Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

What We Know About Possible COVID-19 Treatments And Vaccines So Far

Confused about the current science regarding drugs as hydroxychloroquine and Remesivir? Treatments as convalescence plasma? If Vitamin C works?

The Huffington Post has a good overview of a few treatments and vaccines recently in the news.

Additional Resources

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Experts urge caution in interpreting COVID-19 antibody tests


False positive results are cause for concern
From the May 26, 2020 Washing University School of Medicine in St. Louis News Release

Laboratory workers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis process blood samples. Blood tests for antibodies against the COVID-19 virus are becoming more available, but no test is perfectly reliable, so results must be carefully interpreted, experts say.

“There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests, and both are critical to controlling this pandemic. Molecular diagnostic tests, first developed in January, detect parts of the COVID-19-causing virus on swabs from people’s noses or throats. Such tests can identify people with active infections, even when they have no symptoms. With widespread and rapid diagnostic testing, people with the virus can be identified quickly and isolated, and anyone who came into contact with them quarantined and tested. Such surveillance and isolation measures can prevent a few cases from mushrooming into an outbreak.”

Why are antibody tests for COVID-19 important?

Farnsworth: Antibody testing is really helpful in monitoring how widely a virus has spread within a community. Such testing could help determine how many people have recovered from the virus, even if they never had symptoms. For many viruses, once about 70% of the population is immune – either because they have had a natural infection or, better yet, received a vaccination – infected people are less likely to encounter a susceptible person and give them the virus, so transmission goes down and the epidemic ends. That’s called herd immunity.”

If my antibody test is positive, does that mean I’ve had COVID-19 and won’t get it again?

Anderson: A positive test just means your body has produced antibodies in response to a past infection; it doesn’t tell us whether those antibodies will protect you from getting re-infected

Can antibody tests decide who can safely go back to work?

Farnsworth: Many people are anxious to get people back to work, but antibody tests may give some people a false sense of security. The problem is that even a highly accurate antibody test like the one we use in our laboratory has false positives and false negative

How should antibody tests be used?

Anderson: There have not been formal guidelines at the national or local levels regarding how exactly these tests should be used. And, in the absence of such guidelines, many people are anxious to get antibody testing. The way I look at such tests is that they’re a tool.not … the sole source of information for decision-making.

Related Resources

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Spend About $2,500 a Year in Health Care Costs

While insulin comprises a big part of diabetes expenses for children and adults, diabetes-related supplies can cost even more.

From the Jun 1, 2020 University of Michigan Health Lab News Release

diabetes monitor, syringe and bottle

Adults and children with type 1 diabetes will spend an average of $2,500a year out-of-pocket for health care – but insulin isn’t always the biggest expense – new research suggests.

While out-of-pocket costs for insulin was substantial, it accounted for just 18% of total out-of-pocket expenses for health care, according to the findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In fact, insulin accounted for less out-of-pocket spending than diabetes-related supplies, such as insulin pumps, syringes and continuous glucose monitors.”

Removing barriers to high-value care

 “Several states and insurers imposed monthly caps on these [out-of-pocket] costs [for insulin] earlier in 2020. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just announced that many elderly Medicare beneficiaries will soon pay no more than $35 for a one-month supply of insulin. “

More at the news release

Help for paying for diabetes medicine and supplies

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How much sleep do you really need? (and how you can get it)

The past months probably affected the sleep of quite a few people. Here’s a good overview of how to get better sleep from the National Sleep Foundation.

Two excerpts

  • Recommended Sleep Ranges
    • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
    • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
    • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
    • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
    • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
    • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
    • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
    • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hoursOlder adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category) 

Additional Resources

  • Healthy Sleep (MedlinePlus, sponsored by National Institutes of Medince (NIH)
    A good overview plus links in the following groupings: Start here, Treatments/Therapies, Related issues, Games, Videos, Statistics, Research, Clinical trials, Journal articles, Find an expert, Teenagers, Women, Older Adults, Patient Handouts
  • Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (NIH)
    Illustrate 62 page large print PDF with numerous images. Contents include “What is sleep”, “What makes you sleep”, “What does sleep do for you”, “Common sleep disorders, “What disrupts sleep”, “Is snoring a problem”
  • Improving Your Sleep: A Self Guided Approach For Veterans With Insomnia (US Department of Veterans Affairs)
    Includes sections on “Using a Sleep Diary”, “Steps to Improve Your Sleep”, “Worksheets and Charts” “Resources and References”

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Consumer Health | Leave a comment

Forgot what to ask your healthcare provider? There’s a free app for that!

In your healthcare provider’s office and forgot what you wanted to ask?
Well, there’s an app for that, that allows for inputting questions, emailing the questions, putting questions on calendar…


“Free”, well actually US taxpayer funded…US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Seems easy to use.My phone is dumb, but it might work on an ipad
How to video and download instructions at https://www.ahrq.gov/patient-safety/question-builder.html?utm_source=ahrq&utm_medium=en-9&utm_term=QuestionBuilder&utm_content=9&utm_campaign=ahrq_en5_21_2019



——

QuestionBuilder App

An AHRQ App for Digital Healthcare

The AHRQ QuestionBuilder app helps patients and caregivers prepare for medical appointments and maximize visit time. It’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Download the mobile app.
  2. Select or create questions to ask.
  3. Save the questions to a calendar appointment or send them to any email address so that the information is handy during medical visits.*

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Safe Use of Complementary Health Products and Practices

Excerpt from NIH article, dated Sept 27, 2017

“As with any treatment, it is important to consider safety before using complementary health products and practices. Safety depends on the specific therapy, and each complementary product or practice should be considered on its own.”

patient_HCP_chart.jpg

Two of the main safety concerns for dietary supplements are

  • The possibilities of drug interactions—for example, research has shown that St. John’s wort interacts with drugs such as antidepressants in ways that can interfere with their intended effects
  • The possibilities of product contamination—supplements have been found to contain hidden prescription drugs or other compounds, particularly in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, sexual health including erectile dysfunction, and athletic performance or body-building.Two of the main safety concerns for dietary supplements are
    • The possibilities of drug interactions—for example, research has shown that St. John’s wort interacts with drugs such as antidepressants in ways that can interfere with their intended effects
    • The possibilities of product contamination—supplements have been found to contain hidden prescription drugs or other compounds, particularly in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, sexual health including erectile dysfunction, and athletic performance or body-building.”

:

How Safe Is This Product or Practice?

Find safety information from a list of complementary health products and practices

Find FDA and FTC notices about recalls, tainted products, and other alerts and advisories

January 30, 2019 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Financial help with prescription drug/medical costs through the government, nonprofits, and corporations

Low income people may qualify for assistance through government, nonprofit, or corporate programs. Check out the Financial Help section of the UT Library Consumer Health Library Guide.

http://libguides.utoledo.edu/ConsumerHealth/financial_help

For general health information, check out Health Information for All
by the author of this blog.

Cannot find what you are looking for through the above links? Feel free to email me and
I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.  jmflahiff at yahoo dot com

 

 

October 28, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

SUSPECT Before You Download that Health or Wellness App

From July 9, 2018 blog post at Midwest Matters

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 4.53.43 AM

 

Some resources for reputable health apps

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

10 WAYS TO ‘REACH OUT’ WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

From the March 3, 2018 blog post at Let’s Queer Things Up

I’m a mental health writer and advocate, and a suicide attempt survivor. I’ve told people on this blog many times, “Keep reaching out.” I’ve written multiple articles preaching the importance of vulnerability, defying stigma, and owning your struggles.

This is my whole thing, okay? This is what I do.

So when one of my closest friends died by suicide a few weeks ago, I wasn’t just shocked — I was completely gutted.

I thought there was never a question of whether or not my loved ones could reach out to me. But the very person who I’d talked to so often about mental health… didn’t call me.

Not even to say goodbye.

Screenshot 2018-03-03 at 10.30.59 AM

In the weeks following their suicide, my grief took me to dark places. I soon began having my own suicidal thoughts. And even then, when it was my turn to “reach out”? Even after losing my friend? I began to withdraw, too.

I watched, with painful awareness, as I did much of what my friend seemed to do leading up to their suicide. I wrote myself off as a burden. I isolated myself. I got lost in my own head. And despite knowing the danger of where I found myself, I said nothing.

After an especially scary night, I realized something: No one ever explained to me how to ask for help. No one told me what “reaching out” even meant.

As my grief began to snowball, I hesitated to tell anyone I was struggling, largely because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to ask for, and without knowing what to ask for, it felt too complicated and futile to ask.

“Why didn’t they tell me?” is such a common refrain when we talk about suicide or mental health challenges in general. It’s easy to make this remark, because “tell someone” seems like a simple request. But in truth, it’s vague at best.

