public for the sake of a couple of weeks propaganda advantage could prove to be unforgivable should vaccine uptake fall below that required for the ubiquitous ‘herd immunity’ as a result of giving oxygen to the sceptics.

“In this age of scientific rationality, superstition and anti-science still run deep,” he writes. “When an overwhelming majority of the public welcomes the arrival of COVID vaccination, it is salutary to remind ourselves of the main arguments deployed against its value and use.”

As well as the readily understood fear of injections, Prof Ashton writes that other objections have included that vaccination is ‘unchristian’, that it is an infringement of personal liberty and that it is part of a more general suspicion of scientific medicine.

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A nutrition journalist dieted his whole life and still gained weight. Then he tried the keto diet, and ‘it was like a switch being flipped.’

Gary Taubes

  • Journalist and low-carb advocate Gary Taubes argues in new book "A Case for Keto" that mainstream nutrition advice leaves some people overweight and unhealthy by recommending too many carbohydrates.
  • Instead, Taubes' makes a case that low-carb diets can benefit people who react poorly to insulin by cutting back on foods that can cause a spike in blood sugar. 
  • Keto may not be for everyone. But most people could still benefit from being more carb-aware and cutting out low-quality sources like processed foods and sugars. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

If you've ever struggled to lose weight with mainstream nutrition advice, or felt that typical diet guidance (half carbs, mostly plants, not too much) wasn't for you, Gary Taubes can relate.

The longtime dietary advocate and journalist argues that low-carb, high-fat diets are more than just a trend in his latest book "The Case For Keto," out December 29. Instead, keto diets address a serious gap in our understanding of how to eat for health, he says. 

According to Taubes, that's in part because conventional nutrition advice is often given by people who haven't experienced chronic health issues related to diet. 

"The problem is we've been taking diet advice from lean and healthy people. My argument is if we do what they do, we get hungry and fatter, so we can't do it," he told Insider. 

He say he tries for years to lose weight, without success, before finding a low-carb diet to be a revelation for his health. Now he's hoping to share his experience to help people like him. 

While the keto diet is considered relatively new in the nutrition world, growing research and books like Taubes' suggest the diet has entered the mainstream of our nutritional consciousness, and it's not likely to disappear anytime soon. "Keto" was recently ranked the most popular diet in the world based on search engine data.

"If it didn't work for me, I wouldn't write a book about it"

A former football player, amateur boxer and self-described "large guy," Taubes said conventional diets felt like a constant battle with his appetite. With a family history of obesity, he noticed his weight starting to increase in his 30s, despite eating a low-fat diet and working out an hour a day. 

His initial foray into low-carb diets was prompted by the popularity of the Atkins diet in the early 2000s. Similar to keto, the diet cuts out breads, pasta, and other carbohydrates in favor of unlimited amounts of meat, cheese, eggs, butter, and other high-fat foods. 

Taubes started loading up on eggs and bacon for breakfast, meat and cheese for lunch, and a big steak with a small green salad for dinner. 

Within a few months, Taubes said he lost a significant amount of weight. The experience prompted Taubes' revolutionary 2002 article "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?" in the New York Times, praising low-carb, high-fat diets years before "keto" appeared in mainstream news headlines. 

The backlash was intense, with rebuttals accusing Taubes' of peddling sensationalized misinformation. 

Today, it's becoming more accepted that fat doesn't make you fat, and that it may not be linked to as many health issues as we previously believed. But keto and low-carb diets are still controversial, in part because a lack of rigorous long-term studies lead to questions about keto's health consequences over time. That prompted Taubes to continue to advocate for low-carb diets in his work. 

"If it didn't work for me, I wouldn't write a book about it," he said. 

Keto is about managing insulin, not calories

Taubes' experience is similar to what many people describe feeling during their first low-carb diet when, after years of struggling to lose weight on other diets, they finally have success. 

"I had been dieting all my life. I was gaining weight, so I tried [keto] as an experiment," Taubes said. "I felt great. It was like a switch being flipped."

