C-reactive protein

  1. Chronic inflammation and killer stress

    Stress causes inflammation

    If your body was a post office, the picture hanging on the wall -- Public Enemy Number One -- wouldn't be heart disease or cancer.

    It would be inflammation.

    Chronic inflammation can cause or worsen both diseases and more, not to mention increase your risk of any number of other conditions up to and including an early death.

    And while chronic inflammation can be caused by everything from food to illness to aging, one common source we all face is stress -- and a new study shows how quickly stress can cause chronic inflammation levels to soar.

    Volunteers were asked to give a speech as part of a job interview in front of two stern interviewers in lab coats. Sure enough, the stress of that speech caused an increase in levels of the chronic inflammation marker C-reactive protein, or CRP.

    Afterward, half of the volunteers were told to think about neutral activities such as shopping and shown photos of these types of activities -- and their CRP levels quickly returned to normal.

    The other half, however, were told to keep thinking about that speech. And for them, CRP levels continued to rise for a good hour after the speech.

    The difference between those volunteers and you (or me) is that once the experiment ended, they all went about their ways and never had to think about the stressful speech again.

    But out in the real world, our sources of stress aren't as easy to get over. They stay with you -- sometimes every waking minute of the day (they can even invade your dreams).

    And that's when those CRP levels really start to climb.

    That's why it's critical to get a handle on your stress levels -- but don't turn to anti-anxiety drugs and other medications. Instead, stick with the tried and true: exercise, time with loved ones, and prayer are all proven stress-busters.

    And when you find yourself in a situation that's giving you stress day after day, maybe it's time to stop looking for a way to manage that stress and find a way out of the situation instead.

  2. Green tea can lower blood pressure

    The 'green' way to lower BP

    The moment your blood pressure hits a certain level, your doc will sigh and pull out his prescription pad like he has no other choice.

    But there's always another choice.

    In fact, there are so many natural options for hypertension that there's no reason they shouldn't be tried before drugs -- and a new study adds one more safe alternative to the list: green tea.

    You already know about this stuff, I'm sure, and how people drink green tea to help with everything from cancer protection to weight loss. Now, researchers find it can trim BP levels, too, and do it so well that it might even be able to tame hypertension in borderline cases.

    Researchers in Poland gave 56 obese patients with hypertension either 379 mg a day of green tea extract or a placebo. Three months later, the ones who got the extract shaved nearly 5 points each off both their systolic ("top number") and diastolic ("bottom number") readings.

    Those on a placebo, on the other hand, saw drops of just 0.8 and 0.6 mmHg, respectively, or almost nothing at all.

    In addition, the green tea drinkers had lower levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein, improvements in LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, and even better blood sugar control.

    But if you're obese and battling high blood pressure, your first step shouldn't be to reach for a cup of green tea or a green tea extract -- it should be to lose the weight.

    In many cases, weight loss alone will bring your BP levels down to where they should be.

    As I mentioned earlier, green tea can help there too. Studies have shown that green tea can help boost the body's ability to burn off energy, which in turn could lead to weight loss.

    Just don't expect to sip some tea or take green tea extract and watch the pounds slip off by magic. You'll need to improve your eating habits, too -- and for that, I recommend the Mediterranean Diet.

    The Mediterranean Diet can also help normalize blood pressure if it's high or prevent high blood pressure in people who don't have it yet. It's also great for weight loss, and can help prevent any number of diseases.

    Green tea isn't from the Mediterranean, but feel free to drink some just the same.

  3. Vitamin B6 can reduce inflammation

    Vitamin B6 can reduce inflammation, slashing your risk of everything from heart disease to dementia all at once.
  4. Curry favor with your heart

    It's the help your heart needs when your heart needs help the most: A new study finds that the curry spice turmeric can help you survive bypass surgery and avoid a heart attack during your recovery.
  5. Soda scare: Sugary drinks linked to new heart risk

    Any time I use the words "soda" and "study" in the same sentence, it's never good news for soda. I can't recall a single study that shows soda benefits anything other than the bank accounts of the people who sell it. And the latest research is no exception.
  6. Statins aimed at healthy people

    The FDA has dished out some pretty bad advice over the years... but this one takes the cake: Crestor, a cholesterol- lowering statin drug, has been approved for completely healthy people with normal cholesterol levels.
  7. New warning for obese children

    The latest research finds that obese kids, some as young as 7 years old, already show indications that heart trouble might be in their adult future, according to a study presented in June at a meeting of the Endocrine Society.
  8. Big Pharma’s statin monster looking to grow

    A new study, called JUPITER, shows that statins can help lower levels of C-Reactive Protein, or CRP, in people with normal LDL cholesterol.

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