If you are opposed to the hepatitis B vaccine for your baby at birth, you can amend the “consent for medical treatment” forms you sign upon entering the hospital before giving birth by writing on the form that you do not give consent for your baby’s hepatitis B vaccination but, unfortunately, that is no guarantee Continue reading →
Hospitalization for underage drinking is common in the United States, and it comes with a price tag — the estimated total cost for these hospitalizations is about $755 million per year, a Mayo Clinic study has found. Researchers also found geographic and demographic differences in the incidence of alcohol-related hospital admissions. The findings were published online today in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Continue reading →
A new piece of health news offers a note to on danger to those who love listening to their MP3 players. Advances in crisp audio in these ubiquitous devices have created a potentially serious health hazard. Continue reading →
Changes in bone density in oral contraceptive users depends on age and hormone dose
Birth control pills may reduce a woman’s bone density, according to a study published online July 13 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism by Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) scientists. Impacts on bone were small, depended on the woman’s age and the pill’s hormone dose, and did not appear until about two years of use. The study size and design allowed the researchers to focus on 14- to 18-year-old teenagers, and to look at how bone density might change when a woman stops using the pill.
GHRI Senior Investigator Delia Scholes, PhD, led the study. Hormones are a key component of bone health, she says, and hormonal contraceptives are a major source of external hormones for women—the pill is the most common birth control method worldwide. A woman’s risk of fractures later in life is influenced by the bone mass she gains in her teens through her 20s, and this age group has the highest use of oral contraceptives. Continue reading →
The FDA has the media and subsequently many Americans in a (perhaps unjustified) uproar about teens using tanning beds, and they are now pushing to ban tanning for people under 18. It is time to set some of this witch-hunting straight.
The ruckus comes in the wake of a report that was released last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization. The report resulted in the IARC’s changing the status of tanning beds from ‘possibly carcinogenic’ to ‘carcinogenic.’
With the same argumentation and evidence, the sun itself would fall into that category.
Teens may smoke to “self-medicate” against depression but researchers in Canada say smoking may increase depressive symptoms in some adolescents.
Lead author Michael Chaiton of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the University of Toronto and co-author Jennifer O’Loughlin of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre say the study involved 662 high-school teenagers who completed as many as 20 questionnaires from grades 7-11 about their use of cigarettes to affect mood.
“This observational study is one of the few to examine the perceived emotional benefits of smoking among adolescents,” Chaiton says in a statement. “Although cigarettes may appear to have self-medicating effects or to improve mood, in the long-term we found teens who started to smoke reported higher depressive symptoms.”
Study participants were divided into groups of: teens who never smoked; smokers who did not use cigarettes to self-medicate, improve mood or physical state; and smokers who used cigarettes to self-medicate.
Study participants were asked to rate on a rating scale depressive symptoms such as: felt too tired to do things; had trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; felt unhappy, sad, or depressed; felt hopeless about the future; felt nervous or tense; and worried too much about things.
“Smokers who used cigarettes as mood enhancers had higher risks of elevated depressive symptoms than teens who had never smoked,” O’Loughlin says.
Study suggests those with “normal blood pressure” still at risk.
The body mass index (BMI) of seemingly healthy teens in 11th or 12th grade should be checked to predict whether they are likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) as young adults. This is the lesson of a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers who just published their findings in the journal Hypertension of the American Heart Association.
The BMI can easily be calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilos by the square of one’s height in meters (or in non-metric countries, the number of pounds multiplied by 703 and divided by one’s height in inches squared). Anyone with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight; if it is over 30, the person is obese.
BGU clinical biochemistry Prof. Assaf Rudich, who headed the large-scale prospective study, said that despite “normal” blood pressure at age 17, hypertension can develop a few years later. The team also found that teenage boys are three to four times more likely to develop high blood pressure in early adulthood than girls.
Currently, systolic blood pressures (the top number of the reading) of 100 to 110 and even up to 120 are considered within the normal range for adolescents. But if their BMI is too high, they may be in trouble and having a lower blood pressure at 17 should now be regarded as desirable, Rudich said.
