Medical News Today: Which essential oils can relieve anxiety?

Essential oils are scented liquids that manufacturers derive from plants, flowers, and fruits. Research suggests that aromatherapy with some essential oils may help promote relaxation and relieve anxiety.

In this article, we discuss some of the best essential oils to try for anxiety and the evidence supporting their use.

We also cover how to use essential oils, oil blending, risk and considerations, and when to see a doctor for anxiety.

Bergamot orange

Woman smelling essential oil to ease anxiety
Essential oils can aid relaxation.

Bergamot orange essential oil comes from the Citrus bergamia tree. Producers extract the oil by cold-pressing the rind of the oranges. Bergamot orange is a popular aromatherapy oil for relieving anxiety.

According to one 2015 systematic review, inhaling bergamot orange essential oil has an anxiety-reducing effect in rats. Also, a 2013 study found that compared with inhaling water vapor, aromatherapy with bergamot orange essential oil reduced anxiety in people awaiting minor surgery.

A range of bergamot orange essential oils is available to purchase online.


Chamomile is a daisy-like herb. Manufacturers use steam distillation to extract a fruity, sweet-smelling essential oil from the flowers of this plant.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a 2-week clinical trial investigated the effects of massage with Roman chamomile oil in people with cancer. The study found that massage with this diluted oil helped decrease anxiety and other symptoms more than massage alone.

People can purchase Roman chamomile essential oils online.

Clary sage

Clary sage is a medicinal herb that many people believe to have anxiety-relieving properties.

A small study from 2013 explored the effects of essential oil in 34 females with urinary incontinence. The participants inhaled either clary sage, lavender, or almond essential oils while having a bladder examination.

The study found that compared with those who inhaled lavender and almond essential oils, participants who inhaled clary sage oil experienced significant decreases in blood pressure and respiratory rate.

The researchers concluded that inhaling clary sage oil may help a person relax during a bladder examination.

Many products containing clary sage essential oil are available to purchase online.


Lavandula angustifolia is a purple flowering plant with a fragrant scent. Aromatherapists commonly use essential oils from lavender, claiming that they have anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing, and anxiety-relieving properties.

According to a 2017 review, several clinical trials suggest that aromatherapy with lavender oil can help reduce anxiety before surgery and cosmetic procedures as well as during a stay in an intensive care unit.

However, the authors also emphasized the limitations of the current evidence base.

Many lavender essential oil products are available to purchase online.

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Lemon essential oil in glass jars next to cut up lemon
A person should use essential oils with care, as they are potent.

Essential oil from lemon rind or leaves has a rich citrus scent.

A 2015 systematic review found that maze studies in rats and mice suggest that exposure to lemon oil may have an anxiety-relieving effect in these animals.

However, the review’s authors also say that another study found that continuous exposure to lemon oil had the opposite effect in animals and may cause a stressful response.

So, it may be best for people to use lemon oil in lower doses or for shorter periods of time.

It is also worth noting that citrus essential oils increase sensitivity to sunlight. A person should protect their skin from all sun exposure when using lemon essential oil.

A range of lemon essential oils is available to buy online.


Neroli essential oil, or orange blossom essential oil, comes from the bitter orange tree, or Citrus aurantium. Manufacturers typically extract the oil from the blossoms of this tree.

The scent of the oil is sweet and citrusy, and it may have anxiety-relieving properties. A 2015 systematic review notes that research suggests that aromatherapy with neroli oil has a calming effect and can help treat insomnia.

People can purchase neroli essential oils online.


Some animal studies suggest that essential oils from the flowers of rose plants may be beneficial for anxiety.

According to a 2015 systematic review, conflict tests and maze studies in mice suggest that essential oil from Rose centifolia and Rose damascene may have an anxiety-relieving or relaxation effect in these animals.

However, the review notes that results from a different mice study contradict these findings.

Several essential oils from rose are available to purchase online.


Ylang-ylang essential oil comes from the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree. Many aromatherapists believe that ylang-ylang oil can help reduce stress and anxiety.

In a small 2015 study involving 34 nurses, researchers found that aromatherapy with ylang-ylang did not have a significant effect on anxiety but did improve the participants’ self-esteem.

People can buy ylang-ylang essential oils online.

Other essential oils

The American College of Healthcare Sciences recommend some other essential oils for providing anxiety relief and lifting mood.

Although there is little scientific evidence to support these claims, some people may find aromatherapy with these oils beneficial.