“REACHING OUT” IS THIS SKILL WE’RE SOMEHOW EXPECTED TO KNOW, YET IT’S NEVER TAUGHT AND RARELY MODELED FOR US.

It’s this vague, hopeful sentiment that people throw around, without ever really defining it. What are we asking people to do or say? It’s not exactly clear.

So I want to get more specific. We need to be more specific.

I don’t know if an article like this could’ve saved my friend. But what I do know is that we need to normalize asking for help and talk about what that might look like, rather than pretending it’s a simple and intuitive thing to do.

Maybe then, we can reach people sooner. We can meet them more compassionately. And we can find better ways to support them.

So if you’re struggling but you don’t know what to say? I get it.

Let’s talk about it.

1. “I’M (DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS/SUICIDAL). I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO ASK FOR, BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE RIGHT NOW.”

Sometimes we don’t know exactly what we need, or we’re unsure of what someone can offer. That’s okay; that shouldn’t discourage us from reaching out. It’s perfectly fine if you have no idea what you need or want — especially when all you can think about is how much you’re hurting.

Let someone know how you’re feeling. You might be surprised by the ways they offer to support you. And if they aren’t helpful? Keep asking until you find someone who is, or seek out a hotline (I know it can be weird to talk to a stranger, but there are some awesome hotlines out there).

2. “I’M STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH AND WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING ISN’T WORKING. CAN WE (MEET UP/SKYPE/ETC) ON (DATE) AND COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN?”

Read the entire blog post at https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2018/03/03/10-ways-to-reach-out-when-youre-struggling-with-your-mental-health/

 

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , | Leave a comment

The Power of Pets Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions

From a Feb 2018 US National Institutes of Health news release

Illustration of people with different types of pets

Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to a loyal companion. The unconditional love of a pet can do more than keep you company. Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills.

An estimated 68% of U.S. households have a pet. But who benefits from an animal? And which type of pet brings health benefits?

Over the past 10 years, NIH has partnered with the Mars Corporation’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition to answer questions like these by funding research studies.

Scientists are looking at what the potential physical and mental health benefits are for different animals—from fish to guinea pigs to dogs and cats.

Possible Health Effects

Research on human-animal interactions is still relatively new. Some studies have shown positive health effects, but the results have been mixed.

Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.

Read the entire article at https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets

 

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Sleep Probelms and Complementary Approaches

From the US National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) – part of NIH

What’s the Bottom Line?

sleepdisorder_ThinkstockPhotos-526393059_square[1]

What do we know about the usefulness of complementary approaches for sleep disorders?

  • Relaxation techniques can be helpful for insomnia.
  • Melatonin supplements may be helpful for sleep problems caused by shift work or jet lag. Melatonin may also be helpful for people with insomnia, but its effect is small.
  • The evidence for other complementary approaches is either inconsistent or too limited to draw conclusions about whether they are helpful for sleep disorders.

What do we know about the safety of complementary approaches for sleep disorders?

  • Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe.
  • Melatonin appears to be relatively safe for short-term use, but its long-term safety has not been established.
  • There are serious safety concerns about kava products (which have been linked to severe liver damage) and L-tryptophan supplements (which may be associated with a potentially serious disorder called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome).
  • If you use a complementary approach for a sleep problem, tell your health care providers. They can do a better job caring for you if they know what you’re using.

What Are Sleep Disorders and How Important Are They?

There are more than 80 different sleep disorders. This fact sheet focuses on insomnia—difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders.

More information

Chronic, long-term sleep disorders affect millions of Americans each year. These disorders and the sleep deprivation they cause can interfere with work, driving, social activities, and overall quality of life, and can have serious health implications. Sleep disorders account for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year, plus indirect costs due to missed days of work, decreased productivity, and other factors.

To learn more about sleep disorders, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Web site.

Is It a Sleep Disorder or Not Enough Sleep?

Some people who feel tired during the day have a true sleep disorder, but for others, the real problem is not allowing enough time for sleep. Adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested, but the average adult sleeps for less than 7 hours a night.

More information

Sleep is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing, and is vital to good health and well-being. Shortchanging yourself on sleep slows your thinking and reaction time, makes you irritable, and increases your risk of injury. It may even decrease your resistance to infections, increase your risk of obesity, and increase your risk of heart disease. To learn more about healthy sleep and what happens when you don’t get enough sleep, visit NHLBI’s Your Guide to Healthy Sleep and What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?.

What the Science Says About Complementary Health Approaches and Insomnia

Research has produced promising results for some complementary health approaches for insomnia, such as relaxation techniques. However, evidence of effectiveness is still limited for most products and practices, and safety concerns have been raised about a few.

Mind and Body Practices

  • There is evidence that relaxation techniques can be effective in treating chronic insomnia.

    More information

    • Progressive relaxation may help people with insomnia and nighttime anxiety.
    • Music-assisted relaxation may be moderately beneficial in improving sleep quality in people with sleep problems, but the number of studies has been small.
    • Various forms of relaxation are sometimes combined with components of cognitive-behavioral therapy (such as sleep restriction and stimulus control), with good results.
    • Using relaxation techniques before bedtime can be part of a strategy to improve sleep habits that also includes other steps, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule; avoiding caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, and strenuous exercise too close to bedtime; and sleeping in a quiet, cool, dark room.
    • Relaxation techniques are generally safe. However, rare side effects have been reported in people with serious physical or mental health conditions. If you have a serious underlying health problem, it would be a good idea to consult your health care provider before using relaxation techniques.
  • In a preliminary study, mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation, was as effective as a prescription drug in a small group of people with insomnia.

    More information

    • Several other studies have also reported that mindfulness-based stress reduction improved sleep, but the people who participated in these studies had other health problems, such as cancer.
  • Preliminary studies in postmenopausal women and women with osteoarthritis suggest that yoga may be helpful for insomnia.
  • Some practitioners who treat insomnia have reported that hypnotherapy enhanced the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques in their patients, but very little rigorous research has been conducted on the use of hypnotherapy for insomnia.
  • A small 2012 study on massage therapy showed promising results for insomnia in postmenopausal women. However, conclusions cannot be reached on the basis of a single study.
  • Most of the studies that have evaluated acupuncture for insomnia have been of poor scientific quality. The current evidence is not rigorous enough to show whether acupuncture is helpful for insomnia.

For more information on mind and body practices.

Dietary Supplements

Melatonin and Related Supplements

  • Melatonin may help with jet lag and sleep problems related to shift work.
  • A 2013 evaluation of the results of 19 studies concluded that melatonin may help people with insomnia fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and sleep better, but the effect of melatonin is small compared to that of other treatments for insomnia.

    More information

    • Studies of melatonin in children with sleep problems suggest that it may be helpful, both in generally healthy children and in those with conditions such as autism or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, both the number of studies and the number of children who participated in the studies are small, and all of the studies tested melatonin only for short periods of time.
    • Melatonin supplements appear to be relatively safe for short-term use, although the use of melatonin was linked to bad moods in elderly people (most of whom had dementia) in one study.
    • The long-term safety of melatonin supplements has not been established.
  • Dietary supplements containing substances that can be changed into melatonin in the body—L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)—have been researched as sleep aids.

    More information

    • Studies of L-tryptophan supplements as an insomnia treatment have had inconsistent results, and the effects of 5-HTP supplements on insomnia have not been established.
    • The use of L-tryptophan supplements may be linked to eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a complex, potentially fatal disorder with multiple symptoms including severe muscle pain. It is uncertain whether the risk of EMS associated with L-tryptophan supplements is due to impurities in L-tryptophan preparations or to L-tryptophan itself.

Herbs

  • Although chamomile has traditionally been used for insomnia, often in the form of a tea, there is no conclusive evidence from clinical trials showing whether it is helpful. Some people, especially those who are allergic to ragweed or related plants, may have allergic reactions to chamomile.
  • Although kava is said to have sedative properties, very little research has been conducted on whether this herb is helpful for insomnia. More importantly, kava supplements have been linked to a risk of severe liver damage.
  • Clinical trials of valerian (another herb said to have sedative properties) have had inconsistent results, and its value for insomnia has not been demonstrated. Although few people have reported negative side effects from valerian, it is uncertain whether this herb is safe for long-term use.
  • Some “sleep formula” dietary supplements combine valerian with other herbs such as hops, lemon balm, passionflower, and kava or other ingredients such as melatonin and 5-HTP. There is little evidence on these preparations from studies in people.

For more information on dietary supplements.

Other Complementary Health Approaches

  • Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils from plants. It is uncertain whether aromatherapy is helpful for treating insomnia because little rigorous research has been done on this topic.
  • A 2010 systematic review concluded that current evidence does not demonstrate significant effects of homeopathic medicines for insomnia.

NCCIH Research on Sleep Disorders

NCCIH funds research on complementary health approaches for sleep disorders.

