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Arterial stiffness increases with age, is significantly increased in postmenopausal compared with premenopausal women, and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality. Flavanol-enriched cocoa has been shown to improve vascular endothelial function, induce vasodilation, and reduce blood pressure in numerous studies. Cocoa has also been shown to reduce arterial stiffness in healthy young, middle-aged, and older adults. To assess whether the frequency of cocoa intake influences its effect on arterial stiffness, researchers Okamoto et al conducted a randomized, parallel-group study in postmenopausal women.

Magnesium acts as a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes in critical biochemical pathways, including those related to bone health. Magnesium stabilizes formation of hydroxyapatite crystals, contributing to higher bone mass. Because magnesium is required as an enzymatic cofactor for the function of parathyroid hormone (PTH), magnesium deficiency impedes release of PTH and contributes to PTH resistance at target organs. Decreased activity of PTH contributes to vitamin D deficiency, which in turn impairs calcium metabolism leading to weaker bones. Magnesium deficiency also decreases osteoblast growth, promotes oxidative stress, and perpetuates inflammation – all of which contribute to decreased bone integrity.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. And, while treatments exist for it, many people do not respond fully to treatment. Prevention of depression has the potential to improve the health and quality of life of millions of people.

Gestational diabetes is primarily managed with diet, with more advanced cases requiring insulin therapy. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a natural compound found in green tea extract, has demonstrated beneficial effects on insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity in animal studies. In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, researchers Zhang et al. evaluated the effects of EGCG supplementation on maternal symptoms and neonatal outcomes in women with gestational diabetes.

The discovery that zinc lozenges might shorten the duration of the common cold occurred by chance, when common cold symptoms disappeared in a 3-year old girl a few hours after she slowly dissolved a zinc tablet in her mouth rather than immediately swallowing it. Her father, George Eby, conducted the first randomized controlled trial of zinc lozenges. He showed that zinc gluconate lozenges, providing 207mg per day of elemental zinc, significantly shortened the duration of the common cold. That was in 1984.

Depression is associated with impaired cognitive function and, more specifically, impaired executive function. Executive function refers to working memory, problem solving, planning, attention, inhibitory control, and other cognitive roles that ultimately influence behavior. It is thought that impaired executive function maintains symptoms of depression and that depression further impairs executive function. Childhood and adolescence are critical times for the development of executive function, making young people particularly susceptible to the long-term cognitive effects of depression.

Thomas Edison patented the first commercial light bulb in 1879, forever changing the human experience of night. Light exposure serves as an environmental signal to biological clocks, with darkness stimulating the production of melatonin, which initiates physiologic changes in the cells, tissues, and organ systems. Outdoor and indoor lighting both contain short wavelength emissions that can disrupt melatonin production. The World Health Organization has declared shift work a probable carcinogen, and the American Medical Association established guidance in 2012 and 2016 to reduce the harmful effects of high intensity street lighting.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), defined as the deposition of fat in the liver, is the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. NAFLD can progress over time to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is a more severe condition that involves hepatic inflammation and fibrosis. NASH increases the risk for liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and can dramatically compromise quality of life. 

The World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) Continuous Update Project published a review of evidence in 2011 related to risk factors for colorectal cancer. The report concluded that red and processed meat, alcoholic drinks in men, body fatness, abdominal fatness, and adult attained height increased the risk of colorectal cancer, whereas physical activity and foods containing fiber decreased the risk of colorectal cancer. The report suggested probable protective effects of alcoholic drinks in women, garlic, milk, and calcium.

Vitamin D deficiency has been reported in nearly 50% of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with IBD severity and complications, leading researchers to suspect that vitamin D may influence the clinical course of IBD.

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