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Take a Nap. It's Good for Your Heart.

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Taking a break for a midday nap is good for the heart, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual conference last month.

The study, carried out by cardiologist Manolis Kallistratos at a hospital in Athens, Greece, examined almost 400 people with hypertension, measuring their blood pressure and their time spent sleeping during the day. Those who took noontime naps had lower blood pressure and took fewer hypertension medications than those who didn’t nap, and the results were especially positive for those who took hour-long or longer snoozes. Nappers’ average blood pressure readings were 4 percent lower when they were awake and 6 percent lower at night. 

That meant an average of 5 mmHg (millimeter of mercury, a pressure unit) lower blood pressure during the day. “Although the mean blood pressure decrease seems low, it has to be mentioned that reductions as small as 2 mmHg in systolic blood pressure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 10 percent,” Kallistratos said in a press statement

This study doesn’t necessarily show that napping in itself lowers blood pressure. Possibly people whose daily schedules leave room for some midday shuteye also happen to live more balanced, less stressed lives. However, previous research has also found an association between napping and lower blood pressure and risk of heart attacks, so it seems the siesta lifestyle is a fairly heart-healthy one. 

[h/t: The Telegraph]

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Big Questions
How Long Could a Person Survive With an Unlimited Supply of Water, But No Food at All?
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How long could a person survive if he had unlimited supply of water, but no food at all?

Richard Lee Fulgham:

I happen to know the answer because I have studied starvation, its course, and its utility in committing a painless suicide. (No, I’m not suicidal.)

A healthy human being can live approximately 45 to 65 days without food of any kind, so long as he or she keeps hydrated.

You could survive without any severe symptoms [for] about 30 to 35 days, but after that you would probably experience skin rashes, diarrhea, and of course substantial weight loss.

The body—as you must know—begins eating itself, beginning with adipose tissue (i.e. fat) and next the muscle tissue.

Google Mahatma Gandhi, who starved himself almost to death during 14 voluntary hunger strikes to bring attention to India’s independence movement.

Strangely, there is much evidence that starvation is a painless way to die. In fact, you experience a wonderful euphoria when the body realizes it is about to die. Whether this is a divine gift or merely secretions of the brain is not known.

Of course, the picture is not so pretty for all reports. Some victims of starvation have experienced extreme irritability, unbearably itchy skin rashes, unceasing diarrhea, painful swallowing, and edema.

In most cases, death comes when the organs begin to shut down after six to nine weeks. Usually the heart simply stops.

(Here is a detailed medical report of the longest known fast: 382 days.)

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Medicine
Why Haven't We Cured Cancer Yet?
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Walkathons, fundraisers, and ribbon-shaped bumper stickers raise research dollars and boost spirits, but cancer—the dreaded disease that affects more than 14 million people and their families at any given time—still remains bereft of a cure.

Why? For starters, cancer isn't just one disease—it's more than 100 of them, with different causes. This makes it impossible to treat each one using a one-size-fits-all method. Secondly, scientists use lab-grown cell lines cultivated from human tumors to develop cancer therapies. Living masses are far more complex, so potential treatments that show promise in lab experiments often don't work on cancer patients. As for the tumors themselves, they're prone to tiny genetic mutations, so just one growth might contain multiple types of cancer cells, and even unique sub-clones of tumors. These distinct entities might not respond the same way, or at all, to the same drug.

These are just a few of the challenges that cancer researchers face—but the good news is that they're working to beat all of them, as this TED-Ed video explains below.

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