Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

A Medley of Leftovers


Vegetable Hash With Poached Egg

Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Winter Squash Hash

Mushroom Hash With Black Rice

Beet Greens and Potato Hash

Turkey and Red Pepper Hash

General Medicine/Family Medical

Psoriasis Guidelines Call for Tailored Treatment

New Guidelines Say Treatment Plans Should Take Into Account More Than Just Disease Severity

Feb. 18, 2011 — New guidelines for the treatment of the skin condition psoriasis stress the importance of tailoring therapies to individual patients.

The guidelines were issued by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Ronald L. Moy, MD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, says disease severity is just one of many factors that need to be considered when developing a treatment plan for psoriasis.

Once thought to be a condition limited to the skin and joints, psoriasis is increasingly recognized as a disorder linked with other medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and lymphoma.

“Regular health screenings and continual monitoring by their dermatologist can help psoriasis patients with the early detection of many of these associated conditions,” Moy says in a news release.

Therapy, Exercise Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Study Shows Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exercise Are Safe Ways to Treat CFS Symptoms

Feb. 17, 2011 — Cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise, in conjunction with medical care, are safe and effective ways to treat some of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), finds a new study published online in The Lancet.

CFS is characterized by severe, debilitating fatigue, pain, difficulty concentrating, and other symptoms that last for six months or longer. There is little consensus about the cause of CFS and how best to treat it.

Hot Weather Worsens Memory in MS Patients

New Research Shows That Thinking Skills Are Better for MS Patients on Colder Days

Feb. 17, 2011 — As one of the most brutally cold winters on record drags on, most of us are pining for summer. But for many patients with multiple sclerosis, hotter temperatures may not be so welcome because they bring worsening symptoms.

Now new research finds this may be especially true for some of the least well understood symptoms of the disease — thinking and memory problems.

When researchers tested the memories and information processing abilities of MS patients and people without the disease at different points during the year, they found that the MS patients performed worse on the cognitive tests in warmer seasons.

No seasonal difference was seen in test performance among people without multiple sclerosis.

Poor Sleep May Worsen RA Symptoms

Link Found Between Poor Sleep Quality and Greater Risk of Pain for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Feb. 16, 2011 — People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who don’t sleep well face significant risks of greater functional disability due to pain and fatigue symptoms associated with poor sleep quality, a new study shows.

Knee Replacement Patients Thrive, Study Says

20-Year Follow-up Study Finds Most Patients Active Into Later Years

Feb. 17, 2011 (San Diego) — Knee replacement patients tend to remain active 20 years after their surgery, despite some age-related declines, according to a new survey of 128 patients.

“If you have a good knee replacement and are blessed with good health, you have an excellent chance of walking as much as you want and doing activities such as swimming, golfing, and riding a bike, into your 80s,” researcher John B. Meding, MD, tells WebMD.

He is presenting his findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in San Diego.

Cigarette Smoking Linked to Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Feb. 14, 2011 — Cigarette smoking may raise the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a new study that adds new evidence to the growing link between smoking and the rare muscle-wasting disease.

Researchers say previous studies have suggested that cigarette smoking may be a risk factor for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but the results have been conflicting or involved only a small number of participants.

Zinc May Prevent and Shorten Colds

Research Shows That Zinc Reduces Cold Symptoms and Cuts Use of Antibiotics

Feb. 15, 2011 — Taking zinc, either as a syrup or lozenge, through the first few days of a cold may shorten the misery of an upper respiratory infection, a new research review shows.

The review also found that zinc cut the number of days that kids missed school because of being sick and reduced the use of antibiotics by cold sufferers. It also appeared to prevent colds in people who used it over the course of about five months.

“This is great news,” says Kay Dickersin, PhD, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and director of the U.S. Cochrane Center. “We really don’t have interventions for colds that work.”

Alcohol at Bedtime May Not Help Your Sleep

Study Finds Fault With Popular Notion That a Drink Before Bed Will Help You Sleep Better

Feb. 15, 2011 — Do you drink a nightcap to help you sleep? It may not be as effective as you think, new research suggests.

One of the largest studies to date on alcohol’s effects on sleep shows that drinking alcohol before bed may disrupt sleep and increase wakefulness in healthy adults — affecting women more than men — regardless of family history of alcoholism.

The research is reported in the May 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Obesity Increases Risk of Deadly Heart Attacks

Study Suggests Obesity-Heart Attack Link Is Independent of Other Risk Factors Such as Diabetes

Feb. 14, 2011 — Obesity is a risk factor for fatal heart attacks even for people who do not have the conditions normally associated with cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, a study shows.

According to researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, it appears that obesity in its own right is associated with an increased risk of fatal heart attacks.


