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February 2016

Hello, and welcome to this month’s article! We’ve all heard that you’re more likely to become ill during the winter months. According to an article in the United Kingdom Daily Mail, it’s true. Here are excerpts:

“A Cambridge University study has found evidence that we really might be healthier in the summer.

“Study of the DNA of more than 16,000 people from around the world has shown that our immune systems vary with the seasons.

“The discovery helps explain why many serious illnesses strike more in the winter—and why people seem healthier in the summer.

“The researchers showed that almost a quarter our genes are more active at some times of the year than others. Many of these seasonal genes are involved in the immune system—and in inflammation.

“Inflammation helps us fight infection but it also fuels a host of illnesses, including many of those that are worse in winter. Seasonal differences in immune system genes were found in populations from around the world.” (Source:

So stay healthy with regular massage; see you soon!

Boost Your Immunity with a Massage by Emily Main
Research shows massage produces measurable immune system changes.

The benefits of massage are immediately obvious to anyone who's had one. A massage session calms you down, eases your anxieties, and even helps you sleep at night. Now a study, funded by the government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, finds that those sessions may help you ward off diseases, too.

THE DETAILS: For the study, published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the authors recruited 53 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 45 and divided them into two groups: one that received a traditional Swedish massage, and another that received a session of light touch meant to simulate a massage but without any actual massage-therapy techniques. The Swedish massages were all performed by certified massage therapists to ensure uniformity. Each participant had an IV inserted into one arm for the duration of the massage and for a few hours afterward, and blood was drawn at various intervals to measure levels of various hormones and immune-system markers.

The authors were working under the theory that massages increase the body's levels of oxytocin, or "the love hormone," which itself helps regulate levels of hormones related to stress. Yet they found that that wasn't the case. People receiving the "light touch" treatment actually experienced higher levels of oxytocin than the massage recipients. But unlike the light-touch group, the massage recipients saw significant decreases in stress hormones and increases in the body's production of various cells that boost immune-system response.

A single massage could help boost your immune system and help you better cope with stress, even if you're not sick or stressed out. "I'm really intrigued by our findings," says Mark Hyman Rapaport, M.D., professor... at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who adds that he was an "incredible skeptic" about the benefits of massage therapy before doing this study. "I always wondered, what does it do that so many people claim to feel better afterwards?" he says. "We're finding that biological changes do occur as a result of even a single session of massage, and that these changes may benefit even a healthy individual."

While it may be enough for most people to know that getting a massage makes them feel better, regardless of what the biological effects are, Dr. Rapaport says that his findings could help advance the use of massage therapy in traditional medicine, which would be good news for people looking for more options to treat their medical complaints. "Based on data that have come out of a number of the surveys, a majority of Americans would rather go to an alternative practitioner than a physician and would prefer to have an alternative to traditional care," he says. The few studies on massage therapy that have been done have focused on specific complaints, such as back pain or anxiety, he says, but his research suggests that the therapy could be beneficial to people suffering from a wider range of immune-system disorders.


Social bonds keep you healthier— Doctors often tout regular exercise and a sensible diet as keys to good health, but new research suggests that forming social bonds is just as important. Social scientists at the University of North Carolina analyzed four studies involving more than 14,000 people ages 12 to 91, The Washington Post reports. The results indicate that the number and quality of a person’s social connections affect specific measures of health over the course of a lifetime. Older adults who feel socially isolated are more than twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, making loneliness a more significant risk factor for the condition than diabetes. Social ties are also crucial early on in life. Lonely teens, for example, are as likely to develop inflammation as young people who are sedentary, the study shows. For all age groups, researchers theorize, social connections mitigate the harmful effects of daily stress. “Do have a good and healthy diet, and exercise,” advises study author Yang Claire Yang, “but also try to have a good social life.”

— The WEEK 1/21/16

Beware belly fat— Beer belly. Spare tire. Love handles. These seemingly innocuous terms are used to describe the extra fat that accumulates around some people’s waistlines, but new research suggests so-called central obesity is actually a serious health concern—even for people with a “normal” body mass index (BMI). After examining data compiled on 15,184 adults who were followed for an average of 14 years, researchers found that men and women with higher levels of belly fat have a greater risk of death than overweight or obese adults whose fat is more evenly distributed throughout their bodies. One possible explanation is that belly fat is associated with a buildup of deeper visceral fat that wraps around internal organs, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. “People with normal weight according to BMI can’t be reassured that they don’t have any fat-related health issues,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, tells The New York Times. “Having a normal weight is not enough.”

— The WEEK 11/26/15

Olive oil could dramatically reduce a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. Researchers found that when women over 60 added a generous dose of extra-virgin olive oil to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and whole grains, it cut their risk for the disease by 68 percent. Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants, called polyphenols, study authors explain, and deriving at least 15 percent of total calories from it “seems to be instrumental” in staving off breast cancer.

— The WEEK 12/24/15

No human force, not even fear, is stronger than habit.
— Michel Houellebecq

The content of this article is not designed to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
© 2016 Massage Marketing. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

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