Known as the “silent killer,” hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and vascular diseases like stroke, he said. “It is increasing along with the obesity epidemic, but regrettably young adults who are otherwise healthy frequently are not screened for becoming hypertensive.”
The BGU researchers examined the development of blood pressure from adolescence to young adulthood in 23,191 men and 3,789 women from the ages of 17 when undergoing medical tests for the Israel Defense Forces and followed them up until the age of 42. They took regular readings of blood pressure and BMI of teenagers who did not have high blood pressure at 17.
The study showed that in boys, there is a strong correlation between blood pressure and BMI at 17, meaning that while the blood pressure reading may be in the “normal range,” there is a greater risk for hypertension when BMI is also evaluated.
The rate of progression to hypertension is higher in boys whose systolic blood pressure is 110 versus those whose blood pressure is 100.
For girls, only the sub-group considered obese had substantially higher risk of high blood pressure. The researchers believe that the hormone estrogen may protect against hypertension.
The study also confirmed the observation that 17-year-old boys have higher blood pressure than girls of the same age. During a follow-up period with these adolescents, 14 percent or 3,810 people developed hypertension.
“Collectively, the study suggests that pediatricians caring for adolescents and physicians caring for young adults should be more aware of the need to monitor weight and blood pressure even when they are considered normal,” said Prof. Iris Shai of the Faculty of Health Sciences‚ epidemiology department.
“For the individual person, a ‘normal value’ may still be associated with a significant elevated risk of disease when the BMI and sex of the patient is also considered,” she concluded.
A new study by a researcher at Tel Aviv University has found that when children begin to change their sleep patterns, adolescence may not be far behind.
The findings of the study by Professor Avi Sadeh of the Department of Psychology were reported in a recent issue of the journal Sleep. The study was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation.
Over a two-year period, sleep onset was significantly delayed by an average of 50 minutes in 72 children age 10 and 11 at the start of the study. Sleep time was significantly reduced by an average of 37 minutes. Girls had higher sleep efficiency and reported fewer night awakenings than boys, but for both, initial levels of sleep predicted an increase in pubertal development over time.
The children who participated in the study (94 at the start and 72 by the time the study ended) kept sleep diaries and wore an actigraph on the wrist to measure biological functions. An initial assessment was taken at the beginning of the study, with a second and final assessment taken at one-year intervals.
According to Sadeh, the findings suggest that the neurobehavioral changes associated with puberty may be seen earlier in sleep organization than in bodily changes. However, he adds, “psychosocial issues such as school demands, social activities and technological distractions can also lead to the development of bad sleep habits.”
“It is very important for parents to be aware of the importance of sleep for their developing children and to maintain supervision throughout the adolescent years,” he says. “School health education should also provide children with compelling information on how insufficient sleep compromises their well-being, psychological functioning and school achievements.”
Sadeh also notes that as children become adolescents, they tend to go to bed later and get up later as well. They also sleep less, which is associated with daytime sleepiness, sleep less during the week and more during the weekend to compensate.
Significant differences were seen between sleep on Friday nights and school nights given that Israel has a six-day school week, with Friday the only day not followed by school.
On Fridays, sleep onset was delayed, sleep time extended and sleep quality poorer than on other nights. There was no difference between puberty status or gender, suggesting that the tendency to “catch up” on sleep over the weekend is steady throughout early adolescence.
Sadeh says the findings may have other implications as well. “A deeper understanding of the interrelationships between sleep and pubertal maturation may provide new insights into the emergence of vulnerabilities for behavioral and emotional health problems in early adolescence. This could improve prevention and early intervention efforts.”
BLOOMINGTON – The Web is filled with products and practices that promise to “detoxify” the body through various means, from extreme diets to spa treatments to sweating.
Though some may be relatively harmless, the desire to detox was brought to a tragic conclusion last fall when three participants died and several were made seriously ill during a pricey sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona. Self-help guru JamesArthurRay was arrested Feb. 3 and charged with three counts of manslaughter in the deaths.
Doctors say the notion that you can — or should — undertake special efforts to cleanse the body of impurities is not only not necessary but potentially dangerous. The body has evolved through time to detoxify itself through its own processes, said Dr.RachelVreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and co-author of Don’t Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health.