Taubes argues that compelling research suggests many people gain weight not because of excess calories, but because of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar. When you consume carbohydrates, it causes a spike in blood sugar, and your body releases insulin in response.

Sometimes, the body becomes desensitized to insulin (this can be caused by consuming too many refined carbs and sugar) and requires more of it to continue maintaining blood sugar levels. Keto advocates theorize that this can trigger fat storage for people who respond poorly to insulin, either because of lifestyle factors or genetics, triggering them to gain weight. 

This theory, sometimes called the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis, has been contested. While insulin plays a role in fat storage, there's a lack of research showing it matters more than calorie intake. Most dietitians continue to advise that calories are the main factor in weight gain or loss, and research supports this. 

There's also no clear evidence that keto can work where other diets have failed.

Despite criticism that keto is restrictive, advocates find it 'very easy' to stick to

"The Case For Keto" takes a broad look at many of the common arguments against keto, with a deep dive into the historical context of low-carb diets, and the scientific precedence for recommending them. 

Taubes also has a beef with the common claim that keto diets are difficult to sustain. Many dietitians and other nutrition experts have argued that cutting carbs is too restrictive for most people to maintain consistently. And when strict diets fail, they can lead to even more weight gain as dieters treat themselves to previously forbidden foods, then try to restrict them again, a phenomenon called "yo-yo dieting."

But Taubes compares foregoing the carbs to avoiding a food because you're allergic. If you know lactose makes you sick, it's easier to avoid despite the occasional temptation of ice cream, he says.

For him and other long-term keto-ers, the benefits of low-carb diets overshadow the loss of beloved foods like pizza, pasta, and pastries. 

"I find it very easy to sustain it," Taubes said. "A lot of people do, especially men. If you tell them to live on steak, eggs, and bacon, they're pretty happy about it, at least for a while."

Keto might not be for everyone

Taubes doesn't think everyone needs to be on a keto diet. His wife is a vegetarian who regularly eats carbs. 

"On some level, I converted her to the idea that carbs are fattening,but she hasn't given them up entirely," he said. "She's never tried to convince me to eat like her."

For Taubes, the health benefits also outweigh the ethical and environmental concerns about eating a diet high in animal products. He said he believes that "what may be best for human health is not best for the planet."

"In an ideal world, I wouldn't eat animals. Physiologically, I'm not willing to give it up," he said. 

Some people might be able to manage their weight and health, just fine while eating carbs, but Taubes isn't writing for them.

"Those of us who gain weight easily have to minimize insulin levels. And if you eat to minimize insulin, you eat something very close to a ketogenic diet," he said. 

Read more:

The biggest diet myths debunked in 2020, from the alkaline diet to 'loaded' fat loss tea

The keto diet could help people with diabetes control blood sugar, lose weight, and improve insulin sensitivity, according to a new analysis

A low-fat, high-carb vegan diet could speed up your metabolism and boost weight loss, a new study says

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Feeling sore after exercise? Here’s what science suggests helps (and what doesn’t)

Have you been hitting the gym again with COVID restrictions easing? Or getting back into running, cycling, or playing team sports?

As many of you might’ve experienced, the inevitable muscle soreness that comes after a break can be a tough barrier to overcome.

Here’s what causes this muscle soreness, and how best to manage it.

What is muscle soreness and why does it occur?

Some muscle soreness after a workout is normal. But it can be debilitating and deter you from further exercise. The scientific term used to describe these aches is delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, which results from mechanical disruption of the muscle fibres, often called “microtears”.

This damage causes swelling and inflammation in the muscle fibres, and the release of substances that sensitise the nerves within the muscle, producing pain when the muscle contracts or is stretched.

This pain usually peaks 24-72 hours after exercise. The type of exercise that causes the most muscle soreness is “eccentric” exercise, which is where force is generated by the muscle as it lengthens—think about walking downhill or the lowering phase of a bicep curl.

