Thursday, December 31, 2009


I don't plan to write much for tonight. It is the end of a year with celebrations of thankfulness, expectation and good riddance - my best to all of you.

I am excited that at least two health promotion related statutes or laws come into effect tomorrow. One is the ban of trans fats in foods sold in California restaurants - cool because there is NO level of TFA that the body needs and because any amount could be harmful. Which is EXACTLY the same thing I say about tobacco smoke. There is no safe level and any amount can harm you. Evidence will tell you that both are bad, but tobacco is far worse. Which makes the second statute even more important. Important, and damn near jaw dropping because it is in one of the tobacco states, North Carolina. A statewide indoor smoking ban goes into effect tomorrow..... incredible.

What I really want to focus on though is where you have been and where you are going in your quest for optimal health. I, myself, usually journal about this on New Years Eve or Day or both - even if I don't journal any other day of the year. I am holding out for tomorrow this time, so I have something to do on the plane!

I have a form that you can use for this reflection as part of the Hold the Stuffing challenge my coworkers are completing this week. Here is the link so that you can open and print the form for your own reflection and forward thinking statements!

And yes, I do have goals for 2010 - not in any particular order and certainly not ONLY these but I am thinking:
  • learn to play tennis
  • maybe racket ball too
  • run a second marathon
  • eat more during the day and less at night
  • plastic surgery???
  • education
  • romance

sigh........ I am tired just thinking about it all

Now - the New Year festivities await............

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


You have got to be kidding me? The number one concern over the use of full body scanners as a security measure is privacy?

Throughout the day, in all types of media, people have made cases both for and against these scanners, but at the very most I have heard ONE person mention the effects of this low dose radiation on our bodies.

There is information out there about the amount of radiation emitted. There are also several different types of scanners, so some may not emit radiation at all. But to be dismissive about the risk is to beg for trouble.

If you read this blog with any amount of regularity then you know that the machines we use for X-rays have been found to expose persons to more radiation than initially expected, that the radiation exposure accumulates over time and that it DOES cause some cancer. It is also now known that the amount of radiation emitted is variable by machine and not always consistent even with the same machine.

So let us just back up a minute. Instead of spending all our time and money gathering data on what we will do with the films, who will see them, how they will be trained and which software will be used; let us gather data on SAFETY of the devices. Here is a good place to try some comparative research. What do these scanners do to our bodies and think about it long term. If someone starts to travel at age 8 and travels weekly for most of his or her life - what are the odds of complications and what exactly are the complications. What about children? What about pregnant women? What about women who do not know they are pregnant yet? Which scanner carries the least risk? Who will monitor the use of the scanners and check their indices for radiation levels? Do the levels have to be adjusted based on size? Do we need a new "department" to regulate airport security scanning devices? Would the consumer safety division cover this?

I am flying Friday and I can tell you with full certainty that I would choose the pat down before I stepped in an X-ray machine... but I would prefer being "evaluated" by a drug sniffing, bomb seeking, gel searching dog.

I am not likely to have to make a choice though, because I am in the USA and staying in the USA, which also points to a few flaws with the security decisions the government makes, but if I go there I really am going away from the mission of my blog.......dratz.. maybe I better start another blog.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ASU or Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables

If you are from the Southeast ASU likely made you think Appalachian or Arizona State University, but instead it is a type of supplement that I read about today. It MAY be showing some benefit in research studies with regard to osteoarthritis, or OA.

I read a few pages of material today that was presented at a recent American College of Rheumatology Conference. The information that I read was titled Advances in Osteoarthritis Management and it included scientific reports regarding studies in preventing progression or reversing the condition, as well as pain management for it. The basis for the report are conclusions from several clinical studies and the rigorousness of the research was noted as to give sway or pause to the findings.

