1. Happy people live longer

    It's the attitude adjustment that could save your life: A new study finds that happy people live longer -- which means a smile might turn out to be the cheapest, safest, and easiest longevity-booster on the planet.

    Can you think of any drug or supplement that can slash your risk of a premature death by 35 percent? I can't -- but the study of 3,800 people between the ages of 52 and 79 found that happiness did just that, even after adjusting for age, gender, depression and other health and lifestyle risks.

    All told, just 3.6 percent of the happiest people died during the five-year study -- versus 4.6 percent of those who had average levels of happiness and 7.3 percent of those who were unhappy.

    The volunteers also answered questions about fear, anxiety and worry -- but none of those other attitudes seemed to have any effect on who lived and who died.

    Just happiness -- although it could also be that the very things that make us happy also help us to live longer.

    Married people, for example, live longer... and people who've been married a long time tend to be happier than those who are alone (even if we might joke otherwise).

    Happier people also have a tighter circle of friends -- something that's also known to boost both longevity and happiness.

    On the other hand, attitude alone really can have a direct and measurable impact on health, like a study a couple of years back that found happy people have a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease.

    Another study I told you about over the summer found that an attitude closely linked to happiness -- optimism -- slashed the risk of a stroke.

    And last year, researchers found that the most disagreeable people were more likely to have thicker carotid arteries -- which would explain that increase in stroke risk, not to mention the thick bulging neck veins seen on angry cartoon characters.

    I know changing your attitude is easier said than done -- especially if you have years of experience in the grouch department. But while it's difficult, it's not impossible -- and if you can pull it off, it might just save your life.

  2. Meditation boosts physical health

    Culture is a funny thing: In some places, you're considered a little weird if you meditate... in others, you're weird if you don't.

    Most people here in the West never even consider it at all -- but maybe you should, because a growing body of evidence finds that this practice of the mind can have a major impact on the body, including a serious boost in heart health.

    In fact, it works so well that researchers from Harvard University and Justuc Liebig University say it's time for mainstream docs to start working meditation into their clinical practices as a treatment for some of our most common -- and overmedicated -- conditions, especially hypertension.

    While no one has been able to pinpoint how meditation can accomplish so much with so little, the study in Perspectives on Psychological Science breaks the effects down into four key components: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self.

    Sounds to me like it's as mysterious as ever, at least to Western science. In any case, I'm more interested in what it does rather than how it does it -- because it's downright astonishing.

    In one recent study on cardiovascular health, the researchers said meditators got so many benefits that it was as if they had been given some powerful new drug.

    In that one, the patients who practiced a popular form of meditation were 50 percent less likely to suffer from heart attack, stroke or even death from any cause during that study period than non-meditators.

    Powerful new drug? Big Pharma can only wish it had a med this safe and effective!

    Another recent study found that meditation can improve concentration and focus, while other studies have found that the practice can slash levels of stress, anxiety, depression and anger while improving memory and cognition and boosting immune system function.

    Learning meditation can get pricey -- there are expensive courses and fancy retreats you can take. But it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg to get a new look inside your mind.

    In fact, it can even be free. Visit your local library and check out a few books on the subject -- you'll learn everything you need to know to get started.

  3. The manly way to lower your heart risk

    You already know how testosterone can bring your sex life back from the dead. Now, the latest research shows how it can keep the rest of you out of the grave as well. In fact, this manly hormone can slash your risk of two of the greatest killers of seniors: heart attack and stroke.
  4. Rejected diet drug returns from the grave

    A "no" from the FDA never quite means "no" -- not when it comes to the agency's drug-industry pals, anyway. Case in point: The feds said "no" to the diet drug Contrave earlier this year over its potential for heart risk -- even after an FDA panel signed off on it.
  5. Brain stents kill stroke patients

    Six years ago, the feds rushed the approval of brain stents for patients facing a high risk of stroke, claiming they needed to act quickly on "compassionate" grounds.
  6. Apples and pears can lower stroke risk

    Supposedly cutting-edge procedures like the brain stent I just mentioned won't lower your risk of stroke -- and they might even kill you. But you don't have to turn to risky surgery or unproven meds to keep a stroke at bay: A new study finds all you might really need is more of the foods you already enjoy.
  7. Aging signs -- or warning signs?

    Millions of seniors battle the three S's in their later years: the stoop, the shakes, and the shuffle. And most docs will respond with their own S: the shrug as they tell you it's just part of getting older. Bull.
  8. Diet soda linked to weight gain

    If the FDA won't go after diet sodas for all the dangerous chemicals they contain, maybe the FTC can take action for false advertising. There's nothing "diet" about diet sodas. After all, studies have linked them to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, and more.
  9. Antidepressants boost women's stroke risk

    Would you rather suffer from depression or from a stroke? If you're taking antidepressants, you might not have a choice. The answer could be both.
  10. Heart drug in death risk

    Here's an urgent warning for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who've taken the heart drug Multaq: The FDA says it may double the risk of death in some patients.
  11. Apnea in new heart risk link

    But now, researchers say that in addition to leaving you gasping for air in the night, sleep apnea could also be responsible for serious blood vessel abnormalities -- problems that can actually steal blood right from your heart.
  12. Olive oil cuts stroke risk

    Years ago, researchers tried using olive oil as a placebo in trials for heart drugs. As it turned out, olive oil -- not widely known at the time for its heart benefits -- protected the patients in placebo groups better than some meds.
  13. The 'secret ingredient' in coffee

    I love a good mystery -- and there's one brewing right now in the world of coffee. Now, a new study has found two ingredients in particular that seem to work together to protect you against Alzheimer's disease. One is caffeinate, and the other is...well, that's where the mystery comes in.
  14. Lifestyle can help duck heartbeat problems

    Not many things can put the scare into you quite like atrial fibrillation--I've heard people say it feels like the heart is trying to break right out of the chest.
  15. Go bananas to lower stroke risk

    A new study finds that potassium--a nutrient you don't often hear about, but probably don't get enough of--can slash your stroke risk and lower your risk of heart disease.
  16. Diet soda linked to heart risk

    A new study finds that people who drink diet soda regularly could find a heart attack or stroke at the bottom of their next bottle.
  17. Working women face stroke risk

    A new study finds that women with high levels of work - related stress have nearly double the risk of heart attack of women with less stress. And since other studies have found a similar risk for men, it looks like women have achieved the wrong kind of workplace equality.
  18. Statins as a cure-all? Not exactly…

    Statins have become one of Big Pharma's biggest cash cows, needlessly prescribed to millions of people who never really tried diet and exercise to lower their cholesterol.

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