Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life

People who have fond memories of childhood, specifically their relationships with their parents, tend to have better health, less depression and fewer chronic illnesses as older adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

"We know that memory plays a huge part in how we make sense of the world -- how we organize our past experiences and how we judge how we should act in the future. As a result, there are a lot of different ways that our memories of the past can guide us," said William J. Chopik, PhD, from Michigan State University and lead author of the study. "We found that good memories seem to have a positive effect on health and well-being, possibly through the ways that they reduce stress or help us maintain healthy choices in life."

The findings were published in the journal Health Psychology.

Previous research has shown a positive relationship between good memories and good health in young adults, including higher quality of work and personal relationships, lower substance use, lower depression and fewer health problems, according to Chopik. He and his co-author, Robin Edelstein, PhD, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wanted to see how this would apply to older adults.

Also, much of the existing research focused on mothers and rarely examined the role of fathers in child development. Chopik and Edelstein sought to expand on the existing studies to include participants' reflections of their relationships with both parents.

The researchers used data from two nationally representative samples, the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States and the Health and Retirement Study, with a total of more than 22,000 participants. The first study followed adults in their mid-40s for 18 years and the second followed adults 50 and over for six years. The surveys included questions about perceptions of parental affection, overall health, chronic conditions and depressive symptoms.

Participants in both groups who reported remembering higher levels of affection from their mothers in early childhood experienced better physical health and fewer depressive symptoms later in life. Those who reported memories with more support from their fathers also experienced fewer depressive symptoms, according to Chopik.

"The most surprising finding was that we thought the effects would fade over time because participants were trying to recall things that happened sometimes over 50 years ago. One might expect childhood memories to matter less and less over time, but these memories still predicted better physical and mental health when people were in middle age and older adulthood," said Chopik.

There was a stronger association in people who reported a more loving relationship with their mothers, noted Chopik, but that might change.

"These results may reflect the broader cultural circumstances of the time when the participants were raised because mothers were most likely the primary caregivers," said Edelstein. "With shifting cultural norms about the role of fathers in caregiving, it is possible that results from future studies of people born in more recent years will focus more on relationships with their fathers."

Chopik and Edelstein found that participants with positive childhood memories also had fewer chronic conditions in the first study of 7,100 people, but not in the second study of 15,200, making the results less straightforward

That may be because chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and high blood pressure were rare in both samples, said Chopik. Future studies in this area could focus more closely on childhood memories in older adults with chronic conditions.

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

With Life On the Shoulder

Come hell or high water, nameless and committed crews travel the cities every day distributing door-to-door of patients oxygen bottles that guarantee their lives.

It doesn't matter if it’s raining or overcasted, neither if there’s no electricity and they have to climb six flight of dark stairs; anyway, they will be there every day with the oxygen bottles on the shoulder.

After getting around those and other obstacles like mad dogs or shattered stair steps, they will call punctual to the house where a Cuban awaits for the oxygen that will allow him to keep living.

Eduardo Mario Blasco, driver of the crew, explains that they work under the Company of Industrial Gases, but it’s MINSAP the one that hands down the list of patients.

The fleet of almost 15 or 20 trucks has its base in Guanabacoa and, after the daily meeting, they depart to distribute life. “We go around the entire Havana city and also Mayabeque, Artemisa, and Güines."

Every day we distribute a rate of 40 large bottles, "but there are days of 60 and 70. We have odd hours either early morning or night time. I have had back-to-back days because the truck broke."

Eduardo Mario has worked in this for six years, before that he was a truck driver for 30 years. On board the truck prepared to transport the large bottles also go two young loaders.

"There aren’t Saturdays neither Sundays in this job, journalist. This is really a matter of life or death; if you don’t change an empty bottle for a full one, simply the sick person can die".

Says Danilo González, 27 years old, loader.

“It’s true that sometimes one feels like staying asleep, of not getting wet by rain, or of not climbing those stairways with more than a hundred pounds on shoulders. But it’s a humanitarian matter, one understands well when looking at the situation of other people who are waiting for you".

- Have there been cases where a relationship of friendship is created?

- Almost all of them. We call them through our mobiles, paying us, to know if we can stop by, if the door is locked; because the bottle must be set next to the patient ‘s bed.

- How many stairs do you climb daily?