These essential oils include:

  • basil
  • geranium
  • grapefruit
  • lime
  • sandalwood
  • sweet orange

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How to use essential oils

Reed diffuser for essential oil aromatherapy
Reed diffusers can distribute essential oil aroma in a room.

Essential oils are very pure, concentrated oils. Many of these oils are toxic, so a person should not ingest them.

Most manufacturers will recommend diluting essential oils with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or sweet almond oil. Always read the label before using and carefully follow the directions for diluting the oil.

A person may also wish to consider doing a patch test before applying essential oils to their skin or fabrics. Some may stain or cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction.

There are several different ways that a person can use diluted essential oils, such as by:

  • using the oils in special diffusers
  • applying the oils to fabrics and soft furnishings, such as bedding, pillows, or cushions
  • massaging the oils into the skin
  • mixing oils in with bath salts or lotions

Oil blending

A person may wish to experiment with blending essential oils to create different fragrances and effects.

For example, a person can try blending bergamot, frankincense, and lavender essential oils with a carrier oil. Another blend option is mixing bergamot, lavender, and ylang-ylang oils with a carrier oil.

According to one 2015 review, inhalation aromatherapy with a blend of rose and lavender essences helped reduce anxiety in a group of female college students.

Risks and considerations

Pure essential oils are highly concentrated, and many are potentially toxic. For this reason, it is vital to dilute them in carrier oil before use. Manufacturers usually provide advice on how best to dilute the essential oil.

Diluting the oil reduces the likelihood that it will irritate a person’s skin, eyes, or lungs. A person should never apply undiluted essential oils to their skin or eyes.

Signs of skin irritation or an allergic reaction to an essential oil can include:

  • blotchy skin
  • itching
  • pain
  • redness

Before applying the diluted essential oil to the skin, it is generally best to test it on a small patch of skin. If a reaction occurs, clean the skin with soap and warm water and stop using the oil.

When to see a doctor

Some people may find that essential oils can help promote relaxation and relieve stress.

However, chronic anxiety can have a detrimental effect to both a person’s mental and physical health. If anxiety is causing significant distress or disruption to a person’s daily routine, they may wish to consider seeing a doctor.

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • avoiding public places
  • wanting to stay at home
  • trouble concentrating

There are many interventions that can help a person manage anxiety, including:

  • psychotherapy, such as counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • medications
  • relaxation techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga
  • support groups
  • lifestyle changes, such as stress avoidance and regular exercise


Essential oils are scented liquids that manufacturers extract from a wide range of plants. Many people find that aromatherapy with certain essential oils can help promote relaxation and relieve stress and anxiety.

However, most of the scientific evidence to support the anxiety-relieving properties of essential oils comes from animal studies. To confirm and better understand these findings, researchers need to conduct more large-scale studies in humans.

When using essential oils, it is vital to dilute them in an appropriate carrier oil first. Oils can sometimes cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, so a person should test them on a small patch of skin before applying them to larger areas.

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Medical News Today: What to expect from Lupron treatment

Lupron is the brand name for leuprolide acetate. This drug is a type of hormone therapy that doctors typically use in combination with other treatments to treat people with prostate cancer.

Lupron belongs to a class of drugs called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists. These medications block the production of LHRH in the body, which results in the testicles producing less testosterone.

Lupron is one of several drugs that doctors may prescribe to help fight prostate cancer by reducing testosterone levels in the body.

In this article, we explore how Lupron works, how effective it is, and what to expect during treatment. We also discuss testosterone flares, side effects, and the outlook for people with prostate cancer.

How does it work?

Injection of lupron for prostate cancer
A doctor will administer Lupron as a small implant injected under the skin.

Lupron and other LHRH agonists are forms of hormone therapy. For people with prostate cancer, the aim of hormone therapy is to reduce testosterone levels in the body.

Male hormones, such as testosterone, encourage the growth of prostate cancer cells. Therefore, lowering testosterone levels in the body can help slow the progression of prostate cancer.

Doctors typically prescribe hormone therapy for people with late-stage prostate cancer or prostate cancer that returns. Some doctors use hormone therapy when the disease is in the early stages, but the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend watching and waiting as the best approach for early-stage prostate cancer.

How effective is it?

Hormone therapies, such as Lupron, are often effective in combination with other treatments for people with late-stage prostate cancer. Many doctors do not recommend hormone therapy during the early stages of this disease.

One potential issue is that prostate cancer can become resistant to LHRH agonists over time in some people.

