BPA Levels Highest in the US, Study Finds (Consumer Reports)
People in the U.S. have more exposure to bisphenol A (BPA)—a chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities, certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease—than other studied populations, according to a new report from the Canadian Medical Association.
The analysis included prior studies that had measured exposure to the chemical, which is found in clear plastic bottles and the linings of beverage and food cans, based on urine tests conducted in Canada, China, Germany, and the U.S. The levels of BPA in people in the U.S. were higher than any of those countries, and about double those found in Canada…More
Good Diets Fight Bad Alzheimer’s Genes  (ScienceDaily)
Scientists today agree that there are five molecules that are known to affect or cause Alzheimer’s disease, which plagues an estimated five million Americans. The potency of these molecules is linked to environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle.
Prof. Daniel Michaelson of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Neurobiology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences has illuminating news about one of these five molecules – APOE, created by the apolipoprotein E. gene found in all of our bodies.
Prof. Michaelson says APOE comes in two forms, a “good” APOE gene and a “bad” APOE gene, called APOE4. He has developed animal models to investigate the effects of diet and environment on carriers of APOE4, the presence of which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. It appears in 50% of all Alzheimer’s patients, and in 15% of the general population which due to APOE4 is the population which is at risk of getting the disease.
The good news? In preliminary results, the researchers are exhilarated to find that a diet high in Omega 3 oils and low in cholesterol appears to significantly reduce the negative effects of the APOE4 gene in mouse models…More 
Getting more exercise, spending time outdoors and helping others are among the activities that can be as effective as drugs or counseling in treating an array of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, according to a UC Irvine study.
In determining this, Dr. Roger Walsh, professor of psychiatry & human behavior, philosophy and anthropology, as well as adjunct professor of religious studies, reviewed research on the effects of what he calls “therapeutic lifestyle changes.” Other TLCs might relate to nutrition, relationships, recreation, relaxation, and religious or spiritual involvement.
“I found that lifestyle changes can offer significant advantages for patients, therapists and societies, yet they’re insufficiently appreciated, taught or utilized,” Walsh said. “TLCs can be effective, inexpensive and enjoyable, with fewer side effects and complications than medications. In the 21st century, therapeutic lifestyles may need to be a central focus of mental, medical and public health.”
Study results appear online in American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association…More …
Being Too Clean Harms Immune System  (Futurity.org)
“Auto-immune diseases are on the rise in this country but their causes have remained largely unknown,” says Eric Denkers, professor of immunology at Cornell University.
“It’s possible that these diseases are more common in the West because we’re too clean. Exposure to germs trains immune systems how to respond to threats.”
The research is reported in the journal Mucosal Immunology and in Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology.
“Early protection from germs may contribute to the increasing prevalence of immune system overreactions in our population, leading to auto-immune problems like allergies and inflammatory bowel disease”…More 
Greater Germ Exposure Cuts Asthma Risk  (WSJ)
Children living on farms have a lower risk of asthma than children who don’t because they are surrounded by a greater variety of germs, according to two large-scale studies published Wednesday.
The prevalence of asthma in the U.S. has doubled over the past 30 years, and one theory for the increase blames urban and suburban living environments that are too clean. The latest findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, bolster what is often known as the hygiene theory, which says that contact with bacteria and other microbes is necessary to building a normal immune system.
The key appears to be exposure to a diversity of bugs, not just more of them, according to Markus Ege, an epidemiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Munich and first author on the paper that covered both studies…More …
Meditation Beats Dance for Harmonizing Body and Mind  (PhysOrg)
UC Berkeley researchers tracked how closely the emotions of seasoned meditators and professional dancers followed bodily changes such as breathing and heart rates.
They found that dancers who devote enormous time and effort to developing awareness of and precise control over their muscles – a theme coincidentally raised in the new ballet movie “Black Swan” – do not have a stronger mind-body connection than do most other people.
By contrast, veteran practitioners of Vipassana or mindfulness meditation – a technique focused on observing breathing, heartbeat, thoughts and feelings without judgment – showed the closest mind-body bond, according to the study recently published in the journal Emotion.
“We all talk about our emotions as if they are intimately connected to our bodies – such as the ‘heartache of sadness’ and ‘bursting a blood vessel’ in anger,” said Robert Levenson, a UC Berkeley psychology professor and senior author of the study. “We sought to precisely measure how close that connection was, and found it was stronger for meditators.”
The results offer new clues in the mystery of the mind-body connection…More …