Cribs Frequent Cause of Injury for Babies, Toddlers

Study: About 1 Child Every Hour Is Taken to ER After Being Hurt Around a Crib, Playpen, Bassinet

Feb. 17, 2011 — Nearly 10,000 children are taken to the emergency room each year — an average of one every hour — after falling or becoming wedged or caught in cribs, playpens, and bassinets, a new study shows.

“It’s certainly a very common source of injury,” says study researcher Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We also recognize that this is an underestimate,” Smith says, because the study only looked at injuries reported to emergency rooms, not those treated by urgent care centers, doctors in private practice, or those that went without treatment at all. “So we’ve got a real problem.

Zinc Poisoning Linked to Popular Denture Creams

Reports Suggest Overuse of Fixodent and Older Version of Poligrip May Cause Nerve Damage

Feb. 15, 2011 — Many cases of mysterious nerve damage turn out to be caused by overuse of popular denture products, an increasing number of reports suggests.

The culprit: zinc in Fixodent, from Procter & Gamble, and — until it became zinc-free last May — Poligrip from GlaxoSmithKline.

Study: Recalled Devices Had Less Strict FDA Review

Researchers Say Many Recalled Medical Devices Were Approved in a Less Intensive Process

Feb. 14, 2011 — More than three-quarters of medical devices involved in high-risk recalls in the last five years because they could cause serious harm or death to patients did not undergo FDA premarket approval, which requires clinical testing and inspections, a study shows.

Instead, these devices were cleared through an alternative FDA regulatory review, called a 510(k), which allows manufacturers to market devices as long as they can demonstrate that their products are similar enough to other products already on the market.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

Flu Cases on the Rise in U.S.

CDC Report Shows Influenza Is Present in All 50 States

Feb. 17, 2011 — Flu activity was relatively low in most of the U.S. from October through early December, but it has increased and is now widespread in most states, the CDC says.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Feb. 18 says the flu is now present now in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The percentage of overall deaths attributed to pneumonia or influenza first exceeded the epidemic threshold in late January, the CDC says. And the number of pediatric influenza-associated deaths reported to officials has tripled from 10 before Jan. 16 to 30 since then.

Flu continues to be associated with a large number of outpatient doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and deaths, especially among people at high risk.

The CDC says flu activity has continued to increase in early February. Influenza strains that have been identified include influenza B, 2009 influenza A (H1N1), and influenza A (H3N2).

Hepatitis C Infection Rates Are Stable

Study Suggests Some IV Drug Users Are Shifting to Other Methods of Using Illicit Drugs

Feb. 14, 2011 — The incidence of new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in the U.S. declined by more than 90% between 1990 and 1992 and has remained relatively stable ever since, new figures from the CDC confirm.

Women’s Health

New Guidelines on Women’s Heart Risk

American Heart Association Warns of Heart Attack Risk for Women With Some Pregnancy Complications

Feb. 15, 2011 — Women who have been diagnosed with preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, or diabetes during pregnancy are now considered at risk for heart attack or stroke going forward, according to newly updated guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA).

The 2011 update to the AHA’s cardiovascular prevention guidelines for women recategorizes a woman’s risk for heart disease. It also serves up some gender-specific prevention advice on diet and daily aspirin therapy in women at high risk of coronary heart disease in order to prevent heart attacks.

The guidelines are being published in the journal Circulation and are based on expert reviews of the medical literature.

Osteoporosis Drugs Linked to Lower Cancer Risk

Study Suggests Bone Loss Drugs May Reduce a Woman’s Risk of Colon Cancer

Feb. 17, 2011 — Drugs prescribed to prevent fractures in osteoporosis may do double duty, cutting a woman’s risk of colon cancer by more than half for those who take them for at least a year, a new study shows.

The study is the latest in a growing body of research suggesting that bisphosphonates, drugs that lower fracture risk by slowing bone breakdown and increasing bone mass, may also fight cancer.

A pair of studies published last year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, one by the same group responsible for the colon cancer finding, found that bisphosphonate use was associated with about a 30% reduced risk of getting breast cancer.

Men’s Health

Study: Prostate Cancer Imaging Scans Often Unnecessary

Low-Risk Patients Are Getting Expensive, Unnecessary Tests to Determine if Cancer Has Spread, Research Shows

Feb. 18, 2011 (Orlando) — Thousands of men with low-risk prostate cancer are having unnecessary and expensive imaging tests, while thousands of men with high-risk disease who should get the tests are not.

When men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, they are classified as low-, intermediate-, or high-risk depending on their life expectancy, overall health status, and tumor characteristics. Current guidelines state that only high-risk men should undergo CT, MRI, and bone scans to determine if their cancer has spread beyond the prostate.