According to the ACS, doctors may recommend hormone therapies, such as Lupron, for:

  • cancer that comes back after radiation therapy or surgery
  • cancer that has spread too far for radiation therapy or surgery to cure it
  • people who cannot have radiation therapy or surgery
  • shrinking cancer before radiation therapy
  • people who are having radiation therapy and have a high risk of cancer returning after treatment

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What to expect during treatment

Doctors often use hormone therapies, such as Lupron, in combination with radiation therapy or other treatments. They may also use it following surgery.

Healthcare professionals administer Lupron as a depot, which is a small implant that they inject under the person’s skin. The individual can often choose an injection site that is suitable for them. Common injection sites include:

  • upper arms
  • outer thighs
  • buttocks

The treatment regimen for Lupron will depend on the individual’s circumstances, and a person can work with their doctor to determine the best dosage. Some typical dosages include:

  • 7.5 mg — one injection every 4 weeks
  • 22.5 mg — one injection every 12 weeks
  • 30 mg — one injection every 16 weeks
  • 45 mg — one injection every 24 weeks

When a person first starts treatment with Lupron, they may have a testosterone flare. Later on, they may experience side effects due to having very low testosterone levels in their body. After treatment stops, testosterone levels begin to return to normal.

Testosterone flares

When a person first takes Lupron, their testosterone levels may rise, or flare, before dropping to very low levels. For some people, particularly those with advanced prostate cancer, a testosterone flare can temporarily cause their symptoms to worsen.

The symptoms of a testosterone flare can include:

  • blockage of the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • bone pain
  • worsening nerve symptoms
  • spinal cord compression
  • issues with urination

To help prevent a testosterone flare, doctors may also prescribe an anti-androgen drug during the first few weeks of treatment with an LHRH agonist.

Side effects

Man with fatigue and depression caused by lupron
Side effects of Lupron can include hot flashes, depression, and fatigue.

As with any medical treatment, Lupron and other hormone therapies can cause side effects. Many of these side effects are symptoms of having very low testosterone levels.

Possible side effects of hormone therapies, such as Lupron, can include:

  • loss of muscle mass
  • hot flashes
  • fatigue
  • skin irritation at the site of injection
  • erectile dysfunction or loss of sex drive
  • shrunken testicles and penis
  • changes in blood lipids
  • depression
  • osteoporosis
  • mood swings
  • breast tenderness
  • weight gain
  • the growth of breast tissue
  • anemia

A person should discuss any side effects that they are experiencing with their healthcare team. If the side effects are severe, the doctor may recommend changing the dosage or trying a different treatment.

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Alternative treatment options

There are several treatment options for prostate cancer, including other LHRH agonists and various types of hormone therapy.

Other LHRH agonists include:

  • goserelin (Zoladex)
  • triptorelin (Trelstar)
  • histrelin (Vantas)

Alternative hormone therapies include:

  • Orchiectomy. Also known as surgical castration, this is a surgical procedure to remove a person’s testicles. The testicles produce most of the body’s testosterone.
  • LHRH antagonists. These drugs work in a similar way to LHRH agonists, but they lower testosterone levels much more quickly. LHRH antagonists are a form of chemical castration, and doctors use them to treat people with advanced prostate cancer.
  • CYP17 inhibitors. In addition to the testicles, other cells in the body produce small amounts of testosterone. CYP17 inhibitors block these cells from making testosterone.
  • Anti-androgens. These drugs prevent testosterone from working in the body. Doctors usually prescribe anti-androgens in combination with other hormone therapies.

The first treatment for people with prostate cancer is often watchful waiting, where a doctor closely monitors a person to see how the disease progresses. Prostate cancer can progress very slowly, and some people may never require any treatment.

If a person’s cancer does progress to more advanced stages, treatment options can include:

  • radiation therapy
  • surgery
  • cryotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • vaccine treatment

Doctors often use hormone therapies either in combination with or following one of these treatments.


doctor speaking to patient in modern office
Survival rates for prostate cancer are generally very high.

As prostate cancer often progresses very slowly, the survival rates for this disease are generally high.

According to the ACS, the overall 5-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer is 98 percent. This statistic means that people with prostate cancer are 98 percent as likely to live for at least 5 years following diagnosis as those without the condition.

However, a person’s outlook can depend on how advanced the disease is when a doctor diagnoses them with prostate cancer.

For people with cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate or has only spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is nearly 100 percent. If the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bones, the 5-year relative survival rate is 30 percent.