- Countless because most of our patients live in Plaza, Centro Habana and Habana Vieja municipalities, where there are plenty of tall buildings. If we have five houses at ground level in the deliveries, that is a win. Everything is upstairs , downstairs five or six floors, because there aren’t many elevators.

- What do you friends tell you about your work?

- They simply stay silent. They know I am a loader, but they don’t imagine the real work I do. Those who see me on the street might think what’s so hard about getting carried around on a truck, but it’s not like that. It’s hard, besides the physical effort, you encounter sad stories, and also the treatment of a few patients.

Although, regularly, tight relationships are created, almost of familiarity. There are always, of course says the loader, those who protest when you deliver the oxygen bottle very early and they wanted to sleep later into the morning.

"Sometimes – says Danilo - we have arrived late at night at a house because the truck broke and when you finally arrive at the place, after such ordeals, they yell at you and complain, they tell you "are these hours to bring the oxygen, you must wait until tomorrow... nobody will wake up at this hour”.

"One can get mad at hearing those words, but you must think it over and tell yourself that is part of the job, where you care about other people, but they don’t always care about us."

Luckily, situations like this one are numbered with one hand.

The truck driver remembers that " we have cases where hot coffee and cool water are plentiful. One build friendships, and there are times when you are given a t-shirt, a pair of pants... "

Every day of the world

Eduardo Mario, the truck driver, comments of possible hazards in the job: "Grease is a mortal enemy of oxygen. The bottles cannot be manipulated neither with grease neither oil in the hands, nothing that contains lubricants, because they are flammable."

- Have you ever had an accident?

- Well, a bottle once fell on my foot, but those occupational hazards... Because I just not only sit behind the wheel, I also help downloading the bottles.

"The two boys and me have also made some sort of a family. We are neighbors, they live next to the factory and in this job which is every day of the world, I take advantage and I explain things to them.

“I tell them we don't distribute wood, neither iron, nor cement; that this is a job for the person who needs it as matter of life or death, hence responsibility to the job comes first. I will soon turn 60 years old, but I watched them be born and I have seen them grown to become good people."

  • Published in Specials

Local Albahaca Herb for Health

The local Albahaca is a bush that can reach a meter high with many wide and aromatic leaves which are often used in the Italian cook and It has small flowers of lilac, white and read colors.

It is about medicinal plant, which is also locally known as Alhábega, Alfábega, Basílica and Hierba real. It is useful to make a homemade cure for cough and sort throat. Its scientific name is Ocimumbasilicum.

That plant usually gets the direct sunray and it can be planted in well-drained flowerpots which do not accumulate water, but it needs it could be watered regularly and planted in flowerpots and well-fertilized plots of lands. It does not usually stand excessive coldness or heat. It does not resist many related harvests; therefore, it is necessary to plant it again.

Its leaves have an intense green color with many medicinal and cooking properties and it has a smell that makes people to feel happy. These are some the reasons by which the Albahaca plant should not be absent from the ecological and urban garden.

Local Albahaca Herb for Health

It grows easily in courtyards and gardens and the treatment against cough, phlegm, wound-scar formation, stomach disorders, lack of appetite, gases, soar throat, tonsillitis, snore disorders while sleeping, as well as nauseas, colics, anxiety, migraine and the beat of insects, are among its properties.

Its properties include its antispasmodic, digestive, anti-bacteria, fungicidal, insecticide, astringent, cicatrizant, stimulating and inflammatory reactions.

The leaves and stalks of this plant are the parts used of it to season potato omelets, meat soups, fish, chickens, salads, stuffed dishes, as well as sauces, sweets and liquors.The Albahaca plant can be perfectly combined with dishes which include tomate, olive oil, lemon, read meats, pastry and cheeses.

It is plant for an annual harvest and it comes from India and it certainly combines well with many foods like the tomato, aromatic plants like oregano, garlic and onions.

That plant prefers the warm environments and it does not stad the extreme cold. Its ideal temperature ranges from 15 to 25 Centigrade graded and it requires a fertile and fresh soil, besides, it survives well in an illuminated environment. However, it tolerates a semi-shadow one.

Although its most fruitful sowing process takes place in seedbeds, it could also be carried out in soil or in a flowerpot by burying its seeds up to 2 centimeters deep.

Local Albahaca Herb for Health

The most proper time for it is from February to April in humid land, then it is convenient provide them a higher quantity of light after 15 days, approximately.