There’s good news about this pain though. When the muscle cell recovers from this “microtrauma”, it gets stronger and can produce that force again without the same damage occurring. So although this strengthening process is initially painful, it’s essential for our body to adapt to our new training regime.

The inflammatory component of this process is necessary for the muscle tissue to strengthen and adapt, therefore the repeated use of anti-inflammatory medication to manage the associated pain could be detrimental to the training effect.

Will recovery gadgets put me out of my misery? Not necessarily

Before we even think about recovery from exercise, you first need to remember to start slow and progress gradually. The body adapts to physical load, so if this has been minimal during lockdown, your muscles, tendons and joints will need time to get used to resuming physical activity. And don’t forget to warm up by getting your heart rate up and the blood flowing to the muscles before every session, even if it’s a social game of touch footy!

Even if you do start slow, you may still suffer muscle soreness and you might want to know how to reduce it. There are heaps of new recovery gadgets and technologies these days that purport to help. But the jury is still out on some of these methods.

Some studies do show a benefit. There have been analyses and reviews on some of the more common recovery strategies including ice baths, massage, foam rollers and compression garments. These reviews tend to support their use as effective short-term post-exercise recovery strategies.

So, if you have the time or money—go for it! Make sure your ice baths are not too cold though, somewhere around 10-15℃ for ten minutes is probably about right.

And a word of caution on ice baths, don’t become too reliant on them in the long term, especially if you are a strength athlete. Emerging research has shown they may have a negative effect on your muscles, blunting some of the repair and rebuilding processes following resistance training.

But the efficacy of other recovery strategies remain unclear. Techniques like recovery boots or sleeves, float tanks and cryotherapy chambers are newer on the recovery scene. While there have been some promising findings, more studies are required before we can make an accurate judgement.

However, these recovery gadgets all seem to have one thing in common: they make you “feel” better. While the research doesn’t always show physical benefits for these techniques or gadgets, often using them will result in perceived lower levels of muscle soreness, pain and fatigue.

Is this just a placebo effect? Possibly, but the placebo effect is still a very powerful one—so if you believe a product will help you feel better, it probably will, on some level at least.

The ‘big rocks’ of recovery

Some of the above techniques could be classified as the “one-percenters” of recovery. But to properly recover, we need to focus on the “big rocks” of recovery. These include adequate sleep and optimal nutrition.

Sleep is one of the best recovery strategies we have, because this is when most of the muscle repair and recovery takes place. Ensuring a regular sleep routine and aiming for around eight hours of sleep per night is a good idea.

When it comes to nutrition, the exact strategy will vary from person to person and you should always seek out nutrition advice from a qualified professional, but remember the three R’s:

  • refuel (replacing carbohydrates after exercise)
  • rebuild (protein intake will aid in the muscle repair and rebuilding)
  • rehydrate (keep your fluid intake up, especially in these summer months!).

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Could COVID-19 immunity last decades? Here’s the science.

The body builds a protective fleet of immune cells when infected with COVID-19, and in many people, those defenses linger for more than six months after the infection clears, according to a new study.

The immune cells appear so stable, in fact, that immunity to the virus may last at least several years, the study authors said. “That amount of [immune] memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years,” co-author Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology in California, told The New York Times, which first reported on the study.

That said, making predictions about how long immunity to the coronavirus lasts can be “tricky,” Nicolas Vabret, an assistant professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told Live Science.

“It would be surprising to see the … immune cells build up in patients over six months and suddenly crash after one year,” Vabret said in an email. But “the only way to know whether SARS-CoV-2 immunity will last decades is to study the patients over the same period of time.” 

In other words, we won’t know exactly how long immunity lasts without continuing to study those who have recovered from COVID-19. However, the new study, posted Nov. 16 to the preprint database bioRxiv, does provide strong hints that the protection is long-lived — although clearly not in all people, as there have been several cases of individuals being reinfected with the coronavirus after recovering. 