It is important to note that everyone’s outlook is different and that doctors have based these estimates on the data of men who received a diagnosis between 2008 and 2014.


Lupron is a type of hormone therapy for prostate cancer. It works by lowering the amount of testosterone in a person’s body, which helps slow the growth of cancer cells.

Doctors often prescribe hormone therapies in combination with radiation therapy or following surgery. They administer Lupron by injecting it under a person’s skin, which they will do between once a month and once every 6 months.

Because Lupron lowers testosterone levels, it can cause a range of side effects. Anyone experiencing severe or concerning symptoms may wish to discuss these with their doctor.

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Medical News Today: Is it allergic asthma or something else?

Allergic asthma is a type of asthma that causes symptoms when a person is around certain triggers, for example, pet dander. These allergens lead to an immune system response that affects the lungs and makes it harder to breathe.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, allergic asthma is the most common asthma type.

Allergies can be dangerous if they cause a life-threatening response known as anaphylaxis.

In allergic asthma, as well as nonallergic asthma, an asthma attack, or exacerbation, can also be fatal occasionally. As a result, a person may wish to talk to their doctor about identifying asthma triggers to reduce the likelihood of an attack.


Woman with shortness of breath holding chest in pain looking out of window
Asthma can cause breathing difficulties, such as shortness of breath.

Asthma symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • chest tightness
  • coughing
  • problems breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing

People will usually notice these symptoms become worse when they have exposure to certain triggers, which can include allergens.

A serious asthma attack can cause severe airway swelling that makes it difficult to breathe at all. A person may then require emergency medical treatment to help them breathe.

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Doctors do not know exactly why some people have allergic asthma, and others do not, although it can run in families.

People with allergic asthma are also more likely to have atopic dermatitis, eczema, and allergic rhinitis or hay fever, as are other family members.

Researchers continue to study information on different gene variations that may make a person more prone to allergic asthma. They are also examining how people with different genes respond to treatments. For example, people with specific genes may not respond to certain treatments.

Each individual with allergic asthma may have different triggers. For some people, these allergens cause no symptoms. In others, they can make breathing difficult and trigger an asthma attack.

Some of the most common allergens are:

  • cockroaches, including their saliva, feces, and body parts
  • dust mites
  • mold
  • pet dander, such as from dogs or cats
  • pollen from plants, including grasses, trees, and weeds

When a person is sensitive to a particular allergen and experiences exposure to it, their immune system starts releasing the compound immunoglobulin E, or IgE. Excess IgE in the body can then trigger the release of other substances that may cause airway inflammation.

Excess amounts of IgE can lead to a process that makes the airways smaller. Breathing through smaller airways is more difficult than through larger ones. The result can be an asthma attack.


Doctors will begin diagnosing allergic asthma by asking a person about their symptoms, including what makes these better or worse.

Next, a doctor may perform respiratory function tests to determine the impact on the airways. They may also undertake skin testing to determine if a person has a reaction to specific allergens.

Allergic asthma is different from other types of asthma because it triggers an immune system response. Other asthma types are a reaction to other irritants that cause the airways to get smaller or open and close more easily. Physical activity, exposure to smoke, or having a respiratory infection can lead to an asthma exacerbation in these asthma types.

The most definitive sign of allergic asthma is when an individual tests positive for an allergen, along with having asthma symptoms after exposure to that allergen. Finding this out can help a doctor determine whether allergic asthma is the cause.

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Treating allergic asthma at home

Man vacuuming house with hoover
A vacuum with a HEPA filter can help manage dust levels.

Avoidance of triggers is the first and most important way to prevent allergic asthma symptoms.

If a person is allergic to pet dander, they should avoid the pets known to cause allergic reactions.

For people allergic to dust mites, there are other steps they can take at home to reduce their risk of exposure to these mites.

Examples include:

  • Placing allergen-proof bed coverings over pillows and mattresses: These help to keep dust mites that might trigger an allergic reaction away from bedding.
  • Using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter: This reduces the amount of dust present when cleaning.
  • Washing bedding regularly: People should do this using a high water temperature to remove dust mites as well as other potential allergy-causing substances.
  • Keeping dust to a minimum: People can do this in the home by washing clothes and toys regularly, especially stuffed toys, as well as dusting with damp rags to minimize dust in the air.

Keeping the home clean and mold-free can often help reduce the potential triggers for allergic asthma.

Medical treatments

There is no cure for asthma. However, there are medical treatments that can prevent allergic reactions as well as treat asthma symptoms.