Just a few points to note from this review:

At this time no treatment, medicinal or otherwise, has been found to reverse the condition which is the most common cause of disability in this country. OA is loss of cartilage in joints and usually effects knees, hips or the spine. There is promising research in regards to preventing further deterioration but more work needs to be done to prove efficacy and safety of the compounds involved. It IS true that ASU has been found to be helpful, however, when I looked up the term I saw an ad that boasted it as the only thing proven effective or some such false statement. ASU stands for Avocado Soybean Unsaponfiable. (an unsaponfiable is a substance, an oily substance, that will not turn to soap when mixed with lye) At this time NO supplement, not even glucosamine is recommended by experts.

It is true that OA is often associated with being overweight, but injury and imbalances can also cause the wear and tear. In regards to treatment of the condition, some additional good points were made.

OA is a debilitating and limiting condition because it is painful. Expert Louis Kuritzky was interviewed by Medscape and he suggests that clinicians first make an assessment of the patients level of pain. OA is different from rheumatoid arthritis and perhaps gets less respect because of the differences, but there is no blood test or scan that will tell how much pain a person is in. Several questionnaires do exist to elicit the information.

The next step according Dr. Kuritzsky is to convince the person that losing weight and participating in physical therapy WILL have a real benefit. He introduced the term proprioception which is a little hard to explain, but it has to do with how our musculoskeletal receptors respond to stimuli or cues in our environments. For instance, we may have this way of sensing that we are walking up an incline and the body automatically adjusts for that so we keep our balance. In patients with OA, proprioception is impaired, but physical therapy and weight loss can have a positive effect on that. So it doesn't lesson the cartilage loss but it DOES improve ones ability to function and thus their quality of life.

Dr. Kuritzky also notes that exercise is important for everyone and that it is especially true here EVEN when use of the joint causes some pain. He worries because we have a growing number of persons with diabetes, hypertension and obesity and physical activity IS a treatment for those conditions. It can reverse them. Often, the patient with osteoarthritis is also suffering another chronic disease and the less active they become the worse all disease outcomes will be.

Medications were also discussed. Most importantly, the clinician should begin with the lowest dose of the least toxic drug and work his way up until the pain is managed. Tylenol can be used as can ibuprofen. Even Cox - 2 NSAIDs and opioids are options, but a clinical decision has to be made with that patients specific needs, history and environment in mind.

I did learn that a topical form of NSAID has been found to be effective in clinical studies, though intuitively it would seem to be less toxic (gi bleeds) than an oral NSAID, that is still under study. The ingredient to look for in a topical, and I do not know if OTC meds are available, is diclofenic sodium at 1%.

Other medicinal therapies for pain management are being created and studied, including medicines that interrupt neurotransmitter uptake in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine.

I found the material to be quite enlightening and so shared it with you today. Take home messages are that wear and tear may occur in every one's body over time, but the extent is not the same with everyone. Some things that can make it worse are being overweight, being inactive, having had joint injuries and, being out of alignment. Other risk factors include genetics and sex (female).

You do have control over your weight and activity level, even if you have limitations. You may also be able to avoid some sports injuries or accidents, or at the least follow physical therapy recommendations when healing from them, and some imbalances can be corrected by orthotics or therapeutic procedures.

Monday, December 28, 2009


What is it? How do you get it? What does it do to you? How do you prevent it?

It is non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It is related to having excess fat in one's diet. The liver metabolizes and manages fats. If the body doesn't need all of them, the live stores them. If too much fat is stored in the liver, one can develop fatty liver disease - or fat build up in the liver. This is also a risk when one develops insulin resistance. Too much blood glucose turns into triglycerides or blood fats and again, too much fat has an adverse effect on the liver. It should be obvious to you by now, but I will iterate. Obesity is a cause of both conditions - too much fat and insulin resistance.

NAFLD is common. In fact it is expected that as many as two thirds of persons in Western societies have this condition. Whether the growing number is due to obesity prevalence alone or to the increase in liver enzyme testing in persons on cholesterol lowering medications is a current issue of debate. [not for me, I think that the people who are taking meds like Lipitor for their high cholesterol are also likely to be overweight - so what's the difference?]

NAFLD is not usually a problem for those who have it. There are few if any symptoms and usually no adverse outcomes. The problem with that statement however, is this: It usually doesn't kill you - or cause liver failure, unless it does. The risk for failure is associated with inflammation and scarring of the liver.