The research dives into the ranks of the human immune system, assessing how different lines of defense change after a COVID-19 infection. 

These defenses include antibodies, which bind to the virus and either summon immune cells to destroy the bug or neutralize it themselves. Memory B cells, a kind of white blood cell, “remember” the virus after an infection clears and help quickly raise the body’s defenses, should the body be reexposed. Memory T cells, another kind of white blood cell, also learn to recognize the coronavirus and dispose of infected cells. Specifically, the authors looked at T cells called CD8+ and CD4+ cells.

The authors assessed all these immune cells and antibodies in 185 people who had recovered from COVID-19. A small number of participants never developed symptoms of the illness, but most experienced mild infections that did not require hospitalization. And 7% of the participants were hospitalized for severe disease. 

The majority of participants provided one blood sample, sometime between six days and eight months after the onset of their infections. Thirty-eight participants gave several blood samples between those time points, allowing the authors to track their immune response through time.

Ultimately, “one could argue that what they found is not so surprising, as the immune response dynamics they measure look like what you would expect from functioning immune systems,” Vabret said. 

The authors found that antibodies specific to the spike protein — a structure on the surface of the virus — remain stable for months and begin to wane about six to eight months after infection. At five months post-infection, nearly all the participants still carried antibodies. The volume of these antibodies differed widely between people, though, with an up to 200-fold difference between individuals. Antibody counts normally fall after an acute infection, Vabret noted, so the modest drop-off at six to eight months came as no surprise.

By comparison, memory T and B cells that recognize the virus appear extremely stable, the authors noted. “Essentially no decay of … memory B cells was observed between days 50 and 240,” or eight months later, Marc Jenkins, an immunologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, who was not involved in the study, said in an email.

“Although some decay of memory T cells was observed, the decay was very slow and may flatten out at some point,” Jenkins added. There’s reason to believe that the number of memory T cells may stabilize sometime after infection, because T cells against a related coronavirus, SARS-CoV, have been found in recovered patients up to 17 years later, according to a study published July 15 in the journal Nature

Early in the pandemic, scientists raised concerns that immunity to the virus may wear off in about a year; this trend can be seen with the four coronaviruses that cause the common cold, Live Science previously reported. However, studies suggest that the body’s reaction to common coronaviruses may differ from that to viruses like SAR-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, which hopped from animals to humans. 

“We don’t really know why seasonal coronaviruses do not induce lasting protective immunity,” Vabret said. But the new study, along with other recent evidence, suggests that SARS-CoV-2 immunity may be more robust, said Jason Cyster, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study.

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That said, a few participants in the new study did not mount long-lasting immune responses to the novel virus. Their transient responses may come down to differences in how much virus they were initially exposed to, or genetics may explain the difference, Cyster said. For instance, genes known as human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes differ widely between individuals and help alert the immune system to foreign invaders, Live Science previously reported

These inherent differences between people may help explain cases of COVID-19 reinfection, which have been relatively rare but are increasing in number, Science Magazine reported.

Again, to really understand how long COVID-19 immunity lasts, scientists need to continue to study recovered patients. “Certainly, we need to look six months down the road,” and see whether the T and B cell counts remain high, Cyster said.

Should immunity be long-term, one big question is whether that durability carries over to vaccines. But natural immunity and vaccine-generated immunity cannot be directly compared, Vabret noted. 

“The mechanisms by which vaccines induce immunity are not necessarily the same as the ones resulting from natural infection,” Vabret said. “So the immune protection resulting from a vaccine could last longer or shorter than the one resulting from natural infection.”

For example, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a molecular messenger called mRNA to train the body to recognize and attack the coronavirus. No mRNA-based vaccine has ever been approved before, so “we practically know nothing about the durability of those responses,” Cyster said.

“I think [that’s] the big unknown for me, among the many,” he said.

But while some unanswered questions remain, the main takeaway from the new study is that “immune memory to SARS-CoV-2 is very stable,” Jenkins said. And — fingers crossed — perhaps those hopeful results will hold well into the future.