Doctors may also prescribe treatments to reduce airway irritation if a person experiences an asthma attack, and to prevent asthma symptoms and airway inflammation over the long term.

Examples of these treatments include:

  • Short-acting inhalers: These medications quickly open up the airways, helping a person breathe more easily. Doctors often call them rescue inhalers because a person can use them quickly when they are having a hard time breathing.
  • Long-acting inhalers: People use these medications to keep the airways open for a longer period than short-acting inhalers.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids: This medication helps to reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms.
  • Leukotriene modifiers: These drugs reduce the amount of airway swelling in some of those with asthma. They can also relax the airways, ideally making it easier to breathe.

In addition to medications to treat breathing symptoms, a doctor may recommend taking medications to reduce the body’s response to allergen exposure. These drugs are more helpful for people with other allergy symptoms in addition to asthma.

Many medications are available over the counter. Examples include:

  • cetirizine, brand name Zyrtec
  • fexofenadine, brand name Allegra
  • loratadine, brand name Claritin
  • levocetirizine, brand name Xyzal

These medications help to block the body’s response to allergens. While they will not cure allergic asthma, they may help reduce the severity of an allergic response.

A doctor may recommend allergy immunotherapy to help someone who has allergic asthma. This is a process that exposes the body to small and increasing amounts of an allergen. Exposure in this way can desensitize a person to the allergen, reducing the chances of their immune system triggering an asthma attack or other symptoms.

Doctors give immunotherapy treatments via shots or tablets that dissolve under the tongue.

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Allergic asthma can affect a person’s abilities to go outdoors or go to other people’s homes with pets.

While curing allergic asthma is not possible, many treatments can enhance breathing and improve a person’s overall health.

Avoiding the substances that trigger asthma reactions can help, as can taking medications to reduce the severity of an allergic reaction.

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Medical News Today: 9 healthful snacks to eat for weight loss

Trying to lose weight does not mean that a person has to give up all snacks. Certain snack foods, such as almonds and hummus, can help a person reach their weight loss goals. Contrary to popular belief, when a person tries to lose weight, they do not have to avoid eating or only eat at meal times.

Some studies suggest that people are more likely to maintain their weight loss if they have a healthful eating pattern.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), skipping food to lose weight generally backfires because it sets a person up to overeat.

However, when a person satisfies their hunger with healthful snacks, they are much less likely to want to eat unhealthful foods or go over their calorie limit.

What makes a food good for weight loss?

young woman eating fruit and yoghurt
Eating healthful snacks can help a person lose weight.

Some foods are better for weight loss than others.

In general, foods that are high in fiber or protein tend to be more filling. This means a person will feel satiated faster and may eat less at each snack time or meal.

Other considerations are finding foods that are low in calories but high in volume or density. The more space a food takes up in the stomach, the more full a person may feel. Again, this helps a person eat less with each snack.

People may also want to consider foods that help with metabolism and energy. Higher energy can help a person burn more calories, and a better metabolism can help a person more efficiently process the food they eat.

People looking to lose weight should avoid foods that contain large amounts of:

Unprocessed foods are good choices because many processed snacks contain high levels of sugar, salt, or both. Snacking between meals can help with weight loss. Snacking on healthful options can help prevent someone from overeating as well as provide vitamins, fiber, and protein.

The following are some of the best snacks for weight loss.

1. Hummus and vegetables

Hummus is a traditional Mediterranean dish that people make from pureed chickpeas. Due to its growing popularity, there are often several flavor options for premade hummus dips available in stores. People can also make hummus at home.

According to a 2016 study, hummus offers many potential benefits. Hummus provides a good source of protein and fiber, both of which can help a person feel fuller faster.

When people eat hummus with vegetables, they are getting the benefit of hummus as well as any additional nutrients from the vegetables.

2. Celery sticks and nut butter

Celery is a low-calorie vegetable. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), two large celery stalks count as 1 cup of vegetables of the 2.5 cups necessary per day for a 2,000-calorie diet.

Celery is primarily water, which can help a person feel full. Dipping celery in a nut butter, such as peanut or almond butter, can provide the benefits of healthful fats and protein as well.

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3. Fruit and nut butter

Apples and peanut butter is a good diet-friendly snack.

People can get creative with their fruit and nut butter combinations if they desire. According to the USDA, one medium apple provides 20 percent of a person’s dietary fiber, and 1 of the 2 recommended cups of fruit each day.