When it comes to removing toxins from the body, several organs are designed to do just that.
* The liver plays a major role in breaking down and filtering substances from the bloodstream that the body can’t use.
* The kidneys remove substances such as urea, a byproduct of protein metabolism.
* The gastrointestinal tract, including the colon, is also designed to get rid of what the body cannot use and to keep what it needs.
“There are myths that toxins clog up or get stuck in these organs,” Vreeman said. “That is just not true.”
And without a doubt, she said, sweating definitely would not be the way to go about it.
The primary reason we sweat is to regulate the body temperature. When moisture produced by the sweat glands evaporates, it cools the body.
Though the main component of sweat is water, sweat does contain small amounts of dissolved minerals and trace elements, including sodium, lactate, urea, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, nickel, iron, chromium — none of which are considered toxic, Vreeman said.
When you sweat, the major thing you lose is water — something your body can’t survive long without.
“The term ‘detoxify’ is used so often that it makes people think that special steps need to be taken so ‘detoxifying’ happens,” Vreeman said. “It leads to people not trusting their bodies. Your body, however, does not need special cleansing efforts. What it does need is for you to get enough fluids and to eat a healthy, balanced diet.”
That’s not to say sweating, or spending time in a sauna, has been proven to have no health benefits.
Some studies have indicated that saunas lower blood pressure, enhance blood flow and improve cardiac functioning in people with congestive heart failure or other cardiovascular disease, Vreeman said. One study found weak evidence that saunas could help with chronic pain, and another showed minor benefits for some with chronic fatigue syndrome. There have been almost no studies done specifically on steam rooms or sweat lodges.
Western medicine has largely ignored sweat lodges, but they continue to play a significant role in Native American culture, said David Delgado Shorter, an associate professor of world arts and cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Sweats” have been used for many centuries to purify the mind and body among tribes throughout the Americas, Shorter said. Women in Mayan and Aztec culture, for example, used them as a fertility ritual, and men among the Plains tribes used sweats in preparation for hunts, among other reasons.
“The combination of the physical, emotional, psychological and religious is something many tribes find incredibly important and have fought for their right to do that,” Shorter said.
During earlier times, when colonial settlers and government agents were sometimes violently suppressing Native American religion and culture, tribes fought to hold on to the tradition, for both spiritual and practical reasons. Sweat lodges offered a private place to sing, pray and gather.
That’s why many in the Native American community take offense to non-Native Americans co-opting and charging for participation in sweat lodges, Shorter said.
Anyone thinking of participating in a sweat lodge ceremony or something approximating it should exercise caution, experts say. In harsh environments, hot or cold, the body will work hard to balance how much heat it makes and how much it loses. But if you are in conditions that are too hot for too long, the body may not be able to cool you off sufficiently.
In Arizona, in addition to those who died, 18 people were hospitalized with burns, dehydration, respiratory arrest or kidney failure, according to published reports. Participants, who had paid $9,695 for the “Spiritual Warrior” retreat, said that some people were vomiting, lethargic and collapsing after an hour into the session.
“These are all signs of heat illness and are warnings that your body cannot keep itself cool,” Vreeman said. “Vomiting, thirst, dizziness, being uncoordinated or clumsy are all signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat illness can kill you and should be treated as an emergency.”
Someone who becomes overheated should get to a cool place, drink fluids and seek medical care, Vreeman said. People with heart conditions should always talk to their doctor before trying a sweat lodge or sauna.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on heat illness.
LOSANGELES – A new survey shows more than 75 percent of medical students believe patients would benefit if physicians were knowledgeable about complementary medicine—practices such as massage therapy and chiropractic—as well as conventional medicine. Almost three-quarters of respondents also say our medical system should include complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
In the largest national survey of its kind, researchers from UCLA and UC San Diego measured medical students’ attitudes and beliefs about CAM.
Among the results:
* 77 percent of participants agreed to some extent that patients whose doctors know about complementary and alternative medicine in addition to conventional medicine, benefit more than those whose doctors are only familiar with Western medicine.
* 74 percent of participants agreed to some extent that a system of medicine that integrates therapies of conventional and complementary and alternative medicine would be more effective than either type of medicine provided independently.
