A recent Australian study has found a link between vitamin B6 and dreams. In a randomised, double-blind study, participants were given a pill to take immediately before bed for five consecutive days. When compared to those that took a placebo, participants who took 240 mg of vitamin B6 before bed showed an improved ability to recall their dreams. The supplement didn’t appear to have an effect on the vividness, bizarreness or colour of the dreams and did not affect the quality or quantity of sleep. The study authors point out that lucid dreaming has been used for the treatment of phobias, creative problem solving, improving performance, and overcoming nightmares. Regular recall of dreams is often the first step to lucid dreaming, and this study suggests a simple method to improve dream remembrance.
Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of foods including red meat, poultry, fish, potatoes, bananas, spinach and fortified foods like milk and cereals. Vitamin B6 is needed for metabolism, immune function, and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. As a bonus, several studies indicate that vitamin B6 can reduce symptoms of PMS and morning sickness. However, it is important to note that the amount of vitamin B6 used in this study is more than double the suggested safe upper daily limit of 100 mg for adults and that the study only lasted 5 days. As a water-soluble vitamin, it would be difficult to overdose on vitamin B6 – but it could be done over time. As an alternative, try dream journaling until more studies confirm and refine these results.
Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me
Do you ever have that frustrating moment where you know you know a word, but you just can’t think of it?
It happens to all of us and it occurs more often as we get older. But now researchers have found a link between aerobic fitness and language skills for the elderly. A UK-based research team tested on a small group of healthy older adults on their language skills, memory and fitness. After analysing the results, a link was found between higher fitness levels and reduced “tip-of-the-tongue” incidents.
And contrary to common belief, these results confirm that these “tip-of-the-tongue” moments are not associated with memory loss. Instead, the authors say that older adults often have a larger vocabulary than young adults. But when language production gets disrupted by cognitive decline, the sound form of the word is temporarily unavailable. Maintaining good language and communication skills is important for older adults as these skills help maintain positive social relationships, independence, and appropriate medical care.
FOMO or not FOMO – Is that the question?
The effects of social media continue to be the focus of several research studies, with oftentimes conflicting or alarming results. The use of social media and online communities has been linked to weight loss but also poor body image, bad grades as well as enhanced learning, improved mood and increased depression. A recent study from the UK found that teenage girls who use social media may suffer more emotional and social problems than boys. For this study, nearly 10,000 girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 15 were assessed for their overall happiness levels and social media use.
Girls who spent more than an hour a day on social media were more likely to display reduced levels of happiness. The same effect was not shown for boys. One drawback to this study is that it relied on self-reported levels of mood and social media use.
Another recent study suggests that, contrary to expectations, there is not a link between increased social media use and decreased face-to-face contact. Results from yet another study suggest that teenagers are actually more critical users of social media than perhaps they are given credit for. If you have children — or even if you don’t — it’s very easy to be confused about the role social media should or shouldn’t play in your online life. While we should never become complacent about misinformation or bullying in any way, lack of consistent evidence on the effects of social media suggests that simple moderation in all things is still the best advice.
More Research Shows How Harmful Black Hair Products Are
In a recently released report from the Silent Spring Institute, dangerous chemicals were found in a number of hair products that are marketed to black women. The researchers looked at 18 different black hair care products including hot oil treatments, anti-frizz hair polishes, leave-in conditioners, and hair relaxers. Each product was tested for the presence and level of 66 endocrine-disruptors that are associated with health problems like reproductive disorders, birth defects, asthma and cancer. All 18 products were found to contain between 6 and 30 of the chemicals tested for in the study. The researchers also found that 84% of the chemicals detected were not listed on the product label. As the study authors explain in their report, companies aren’t required to disclose everything that’s in their products and that chemicals in beauty products are mostly untested and unregulated.
This report likely explains the results of an earlier study that women of colour have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies when compared to white women. Without complete information about ingredients, it can be difficult to make an informed choice about the products you use. If you are concerned about the toxicity of products in your beauty routine, look for those that are paraben-free, fragrance-free and made from organic, plant-based ingredients. You can also check the Household Products Database and Detox Me app for more information.
Good News, Bad News, and What You Can Do about Breast Cancer
A new chemotherapy regimen for a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer is showing impressive results. “Triple-negative” breast cancer is when the breast cancer cells test negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2). This type of cancer, found in 10-20% of breast cancer cases, is hard to treat because it does not respond to hormonal and other traditional forms of chemotherapy. A new trial found that a specific drug, carboplatin, shrank tumours from triple-negative cancer cells twice as fast, delayed overall tumour progression, and caused fewer side effects than previously used methods.
However, these results were only found for women with defective versions of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Defective BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are genetically passed down from parents to children; women with these genetic mutations have a much higher-than-average (60% compared to 13%) lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Results from this study suggest that women with the triple-negative form of breast cancer should have genetic testing done in order to identify the most effective treatment.
In the not-so-good news category, the American College of Radiology recently recommended that black women be added to groups considered at high risk for breast cancer. While overall rates of breast cancer in black and white women are about the same, black women are 20-40% more likely to die from it – a disparity blamed on genetics and uneven access to healthcare. It is recommended that all women have a breast cancer risk assessment at age 30. Women of average risk can start getting mammograms at age 40, but women with higher risk should have screenings early and often. And all women can take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer through lifestyle choices like maintaining a healthy weight, exercising every day, and not smoking.
Radiant is a bi-annual print and digital health magazine dedicated to the discerning African woman and her journey to wellness through health, beauty and culture. Available at Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers (see stockists) and online. Ships worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter and get a free digital copy of issue No.06.