Dipping an apple slice in peanut or another nut butter also adds protein and good fat to a person’s snack.

4. Low-fat cheese

man looking at dairy products in supermarket
Low-fat cheese is a source of protein and calcium.

Low-fat cheese products offer many nutrients and lower fat counts than regular cheese.

Some of the benefits include:

  • source of protein
  • source of calcium
  • source of other vitamins and minerals

Low-fat cheese also contains fewer calories than full-fat cheese.

5. Nuts

Nuts can be a very healthful and filling snack.

Nuts provide protein and good fats. However, those looking to limit their salt intake should check the label to make sure there is no added salt. Also, a person should avoid nuts cooked with flavors, since the flavors often contain sugar or salt.

People should look for raw or dry-roasted nuts instead. Nuts are relatively high in calories, so a person should only eat a small amount per snack.

6. Hard-boiled eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein. In past years, however, many people thought that eggs were not healthful due to concerns about cholesterol.

However, more recent research suggests that eggs do not raise cholesterol levels and contain many essential nutrients.

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7. Greek yogurt with berries

Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium and low in fat and calories. A person can safely add fresh fruit or nuts to Greek yogurt to improve its taste and add nutritional value.

The best Greek yogurt for weight loss is the plain variety. Greek yogurts with flavoring will often contain extra sugar, which is not good for weight loss.

8. Edamame

Edamame is a legume that a person can eat as a snack. Similar to other legumes, edamame is a source of fiber and protein.

It is also high in potassium, iron, and magnesium. When people eat it between meals, edamame can help a person feel fuller while also providing some essential nutrients.

9. Air-popped popcorn

Popcorn is a popular snack food in the U.S. It often gets a bad reputation due to the additional sugar, fat, or salt that people put on it.

Air-popped popcorn does not contain these extra ingredients. Plain popcorn is a low-calorie whole grain that offers plenty of filling fiber.

How to add them to your diet

woman making hummus
A person may find preparing healthful snacks in advance helpful.

The most effective way to add healthful snacks to the diet is to keep a stock of them in easy reach.

For example, a person could prepare a week’s worth of snacks at the beginning of the week. Once prepared, the person can then portion out the snack into individual serving sizes.

For instance, a person can prepare hummus in one large batch at the start of the week by pureeing chickpeas with olive oil, tahini, and seasonings in a food processor.

After preparation, they can put the hummus into small containers and accompany each container with a preportioned bag of carrot sticks.

Those who lack time to prepare their own snacks can look for snack-sized portions sold in grocery stores. Many products come prepacked in snack sizes.

People looking for premade, preportioned snacks should be aware that they are often more expensive. They will also need to look out for added sugars, salt, and fat.

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Eating healthful snacks can play an important role in helping a person lose and manage weight.

People should look for snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. They should also seek snacks high in nutrients such as fiber and protein.

Beans, nuts, and raw vegetables and fruits are often good choices that will help a person feel fuller and provide necessary nutrients.

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Medical News Today: New cell-tracking technique sheds light on breast cancer spread

A leading-edge genetic technique that can track cell lineage has revealed much about how breast cancer spreads. It could also help explain why some breast cancers relapse after initially successful chemotherapy.
physician looking at scans of breast cancer
Researchers gain a better understanding of how breast cancer spreads thanks to ‘cellular barcoding.’

The name of the technique is cellular barcoding, and it allows scientists to assess the diversity of cell populations, such as in tumors.

They can also use it to tag cells and follow their identical descendants, or clones.

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia used the technique to carry out a detailed investigation of breast cancer spread at the cell level using human tumor tissue transplanted into mice.

A study paper that now appears in the journal Nature Communications gives a detailed account of the investigation and its results.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the “most common cancer in women.” It accounted for more than 508,000 deaths worldwide in 2011.

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Tumors contain thousands of cell variants

The main cause of death in breast cancer is its ability to spread, or metastasize, from the primary, or “main,” tumor to form tumors in other organs of the body.

Those working in the field of cancer research describe metastasis as the “last frontier.” A particular challenge they face is unraveling what happens to tumor cells as they grow and proliferate.

Breast cancer tumors comprise a diverse mix of thousands of cell variants with disparate characteristics and development paths. Some of these influence the cancer’s ability to spread, while others have no effect.

“This complexity,” say the authors, “has direct bearing on our understanding of tumor evolution, metastasis, drug resistance, and the sampling of lesions from patients to identify the most useful therapeutic targets.”