Its proximity to other plants will keep it far from insects and plagues, especially the tomatoes which are also favored by it because of it protect them from parasites and it increases their flavors. It is much better to plant the aforementioned plant in places sheltered from the wind, taking into account that its branches are easily broken when there is an intense wind.

It is convenient to prune them every two weeks to secure a strong plant and abundant foliage. It is much better to water the soil directly than its leaves, instead.

If we wanted it to grow much more, then it is convenient to take out its flowers, unless we wanted to collect its seeds. However, we could use its pruned leaves for a year period. The best occasion for collecting and preserving it is precisely, as we have seen up to here, before its flowering period. Once it was collected, it could be used by us.

Local Albahaca Herb for Health

To frozen it, it is the best way to preserve it to be used and it should be placed in small quantities in the freezer compartment. Once is collected, it is advisable to hung it up side down in a fresh place under a shadow. Once it was dried, it should be placed into a glassed container.

Another of its benefits is the fact about being a sedative as if it was consumed at night, then it would help enjoying a pleasant dream. It is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory one, thus, being a proper allied to face influenza.

It regulates the nerve system and it is recommended in cases of stress. It is a good and natural painkiller, especially in feverish conditions or general weakness sensation. It is a very digestive plant that helps correcting the gastrointestinal disorders.

By Teresa Valenzuela

Hepatitis B Vaccination Phase Begins in Cuban Province

The Cuban vaccine HeberNasvac for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B will begin its fourth phase of application at the Camilo Cienfuegos General University Hospital in this province, health sources reported today.

Lourdes Perez, first degree specialist in Gastroenterology, informed the local media that in this stage more than 200 patients infected with this virus will benefit.

The principal investigator of the clinical study at the health center said the drug has the potential to kill the surface antigen which causes the infections resulting in chronic liver disease.

This vaccine, produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana, is administered nasally and subcutaneously in its second cycle and causes fewer adverse reactions than previous treatments.

According to Perez, patients who are not treated promptly may progress to liver cirrhosis, hepatocarcinoma and other complications.

The HeberNasvac, with a sanitary validation that allows its use in several countries, has become a door of hope in a scenario where every year nearly one million people die from complex liver diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba, India Sign Cooperation Agreements in Health, Biotechnology

Cuba and India signed here today three juridical instruments to promote cooperation in the field of health and biotechnology, agreements framed in President Ram Nath Kovind''s visit to the island.

In the presence of the host head of State Miguel Diaz-Canel and President Kovind, the Ayush Ministry of India and the Public Health Ministry of Cuba agreed through a memorandum of understanding to strengthen the links in traditional systems of medicine and homeopathy.

For their part, the Ministries of Science and Technology signed a memorandum for biotechnological cooperation.

About Kovind's visit, a letter of intent was also established between BioCubaFarma, the Council for the Support of Biotechnology Research and Kalam Institute of Health Technologies in India.

The Indian President and Diaz Canel held official talks before the signing ceremony of the legal instruments.

Earlier, Kovind paid tribute to the Cuban National Hero, Jose Marti, and the Indian independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

In the afternoon, the visitor will give a lecture in the Aula Magna of the University of Havana and will tour parts of the capital's historic center, declared by Unesco World Heritage Site in 1982.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Selects Former FARC Rebels to Train as Doctor

In order to attend the medical school in Cuba, aspiring students must commit to one promise: that they return to their local communities to practice medicine there.

This week marked the first selection of 200, primarily former FARC guerrillas, as well as young campesinos in Colombia, to study medicine in Cuba.

Revolutionary Cuba Trains 80k International Doctors—For Free

A committee of medical professionals from Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine and officials from the Cuban embassy in Colombia completed the selection process.

Between July 19 and Aug. 16, according to Colombia Informa, the student beneficiaries — residing in Transitional Standardization Zones or in the countryside — were chosen to begin medical study in September.

Student doctors will be trained in accordance with the Cuban family medicine model so that they may return to Colombia once they've graduated to improve and fortify primary health care for the underserved.

"Today, in our country, we work to build peace. To reach this, we are in constant war against the cruelest enemy called inequality. From every mountain, every millimeter of Colombian soil, we give you infinite thanks for performing such an important and great work," said Ignacio Cabrera, a member of the ELAM Foundation.

Zulan Popa, Charge d'affaires of the Cuban Embassy in Colombia, stated, "This is another tangible gesture by the Cuban government to continue strengthening bilateral relations with Colombia and expressing the support it has presented for the construction of the peace agreement."