* 84 percent of participants agreed to some extent that the field contains beliefs, ideas and therapies from which conventional medicine could benefit.
* 49 percent of participating medical students indicated that they have used complementary and alternative treatments; however, few would recommend or use these treatments in their practices until more scientific assessment has occurred
“Complementary and alternative medicine is receiving increased attention in light of the global health crisis and the significant role of traditional medicine in meeting public health needs in developing countries,” said study author Ryan Abbott, a researcher at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, in a press release. “Integrating CAM into mainstream health care is now a global phenomenon, with policy makers at the highest levels endorsing the importance of a historically marginalized form of health care.”
The findings were published recently in the online issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM).
It’s a silent killer, and one of the worst diseases that we have brought upon ourselves through lifestyles that are sedentary and self-indulgent. It ranks right up there alongside cancer as a potent ailment that causes intense suffering and even death if you’re not careful about your diet and lifestyle. The worst part of diabetes is that it brings a host of other complications with it – you’re prone to high cholesterol, strokes, cardiac diseases, kidney failure, and complications of the liver.
The liver is one of the most important organs in our body; it is responsible for converting glucose to glycogen; it aids in digestion by generating bile to break down fats, in filters toxic substances from our blood. The liver plays a very important role in regulating your blood sugar – when you eat, the glucose level in your blood rises and this causes your pancreas to produce insulin. When the glucose enters your liver, the insulin acts on it and various enzymes including glycogen are synthesized. Once your meal is digested, your glucose levels fall, and insulin secretion is reduced. Your liver thus holds your energy source – glucose in the form of glycogen – for the next few hours, until you have your next meal.
You can see how diabetics are prone to liver disease because of this process – when your insulin levels are abnormal, your glycogen stores are either too high or too low. The accumulation of glycogen in your liver leads to what is known as the fatty liver syndrome, often seen in people who are diabetic and obese or overweight. A fatty liver leads to cirrhosis, a condition where healthy liver cells are replaced by scar tissue and nodules. The more your liver is scarred, the less it functions normally.
As a diabetic, it’s imperative that you maintain your blood sugar levels through a healthy lifestyle, sensible eating habits, and a regular exercise routine. If not, your liver is at risk, and when you endanger one of the most important organs in your body, you’re asking for a host of health complications.
Liver cirrhosis is also caused by alcohol abuse; so if you’re an alcoholic who also has diabetes, or are a likely candidate for Type II diabetes because of your genes and sedentary lifestyle, you’re dealing yourself a double whammy, a two-fisted knockout punch. You really need to reevaluate your life and make some tough decisions, because if you don’t, you may not have a life to live. Diabetes is a complicated disease; don’t make it more complicated by neglecting to manage it properly.
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If you have diabetes, your body cannot make or properly use insulin. This leads to high blood glucose, or sugar, levels in your blood. Healthy eating helps to reduce your blood sugar. It is a critical part of managing your diabetes, because controlling your blood sugar can prevent the complications of diabetes.
Wise food choices are a foundation of diabetes treatment. Diabetes experts suggest meal plans that are flexible and take your lifestyle and other health needs into account. A registered dietitian can help you design a meal plan.
Healthy diabetic eating includes
Being careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat
Eating lots of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables
Other Names: Lycium barbarum, wolfberry, gou qi zi, Fructus lycii
Goji berries grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are in the nightshade (Solonaceae) family.
Goji berries are usually found dried. They are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins.
Why do people use goji berries?
Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to:
* protect the liver
* help eyesight
* improve sexual function and fertility
* strengthen the legs
* boost immune function
* improve circulation
* promote longevity
Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin’s key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. In fact, increased intake of foods containing zeathanthin may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65.
In recent years, goji juice has become popular as a health beverage. Companies marketing goji juice often mention the unsupported claim that a man named Li Qing Yuen consumed goji berries daily and lived to be 252 years old. Marketers also list extensive health benefits of goji juice, even though there are few published clinical trials in humans.
What research has been done on goji berries?
Goji has only been tested on humans in two published studies. A Chinese study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology in 1994 found that 79 people with cancer responded better to treatment when goji was added to their regimen.
