Dr. Lipman’s Wellness News Roundup

Here’s a look at this week’s health and wellness stories:

Why You Really Should Chill Out This Labor Day

Relaxing is good for our souls — and our genes. That’s the word from a new study that found that women on a six-day retreat experienced improvements in their stress levels and immune system for up to a month after vacation. “It’s intuitive that taking a vacation reduces biological processes related to stress, but it was still impressive to see the large changes in gene expression from being away from the busy pace of life, in a relaxing environment, in such a short period of time,” said Elissa S. Epel, UCSF professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study. (GOOD)

Granola Is Just Junk Food in Disguise

Think granola bars are healthy? Not so fast. Commercial varieties of granola are loaded with added sugar. In fact, the committee that creates the federal government’s dietary guidelines views granola as a “grain-based dessert,” along with cookies, cake, and doughnuts. (NYT)

Tattoo Ink May Be Toxic

Think before you tattoo. A new report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre found that many tattoo inks contain carcinogens, including heavy metals such as arsenic and lead. Although the FDA should be regulating tattoo-ink ingredients in this country, the agency says it has been waylaid by other public-health priorities but “is doing research to improve our knowledge of tattoo inks and the ingredients used in them.” That’s troubling news for the nearly 1 in 3 Americans who are inked. “The bottom line is they’re not doing their job,” says Charles Zwerling, MD, chairman of the American Academy of Micropigmentation. “Tattoo ink has very, very minimal regulation.” (WebMD)

5 Signs You Are Overtraining

It’s possible to go overboard when you exercise. Signs that you are training too hard? Racing heart rate, sleep changes, hormonal shifts, decreased immune function, and musculoskeletal changes. (Medical Daily)

Learn To Be Well

How we respond to stress is about more than genetics or luck, says Richard Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds. We can actually cultivate well-being by training our brains to focus on four traits: resilience, positive outlook, focus, and generosity. “When we engage in practices designed to cultivate kindness and compassion, we’re not actually creating something de novo,” Davidson says. “What we’re doing is recognizing and strengthening a quality that was there from the outset.” (Experience Life)

Orange Juice Sales Plummet

Are Americans finally getting the message that orange juice = liquid sugar? Maybe. Turns out that sales of OJ are down 13 percent in the past four years. (Business Insider)

Hospitalized Elderly Patients Are Prescribed Too Many Drugs

Elderly people who take prescription drugs are often prescribed even more medications when they are hospitalized, which raises the chance of adverse drug interactions and side effects, including falling, excessive bleeding, and respiratory complications. “This is America’s other drug problem — polypharmacy,” says Dr. Maristela Garcia, director of the inpatient geriatric unit at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. David Reuben, chief of the geriatrics division at UCLA School of Medicine, agrees: “There are a lot of souvenirs from being in the hospital: medicines they may not need.” (Kaiser Health News)

Big Pharma’s Marketing Ploy

It’s not news that Big Pharma is unpopular with most folks. As a result, many pharma companies are shifting money from branded advertising of its products to unbranded advertising, which does not mention products, much less the company that makes those products. An example? Mylan, the maker of EpiPens, launched an unbranded campaign about the dangers of allergic reactions — including this FaceYourRisk.com website. The fear-based campaign, Drug Safety News notes, “enabled Mylan to take a decades-old product…that delivers about a dollar’s worth of medication and raise the price to consumers by a whopping 400 percent.” (Drug Safety News)

School Lunches From Around the Globe

When it comes to school lunch, the rest of the world might be doing it better. Judging from this eye-opening slideshow, whole foods reign supreme in school cafeterias across across the globe, while processed “kid-friendly” foods like chicken nuggets dominate in the U.S. (GOOD)

How to Beat Autumn Allergies — Naturally
The United States of Allergies: How EpiPen Became a Billion-Dollar Brand