Colombian Social Leader Killed in Choco

However, full implementation of the peace accord faces ongoing violence perpetrated against demobilized, unarmed FARC members as well as social and human rights activists.

Since the signing of the peace agreement in November, nine former FARC members have been killed and since the start of the year, 52 human rights activists and social leaders have been murdered in Colombia.

Founded in 1999 to train young students from poor communities who would never have a chance to go to medical school, Cuba's ELAM is committed to training 100 medics — free of charge — every year from Latin American and Caribbean countries and even the United States. Students from various African countries also make up the student body.

In order to attend, aspiring students must commit to one promise: that they return to their local communities to practice medicine there.

  • Published in Cuba

Drinking coffee could reduce chance of early death, scientists say

Drinking around three cups of coffee a day has been linked to a lower risk of death “from any cause” in two new large-scale studies.

The habits of coffee-lovers were shown to add years to their life – with high coffee consumption shown to reduce the risk of death from diseases related to circulation and digestion in particular.

While scientists say more research is needed to prove coffee is definitely behind the effects observed in the studies, experts believe the antioxidant plant compounds found in the drink, rather than its caffeine, are responsible for its potentially life-extending effect.

Researchers from Imperial College London and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) analysed data on the health and coffee-drinking habits of more than half a million people from 10 European countries, including the UK.

They found men who drank at least three cups of coffee a day were 18 per cent less likely to die from any cause than non-coffee drinkers, with women experiencing an eight per cent reduction in mortality over the same period.

Meanwhile, American scientists conducted a separate investigation into the effect of coffee on the health of more than 185,000 participants from different ethnic backgrounds.

People who drank one cup of coffee daily were 12 per cent less likely to die than those who drank no coffee, irrespective of ethnicity, while drinking two to three cups of coffee appeared to reduce the chances of death by 18 per cent.

Experts praised the robust nature of the studies, but warned that further research was needed to prove that the effects observed were caused by the coffee itself, and not other factors.

The US study’s lead author, Dr Veronica Setiawan, from the University of Southern California, said the chemical make-up of the popular beverage was a possible explanation for the findings.

“Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention,” she said.

“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association. If you like to drink coffee, drink up! If you’re not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.”

Whether the coffee contained caffeine or was decaffeinated did not appear to make a difference in the two studies, both published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The studies were adjusted for a number of lifestyle factors, such as smoking and diet, to try and isolate and analyse the effects of coffee drinking on health and mortality rates.

Commenting on the research, statistics expert Professor Kevin McConway, from The Open University, said both papers were “well-conducted and large, and show similar results across several different populations and ethnic groups”.

“As a coffee drinker myself, they do reassure me that my habit probably isn’t bad for me,” he said. “However, if I didn’t already drink coffee, I’m not sure that they would persuade me to take it up for the good of my health.  

“That’s because the size of the potential protective effect of coffee, in these studies, is not very large; because we can’t be sure what is causing what; and because, even if coffee drinking is somehow directly improving people’s health on average, neither study throws much light on exactly how it might do that.”

Antonio Banderas Gives an Update on His Health After Heart Attack: 'It Wasn't Serious'

Nothing to worry about. Antonio Banderas gave an update on his health during a press conference on Saturday, March 25, telling journalists that he suffered a heart attack two months ago.

“I suffered a heart attack on January 26, but it wasn’t serious and hasn’t caused any damage,” the 56-year-old actor told members of the Spanish media in Madrid, according to the Associated Press. He added that at the time, he assumed that he simply had a heart “episode” and didn’t think too much of it, though he was hospitalized briefly.

“It hasn’t been as dramatic as some have written,” he told reporters. Banderas explained that his hospitalization involved a procedure to place three stents in his arteries to help keep them clear and blood flowing through them.

The Zorro star caused fans to speculate that he may have health issues after he was spotted leaving a Swiss clinic in recent days.

In response to the rumblings, Banderas took to Facebook to clarify that he was doing just fine. “It seems like some media suffered a Heart Press Attack,” he wrote, referring to the name for celebrity gossip media in Spanish.

The actor will is currently filming Life Itself, a movie about the lives of people from New York to Spain, and how their paths have crossed through generations. It stars an A-list cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde and Mandy Patinkin.

  • Published in Culture
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