More information

Recent projects include studies on:

  • How mindfulness meditation training may affect the amount and quality of sleep
  • The effect of blue-white light on sleep disorders in patients with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Whether acupuncture can help insomnia
  • How two forms of mindfulness-based therapy compare with behavior therapy for treating insomnia.

Could You Have Sleep Apnea?

Do you snore loudly? Does your bed partner say that you make gasping or snorting sounds during the night? Do you fight off sleepiness during the day?

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider. You might have sleep apnea—a condition in which sleep is disrupted because of pauses in breathing. For more information, visit the NHLBI Web site.

If You’re Considering Complementary Health Approaches for Sleep Problems

  • Talk to your health care providers. Tell them about the complementary health approach you are considering and ask any questions you may have. Because trouble sleeping can be an indication of a more serious condition, and because some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can contribute to sleep problems, it is important to discuss your sleep-related symptoms with your health care providers before trying any complementary health product or practice.
  • Be cautious about using any sleep product—prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, or homeopathic remedies. Find out about potential side effects and any risks from long-term use or combining products.
  • Keep in mind that “natural” does not always mean safe. For example, kava products can cause serious harm to the liver. Also, a manufacturer’s use of the term “standardized” (or “verified” or “certified”) does not necessarily guarantee product quality or consistency. Natural products can cause health problems if not used correctly. The health care providers you see about your sleep problems can advise you.
  • If you are pregnant, nursing a child, or considering giving a child a dietary supplement or other natural health product, it is especially important to consult your (or your child’s) health care provider.
  • If you are considering a practitioner-provided complementary health practice, check with your insurer to see if the services will be covered, and ask a trusted source (such as your health care provider or a nearby hospital or medical school) to recommend a practitioner.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

For More Information

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

The NHLBI Health Information Center provides information to health professionals, patients, and the public about heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders and accepts orders for publications.

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research

MedlinePlus

To provide resources that help answer health questions, MedlinePlus (a service of the National Library of Medicine) brings together authoritative information from the National Institutes of Health as well as other Government agencies and health-related organizations.

Information on sleep disorders

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Key References

All Other References

Top

Acknowledgments

NCCIH thanks Ronald Glick, M.D., University of Pittsburgh; Nalaka Gooneratne, M.D., University of Pennsylvania; Michael Twery, Ph.D., National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and D. Lee Alekel, Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCIH, for their contributions to the 2014 update of this publication.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] The Power of Pets Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions

From the Feb 2018  NIH News in Health

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Integrating approaches to heal, not just cure

Via an item from a January item at Healthcetera

Personally I believe there is much truth to this. Have found that a combination of Tai Chi,
swimming, and working out at the gym works for me.

“Prescription drugs are a $425 billion business in the United States, and growing. A good chunk of that goes towards prescription pain medication to help alleviate chronic pain. More than 25 million of us report having daily chronic pain, and 23 million say they’re in a lot of pain, according to a study from The National Institutes of Health.

About one in five adults are prescribed opioids to manage chronic pain says the CDC. We all know about the high rate of substance use disorder in the U.S., and while opioids certainly have a place, especially for managing acute pain, they’re not an ideal long-term option.

So what can we do to help people with persistent pain?

Wayne Jonas, M.D., former head of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine and a practicing family physician, said we should be looking at alternative and complementary options, like acupuncture, yoga, meditation and other less traditional approaches. In his new book, How Healing Works, he advocates an integrative approach, combining elements of Western and complementary medicine into a person-centered health plan. He believes this will significantly reduce our national dependence on prescription drugs, lower health costs, and improve patients’ quality of life.”

More at http://healthmediapolicy.com/2018/01/20/integrating-approaches-to-heal-not-just-cure/

 

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Email Topic on ‘Know the Science’. Sign up & gain a better understanding of complex scientific topics.

From the US Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (a US government agency)

 

NCCIH
NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health banner image
Health and Wellness Information banner image

We appreciate your interest in NCCIH and our work! As a current subscriber, you are invited to be among the first to learn about our newest email topic, “Know the Science.”

This new e-mail will feature tools to help you understand complex scientific topics related to health research. It will help you distinguish facts from myths so you’ll be better prepared to make well-informed health decisions, especially about complementary and integrative health approaches.

Topics will include drug-supplement interactions, the placebo effect, levels of evidence, the science behind complementary approaches for pain, evaluating online health information, and much more.

You can subscribe now by clicking on the below button, and then expect to receive your first email within a week or so!

Click here to subscribe

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DASH diet – news story, recipes, and a systematic review

Recently US News and World Report ranked the DASH diet as the best diet overall for the 8th year in a row. DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension . Government funded researchers developed DASH to prevent and treat high blood pressure, but the diet also has proven highly effective in lowering blood cholesterol.

Image of an empanapita
Empanadas are a great staple of Latino cuisine. Empanapitas, a new take with pita bread, are a DASH healthier, but just as tasty.NHLBI

High blood pressure is the most common chronic condition worldwide. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, affects 1 billion people, and accounts for 1 in 8 deaths each year.
And according to the  NIH news release “dietary interventions can be as effective as – or more effective than – antihypertensive drugs in those at highest risk for high blood pressure, and should be a routine first-line treatment option for such individuals”

The  NIH news release states that “DASH is not a fad diet, but a healthy eating plan that supports long-term lifestyle changes. It is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, and includes whole grains, poultry, fish, lean meats, beans, and nuts. It is rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. However, it calls for a reduction in high fat red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages.”

Scientific evidence seems to back the claims of the DASH diet.  A recent systematic review thoroughly analyzed 34 news reports investigating diet quality with mortality.  Diets were scored using three indexes – including DASH.  High scoring diets had a “significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease by 22%, 22%, 16%, 18%, and 15%, respectively.”

Interested in learning more about the DASH diet?
Great description with tips may be found here

Many recipes may be found here 

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January 4, 2018 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Articles focus on OTC medications, dietary supplements & complementary/alternative medicine

From the 21 March 2016 EurkAlert

More older adults used multiple medications and dietary supplements, and taking them together put more people at increased risk for a major drug interaction, according to a new study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Most older adults in the United States use prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. There is increased risk among older adults for adverse drug events and polypharmacy.

Dima M. Qato, Pharm. D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and coauthors analyzed nationally representative data to examine changes in medication use, which included concurrent use of prescription and over-the counter medications and dietary supplements, to gauge potential for major drug interactions.

The study group included 2,351 participants in 2005-2006 and 2,206 in 2010-2011 who were between the ages of 62 and 85. In-home interviews and direct medication inspection were performed.

The authors report:

  • Concurrent use of at least five prescription medications increased from 30.6 percent to 35.8 percent over the study period.
  • Concurrent use of five or more medications or supplements of any type increased from 53.4 percent to 67.1 percent.
  • Use of over-the-counter medications declined from 44.4 percent to 37.9 percent.
  • Dietary supplement use increased from 51.8 percent to 63.7 percent. Multivitamin or mineral supplements and calcium were the most commonly used supplements during the study period.
  • About 15.1 percent of older adults in 2010-2011 were at risk for a major drug interaction compared with an estimated 8.4 percent in 2005-2006. For example, preventive cardiovascular medications and supplements were increasingly used together in interacting drug regimens.

March 22, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Do You Have Questions About Integrative Health Approaches? [news release]

From the 9 March 2016 news release from the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health agency

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 9.40.16 AM

 

Here’s the contact us link  –> https://nccih.nih.gov/health/clearinghouse?nav=govd

 

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Want a younger brain? Stay in school — and take the stairs [news release]

From the 9th March 2016 Concordia University news release

Excerpt

A Concordia study shows that education and physical activity can significantly slow down grey-matter aging
512048970

Montreal, March 9, 2016 — Taking the stairs is normally associated with keeping your body strong and healthy. But new research shows that it improves your brain’s health too — and that education also has a positive effect.

In a study recently published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, researchers led by Jason Steffener, a scientist at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, show that the more flights of stairs a person climbs, and the more years of school a person completes, the “younger” their brain physically appears.

The researchers found that brain age decreases by 0.95 years for each year of education, and by 0.58 years for every daily flight of stairs climbed — i.e., the stairs between two consecutive floors in a building.

“There already exist many ‘Take the stairs’ campaigns in office environments and public transportation centres,” says Steffener. “This study shows that these campaigns should also be expanded for older adults, so that they can work to keep their brains young.”

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

New study finds troubling health care outcomes for US workers without paid sick leave [News release]

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 6.15.22 AMFrom the 7 March 2016 EurkAlert

Excerpts

“Key findings from the study, which are representative of the nation, showed that regardless of income, age, race, occupation, full-time or part-time work status, health status or health insurance coverage, workers without paid sick leave were three times more likely to delay medical care than were workers with paid sick leave. They also were three times more likely to forgo needed medical care altogether. Furthermore, families of workers without paid sick leave were two times more likely to delay medical care and 1.6 times more likely to forgo needed medical care. The lowest-income group of workers without paid sick leave were at the highest risk of delaying and forgoing medical care for themselves and their family members — making the most financially vulnerable workers the least likely to be able to address health care concerns in a timely manner.