There have been several test tube studies that show that goji berry contains antioxidants and that goji extracts may prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose, and lower cholesterol levels. However, that doesn’t necessary mean that goji will have the same benefits when taken as a juice or tea.
Although goji berries like the ones used in traditional Chinese medicine aren’t very expensive, goji juice is very pricey. Considering that a 32-ounce bottle of goji juice (about an 18-day supply) can run as high as $50 USD, the evidence isn’t compelling enough at this time to justify the cost of goji juice.
Also, we don’t know the side effects of regular goji consumption, or whether it will interfere with treatments or medications.
What do goji berries taste like?
Goji berries have a mild tangy taste that is slightly sweet and sour. They have a similar shape and chewy texture as raisins.
In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are eaten raw, brewed into a tea, added to Chinese soups, or made into liquid extracts.
Goji juice is also available, usually in 32-ounce bottles.
Goji berries have appeared in snack foods in North America. For example, the health food store Trader Joe’s sells a goji berry trail mix.
Possible drug interactions
Goji berries may interact with anticoagulant drugs (commonly called “blood-thinners”), such as warfarin (Coumadin®). There was one case report published in the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy of a 61-year old woman who had an increased risk of bleeding, indicated by an elevated international normalized ratio (INR). She had been drinking 3-4 cups daily of goji berry tea. Her blood work returned to normal after discontinuing the goji berry tea.
Where to find goji berries
Whole goji berries are available at Chinese herbal shops.
Goji juice can be found in some health food stores, online stores, and through network marketers.
Consumers are very interested in foods that promote healthy blood glucose: 69 per cent of primary grocery shoppers are extremely or very interested in buying or using foods or drinks if they can help manage blood sugar. In addition, 43 per cent of primary grocery shoppers believe that “helps maintain healthy blood-sugar levels” is an extremely or very important claim on food labels, according to the 2009 HealthFocus Trend Report.
No disease is as closely linked to nutrition as diabetes. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the US and contributes to higher rates of morbidity — people with diabetes are at significantly higher risk for heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and other chronic conditions.
Prediabetes is usually intertwined with being overweight and, of course, increases the risk by about 80 times of a bona fide type 2 diabetes diagnosis (not to mention heart disease). Indeed, blood-sugar issues and being overweight are usually the start of a host of health conditions. An estimated 121 million American adults (out of 184 million) are overweight, with about 60 million being actually obese — 30 pounds over their ideal weight. If trends continue, an incredible 80 per cent of Americans are estimated to be overweight by 2030.
About one-third of diabetics take supplements. The top ingredients include fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and chromium, according to Nutrition Business Journal.
A recent Swedish study found that taking a whey supplement with meals can help stimulate insulin release in type 2 diabetics. When diabetic subjects took whey at the same time as a high glycaemic-index breakfast and lunch, they had lower blood-sugar response and a higher insulin response. The findings suggest whey can help diabetics improve their blood-sugar control.
In another nod to the broad efficacy of vitamin D, insufficient and deficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by 52 per cent, according to a 2009 Anglo-Chinese study.
This study backs an earlier study that found women in the 84,000-strong Nurses’ Health Study who consumed a daily intake of greater than 800IU vitamin D and 1,200mg calcium had a 33 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those to took in less than 600mg calcium and 400IU vitamin D.
Cinnamon makes insulin work more efficiently, which gets excess sugar out of the blood and into cells, where it can be burned as fuel. Cinnamon works in two ways. First, it inhibits the enzymes that cause insulin resistance. And second, it increases sensitivity to insulin.
Preliminary results from a University of Surrey clinical study found that the consumption of Hi-maize brand resistant starch, from National Starch, significantly increased insulin sensitivity in individuals with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
“These improvements are actually bigger than you get with most blood glucose-lowering drugs,” says DeniseRobertson, PhD, lecturer in nutritional physiology within the Postgraduate Medical School at the University of Surrey and the principal investigator of the study. “We are finding that subjects at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as those with metabolic syndrome, are more responsive to the insulin-sensitizing effects of resistant starch than people with normal blood-glucose levels.