Fair enough yes. So what you can do is this. Maintain a normal weight. If you are diagnosed with this condition OR with insulin resistance, lose 10 percent of your body weight, but slowly. Losing weight rapidly can actually cause this condition. If you lose one to two pounds a week you will be doing your body a favor! Also, increase fiber and reduce intake of saturated fat. In the material I read, it was also suggested that people exercise daily in order to reduce the chances of insulin resistance.

[info for this blog came from both the Mayo Clinic and an online magazine titled Today's Dietitian]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resolve under Pressure

I think that I had mentioned around Thanksgiving time that my office was participating in a health challenge called Hold the Stuffing. In case you missed that post, it is a simple challenge that requires the participants to keep a steady weight from the Thanksgiving holiday to New Years. Specifically, one has to end the contest at the same weight they started by no more or LESS than two pounds.

The challenge puts a moratorium on dieting as well as over indulging. Nutrition experts developed the concept, I am just promoting it. The point is to enjoy a select few days of feasting without eating ones way through a month of parties.

My coworkers have done a fabulous job of maintaining their weights. Maybe it is because they are in a contest. Maybe because they weigh themselves weekly. Maybe because I send them weekly email reminders and tips. Maybe because they have great resolve - but more importantly, maybe the have less Pressure from friends, family and hosts to "HAVE MORE."

I have noticed over the last few weeks that for many people it isn't just their own weaknesses that they must contend with or battle, but also the urging of party hosts. "Oh do have more. Did you have pie? Which cookie would you like? Another glass of wine?"

It is tough to make it through the holiday without doing significant damage to the waistline and I wish I could make light of that, but there has been some concern that the pounds never come off. The idea behind Hold the Stuffing is to counteract the mindset of letting a minor indulgence turn into a "what the hell" mindset.
I heard just such a statement this evening and I suppose it inspired this blog. A very special person I know was pretty much throwing her hands up and saying, "oh just bring it", because she had eaten so much of so many things over so many days.

Unfortunately, the undoing of the damage requires far more work, time and commitment than the doing of the damage. If you are shaking your head in empathy and commiseration then so be it - no blame no shame just LEARN from this.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What if We Listened

Last week an article came across my "virtual" desk regarding outcomes for persons who actually follow the recommendations made by our health experts - all of them. Well, that is telling isn't it. ALL of them is really just three things!

Keep your weight down

Be physically active (most days of the week)

Do not smoke

That is IT people, three simple steps to tip the odds in your favor - the odds of having a long, healthy, active life...........

Earlier this month the study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The research involved only men, and so the conclusion can only be offered for men, but you will get the general idea. Men who were able to meet all three of the above directives had almost 60% less coronary heart disease "events" and a stunning 77% LESS risk of dying from heart disease. (so what, well heart disease is the number one killer in the USA)

It is damn impressive and a good motivator for all of us. But I have to tell you that the reason the article stayed in my thoughts wasn't because of the benefits this simple lifestyle could offer but because of the number of persons who actually were active, normal weight and didn't smoke - Americans who can boast this accomplishment make up 4% or LESS of the population..

People! This is just not okay.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

My Mom and I will be having a Christmas Dinner together.

We will have Quorn with ginger and curry, roasted green beans and pumpkin mousse.

All recipes from my You Tube channel if you'd care to join us!

In the meantime, be safe and joyous.... thanks for reading

Oops, I didn't make a mousse video, sorry! I will make it next time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I caught the end of a Weather Channel show about thunder storms and lightning. It was a rather timely coincidence as last Friday I had talked myself into running on the treadmill at my gym as opposed to my usual I am going to run outside come hell or high water. Indeed, many a high water has come during my runs and the last one, a few weeks ago, brought sharp thunder and bright cracks of lightning, so much so that I promised the powers that be that I would change my evil ways if I could just make it home.