The researchers also found that working adults with paid sick leave benefits missed one-and-a-half days more of work because of an illness or injury compared to workers without paid sick leave, indicating that they were more likely to take time off work to care for themselves or family when needed.”

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Workplace Health | | Leave a comment

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices [Reblog]

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices Information Resources By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S. Posted June 02, 2015 Background “Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the…

Source: Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Herbal Viagra warning & more

From: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/sex/erectiledysfunction.htm

FDAsafetynewsvid

Erectile Dysfunction/Sexual Enhancement

As many as 30 million American men have erectile dysfunction (ED). If you’re one of them and considering a so-called “herbal Viagra,” you should discuss the situation with your health care provider. Conventional treatments are available that may help you. Another important reason to see your health care provider is that ED may be a sign of an underlying health problem that needs to be treated, such as clogged blood vessels or nerve damage from diabetes. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that some products marketed as dietary supplements for male sexual enhancement or ED contain prescription drug ingredients or related substances. These products may interact in dangerous ways with medicines.

Bottom Line: No complementary health approaches have been shown to be safe and effective for sexual enhancement or treating ED. Safety is a serious concern with regard to dietary supplements promoted for ED or sexual enhancement.

Safety: Many supplements promoted for ED and sexual enhancement have been found to be tainted with drug ingredients or related substances. These contaminants may interact with prescription drugs in harmful ways. For example, some of the contaminants in these supplements may interact with drugs that contain nitrates, leading to a dangerous decrease in blood pressure. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take drugs containing nitrates, and men with these conditions frequently have ED.

Warning signs that a dietary supplement for ED may be tainted with potentially harmful substances include:

  • Claims that the product is a natural alternative to prescription drugs or has effects similar to those of drugs
  • Promises that the product will work very rapidly or that its effects will last for a day or more
  • Personal testimonials about incredible benefits from the product.

For more information on ED, see the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Web site.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

Source: Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

From the Source

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted June 02, 2015

Background

“Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the “Time to Talk Campaign,” managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Like any health-related decision, your decision about whether to use complementary health practices is central to your health and safety. Yet, information you find on the Web is not always specific to your illness or based on scientific evidence.

The NIH monthly consumer-friendly series, “Time to Talk Tips,” discusses specific health topics, together with the scientific evidence related to those topics. The series is designed to encourage you and your medical doctors or other healthcare providers to talk about any complementary practice that you are considering.

Examples of “Time to Talk Tips”

Each month, the series highlights a health topic. For example, topics include “Natural Products for the Flu and Colds,” and “What Consumers Need to Know about the Use of Dietary Supplements.”

The series includes simple tips, such as, taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold, but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications or other dietary supplements.

Sometimes, a health topic targets a specific health condition, such as “Six Things You Need to Know about Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches , or, “Five Things to Know about Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches.”

The consumer tips accompany topics found in the NCCIH Clinical Digest for Health Professionals, which is a monthly e-newsletter for medical doctors and other healthcare providers. The Clinical Digest addresses the state of science on complementary health practices for a variety of health conditions.

 How to Make “Time to Talk Tips” Work for You

The same topics that are found in the NCCIH Clinical Digest and the “Time to Talk Tips” are discussed in monthly Twitter chats, allowing you, as a member of the public, to interact with NCCIH Information Specialists, to ask questions, and to receive answers in real time.

The NCCIH “Time to Talk Tips” monthly series on complementary health practices was started in 2012. If you access the NCCIH website, “Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices,” on a regular basis, you can see the list of tips grow, from month to month.

Stay informed in the following ways:

Resources for Patients from the National Institutes of Health

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

References

 National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM).
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Clearinghouse.
(Accessed May 03, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Clinical Digest.
(Accessed May 23, 2015)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH E-Mail Us – Submit a Question or Comment.
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Live Chats with Experts.(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Time to Talk Home Page.
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “NIH Launches Consumer-Friendly Tips Series on Complementary Health Practices.” NIH News. March 06, 2012.
(Accessed May 03, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Time to Talk Tips.”
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus.
(Accessed My 24, 2015)

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy [newspaper article]

Toxic Waters

From a 2009 NY Times article

(Yes this article is a bit old, but posting it because of water woes here in Toledo regarding microcystins, which fortunately are still at safe levels, in my humble opinion. Still, it seems to be wrecking havoc with our mayor’s election bid)

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Toxic Waters

Outdated Laws

Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

All Articles in the Series »

Only 91 contaminants [ still true, I counted them today, 31 July 2015  at http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#List ] are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie.

From the 25 May 2015 Lancaster University news release

Is your smartwatch spying on you? wearables by Alexey Boldin/shutterstock.com

26 May 2015 06:11

Now that the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, it’s officially sickie season: go to work, or get struck down with “flu”, a “24-hour virus”, or that faithful stand-by, the dodgy prawn takeaway.

Figures show that over a third of employees in the UK admit to pulling a sickie at some point or other. But things may be changing soon – wearable tech such as the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Fitbit, or Jawbone Up may become mainstream within a few years, bringing health monitoring capabilities that reveal how your body is performing. It’s not inconceivable that in time this same data could be used to prove how well, or unwell, you are – such as when phoning in sick.

Wearable health tech is still in its early days. These devices come with sensors that can record how many steps and how much exercise you’ve taken, how well and long you‘ve slept, stress levels, blood pressure, sun exposure, even what you’ve have eaten. Added together, all this could easily demonstrate that you’re not so sick after all.

Using your data against you

What if employers and health insurance companies move in the direction that the car insurance industry has taken, where every health transgression (a boozy night out, a Christmas feast, or too many lazy days on the sofa) could increase your health premium rates? Such a scenario isn’t so far away, and this should concern us. Apple is clearly making a beeline for the health and fitness industry with Watch and its integrated HealthKit software, now integrated with its iOS mobile operating system, and it is the only firm to do so.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

6 Things Every Woman Should Know About Yeast Infections [Reblog]

From the 25 July 2015 Time blog by Jennifer So

The symptoms can mimic other problems

One study found that as few as 11% of women who have never had a yeast infection could identify the symptoms, while other research has found that only one-third of women who thought they had a yeast infection actually did. Why the confusion?

The signs are similar to other down-there problems. If you have a yeast infection, you might notice burning, itching, pain during sex, and a thick white odorless discharge.

But if it smells fishy, it may instead be bacterial vaginosis (BV), and if you have only burning and pain during urination, that suggests a urinary tract infection. Bottom line: It can be difficult to figure out.

First-timer? Go to the doctor if you think you have one

 

Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Teens turn to Internet to cope with health challenges [news release]

Teens turn to Internet to cope with health challenges.

From the 2 June 2015 Northwestern University news release

National survey explores how and why teens use online health information and digital tools

June 2, 2015 | by Julie Deardorff

EVANSTON, Ill. — At a time when teenagers are grappling with new and often confusing health concerns, the overwhelming majority — 84 percent — turn to the Internet, according to the first national study in more than a decade to examine how adolescents use digital tools for health information.

But while most teens tap online sources to learn more about puberty, drugs, sex, depression and other issues, a surprising 88 percent said they do not feel comfortable sharing their health concerns with Facebook friends or on other social networking sites, according to the study by Northwestern University researchers.

The report yields important information for public health organizations trying to reach adolescents. Nearly one third of the teenagers surveyed said the online information led to behavior changes, such as cutting back on soda, trying healthier recipes and using exercise to combat depression. One in five teens surveyed, or 21 percent, meanwhile, have downloaded mobile health apps.

“We found some real surprises about what teens are doing online when it comes to their health,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

“We often hear about all the negative things kids are doing online, but teens are using the Internet to take care of themselves and others around them,” said Wartella, the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication in Northwestern’s School of Communication.

“The new study underscores how important it is to make sure there is accurate, appropriate and easily accessible information available to teens, because it’s used and acted upon.”**

– See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/06/teens-turn-to-internet-to-cope-with-health-challenges.html#sthash.kXrBqfZl.dpuf

**Related Resources

KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens. KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens

 

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Medline Plus (National Insitutes of Health)  is a great starting point for reliable health information.Over 750 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.  Information on drugs, herbs, and supplements. Links to directories (health care providers, health care facilities, etc) and organizations which provide health informationSurgery videosinteractive health tutorials, and more. 

Image DetailThe CDC is the US government’s primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….

 

 

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , | Leave a comment

Where do you get your health information? [Reblog]

Where do you get your health information? ‹ Reader — WordPress.com.