But in a study of more than 30,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004 and 2005 in the U.S., 36% of low-risk men and 49% of intermediate-risk men got the scans.

Can Pomegranate Pills Fight Prostate Cancer?

Study Suggests Pomegranate Pills May Help Slow Progress of the Disease

Feb. 17, 2011 (Orlando, Fla.) — Taking a pomegranate pill a day may help slow the progression of prostate cancer, preliminary research suggests.

The study is the latest to demonstrate pomegranate’s promising antitumor effects, says study head Michael Carducci, MD, professor of oncology and urology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes.

Gene Test for Prostate Cancer in the Works

Early Research Suggests Test Could Pinpoint Which Men Need Immediate Treatment

Feb. 17, 2011 (Orlando, Fla.) — Researchers are a step closer to developing a genetic test that could help men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer decide whether they are good candidates for active surveillance or whether they need treatment right away.

“The biggest challenge with newly diagnosed prostate cancer is deciding what to do for men with low-grade, non-aggressive tumors on biopsy,” says Eric Klein, MD, chairman of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Is Early Balding Linked to Prostate Cancer?

Study Suggests Men Who Are Bald at Young Age May Have Risk for Prostate Cancer

Feb. 15, 2011 — Men who start to go bald by age 20 may have an increased risk for developing prostate cancer later in life, a study suggests.

Prostate cancer patients in the study were twice as likely to report that they began to lose their hair by this age as men who did not have the disease.

The findings appear to contradict research published last spring, which found early baldness to be protective against prostate cancer. But that study contradicted even earlier research suggesting just the opposite.

Cancer experts tell WebMD that the evidence linking baldness to prostate cancer remains inconclusive.

New Debate on PSA Test for Prostate Cancer

Study Suggests Men With Low PSA Levels Can Wait Years Between Screening Tests

Feb. 15, 2010 — Men with a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level of less than 1 nanogram per liter of blood can safely wait up to eight years between PSA screenings, researchers say.

And men with PSA levels of less than 3 at the time of the first screening test do not need biopsies to check for prostate cancer, says Monique Roobol, PhD, an epidemiologist in the department of urology at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Pediatric Health

Despite Warning, Babies Still Get Cough Medicine

Survey Shows Many Parents Don’t Heed Warning on Risks of Cough and Cold Medicines

Feb. 17, 2011 — Despite health warnings and a formal recommendation by the FDA against doing so, many parents are still giving over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicine to kids under age 2.

Research has shown that OTC cough and cold medicines have led to poisoning or death in kids under age 2.  As a result, the FDA said in 2008 that OTC cough and cold products should not be given to children in this age group.

Even so, six out of 10 parents have done so in the last year, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital “National Poll on Children’s Health.”

Many Kids Get Alcohol From Family Members

Study Shows Nearly 45% of 12- to 14-Year-Olds Get Alcohol From Their Family or at Home

Feb. 17, 2011 — Almost 6% of young people between the ages of 12 and 14 drank alcohol in the past month, and close to half of them got it at home or from family members, a study shows.

Young people who drink before they are 15 are six times more likely to experience problems with alcohol later in life, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Teen Girls Bear Brunt of Stress Fractures

Study Suggests Stress Fractures in Teen Athletes Are More Common Than Thought

Feb. 15, 2011 — Stress fractures in teenage athletes are under-reported and more likely to affect girls than boys, according to new research.

Track, cross country, basketball, soccer, and football were the top sports activities linked with stress fractures in the study.

”Parents should be aware, this is a problem, and it’s a greater problem than people necessarily think,” says Andrew Goodwillie, MD, chief resident at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Report Finds Energy Drinks Risky for Kids

Researchers Says Poison Centers Are Getting Calls About Caffeine Overdoses in Children

Feb. 14, 2011 — A new research review finds that kids are big consumers of caffeinated energy drinks, and experts say the beverages may be giving young users unsafe amounts of stimulants.

The special article, which is published online in the journal Pediatrics, sounds the alarm about the increasing number of health problems tied to caffeine use in youngsters. It calls for more caution with the popular beverages, which are often sold in brightly-colored cans with bold graphics and frenetic sounding names that may be particularly attractive to tweens and teens.

Alternative Way to Treat Childhood Asthma?

Study Suggests Role for Inhaled Steroids as Rescue Medication

Feb. 15, 2011 — Using inhaled steroids as a rescue medicine along with albuterol may help some children with mild persistent asthma avoid daily inhaled steroid therapy and one of its potential side effects, namely growth restriction, according to a new study.

The new findings, which appear in the Lancet, apply only to children with mild persistent asthma that is under control. This step-down treatment is not recommended for children with moderate to severe asthma or uncontrolled mild asthma.