You see, when you are three miles out and the storm breaks you really don't have much choice but to keep running. Oh, and I have done it more times than I can count on one hand, perhaps both hands. I knew it was crazy dangerous but not how much so. [ I would always think, "oh please don't let my Mom see me." Except last time. I would have taken a ride from ANYONE but no one stopped to offer. - it was that bad]

So I learned that the treadmill will not kill me and lightning might - here are a few tidbits from

The first is that this spark is spelled lightning not lightening or lightining :)
Second, lightning strikes the earth millions of times EACH day. The state which has the most lightning strikes a year is FLORIDA. That is where I LIVE!
Third, it kills people. Oh I guess I knew that. It contains volts of electricity.
Fourth, if there is a thunderstorm there will be lightning.
Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, it is closer than you think.

The last two are worth repeating and respecting. It makes me glad I took the time to track down the rest of the story.

The weather channel tutorial teaches that you do not have to have thunder to be hit by lightning and that if you can SEE it or Hear it (if there is thunder), then you are too close. It CAN hit you.

The website also offers a valuable tool for calculating how close the lightning is - though I think if I had known this the last time I was in a storm I may have just had a heart attack from fear.

Funny because I did remember that counting was important - but I didn't really know why or what exactly. I was counting between thunder booms - hoping they were not getting closer! The formula is actually this:

See lightning and count until you hear thunder (if you do) what ever number you get, divide by 5. So see lightning and count 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/ nine counts and BOOM !!!! 9/5 is less than two. So the lightning just struck less than two miles from YOU.

I will be respectful of those darkening clouds. This is the type of thing that is just as important as eating a low fat diet and wearing a seat belt. We must control the things we can and reduce our chances of the inevitable!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I am getting back to this issue but it will be brief. Sorry, I got home late and I also cannot find one of my bank cards so I think I need to check my car and then call the bank - dang.

Okay. I wanted to write about telmores after that article last week that mentioned telomere length accompanied with younger looks might for tell longevity. I learned two or three things, but the main thing is that the study of aging is still very new and full of hypothesis. We have known for about a decade that a lot of our theories are out of date and incorrect. In fact, we know that the more we do even as we age, the more we will be able to do and that we don't really just wear out.

But telomeres are the tips or ends of our chromosomes. Chromosomes as you must remember from biology class are a part of the cell that contain blueprints or instructions on what cells are supposed to do. Telomeres are technically part of the chromosome but an expendable part. They are protecting the more valuable DNA. Cells divide. It is their job. Each time they do, the telomeres shortens. The hypothesis has been that this happens in all cells until the cell can no longer divide because the message can no longer be copied. The cell then dies. Many of our cells can divide about 50 times. Cancer cells divide uncontrollably because an enzyme that protects the telomeres is released, but that is another story.

In studies of whole populations, there is a link between shorter telomeres and aging, but NOW scientists are learning that individual differences are pronounced. Some persons have longer "tails" then others and sometimes the tails get longer and not shorter.

So I have learned that telomeres do have a place in senescence, but what they mean to each of us as we strive to spread out our active aging for as many years as we can is unknown.

Senescence is a word I had forgotten all about - and in the words of my Dad - I say, "go look it up."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Death at any age

I was all set to study and write about telomeres tonight. I am intrigued by the hypothesis that telomeres length is associated with longevity. The study relating younger looks to longer telomeres really got my attention! I am ALL about the looking young and living longer.

But instead I feel compelled to say something about Brittney Murphy. I wasn't very familiar with the young actress. I had heard of the two movies that she had major roles in, but not about the concern for her weight. I really didn't have her on my radar before her death. She is now the topic of Internet and Cable News - so she has my attention. Oh, and one of my friends and or relatives made a note of it on Facebook last night to which she got the comment, "cocaine diet and unnaturally thin."

All the talk has led me to recall one of my favorite quotes, which I have written down at my office. Do forgive me for any inaccuracy but it goes something like this - "Death in old age is inevitable, death before old age is not."

No matter what they find, a heart attack at 32 is not inevitable or natural. I suppose the closest to "natural" would be if she had a genetic or physical abnormality that no one noticed before which caused her heart to stop. This happens in athletes sometimes - heart attacks at finish lines, not because of a disease process but from a defect.