From a June 2015 post at drgladstone

Recently there was something in the news about roughly half of the information in the shows “the doctors” and the Dr. Oz show was correct (actually it was 63% of the time in “the doctors: and correct about 49% on the Dr. Oz show). See an article reporting on this here. Often times people will have looked things up on the internet when they come into the office.

Now I’m not bringing this up to knock Dr. Oz or the doctors who appear on “The Doctors”, nor looking things up the internet. However it’s important to ask several questions.
1) Does the claim have any scientific basis?
2) Has the study (if a study is being quoted) been replicated with the same or similar results obtained?
2a) who funded the study? was it reported in a reputable journal? If it is a product being touted, did the company making the product fund the study?
3) Does the person ‘reporting’ the results, or pushing the product have a connection with the company? Just because someone is employed or funded doesn’t necessarily mean they’re biased, but it is something to take into account

Read the entire post here

Related Resources

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Medline Plus (National Insitutes of Health)  is a great starting point for reliable health information.Over 750 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.  Information on drugs, herbs, and supplements. Links to directories (health care providers, health care facilities, etc) and organizations which provide health informationSurgery videosinteractive health tutorials, and more.

Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

  Latest information for improving your health, including podcasts and videos

Image DetailThe CDC is the US government’s primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….

Most articles include causes, symptoms, treatment options, prevention, prognosis, and more. Information may also be browsed by topic (Topics A-Z).  Additional features include picture slideshowsetools, and more. 

 

 

familydoctor.org -- health information for the whole familyFamilydoctor.org includes health information for the whole family
Short generalized information on Diseases and Conditions (with A-Z index), Health Information for Seniors, Men, and Women, Healthy Living Topics, pages geared to Parenting & Kids.  Numerous health tools in the left column (as health trackers, health assessments, and a Search by Symptom page.

Healthfinder.gov is a US government Web site with information and tools that can help you stay healthy.

 
KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens. KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens
UpToDate
UpToDate For Patients has a Patient Information tab to find information by topic or through a search box.
Topics help one to learn more about a medical condition, better understand management and treatment options, and have a better dialogue with health care providers.
 

[Adapted from Great Places to start (Univ of Toledo Consumer Health LibGuide)]

Even more….

Health Resources for All Edited by Janice Flahiff

Consumer Health Library Guide – University of Toledo
mostly link to free reputable Web sites

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions
·http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/pickyourpoison/
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 5.56.03 AM

 


It’s not hard to see why our readers loved this thought-provoking expose of America’s long history with mind-altering substances. In fact, the ad for Cocaine Toothache Drops (contemporarily priced at 15 cents) alone is worth a trip to this colorful and well curated site. Lesson plans and online activities help educators illustrate how the United States has handled the thin and shifting line between useful medical prescriptions and harmful, illicit substances.

Over a century ago, it was not uncommon to find cocaine in treatments for asthma, cannabis offered up as a cure for colds, and other contentious substances offered as medical prescriptions. This engaging collection from the U.S. National Library of Medicine brings together sections on tobacco, alcohol, opium, and marijuana. Visitors can learn about how these substances were marketed and also view a selection of digitized items culled from its voluminous holdings, including advertisements, doctor’s prescriptions, and early government documents. In the Education section, educators can look over lesson plans, check out online activities, and explore online resources from the National Institutes of Health, such as, “A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine” and “College Drinking: Changing the Culture.”

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Why Americans can’t buy some of the best sunscreens

From the 27 May 2015 American Chemical Society news release

With summer nearly here, U.S. consumers might think they have an abundance of sunscreen products to choose from. But across the Atlantic, Europeans will be slathering on formulations that manufacturers say provide better protection against the sun’s damaging rays — and skin cancer — than what’s available stateside, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Marc S. Reisch, a senior correspondent at C&EN, reports that sunscreens on the U.S. market do protect users from some ultraviolet-A and -B rays. But there are eight sunscreen molecules approved for use in Europe that could boost the effectiveness of products in the U.S. and also give manufacturers more flexibility in making their lotions. Some have been in line for FDA approval since 2002.

Why the hold-up? In Europe, sunscreen molecules are considered cosmetic ingredients. In the U.S., they are subject to the same scrutiny as over-the-counter drugs, which go through a more rigorous review process than cosmetics. More than 10 years ago, the FDA introduced a streamlined process to speed up the review of sunscreens from overseas to bring them to the U.S. market. But the products’ makers are still waiting for approval, and some have given up.

###

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] How you can help people make safer (chemically related) choices every day

From the 20 May 2015 post at Our Planet, Our Home – EPA’s Blog About our World

…Safer Choice is our label for safer chemical-based products, like all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, degreasers, and many others.  Each day, consumers, custodians, cleaning staffs, and others use these products, and families, building occupants, and visitors are exposed to them.  The Safer Choice program ensures that labeled products—and every ingredient in them—meet the program’s stringent health and environmental criteria—and perform well, too.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 5.52.24 AM

So how can you help people make safer choices?

Related Web site

    Household Products Database (US Department of Health and Human Services)
Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 5.57.19 AM

This database links over 14,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by manufacturers and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients. The database is designed to help answer the following typical questions:

  • What are the chemical ingredients and their percentage in specific brands?
  • Which products contain specific chemical ingredients?
  • Who manufactures a specific brand? How do I contact this manufacturer?
  • What are the acute and chronic effects of chemical ingredients in a specific brand?
  • What other information is available about chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine?

 

 

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article] 80% of Sunscreens Don’t Really Work or Have ‘Worrisome’ Ingredients: Report

From the 19 May 2015 Time Magazine article

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2015 sunscreen guide on Tuesday, which reviewed more than 1,700 SPF products like sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers. The researchers discovered that 80% of the products offer “inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone and vitamin A,” they say. Oxybenzone is a chemical that can disrupt the hormone system, and some evidence suggests—though not definitively—that adding vitamin A to the skin could heighten sun sensitivity.

The report points to Neutrogena as the brand most at fault for promising sun protection without delivering. The EWG says that Neutrogena claims its baby sunscreens provide “special protection from the sun and irritating chemicals” and is labeled “hypoallergenic,” but it contains a preservative called methylisothiazolinone that has been deemed unsafe for use in leave-on products by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. The company also boasts of high SPF levels like SPF 70 or SPF 100+, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there’s only notable protection up to SPF 50, the report adds. Neutrogena did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

In the new report, EWG also provides a Hall of Shame of products that don’t deliver on their sun protection promises, as well as a database for users to search how protective their particular sun products are—and find one that works.

To stay protected this summer, the researchers suggest, use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF of 15 or higher, limit time in the sun, wear clothing to cover exposed skin and re-slather your sunscreen every couple hours.

 

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Why excess iron can be dangerous

Why excess iron can be dangerous.

From the 15 January 2015 article at The Conversation

Campaigns tell us to eat red meat to keep our iron levels up – but what if we have too much? tarale

Many people are aware that low levels of iron in their body can lead anaemia, with symptoms such as fatigue. But few realise that too much iron can result in a potentially fatal condition.

Normally, if we have enough iron in our body, then no further iron is absorbed from the diet, and our iron levels remain relatively constant.

But the body also has no way of excreting excess iron. In a condition called hereditary haemochromatosis, the most common cause of iron overload, the mechanism to detect sufficient iron in the body is impaired and people can go on absorbing iron beyond the normal required amount.

Untreated, haemochromatosis can result in scarring to the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, damage to the heart and diabetes. These problems are the result of excess iron being deposited in the liver, heart and pancreas. Haemochromatosis can also cause non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, loss of libido and arthritis. In some, it results in a shortened lifespan.

The most common cause of hereditary haemochromatosis is a mutation received from both parents, in a gene called HFE.

Around one in every 200 Australians of European heritage have a double dose of this gene fault and are at risk of developing the disorder. Haemochromatosis is much less common among people who aren’t of European ancestry.

Approximately 80% of men and 60% of women who have inherited this gene fault from both parents develop high iron levels. And of those who do, up to 40% of men and 10% of women will develop health problems.

Diagnosis

Actual blood iron levels are generally normal in those with haemochromatosis, as excess iron in the body is stored in tissues like the liver. So haemochromatosis is diagnosed by testing blood iron indices called transferrin saturation and serum ferritin levels.

May 17, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | | Leave a comment

[Press release] Trust increases with age; benefits well-being

From the 18 March 2015 EurkAlert!
“Though trust can have negative consequences, especially among older adults at risk of falling for scams and fraud, the studies found no evidence that those negative consequences erode the benefits of trust.”

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , | Leave a comment

[News release] Why “hypoallergenic” isn’t a thing (video)

From the 19 March 2015 American Chemistry Association news release

It’s a simple claim made on thousands of personal care products for adults and kids: hypoallergenic. But what does that actually mean? Turns out, it can mean whatever manufacturers want it to mean, and that can leave you feeling itchy. Speaking of Chemistry is back this week with Sophia Cai explaining why “hypoallergenic” isn’t really a thing. Check it out here:

.