Originally published on Live Science. 

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It may be possible to reverse key markers of aging with a therapy used by astronauts and deep-sea divers

hyperbaric oxygen therapy

  • A specialized form of oxygen therapy appears to reverse some biological markers of aging, according to a small new study. 
  • After receiving the treatment, participants had significantly longer telomeres, the part of the chromosome that typically shortens as we age. Shorter telomeres are linked to diseases like dementia and cancer. 
  • While this is the first evidence that human telomeres can be lengthened through treatment, more research is needed to better understand what that means for chronic illness and longevity. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Aging, the slow decline of function over time, is considered to be an inevitable fact of the human condition. As cells divide and reproduce in our bodies, they gradually deteriorate, and our mental and physical health declines as a result. 

But there may be a way to not only delay that cellular degeneration, but reverse it, according to a study published November 18 in the Journal of Aging. This could potentially one day help prevent age-related illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and dementia. 

The study found that a special oxygen treatment appeared to improve two key markers of biological aging. Following the therapy, participants had a significant increase in the length of their telomeres, a compound in chromosomes that stabilizes our DNA as cells divide.

As we age, telomeres shorten — a phenomenon linked to greater risk of age-related illnesses such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. 

Researchers also noticed a significant decrease in senescent cells, which have been linked to age-related diseases.

These findings are a potential breakthrough for anti-aging research, according to Dr. Shai Efrati, lead researcher on the study who pioneered research on this type of therapy at Tel Aviv University. 

"For the first time in humans, we can see that we're not only slowing decline, but the opposite — we can reverse it," Efrati told Insider. "We see an elongation [of telomeres] of more than 20%, something that was considered impossible in humans." 

The experimental therapy is promising, but expensive and time-consuming. More research is needed to see how lengthening telomeres might affect chronic illnesses and longevity and what side effects might occur long-term.

The therapy floods the body with oxygen, similar to what astronauts and deep-sea divers undergo

In the study, researchers from Shamir Medical Center and Tel Aviv University treated 30 healthy adults over age 65 with a type of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Five days a week for three months, participants spent 90 minutes inside a compression chamber, breathing 100% oxygen from a mask, with five-minute breaks at regular intervals to breathe normal air. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has previously been used as treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning and decompression sickness. For this reason, it's useful for scuba divers and astronauts who face hostile environmental conditions such as extreme pressure in the deep ocean or outer space. 

But the therapy used in this study is different from what you might find in clinics . Every 20 minutes, participants remove the oxygen mask, prompting a quick decline to normal oxygen levels. The body interprets this abrupt change as a sudden lack of oxygen, which creates a chain reaction. 

"There is a biological cascade that initiates the generation of new tissue, and more importantly, we see that on the cellular level, activating telomeres," Efrati said. 

iStock/Getty Images Plus

Years of research made this latest innovation possible

Efrati's original "a-ha moment" was the publication of a NASA study on twins. The study found the twin that went to space came back with longer telomeres, while the twin who stayed on Earth experienced normal shortening of telomeres over time. 

"When I saw that, I opened a bottle of champagne. Everyone looked at me as crazy," Efrati said. "But it means when we are changing the environmental conditions, it can change the basic biology and increase telomere length, which is considered to be the holy grail of aging."

Efrati's previous work on hyperbaric oxygen therapy has tested whether it can help treat cognitive issues and traumatic brain injury. Other researchers have been skeptical of his claims, the Washington Post reported, noting a lack of data on these experimental uses of the therapy. 

Similarly, the claims of his latest study, that aging can be reversed, almost seem too good to be true. 

"If it was magic, we wouldn't have needed 20 years to get where we are now. I hope my next research happens by magic so it happens immediately," he said. "This isn't magic, it's hard work."

The long-term effects are unknown

It's not yet clear how lengthening telomeres might affect aging, chronic illness, and longer lifespan, since it's never been done before. 