I have to tell you, even as I am blogging, the TV is on in the background and they are talking about this again.

It is likely then, that Ms. Murphy either had a defect, was exposed to an environmental risk factor or engaged in behavior that put her at risk. Yes, this could be drug abuse - illicit or prescription or an eating disorder. I have no idea, but I know this, she was too young to die.

Seems the older I get , the younger too young to die becomes. Heart attacks do scare me. After my Dad died at a much older age than Brittney, I had some trouble sleeping. I told my PCP that I was afraid that I would die in my sleep, that my heart would stop. I know that heart disease runs in my family. My doctor insists that I have none of the risk factors, but maybe Brittney didn't have any either.

All we can do is take the best care of ourselves that is possible. We have no guarantee really, but death before old age IS preventable and eating the right amounts of the right foods while engaging in the recommended amount of physical activity and avoiding environmental stressors and toxins is the way to stack to the deck in your favor. Generally I do not feel lucky, so I will cheat by taking extra good care of myself.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Odds and Ends

It is the Sunday before the Christian Christmas Holiday and a good portion of America just experienced a snowfall. Actually, they are calling it the Blizzard of 2009. The Country's capital had a record or near record accumulation and I cannot help but think of my Dad, or his spirit anyways, at Arlington Cemetery amongst all the snow. Here in Florida, we had the rain that moved up the east coast to become that blizzard. It is certainly cooler than usual here, but I risk a backlash if I complain!

I did gather quite a page of odds and ends for this week, so without further ado:

Tobacco and Furniture Factories: I heard a story on NPR this week regarding a town in NC that had its furniture factory close. Many skilled workers were out of a job and out of an industry. They were attending a local community college to learn new skills. The town, Lenoir, was home to a new Google enterprise and the furniture workers were learning about computer programming with the hope of being hired by Google. Google had actually purchased the furniture factory building. I was excited about this because I have long said how smart it would be if tobacco farmers switched crops, if the field workers learned to care for and harvest them and tobacco factories were modified to process the new crop. I still feel this is a possibility and have hope yet that the fields will grow a crop that can be used for alternative fuels. (NC happens to have tobacco fields and factories too)

Cell Phones: This week CNN ran a story about the possible risks from using cell phones. This is not knew news and hearing about it again startled me. Why were they bringing it back up? I wrote about this in a blog in 2008 Surely Dr. Gupta didn't just now find out about it. Seriously, the issue of SAR is the same as before and some devices emit more of this non ionizing radiation than others ( a heat that the scientists are not in consensus about with regard to harm, but it is not the same radiation we get from XRAYS), and the concern is life time use of these devices, esp. because some people allow very young children to have cell phones. I know that when I heard about this over a year ago, I changed my cell phone for one that had a lower SAR (specific absorption rate) and then forgot all about it. Unfortunately, a few weeks before Sanjay announced on CNN that the worst emitter of SAR was a black berry curve, I bought one. So anyways, this to me is just more support for texting.

Looking Young is MORE than It's Cracked Up to Be: I saw this article last week, but didn't have a chance to read it. The headline teaser was that people who look younger than their chronological age actually have increased longevity and better health than those who do not. WELL now - I am consistently thought to be younger than I am - which can be embarrassing, but ... living longer, yes sir, that is my goal! So I made time to read further. The actual research comes out of Denmark and involved twins that were over age 70. There were 1800 pairs of them and volunteers judged the ages. The twins were tracked over the next seven years. The twin that was guessed at a younger than actual age did live longer. Now the scientists hypothesize that people who look young may have longer telomeres which are biomarkers of aging. They tend to get shorter over our lifespan - long story - not for an O&E post.

Health is Wealth: Indeed I would agree with that short sentence. What I didn't like was that I saw this sentiment on a car. Yes, one of those screen advertisements. It actually said Health AND Wealth "in a bottle." No No NO, health comes from what you consume and what you do and there is no shortcut from a concoction in a bottle or pill.