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality A Meta-Analytic Review

From the article, Perspectives on Psychological Science, March 2015  vol. 10 no. 2 227-237

Several lifestyle and environmental factors are risk factors for early mortality, including smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and air pollution. However, in the scientific literature, much less attention has been given to social factors demonstrated to have equivalent or greater influence on mortality risk (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). Being socially connected is not only influential for psychological and emotional well-being but it also has a significant and positive influence on physical well-being (Uchino, 2006) and overall longevity (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988Shor, Roelfs, & Yogev, 2013). A lack of social connections has also been linked to detrimental health outcomes in previous research. Although the broader protective effect of social relationships is known, in this meta-analytic review, we aim to narrow researchers’ understanding of the evidence in support of increased risk associated with social deficits. Specifically, researchers have assumed that the overall effect of social connections reported previously inversely equates with risk associated with social deficits, but it is presently unclear whether the deleterious effects of social deficits outweigh the salubrious effects of social connections. Currently, no meta-analyses focused on social isolation and loneliness exist in which mortality is the outcome. With efforts underway to identify groups at risk and to intervene to reduce that risk, it is important to understand the relative influence of social isolation and loneliness.

Living alone, having few social network ties, and having infrequent social contact are all markers of social isolation. The common thread across these is an objective quantitative approach to establish a dearth of social contact and network size. Whereas social isolation can be an objectively quantifiable variable, loneliness is a subjective emotional state. Loneliness is the perception of social isolation, or the subjective experience of being lonely, and thus involves necessarily subjective measurement. Loneliness has also been described as the dissatisfaction with the discrepancy between desired and actual social relationships (Peplau & Perlman, 1982).

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Adults only really catch flu about twice a decade

Don’t think the article is advocating skip the annual flu shots!

Adults only really catch flu about twice a decade, suggests study 

From the release

 

main image

Adults over the age of 30 only catch flu about twice a decade, a new study suggests.

Flu-like illness can be caused by many pathogens, making it difficult to assess how often people are infected by influenza.

Researchers analysed blood samples from volunteers in Southern China, looking at antibody levels against nine different influenza strains that circulated from 1968 to 2009.

They found that while children get flu on average every other year, flu infections become less frequent as people progress through childhood and early adulthood. From the age of 30 onwards, flu infections tend to occur at a steady rate of about two per decade.

Dr Adam Kucharski, who worked on the study at Imperial College London before moving to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “There’s a lot of debate in the field as to how often people get flu, as opposed to flu-like illness caused by something else. These symptoms could sometimes be caused by common cold viruses, such as rhinovirus or coronavirus. Also, some people might not realise they had flu, but the infection will show up when a blood sample is subsequently tested. This is the first time anyone has reconstructed a group’s history of infection from modern-day blood samples.”

Dr Steven Riley, senior author of the study, from the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial, said: “For adults, we found that influenza infection is actually much less common than some people think. In childhood and adolescence, it’s much more common, possibly because we mix more with other people. The exact frequency of infection will vary depending on background levels of flu and vaccination.”

In addition to estimating the frequency of flu infection, the researchers, from the UK, the US and China, developed a mathematical model of how our immunity to flu changes over a lifetime as we encounter different strains of the virus.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds | Full Text Reports…

Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds | Full Text Reports….

From the press release

NEW YORK; Jan. 5, 2015 – Most consumers experience challenges using several new types of smart high tech devices, according to a new report from Accenture titled Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.

Overall, 83 percent report various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products.

The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are “too complicated to use” (21 percent), “set-up did not proceed properly” (19 percent), and “did not work as advertised” (19 percent).

“For these new connected device categories, high tech companies need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience,” said Sami Luukkonen, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High Tech group. “They should make fundamental strategic changes that no longer focus on product feature differentiation but rather holistic, digital experience differentiation.”

 

Related resources

      • Set realistic expectations
      • Avoid apps that promise too much
      • Research the developers
      • Choose apps that use techniques you’ve heard of
      • See what other users say
      • Test apps before committing
  • Sources of Trusted, Reviewed and Evaluated Apps
    iMedical Apps   –Mobile medical app reviews, commentary by medical professionals
    Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites – from the US National Library of Medicine
    Mobile Resources Selected by the MSKCC Library for Patients and Families   from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center LibraryInformation For Patients from the University of Michigan LibraryGuide-Health Sciences Mobile Device Resources – Resources by Subject
     Scroll down in the right column of this guide until you get to Information for Patients

     

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Women and Girls at Risk of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in the United States

English: updated prevalence of FGM in Africa

English: updated prevalence of FGM in Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the February 2015 Population Reference Bureau report

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) data included in this data brief are preliminary. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on female genital mutilation/cutting in the United States also will be released soon, providing additional information on women and girls at risk.

(February 2015) Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), involving partial or total removal of the external genitals of girls and women for religious, cultural, or other nonmedical reasons, has devastating immediate and long-term health and social effects, especially related to childbirth. This type of violence against women violates women’s human rights. There are more than 3 million girls, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa, who are at risk of cutting/mutilation each year. In Djibouti, Guinea, and Somalia, nine in 10 girls ages 15 to 19 have been subjected to FGM/C. Some countries in Africa have recently outlawed the practice, including Guinea-Bissau, but progress in eliminating the harmful traditional practice has been slow.1 Although FGM/C is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, global migration patterns have increased the risk of FGM/C among women and girls living in developed countries, including the United States.

Increasingly, policymakers, NGOs, and community leaders are speaking out against this harmful traditional practice. As more information becomes available about the practice, it is clear that FGM/C needs to be unmasked and challenged around the world.

The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1996 making it illegal to perform FGM/C and 23 states have laws against the practice.2 Despite decades of work in the United States and globally to prevent FGM/C, it remains a significant harmful tradition for millions of girls and women. In the last few years, renewed efforts to protect girls from undergoing this procedure globally and in immigrant populations have resulted in policy successes. In Great Britain and in other European countries, a groundswell of attention has focused on eradicating the practice among the large immigrant populations of girls and women who have been cut or are at risk of being cut. Moreover, in 2012 the 67th session of the UN General Assembly passed a resolution urging states to condemn all harmful practices that affect women and girls, especially FGM/C. The UN resolution was a significant step toward ending the practice around the world.

In the United States, efforts to stop families from sending their daughters to their home countries to be cut led to a 2013 law making it illegal to knowingly transport a girl out of the United States for the purpose of cutting. FGM/C has gained attention in the United States in part because of the rising number of immigrants from countries where FGM/C is prevalent, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2000 and 2013, the foreign-born population from Africa more than doubled, from 881,000 to 1.8 million.3

The Risk of FGM/C in the United States

In 2013, there were up to 507,000 U.S. women and girls who had undergone FGM/C or were at risk of the procedure, according to PRB’s preliminary data analysis. This figure is more than twice the number of women and girls estimated to be at risk in 2000 (228,000).4 The rapid increase in women and girls at risk reflects an increase in immigration to the United States, rather than an increase in the share of women and girls at risk of being cut. The estimated U.S. population at risk of FGM/C is calculated by applying country- and age-specific FGM/C prevalence rates to the number of U.S. women and girls with ties to those countries. A detailed description of PRB’s methods to estimate women and girls at risk of FGM/C is available.

February 10, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Could a wireless pacemaker let hackers take control of your heart?

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 5.31.59 AM

From the 9 February 2015 Science article

Medical devices don’t get regular security updates, like smart phones and computers, because changes to their software could require recertification by regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And FDA has focused on reliability, user safety, and ease of use—not on protecting against malicious attacks. In a Safety Communication in 2013, the agency said that it “is not aware of any patient injuries or deaths associated with these incidents nor do we have any indication that any specific devices or systems in clinical use have been purposely targeted at this time.” FDA does say that it “expects medical device manufacturers to take appropriate steps” to protect devices. Manufacturers are starting to wake up to the issue and are employing security experts to tighten up their systems. But unless such steps become compulsory, it may take a fatal attack on a prominent person for the security gap to be closed.

For more on privacy and to take a quiz on your own privacy IQ, see “The end of privacy” special section in this week’s issue of  Science.

February 10, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article] Reducing Lifestyle Diseases Means Changing Our Environment

 

From the 5 February 2015 Scientific American article

How and why our bodies are poorly suited to modern environments—and the adverse health consequences that result—is a subject of increasing study. A new book The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman, chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, chronicles major biological and cultural transitions that, over the course of millions of years, transformed apes living and mating in the African forests to modern humans browsing Facebook and eating Big Macs across the planet.

“The end product of all that evolution,” he writes, “is that we are big-brained, moderately fat bipeds who reproduce relatively rapidly but take a long time to mature.”