Hearing Loss May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s

Study Shows Risk of Dementia May Increase as Hearing Loss Gets Worse

Feb. 14, 2011 — Older adults who experience hearing loss may be at increased risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. And the risk of dementia likely increases as hearing loss worsens.

Those are among the major findings of a new study aimed at addressing possible solutions to the exploding problem of dementia, which is estimated will afflict 100 million people worldwide by the year 2050.

Obesity, Knee Osteoarthritis Hurt Seniors’ Life Expectancy

Quality of Life Also Reduced by Knee OA and Obesity, Researchers Say

Feb. 14, 2011 — Obesity and osteoarthritis of the knee substantially affect the quality of life and life expectancy for millions of older Americans, according to a new study.

Researchers say obesity and osteoarthritis often overlap in older adults, with increasing body weight putting stress on aging joints.

With obesity rates on the rise, a new analysis of U.S. Census and other data on obesity and knee osteoarthritis suggests the two conditions can significantly affect a person’s quality of life and life expectancy.

Mental Health

Positive Thinking May Make Drugs Work Better

Study Suggests Your Expectations Can Alter the Effectiveness of Pain Relievers

Feb. 16, 2011 — When it comes to taking medicine, you may get what you expect.

A new study has found that your expectations can affect how well pain medications work. Being optimistic may boost their effectiveness in blocking pain, while being pessimistic may lower their effectiveness.

Unlike earlier research, the new study used brain imaging techniques to examine brain regions that are known to be associated with pain.

Scientists say that until now, little research has been done to clarify the brain mechanisms that control how different expectations affect drugs.

The study is published in the Feb. 16 issue of Science Translational Medicine.


Stretch Before Running? New Twist on Old Debate

Study Shows Stretching Doesn’t Prevent or Cause Injury, but Switching Routines Might

Feb. 17, 2011 (San Diego) — Stretching before a run won’t prevent injury, but it won’t cause it, either, according to a new study that has a surprising twist.

The surprise finding? Runners in the study who switched routines for the sake of research were at a higher risk of injury, says Daniel Pereles, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in Potomac, Md.

Calories on Menus Don’t Change Kids’ Choices

Study Suggests Calorie Labels in Fast-Food Restaurants Won’t Ease Obesity Epidemic

Feb. 15, 2011 — Listing calories on the menus at fast-food restaurants doesn’t seem to affect kids’ choices or those that their parents make for them, finds a small study in the International Journal of Obesity.

“Labeling is not going to be enough to influence obesity in a large scale way,” says study researcher Brian Elbel, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine and health policy at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

Part of the problem is that unhealthy, calorie-laden foods are often directly marketed to kids. “Numbers can’t compete with Ronald McDonald,” he says.

Cost is also a hard-to-beat factor. “Unhealthy food is cheaper than healthy food and the gap is getting wider,” Elbel says.

Wants Ban on 2 Types of Caramel Coloring in Sodas

CSPI States That Caramel Coloring Produced With Ammonia Contains 2 Carcinogens

Feb. 16, 2011 — Two types of caramel coloring used in some sodas and foods contain two carcinogens and should be banned, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

“We are calling on the FDA to ban the use of caramel coloring in colas and certain other foods,” CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson said during a teleconference.

High-Fiber Diet Cuts Death Risk

Study: Fiber From Whole Grains Reduces Risk of Dying From Heart Disease, Infections, and Lung Disease

Feb. 14, 2011 — Filling up on fiber — particularly fiber from whole grains — may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, infections, and respiratory diseases, says a new study published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Men and women who ate the most dietary fiber were 22% less likely to die from any cause when compared to study participants who ate the least amount of fiber. The protective effect came mainly from cereal fiber in grains, not other sources of fiber such as fruits and vegetables.

Sedentary Job? Try Pedaling at Your Desk

Portable Pedaling Exercise Machine Helps Deskbound Workers Burn Calories, Improve Health, Study Finds

Feb. 14, 2011 — Portable bicycle-like devices that allow people to pedal at their desks or workstations could counter some of the negative effects of sedentary behavior on the job, a new study says.

Researchers reached that conclusion after giving 18 full-time workers a portable pedaling exercise machine specifically designed to be used while seated at a desk or workstation, and let the volunteers keep the devices for four weeks.

Berries May Ward Off Parkinson’s Disease

Flavonoids Found in Berries and Other Fruits May Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

Feb. 14, 2011 — Incorporating berries and other fruits in your diet may pay off by reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

A new study shows men who ate the most foods rich in a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids were 35% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who ate the least. Major dietary sources of flavonoids include berries, apples, tea, red wine, chocolate, and citrus fruits.