That's 8 Pills! There is a commercial comparing two OTC pain medications. One is a lower dose and the label says something like 2 pills every for to six hours for x days. The other pill has a higher dose of medicine and THUS less pills are needed. The actors in the ad are aghast, that is 8 pills. Well, really - you should take the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time and if you don't have the option of taking a smaller dose and forgoing the second pill, then you just might be taking more medicine than you need - not less!

Cancer Tests: Also on CNN this week - a possible new test to see who is at risk for skin and lung cancers. It sounds awesome because we really don't have a good screen for either of those. However, it will not be ready for some time. So as the doctor, probably Sanjay again, was reporting this, the news anchor asked, "So if melanoma runs in your family or if you are a smoker, what can you do in the meantime?" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is what I said to the TV. Did he REALLY just ask that question? Okay, I'll TELL YOU. Don't Smoke and Use Sunscreen....

Oh, my gosh, there was more - but I am beat. Take Good Care Now...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Make Mine a Double

They do research on alcohol. I am sure that you knew that.

A recent study compared the effects of drinking whiskey to vodka. The two alcoholic beverages were similar except that those who over indulged in whiskey had worse "hang overs" than those who did the same with vodka. The symptoms being headache, nausea and thirst. The two groups did not have differences in performance or sleep.

In the news article from the BBC it was said that the reason may be that whiskey has more of something referred to as congeners than vodka does. In the article, congeners were said to be molecules and examples of them were acetone, acetaldehyde and tannins. Most of us have heard of tannins, at least I had heard of them, in regards to something in red wine that could trigger a migraine.

More interestingly, I had heard of the first two congeners with regard to tobacco. I thought, HUH, I bet that has something to do with the making of the product because a lot of times the toxins in tobacco are actually CREATED in the curing or fermenting process. And that was IT! I looked it up and in alcoholic beverages, congeners refer to chemicals that are created during fermentation. The term congener has several meanings.

So whiskey has more of these congeners than vodka. Alcohol scientists think that the congener content may lead to worse hang over symptoms. Brown University used over 90 volunteers to study the difference between the two alcohols. The research volunteers drank until their BAC was a third over the US/UK legal limit, so I think that would be about .1%. [btw, the chemicals are said to offer up aroma, flavor and color]

Long term over indulgence of alcohol has serious health effects which I would imagine could be attributed to some of the toxins that are found in alcohol. I may study this in the future, but at this time I do not know which types of alcohol, i.e. liquor, wine or beer - would be the worst. I do know that evidence exists to support some alcohol intake as health promoting if it can be done in moderation.

This research study was done in the USA, but the article I read was from the BBC and in that article there was mention of a charity that strives to promote responsible drinking. I went to their website and thought it was pretty darn cool. You might enjoy it as well. In the meantime, please do be mindful of all your food and beverage intake. Your body needs you to make wise decisions!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is Salt More of a Threat After All?

In reviewing research out of Italy and published in the British Medical Journal BMJ, I began to doubt myself or my recent post.

The research involves the analyses of about 14 different studies that included measure of salt intake and the outcomes of stroke or cardiovascular disease. The studies are not the gold standard type that we like, nor could they really be, but the analyses of them is pretty tight.

The scientists and statisticians found that salt intake, which they measured in grams, is associated with higher risks for both of the above outcomes. Remember from a recent post that the sodium content is 40%, and so when they say 6 g of salt it equals about 2300 mg of sodium. The researchers say that most diets have upwards of 10g of salt per day (WOW) and that 10g a day puts a person at an amplified risk of stroke death and CVD diagnosis. The report I read in Medscape stated that for every additional 3 grams of salt we consume, our risk of heart disease rises by 6 percent.

My big question is this: Does that mean that we have a higher risk of getting hypertension and then the adverse outcomes, or is it regardless of a HTN diagnosis. That is a pretty important question as not everyone who consumes above 6g of salt a day gets or has high blood pressure.

Also I learned in the article by Susan Jeffrey that one of every strokes leads to death where as one in every five cases of heart disease leads to death. I didn't realize that so many strokes resulted in death, however, in some instances it might be the better outcome.

My curiosity did get the better of me, i.e. if the increase in salt led to the stroke or if the increase in salt led to the HTN that then led to the stroke. So I looked up the research myself.

