More hugs could mean fewer colds

More hugs could mean fewer colds

The sick bug that comes around during the holiday season can be tamed with an unlikely weapon: a hug.

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University researched whether hugs could combat illness. The research found the more hugs people received; the less likely they were to get sick, even when under stress.

“We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses,” Sheldon Cohen said, a psychology professor at the university. “We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety.”

The researchers hypothesized that hugs would provide protection.

The study looked at 400 healthy adults: their level of social support and frequency of conflict with others. The participants were interviewed by phone for two weeks and asked how many hugs they received each day. To examine the protective power of hugs the participants were exposed to a common cold virus and put in quarantine to monitor signs of illness.

The study concluded that those who experienced more hugs were less likely to become infected. Those who did become infected experienced milder colds, regardless of experienced conflict with others.

“Those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection,” Cohen said.

Portland included in National Geographic’s “World’s Best Cities”

Portland included in National Geographic’s “World’s Best Cities”

Drive over the Hawthorne Bridge to a plethora of coffee and donut shops. Head downtown where buildings stand tall and food trucks and pubs line the streets. At night the lights shine and reflect upon the dark Willamette River, showing the city is still alive.

The world has noticed Portland. The city earned a spot in The National Geographic’s “World’s Best Cities,” a book celebrating 220 great travel destinations.

Venice took the cover, but Portland earned a two-page spread as one of the world’s top 62 cities to visit. According to The Oregonian, Portland was recognized for its indie spirit, crafts, and donut shops.

Portland is home to some and a desired vacation destination to others. The city left its mark in the 336-page book, available online.



Research finds cans and plastic bottles directly increases blood pressure

Research finds cans and plastic bottles directly increases blood pressure

A new study found that a chemical in most cans and plastic bottles can raise blood pressure within a few hours.

The chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), found in the lining of the containers can seep into food or beverages. According to The New York Times, repeated exposure to BPA commonly leads to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. However, this new study is the first to show that the chemical has a direct and immediate impact on cardiovascular health.

The study, published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, found when the participants drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose 16 times higher within a couple of hours, and their blood pressure also rose. The majority of the participants did not have a history of high blood pressure.

The results were compared when the same participants drank beverages from glass bottles, which do not contain BPA. Drinking from glass resulted in no significant changes in BPA or blood pressure levels.

The researchers chose soy milk because it does not have properties that are known to increase blood pressure.

Dr. Karin B. Michels, an associate professor at Harvard and Brigham Young University, said repeated exposure to BPA – drinking or eating from plastic bottles or cans multiple times a day – could contribute to high blood pressure.

“I think this is a very interesting and important study that adds to the concern about bisphenol A,” Michels said, who was not involved in the study. “It raises a lot of questions. We have such a high rate of hypertension in this country, which has risen, and we haven’t really thought of bisphenol A and its use in cans as one of the causes of that. ”

Dr. Yun-Chul Hong, an author of the study and director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Seoul National University said he recommends people consume fresh foods and drink from glass bottles.

“Clinicians and patients – particularly hypertension or cardiovascular disease patients – should be aware of the potential clinical problems for blood pressure elevation when consuming canned food and beverages,” Hong said.


10 cookie recipes for the Christmas season

10 cookie recipes for the Christmas season

The tree is up, the stockings are hung and the lights are glistening. The house is quiet, until beep beep: the oven timer goes off, alerting everyone the Christmas cookies are ready.

Christmas cookies come in many shapes, colors and flavors. Here are 10 ideas to fulfill that festive cookie baking urge.

1. Patterned Sugar Cookies: Classic sugar cookies with a twist. After making the sugar cookie dough, roll the dough into balls on a cookie sheet. Using a glass cup with a design cut into the bottom, press down on the dough, flattening them and leaving a delicate design. To highlight the design sprinkle powdered sugar on top, before baking. Find the sugar cookie recipe online.

2. Peppermint Patties Cookies: These cookies require no baking, only freezing, and a round cookie-cutter. Dip the patties in chocolate and sprinkle with crushed up peppermint candies. Find the recipe online.

3. Red Velvet Cookies: Bake these soft and festive cookies for 10 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Find the recipe online.

4. Big Gingerbread Cookies: Stick to the classic gingerbread flavor, minus the crunch. These cookies are soft, sprinkled with sugar and only take 10 minutes to bake. Find the recipe online.

5. Reindeer Cookies: Peanut butter cookies that look like reindeer using pretzels for ears, red M & M’s for noses and brown M & M’s for eyes. Find the recipe online.

6. Swirl Sugar Cookies: Requires traditional sugar cookie dough and food dye. Make three sections of cookie dough: non-dyed dough, red dyed dough and green dyed dough. Flatten each section of dough and layer on top of each other, roll all of the dough into a log shape, cut the log to make one-inch thick cookies, and finally roll the edges in festive sprinkles. Find the recipe online.  

7. Graham Cracker Crunch: Turn crackers into cookies using this recipe. The main ingredients call for things many may have lying around the kitchen: butter, salt, brown sugar and graham crackers. To complete the festive look adorn with green and red sprinkles. Find the recipe online.

8. Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies: A cross between chocolate chip cookies and funfetti cake. These cookies can be made for any occasion, but for a holiday touch add red and green sprinkles to the batter. Find the recipe online

9. Sugar Cookie Buttons: A buttery short-bread version of the sugar cookie. These cookies can double as an arranged gift and treat. The cookies can be stacked and threaded together with a ribbon. Find the recipe online.

10. Nana Cookies: Piped cookies that are sweet and savory. Similar to biscotti, these cookies go great with coffee. Find the recipe online.


$15 minimum wage for Multnomah County employees in 2016

$15 minimum wage for Multnomah County employees in 2016


The minimum wage in Multnomah County will gradually rise and reach $15 by July of 2016.

The county Board of Commissioners voted on December 4 to gradually increase the pay for the lowest-paid labor force in the country, such as on-call and temporary employees.

Multnomah County employees receiving minimum will earn $13 per hour this year, $14 in the 2016 fiscal year and then $15.

“To have staff working alongside staff but making less money just because they’re temporary or on-call, it doesn’t seem fair,” County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury said, after Thursday’s meeting. “Multnomah County’s values are about paying people fair and living wages for the work they do.”

The county currently has over 5,000 employees and the Oregonian reports about 150 earn the county’s minimum wage of $11.99 an hour.

Kafoury said Multnomah is the first county and largest public Oregon employer to raise the wage to $15 per hour.

Commissioners voted 4-0 in support of the agreement — one was absent.

“Our frontline workers are the ones that make the county function,” said Commissioner Jules Bailey. “I am so glad that we were able to come together and find an agreement that works.”