But over the last several hundred generations, it has been culture—a set of knowledge, values and behaviors—not natural selection, that has been the more powerful force determining how we live, eat and interact. For most of our evolutionary history, we were hunter-gatherers who lived at very low population densities, moved frequently and walked up to 10 miles a day in search of food and water. Our bodies evolved primarily for and in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

….

 

Read the entire article here

 

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Medical Journal Editorial] Using Drugs to Discriminate — Adverse Selection in the Insurance Marketplace

From the Perspective article by Douglas B. Jacobs, Sc.B., and Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D.at the 5 Feburary edition of the New England Journal of Medicine

Eliminating discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions is one of the central features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before the legislation was passed, insurers in the nongroup market regularly charged high premiums to people with chronic conditions or denied them coverage entirely. To address these problems, the ACA instituted age-adjusted community rating for premiums and mandated that plans insure all comers. In combination with premium subsidies and the Medicaid expansion, these policies have resulted in insurance coverage for an estimated 10 million previously uninsured people in 2014.1

There is evidence, however, that insurers are resorting to other tactics to dissuade high-cost patients from enrolling. A formal complaint submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in May 2014 contended that Florida insurers offering plans through the new federal marketplace (exchange) had structured their drug formularies to discourage people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection from selecting their plans. These insurers categorized all HIV drugs, including generics, in the tier with the highest cost sharing.2

Insurers have historically used tiered formularies to encourage enrollees to select generic or preferred brand-name drugs instead of higher-cost alternatives. But if plans place all HIV drugs in the highest cost-sharing tier, enrollees with HIV will incur high costs regardless of which drugs they take. This effect suggests that the goal of this approach — which we call “adverse tiering” — is not to influence enrollees’ drug utilization but rather to deter certain people from enrolling in the first place.

We found evidence of adverse tiering in 12 of the 48 plans — 7 of the 24 plans in the states with insurers listed in the HHS complaint and 5 of the 24 plans in the other six states (see theSupplementary Appendix for sample formularies). The differences in out-of-pocket HIV drug costs between adverse-tiering plans (ATPs) and other plans were stark (seegraphAverage HIV-Related Costs for Adverse-Tiering Plans (ATPs) versus Other Plans.). ATP enrollees had an average annual cost per drug of more than triple that of enrollees in non-ATPs ($4,892 vs. $1,615), with a nearly $2,000 difference even for generic drugs. Fifty percent of ATPs had a drug-specific deductible, as compared with only 19% of other plans. Even after factoring in the lower premiums in ATPs and the ACA’s cap on out-of-pocket spending, we estimate that a person with HIV would pay more than $3,000 for treatment annually in an ATP than in another plan.

Our findings suggest that many insurers may be using benefit design to dissuade sicker people from choosing their plans. A recent analysis of insurance coverage for several other high-cost chronic conditions such as mental illness, cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis showed similar evidence of adverse tiering, with 52% of marketplace plans requiring at least 30% coinsurance for all covered drugs in at least one class.3 Thus, this phenomenon is apparently not limited to just a few plans or conditions.

Adverse tiering is problematic for two reasons. First, it puts substantial and potentially unexpected financial strain on people with chronic conditions. These enrollees may select an ATP for its lower premium, only to end up paying extremely high out-of-pocket drug costs. These costs may be difficult to anticipate, since calculating them would require knowing an insurer’s negotiated drug prices — information that is not publicly available for most plans.

Second, these tiering practices will most likely lead to adverse selection over time, with sicker people clustering in plans that don’t use adverse tiering for their medical conditions.

Read the entire Perspective here

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Investing in the Health of Young Adults

From the 30 October 2014 Institute of Medicine Report

Young adulthood—ages approximately 18 to 26—is a critical period of development with long-lasting implications for a person’s economic security, health, and well-being.

Recognizing the need for a special focus on young adulthood, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Department of Defense commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) to convene a committee of experts to review what is known about the health, safety, and well-being of young adults and to offer recommendations for policy and research.

The resulting report, Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, offers federal, state, and local policy makers and program leaders, as well as employers, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners’ guidance in developing and enhancing policies and programs to improve young adults’ health, safety, and well-being. In addition, the report suggests priorities for research to inform policies and programs for young adults.

 

Related report –> 2014 Consumer Health Mindset (Aon Hewitt,)
Excerpt from Full Text Reports

From press release:

A new analysis from Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE:AON) finds that Millennials put a lower priority on medical care than other generations. However, they are the most likely to want employers to play an active role in supporting their overall health and wellbeing.

The analysis is based on data from the 2014 Consumer Health Mindset report, a joint survey of more than 2,700 U.S. employees and their dependents conducted by Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company. Aon Hewitt analyzed the perspectives, behaviors and attitudes of employees from different generations towards health and wellness.

According to the analysis, Millennials are the least likely to participate in activities focused on prevention and maintaining or improving physical health compared to other generations. About half (54 percent) have had a physical in the last 12 months, compared to 60 percent of Generation X and 73 percent of Baby Boomers. In addition, just 39 percent say preventive care is one of the most important things to do to stay healthy, compared to 49 percent of Generation X and 69 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials are also less likely to participate in a healthy eating/weight management programs (21 percent), compared to Generation X (23 percent) and Baby Boomers (28 percent). Interestingly, they are the most likely generation to engaging in regular exercise (63 percent), compared to 52 percent of Generation X and 49 percent of Baby Boomers.

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Health is Life

From the 2 February 2015 post at the Health Care Blog by By ALEXANDRA DRANE

The literature is clear – when life goes wrong, health goes wrong. Case in point – it’s now estimated that workplace stress alone is causing additional expenditures of between $125 to $190 billion a year – representing 5 to 8 percent of national spending on health care…and even more importantly – 120,000 deaths a year.

There are growing examples of individuals and organizations that get this stuff – and that are fielding solutions to help. Companies like Health Leads (meeting us on the lowest rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy and getting us access to heat, water, safety…), and Iora Health (meeting us squarely where we are and getting us support for our caregiver stress, our divorce, our substance issue…). I recently got to be part of the latest Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneering Ideas Podcast (link below) and in the process learned how broadly this idea is spreading…Dr. Paul Tang of linkAges from Palo Alto Medical Foundation(a project RWJF supports) talks about stress, and its effects – especially on seniors – and what we can do about it. Harvard economist/MacArthur Genius Grant winner Sendhil Mullainathan shares ideas for transforming health and healthcare in a world where ‘attentional real estate’ – given the messy realities of life – is scarce.  We double dog dare you to listen here:

As an industry with a mantra to heal, this is ground zero. We need to expand our definition of health to include life – and take this on not just as our obligation, but as our opportunity to address the fundamental drivers of health. And let’s not stop there. Let’s practice radical empathy with each other, and with ourselves. Let’s do it in the privacy of our homes, and let’s bring that raw authenticity with us to our work. Whatever you do to start acknowledging that health is life – start it now… maybe just by closing your eyes and inhaling a big fat breath of fresh air while reminding yourself, ‘I am not alone in this crazy world, because we all feel alone and on some level we are all crazy – but only in the very best of well-intentioned ways.’

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health, Workplace Health | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Study Helps Predict Pesticide Exposure in Diet

From the 2 February 2015 Boise University press release

While health-conscious individuals understand the benefits of eating fresh fruits and veggies, they may not be aware of the amount of pesticides they could be ingesting along with their vitamin C and fiber. A new study published in the Feb. 5 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives is among the first to predict a person’s pesticide exposure based on information about their usual diet.

FreshFruit620x320

 

The study was led by Cynthia Curl, an  assistant professor in Boise State University’s School of Allied Health Sciences. She recently joined Boise State from the University of Washington.

While Curl’s study is not the first to link organic produce with reduced pesticide exposure, the method she used may have significant implications for future research. By combining self-reported information on typical food consumption with USDA measurements, researchers will be able to conduct research on the relationship between dietary pesticide exposure and health outcomes in bigger populations, without needing to measure urinary metabolites.

“If we can predict pesticide exposure using dietary questionnaire data, then we may be able to understand the potential health effects of dietary exposure to pesticides without having to collect biological samples from people,” Curl said. “That will allow research on organic food to be both less expensive and less invasive.”

 

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Women’s Health Issues: Special Collection on Women’s Heart Health | Full Text Reports…

Women’s Health Issues: Special Collection on Women’s Heart Health | Full Text Reports….

Women’s Health Issues: Special Collection on Women’s Heart Health

February 3, 2015

Special Collection on Women’s Heart Health
Source: Women’s Health Issues

For American Heart Month 2015, the editorial team at Women’s Health Issues has assembled a special collection of research on women’s cardiovascular health published in the journal since mid-2011, following the release of updated American Heart Association guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women. The articles address healthcare services for women at risk for cardiovascular disease; social determinants of health; and physical activity in specific populations of women.