With the help of cellular barcoding, the team showed that of the thousands present in a tumor, only a handful of clones was responsible for metastasis.

“The barcoding technique,” notes first study author Dr. Delphine Merino, one of the leaders of the investigation, “enabled us to identify the clones that were able to get into the bloodstream and make their way into other organs where they would ‘seed’ new tumor growth.”

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Cellular barcoding traced cell lineage

Cellular barcoding allows scientists to trace the lineage of cells by placing unique genetic markers, or tags, on them.

An important advantage of the technique is its ability to track large numbers of different cells and their descendants in parallel.

Study co-author Dr. Shalin H. Naik, who co-led the recent investigation, helped develop the cellular barcoding method that they used in the study.

He explains that the new version allowed them to home in on the handful of cell variants driving metastasis.

Having identified which of the thousands of clones were involved in breast cancer spread, he and his colleagues can now focus their efforts on finding ways to block them.

Dr. Naik remarks, for instance, that they “are curious to understand what is unique about these particular clones that enables them to successfully spread, seed, and grow the cancer.”

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Investigating effects of chemotherapy

Prof. Jane E. Visvader, another study leader, explains that the scientists also used the new cellular barcoding technique to investigate the effects of chemotherapy on the clones.

They used donated human tissue to develop mouse models of breast cancer tumors and treated them with Cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug that doctors use to treat a wide range of cancers.

“While the treatment was able to shrink tumors and the size of individual clones,” Prof. Visvader points out, “it did not kill them off completely.”

“All the clones, including the nasty seeders, eventually grew again, accounting for cancer relapse,” she adds, noting that they were able to observe this because cellular barcoding allowed them to tag and follow thousands of individual clones and observe their activity over time.

She believes that the findings will help future researchers develop highly targeted treatments for breast cancer.

Our study revealed that only a select few clones were actually responsible for the metastasis.”

Dr. Delphine Merino

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Medical News Today: Night owls may experience ‘jet lag’ on a daily basis

Are you one of those people who goes to bed late and wakes up equally late? If so, you may be relieved to know a study has confirmed that this is your natural rhythm. However, in today’s working world, this may have serious effects, due to how your brain is wired.
man reading in bed
Night owls may be at a disadvantage compared with early risers, new research finds.

Some people declare themselves to be morning larks, or early risers, and they effortlessly wake up at the crack of dawn and fall asleep earlier in the evening.

Others, however, are night owls, or evening people, who stay up until the early hours of the morning and wake up later in the day, if left to their own devices.

Previous research has shown that the night owls face some health risks due to their daily rhythms. These include a tendency towards poorer dietary habits, which, in turn, can increase the risk of metabolic conditions, such as diabetes.

Now, a study led by investigators from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom has found out how activity patterns in the brains of night owls are different from those of morning people. The study also highlights how these differences can impact their lives and levels of productivity in a world that typically favors early risers.

“A huge number of people struggle to deliver their best performance during work or school hours they are not naturally suited to,” notes lead researcher Dr. Elise Facer-Childs, previously of Birmingham University and now based at the Monash Institute for Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences in Melbourne, Australia.

“There is a critical need to increase our understanding of these issues in order to minimize health risks in society, as well as maximize productivity,” she emphasizes.

The researchers have now published their findings in a study paper featured in the journal SLEEP.

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Brain activity in night owls

For this study, the research team recruited 38 healthy participants. They divided the volunteers into two groups, putting 16 early risers into one group and 22 late sleepers into the second.

The researchers split the participants into these two groups based on their melatonin and cortisol circadian rhythms — the natural circulation of these two hormones affect sleep and waking cycles.

The researchers monitored the participants’ sleeping and waking patterns, and the volunteers filled in questionnaires about their rhythms. On average, late sleepers went to bed at 2:30 a.m. and woke up at 10:15 a.m.

To assess brain activity patterns, the investigators asked the volunteers to undergo MRI scans. The researchers also tested the participants’ performance on various tasks they undertook at different times throughout the day to see how sleep-wake cycles affected daily functioning.

The team noticed a difference in brain activity patterns between the two groups, namely that night owls had lower resting brain connectivity in brain areas that scientists primarily associate with maintaining a state of consciousness. They correlated this with shorter attention spans, as well as slower reactions and lower energy levels.

Early risers performed better and had faster reaction times during morning tasks. They also declared themselves as being much less sleepy at that time.