But the research does show we can measure, and possibly control, this important marker of aging.

"Once we can measure telomeres, once we can see the elongation, hopefully it will be just like blood pressure. You can measure it, you can treat it," Efrati said.

With more research, the goal is to treat aging as a preventable disease, and stave off related illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Efrati hopes to study the treatment in a larger population that includes people who are at risk of or in early stages of these diseases.  

"We need to see the long term effects, and to see if we can tailor the treatment for individuals to optimize the protocol," he said. 

Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Lifestyle factors still play a key role in aging 

While the therapy is promising, even these early results suggest that it's not a magic solution to all age-related health issues. 

Factors like diet, exercise, and lifestyle still play an important role in how we age.  Eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly, for example, have both been shown to stave off cellular degeneration, while unhealthy habits like eating poorly, being sedentary, and smoking appear to speed aging. 

As a result, Efrati said someone could theoretically receive the treatment, but continue to see their health deteriorate if those negative factors outweigh the positive. 

The procedure is expensive and time-consuming 

It's not likely that Efrati's treatment will be available to the public anytime soon, since it requires extremely specialized equipment, lots of resources, and a big time commitment.

"Every time we are starting something new, it starts with a small group of people who can afford it," Efrati said. "The type of treatment that we are giving is not affordable and available for all."

Other labs are already working to replicate his therapy, advancing our understanding of its potential and bringing it a step closer to widespread use. But, he said, it's not a process that can be rushed.

"We are dealing with human biology and human health. It's very important we do it in an appropriate way, with the quality that's needed and without any shortcuts," Efrati said.  

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Yes, it’s safe to go to the dentist

  • There has been no evidence of coronavirus transmission in dental offices since many reopened in May.
  • Dentists have universal precautions in place to prevent the transmission of any infectious disease.
  • Oral health has a cascading effect on overall health, so it’s important to keep up with your cleanings and preventive dental care.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some people might be hesitant to visit the dentist during the coronavirus pandemic, especially after the World Health Organization suggested not to in an August announcement.

However, it's actually a low-risk activity for the patient, said Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. 

"I would be more worried about my dentist than I would myself contracting the virus there," Adalja told Insider.

Dentists aren't too concerned either. After the WHO's recommendation to delay routine dental care in certain situations due to COVID-19, the American Dental Association released a statement saying it "respectfully yet strongly disagrees."

"Our first job is to be sure that our patients are safe," American Dental Association President Chad Gehani, DDS, told Insider. "If we did not think that the patients were safe, we simply would not go to the office at all. We would not have even done the emergency care in the months of March, April, and May."

Since mid-May, most dental offices in the US have been open for routine care. During those four months, there has been no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in dental offices, Kami Hoss, DDS, said — "a remarkable track record."

Along with implementing new screening procedures, dentists have taken steps to clear out their waiting rooms, reduce the potential aerosols created by some dental procedures, and ramp up personal protective equipment worn by dental professionals since reopening.

Dentists treat every patient like they could have every infectious disease

Dentists have been dealing with the possibility of coming into contact with infectious diseases from HIV to hepatitis since well before the coronavirus pandemic.

"As a profession, we are infection control experts," Hoss said. "We've always had to deal with infectious diseases and diseases that are easily transmitted via air or through blood." 

It's already standard practice for dentists and hygienists to wear masks and gloves to decrease their risk of transmitting or contracting diseases, and they've only stepped up their PPE since the pandemic, Hoss said.

The ADA also recommends additional precautions to reduce the creation of aerosols, which can carry viral particles through the air. Those measures include using high-powered suction whenever possible, and, for longer procedures, limiting exposure with rubber dental dams.

You won't find magazines in waiting rooms anytime soon

Back when dental offices in the US closed to non-emergency care in March, the primary concern was transmission in crowded waiting rooms, not during dentist-patient interactions, Gehani said.