These articles will be accessible for free during the month of February 2015 so that they are available to a wider interested audience.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

[News article] New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers

67959016From the New York Times article By ANAHAD O’CONNOR, FEBRUARY 3, 2015

The New York State attorney general’s office accused four major retailers on Monday of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements and demanded that they remove the products from their shelves.

The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.

The investigation came as a welcome surprise to health experts who have long complained about the quality and safety of dietary supplements, which are exempt from the strict regulatory oversight applied to prescription drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration has targeted individual supplements found to contain dangerous ingredients. But the announcement Monday was the first time that a law enforcement agency had threatened the biggest retail and drugstore chains with legal action for selling what it said were deliberately misleading herbal products.

Among the attorney general’s findings was a popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens, promoted for “physical endurance and vitality,” that contained only powdered garlic and rice. At Walmart, the authorities found that its ginkgo biloba, a Chinese plant promoted as a memory enhancer, contained little more than powdered radish, houseplants and wheat — despite a claim on the label that the product was wheat- and gluten-free.

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Here are the products in the cease and desist letters from the Attorney General

February 4, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Physical activity as medicine among Family Health Teams: Study

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http://www.classbrain.com/cb_pta/images/childact1.jpg

An interdisciplinary primary care model ideal setting to promote physical activity as medicine

From the 2 February 2015 Canadian Science Publishing site

To better understand the current use of physical activity as medicine among Family Health Teams (FHTs) in Ontario, researchers at the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and the Centre for Family Medicine Family Health Team conducted an environmental scan of 102 FHTs. They published their findings today in the journalApplied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

Family Health Teams (FHTs) are part of a shift towards a multidisciplinary primary care model that addresses the healthcare needs of a community by allowing different healthcare professionals to work collaboratively under one roof.  Currently, FHTs serve a relatively small percentage of Ontarians; however, their multi-disciplinary structure may create an ideal environment to enable physical activity promotion as most Canadians receive healthcare though the primary care system. Physical activity has well-established health benefits; however, the best way to engage Canadians in an active lifestyle remains largely unknown.

Before this environmental scan, the number and types of physical activity promotion services, and the types of professionals providing physical activity counselling in Ontario FHTs was not known .

The researchers found that almost 60% of responding FHTs in Ontario offered a physical activity service.  However, the types, durations and targeted populations of the services varied depending on the individual FHT.  Physical activity services were often restricted to people with specific conditions or needs rather than available to all individuals.

According to the study, “many different types of allied health professionals were facilitating physical activity services.  The diversity in the qualifications is concerning, as it suggests that individuals providing physical activity therapy do not always have qualifications related to physical activity prescription and counselling.”

Cameron Moore, from the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and co-author  of the study said, “It is promising that almost 60% of responding FHTs offered a physical activity service.  However, continued efforts are needed to increase the accessibility and standardization of physical activity therapy offered though primary care.“

“In Ontario, Kinesiology is a newly accredited professional designation with a scope of practice that includes physical activity promotion and prescription. We feel that physical activity counsellors who are Registered Kinesiologists with expertise in physical activity prescription and behavior change counselling are ideally suited as primary care providers in FHTs.”

The article “Physical Activity as Medicine among Family Health Teams: An Environmental Scan of Physical Activity Services in an Interdisciplinary Primary Care Setting” was published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

 

February 3, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Expert Panel Recommends New Sleep Times

 

sleep-recommendations

http://sciencelife.uchospitals.edu/2015/02/09/and-so-to-bed-new-guidelines-from-the-national-sleep-foundation/

 

From the 2 February 2015 National Sleep Foundation press release

This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,”

National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Duration Recommendations:

Age Recommended May be appropriate Not recommended
Newborns0-3 months

 

14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours18 to 19 hours Less than 11 hoursMore than 19 hours
Infants4-11 months

 

12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours16 to 18 hours Less than 10 hoursMore than 18 hours
Toddlers1-2 years

 

11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours15 to 16 hours Less than 9 hoursMore than 16 hours
Preschoolers3-5 years

 

10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours14 hours Less than 8 hoursMore than 14 hours
School-aged Children6-13 years

 

9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours12 hours Less than 7 hoursMore than 12 hours
Teenagers14-17 years

 

8 to 10 hours 7 hours11 hours Less than 7 hoursMore than 11 hours
Young Adults18-25 years

 

7 to 9 hours 6 hours10 to 11 hours Less than 6 hoursMore than 11 hours
Adults26-64 years

 

7 to 9 hours 6 hours10 hours Less than 6 hoursMore than 10 hours
Older Adults≥ 65 years

 

7 to 8 hours 5 to 6 hours9 hours Less than 5 hoursMore than 9 hours

The recommendations are the result of multiple rounds of consensus voting after a comprehensive review of published scientific studies on sleep and health.

February 3, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] A simple intervention can make your brain more receptive to health advice

From the 2 February 2015 University of Pennsylvania press release

 

Emily Falk, Ph.D.

A new discovery shows how a simple intervention—self-affirmation – can open our brains to accept advice that is hard to hear.

“Self-affirmation involves reflecting on core values,” explained Emily Falk, the study’s lead author and director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. Has your doctor ever told you to get more exercise?  Has your spouse ever suggested you eat healthier? Even though the advice comes from good intentions, most people feel defensive when confronted with suggestions that point out their weaknesses. Reflecting on values that bring us meaning can help people see otherwise threatening messages as valuable and self-relevant. “Our work shows that when people are affirmed, their brains process subsequent messages differently.”

Past studies have shown that brain activity in VMPFC during health messages can predict behavior change better than individuals’ own intentions, and this study sheds new light on why.  VMPFC is the brain region most commonly activated when participants think about themselves and when they ascribe value to ideas. The new results show that opening the brain in this way is a key pathway to behavior change.  “Understanding the brain opens the door to new health interventions that target this same pathway,” Falk noted.

“We were particularly interested in using self-affirmation to help people become more active because sedentary behavior is one of the biggest health threats faced by both Americans and people around the world,” said Falk.  Overly sedentary lifestyles are becoming a big problem; in some regions nearly 85 percent of an adult population leads an inactive lifestyle. This can cause multiple health problems, including poor heart health, diabetes, and cancer, just to name three. Increasing activity even small amount can have an important impact on both mental and physical health.

….

Psychologists have used self-affirmation as a technique to improve outcomes ranging from health behaviors in high risk patients to increasing academic performance in at risk youth, suggesting that the findings may be applicable across a wide range of interventions.  “Our findings highlight that something as simple as reflecting on core values can fundamentally change the way our brains respond to the kinds of messages we encounter every day,” Falk noted.  “Over time, that makes the potential impact huge.”

February 3, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Why sitting for too long is killing you, with tips for all (including those with health & mobility issues)

From the 26 January 2015 post at the National Posture Institute Posture Correction and Resistance Training Blog

Well, by now you’ve heard of this…right? If not, this brief video is a must watch on the reasons why sitting too much is a killer.
[Don’t see the video? Try this–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422327029&x-yt-cl=84838260&v=dnVmeaYjdrs ]

 

While viewing this video I wondered how those who are unable to follow the tips. So I did a little Web surfing and came across this page from a reputable source.

Some tips for those wheelchair bound or with serious health or mobility issues
Excerpts from Helpguide.org

If you have a disability, severe weight problem, chronic breathing condition, diabetes, arthritis, or other ongoing illness you may think that your health problems make it impossible for you to exercise effectively, if at all. Or perhaps you’ve become frail with age and are worried about falling or injuring yourself if you try to exercise. The truth is, regardless of your age, current physical condition, and whether you’ve exercised in the past or not, there are plenty of ways to overcome your mobility issues and reap the physical, mental, and emotional rewards of exercise.

What types of exercise are possible with limited mobility?

It’s important to remember that any type of exercise will offer health benefits. Mobility issues inevitably make some types of exercise easier than others, but no matter your physical situation, you should aim to incorporate three different types of exercise into your routines:

  • Cardiovascular exercises that raise your heart rate and increase your endurance. These can include walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or “aquajogging”. Many people with mobility issues find exercising in water especially beneficial as it supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort. Even if you’re confined to a chair or wheelchair, it’s still possible to perform cardiovascular exercise.
  • Strength trainingexercises involve using weights or other resistance to build muscle and bone mass, improve balance, and prevent falls. If you have limited mobility in your legs, your focus will be on upper body strength training. Similarly, if you have a shoulder injury, for example, your focus will be more on strength training your legs and abs.
  • Flexibility exercises help enhance your range of motion, prevent injury, and reduce pain and stiffness. These may include stretching exercises and yoga. Even if you have limited mobility in your legs, for example, you may still benefit from stretches and flexibility exercises to prevent or delay further muscle atrophy.

http://youtu.be/dnVmeaYjdrs

 

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

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