On the contrary, as expected, late sleepers performed best and experienced the fastest reaction times around 8:00 p.m. However, even at the time when they were at their peak performance, night owls did not do much better than their early rising peers.

This suggests that throughout the day — or from around 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. — resting-state brain connectivity is affected in late sleepers, adversely impacting their productivity.

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Social expectations ‘could be more flexible’

Dr. Facer-Childs likens the night owls’ state throughout the day to a form of constant jet lag, emphasizing that this may have a significant effect on their well-being in the long run.

This mismatch between a person’s biological time and social time — which most of us have experienced in the form of jet lag — is a common issue for night owls trying to follow a normal working day.”

Dr. Elise Facer-Childs

“Our study is the first to show a potential intrinsic, neuronal mechanism behind why night owls may face cognitive disadvantages when being forced to fit into these constraints,” she adds.

For this reason, the researcher argues that societies need to take a long, hard look at their organizational structures, chiefly in terms of working hours and how to become more accommodating to people’s individuals needs. This flexibilty should mean that night owls can put their best foot forward while avoiding adverse health outcomes.

“To manage this [situation], we need to get better at taking an individual’s body clock into account — particularly in the world of work,” Dr. Facer-Childs argues.

“A typical day might last from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., but for a night owl, this could result in diminished performance during the morning, lower brain connectivity in regions linked to consciousness, and increased daytime sleepiness,” she warns.

She further advises that “If, as a society, we could be more flexible about how we manage time, we could go a long way toward maximizing productivity and minimizing health risks.”

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Medical News Today: Diabetes and Alzheimer’s: What’s the link?

New research has shown that impaired insulin signaling in the brain, often a feature of diabetes, may negatively impact cognition, mood, and metabolism — all of which are common aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Wistful older adult
A new study examines the links between Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Although the conditions are seemingly independent of each other, earlier studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the mechanisms behind this relationship have remained hidden.

A recent study investigated the impact of blocking insulin receptors and insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) receptors in mouse models.

The work was carried out at the Joslin Diabetes Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. The results reveal that interrupting these similar pathways impaired both learning and memory.

The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Insulin receptors and learning

The researchers worked with both the hippocampus and the central amygdala, areas of the brain that help with cognition function, as well as metabolic control.

They looked into how mice with disabled insulin and IGF1 receptors tackled mazes, and the results were revealing.

First, the researchers allowed the mice to explore the maze to familiarize themselves with its layout, and then they blocked a pathway before reintroducing the mice to the labyrinth.

These particular mice failed to analyze the new barricade and instead tried to go through the maze as if it was the way it had always been.

Senior author C. Ronald Kahn, chief academic officer at Joslin and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, notes that this is the first study that shows a relationship between these disrupted pathways and cognition problems.

He says, “Since these two receptors can partially compensate for one another, what we did that was critical was this combined insulin and IGF receptor knockout.”

Prof. Kahn goes on to explain, “However, it was also important to do it in specific regions, since if it was everywhere it might have impaired brain development. By knocking out both [receptors], we removed not only the primary way they work but the backup system that’s already built in.”

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Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is when a person is experiencing memory loss and other cognition issues that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Alzheimer’s, though, is not a normal part of aging, and while most of those who have it are 65 years of age and older, it can affect people who are younger.

Alzheimer’s does not get better over time, and, in most cases, it tends to worsen until the person loses the ability to carry on a conversation or respond to what is happening around them.

There is no cure for the condition, but there are treatments available that can slow down progression and may improve the individual’s overall quality of life.

There are risk factors that scientists have associated with developing Alzheimer’s disease. There are some factors that people cannot control, for example, age, family history, and genetics. People might be able to influence other potential causes, however, including head injuries and heart disease.

Other conditions that can lead to vascular damage, such as high blood pressure and stroke, may also be factors in Alzheimer’s risk.

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Diabetes is also a risk factor

Additionally, diabetes is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown a connection between insulin pathways and premature cognitive decline, dementia, depression, and anxiety.

Also, studies have helped demonstrate that abnormal receptors are present more often in those who have both Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

The current study is the first to target specific regions to help determine cause and effect.

Next, the researchers want to look at what happens when they cross the mice they used in this study with mice that are genetically prone to developing Alzheimer’s.

Investigating these connections, they say, may lead to recommendations of lifestyle changes well before a disease process even begins.

With diabetes and obesity, there is resistance in these pathways and, therefore, we think that this could be an important factor as to why people with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes have a faster-accelerated course or have more Alzheimer’s disease.”

Senior author C. Ronald Kahn

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