Wow, this stuff can get confusing. I need more education! Anyways, the authors of the study do call it a direct link between intake and stroke or CVD but they also talk about HTN and obesity etc as factors for stroke and heart disease. It was said in the research article that about 62% of strokes ARE in those with HTN and almost 50 % of CVD cases are associated with HTN. Still, the research did find some cases of increase without the diagnosis of high blood pressure which gives weight to efforts for overall reductions in salt intake.

Keep in mind however that the scientists are presenting this data not for individual behavior change but for changes in the food industry that will have population wide effects to save millions of lives.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Cleaning Your Plate Gets You

I was reading an article about research that was recently published in Biomed Central Public Health Journal. In the Reuters piece by Kate Kelland, the US was said to have a severe obesity problem.

The research wasn't about the USA however, it was about obesity in Africa! I grew up in America in the 70s . There were plenty of commercials showing starving children from countries like Ethiopia, sometimes accompanied by a plump Sally Struthers. And I can tell you that many of my peers and I were frequently admonished to clean our plates because of those starving children. Well, the clean plates - often meat and potatoes, gave rise to a serious problem in this country.

In fact, I have come to tell people who still have that clean plate mentality, that whether or not they eat that (whatever it may be - brownies or cookies someone brought to the office, or the other 600 calories of their 1200 calorie restaurant meal) whether they eat it or not there will still be starving people.

In a uncomfortable twist of fate, undernutrition is now superseded by overnutrition as a leading cause of death in the world. And in at least seven African countries, obesity in the POOR has risen at an alarming rate. The cause is the type of food that they are eating. It is fast and cheap and full of saturated fat and sugar.

This is considered a crisis as obesity is a cause of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. More affluent countries with these problems, i.e the US and the UK, are in a panic over the health care needs of the obese, and we have a health care system that is pretty decent. For the most part, African countries do not have the infrastructure, supplies, facilities or persons to handle the consequences of obesity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the FLU

This week I began to see signs, you know those yard signs, at clinics, drug stores and libraries, advertising both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines, either free or for 25 dollars and anyone could come in and get it. Even with a substantial recall of a certain batch of a certain company's doses, we still have plenty to go around. (that recall was for potency NOT safety)

I did not see any lines for the vaccine, though there were some in the past months. We now have supply and less demand. Sounds familiar. My fear is that we end up throwing it out. Of course, this is not compelling me to go and get either vaccine.

In a way, I do a disservice to my profession by saying that, but I do not want it. That does not mean you shouldn't get it.

I do have some relevant and trusted information to share with you from Medscape and an infectious disease expert in the US, Dr. John Bartlett.

There are 11 monitoring or surveillance systems in place for the vaccines including the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and the Vaccine Safety Datalink. According to these sources, there were very few events reported, with 204 incidents out of 46 million doses. There was a higher rate for both any reaction and serious reaction with the H1N1 vaccine than the seasonal flu vaccine. This could be related to reporting more than actual incidents. There were 13 deaths reported after the vaccine was given, but remember, that does not mean the vaccine caused it. For example, someone died in a car crash.

There are some interesting things to know about anti viral medications. The available antivirals are by brand name, Tamiflu, Relenza and Flumadine. Their efficacy in treating symptoms is associated with the type of flu. It is important to know which flu strain a patient has before prescribing an antiviral. In recent cases where resistance to Tamiflu was found, it was in patients who had been exposed to that medicine in the past, so it may be the right drug to use in persons with swine flu who have not been previously exposed to it. (therefore, don't take it for minor things!)

It is thought that of the 22 million Americans who have been infected with H1N1, 3900 have died and 198 were children. Most of the time it is a bacterial infection that caused the death. This is important. The infection can be treated if identified soon enough.

In an evaluation of some data out of Australia, a clear difference in who was hospitalized because of serious complications with H1N1 than seasonal flu was noted. For example, the median age of those admitted was 43 and of those who died, 53. With regular flu, most deaths occur in the elderly. This may not repeat itself in the US, but it is something to consider.

