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woman-holding-childHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of roughly 600,000 people every year. Stroke is not far behind—killing one person every four minutes. Now, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) are embracing the power of personal connection and social media to improve cardiovascular health and brain health nationwide. Why? Life is why.

The life is whycampaign, unveiled this month, aims to get people talking about heart and brain health and sharing their stories with others. Using the Life is Why microsite, people are encouraged to share their personal “Whys”—who or what inspires them to live healthier every day—through photos, videos and other content using the hashtag #lifeiswhy. They can also send Life is Why e-Cards to friends and family, as well as create and personalize t-shirts, mugs and other items.

“We wanted people to be able to be able to share with others the reasons for embracing a healthy lifestyle in heart and mind,” said AHA Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown. The microsite also features a “tool kit” providing resources to promote awareness about healthy living. Visitors can read about the warning signs of stroke, find out where to take a life-saving CPR course, and get information on important diet and lifestyle changes that can improve cardiovascular and brain health.

Together the AHA and ASA hope to meet their goal of significantly improving American heart health by the year 2020 and promoting a world free of heart disease and stroke. In other words, they want to help people everywhere experience “more of life’s precious moments.”

For more information, visit: http://lifeiswhy.org/.

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danger-haz-chem-signBefore it was banned in 1972 for its damaging effects on human health, the pesticide known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (or DDT) was widely used on U.S. crops. The problem? DDT can take more than 15 years to break down in the environment, and in many parts of the world it is still used for agricultural and disease control purposes.

In addition to its probable carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects, DDT has been shown to affect healthy liver function, contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and cause damage to the human nervous and reproductive systems. Now, a new study involving mice reveals that DDT exposure may be linked to a higher risk of obesity and related conditions later in life—in particular among women.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that exposure to DDT in the womb leads to a higher risk in women of developing metabolic syndrome, defined by the Mayo Clinic as: “a cluster of conditions—increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels—that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”

More so than their male counterparts, the female mice exposed to DDT before birth showed signs of decreased metabolism and an inability to regulate body temperature, which study author Michele La Merrill said leads to more calories being stored instead of burned. In male mice, DDT exposure did not have the same effects and only caused a slight increase in blood glucose levels.

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