The ADA has since encouraged dentists to limit the amount of people that pass through their offices and take away some of the shared objects they might touch. At Gehani's practice in New York, a waiting room that could hold 14 people now seats four — and there are no magazines in sight.

Hoss said the check-in process that used to take place in his waiting room is now almost entirely virtual. Patients undergo a phone screening before they book an appointment, fill out forms online instead of at reception, and they're screened again and get their temperature checked before they enter the office.

Oral health affects your overall health, so now is not the time to skip your cleaning

Much of dental care is preventive in nature, Hoss said, so it's important to keep up with regular cleanings and not put off filling cavities. Delaying a simple procedure could result in a much more costly, involved operation down the line.

Poor oral hygiene can also have "cascading effects" on other aspects of your health, Adalja said. He said he never advocated for the closure of dental offices during the pandemic because he considers dentistry to be an essential health service.

Studies have shown gum disease is associated with a higher risk of dementia, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, among other health issues. And according to a pre-print of a study due to be published in the Journal of the California Dental Association next month, COVID-19 patients with gum disease have a higher risk of developing acute respiratory complications and dying.

"During a pandemic, one of the best things we can do is to stay healthy, and staying healthy starts with our oral health," Hoss said.

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Moisturizer can be the most important part of your skincare routine. Here’s how to do it right.

  • Moisturizer is one of the most important parts of skincare, as it prevents premature aging and can help with acne.   
  • But sometimes it can be hard to know when to put it on.
  • Here is how to properly apply moisturizer and why it's one of the most important parts of any skincare regimen, according to dermatologists. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Moisturizing is one of the most important parts of any skincare routine but it can be hard to figure out what kind to look for, and how to reap the benefits from it. 

Here is a step-by-step, dermatologist-approved guide on exactly how and when to apply moisturizer, why moisturizer is important, and what to look for when you're buying one. 

Why is moisturizer so important?

Hydration is crucial for your skin's ability to regulate itself. While the overproduction of oil can cause breakouts, so can dryness.

Moisturizing your face can reduce your chance of developing extreme dryness or oiliness, according to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. 

While it's a common misconception that people with acne shouldn't add more moisture to the equation, moisturizing your skin twice a day in the mornings and night after cleansing can actually reduce the overproduction of oil in your skin and decrease your acne.

According to cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Heidi Waldorf, well-moisturized skin will be more likely to control oiliness on its own. 

"[Healthy skin] holds in moisture and exfoliates on its own, is soft to the touch, and reflects light well," Waldorf said. 

Using a moisturizer can also prevent premature aging like wrinkles and fine lines. 

What should you look for when you're buying moisturizer?

Effective moisturizers use humectants to pull in moisture, emollients to smooth the surface and provide a silky feel, and an occlusive to lock the moisture in.

If you have oily skin, try looking for a moisturizer in a gel consistency as it can feel less heavy on your skin but still do the trick. in terms of hydration. 

For normal to dry skin, a cream moisturizer can help balance your skin all day rather than leaving it thirsty midway through. 

How do I apply it?

While it may depend on your specific skin needs, generally you should apply moisturizer in the morning and before you go to bed.

According to Waldorf, the best time to apply moisturizer is after your other skincare steps, but before sunscreen. If you have steps beyond cleansing — like toner, applying serums, and exfoliating — you should apply your moisturizer to seal in all of the beneficial skin treatments. 

If you prefer to just cleanse and moisturize, make sure to leave your face a little bit damp before applying your moisturizer on top. This will seal in the additional moisture from the water. 

In the morning, you should layer your moisturizer under your sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's harsh UV rays, which can also cause damage. 

If you feel like you want extra moisture at night, you can double up and put on a night cream, which oftentimes is a heavier duty moisturizer that is thicker than your daytime one. 

Read More:

A dermatologist told me everything I'm doing wrong in my skincare routine and how to know if a product is worth it

The best facial cleanser ingredients for each skin type, according to dermatologists

5 ways to know if your skincare routine is good, bad, or just a waste of money

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