The second wave of H1N1 has died down, though it is still considered at epidemic levels (affecting many people at the same time). There may or may not be a third wave. We have not yet had an uptake in seasonal flu. Health experts fear that the two strains of flu will occur together and complicate treatment efforts.

It is recommended and strongly encouraged by health agencies that persons get a vaccine for both strains. Only persons who had the H1N1 flu (proved by testing) can skip that vaccine.

Oh, the flu is approaching its 50th week and in this time, 99 percent of the cases that were tested for subtype WERE the swine flu - or more technically 2009 Influenza A (H1N1).

Eat right, exercise, sleep, drink water, wash your hands, cough into your elbow... etc..

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Radiation and Cancer

It is not my intention to regurgitate the day's news in my daily blog, but to point out health topics that are either obscure or muddied up by the popular press. Of course, I also like to discuss effective treatment options or prevention methods for disease.

Today though, I am repeating a news story but only because I have been writing about this issue with significant concern both here and in the blog precursor that was an email newsletter.

For at least five years I have known that CT scans expose persons to dangerous levels of radiation and if I have been writing about it, it is because other health professionals were bringing my attention to it. It wasn't good enough for action however, people had to get sick before something more substantial could be said.

Now we hear about two separate studies that are indicating a significant increased risk of new cancer in persons receiving CTs. In fact, one study suggests that over 14,000 deaths from 29,000 new cancers are related to the CT scan.

Of course, not everyone agrees that the CT are the cause. It is a fair argument that a person with a preexisting condition or predisposition may be scanned and then develop a cancer they would have already developed - for example, a smoker. Still, this alarm has been sounding for years and the scans have been ordered with very little regard for the added risk.

I continue to believe that the risk is real. And the story I noted a few weeks about the over radiation for the brain scans has gotten worse, with up to 600 cases of the uber radiation and more than the two or three facilities previously noted. That investigation continues.

Some things to keep in mind and watch out for are convenience exams (i.e. the md can't see the recent one because you do not have it with you so another is ordered), exams because clinicians fear a law suit for NOT doing one, having scans because the clinician is part owner in the facility that has the scanner, whether or not the American College of Radiology has certified the center and if the miligrays we talked about previously are set correctly, and lastly, if you really need one. Ask the clinician if the situation can be evaluated in a different manner.

These new findings may lead to some warning about the traveling scanning caravans that you can attend without your doctor's suggestion. I hope so as they play on peoples' vulnerabilities and are simply for profit ventures.

There are reports that some machines are putting out as much radiation in one scan as over 400 regular XRays... now, if you have ever had an insurance company decide that you did not need to have a CT, maybe you can now consider that a GOOD thing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Immobility and Disease

In the late 90s and early 00s, I did some work in Geriatrics. I took five graduate level courses in Gerontology and worked in an elder care unit at the hospital after doing some work with disabled adults in the community. I do not like the word elderly, because of the connotations, but don't really know what else to say. I prefer the terms that the ACSM is using, active, athletic and frail - because elderly makes me think of frail only.

For some of us, getting older leads to a loss of mobility and function. By mobility I do not mean driving a car or taking a bus, but walking. It is a concern of experts at the Institute of Aging and the American Geriatrics Society. In fact, they are beginning to think that losses in ambulation and balance are harbingers of disease and imminent decline.

It is true that disease can lead to loss of strength and agility but the new view bares study. Is this lack of activity alone leading to adverse outcomes or disease? A new study is being funded from the US stimulus money and the National Institutes of Health. It is referred to as the LIFE study or Lifestyles Interventions and Independence for Elders. Enrollment is to begin soon and will include persons who are between age 70 and 89 who could lose the ability to walk about four blocks distance within the next few years because of disease or inactivity. Notice that being inactive is a HUGE risk factor for loss of ability to get around.

I know that I was a pain in the ass at the hospital with regard to this issue. I asked doctors to write orders for ambulation every so many hours and rarely would ask for wheelchair scripts for patients, walkers and canes YES, wheelchairs - not so much.
I cannot tell you how many people wanted to be discharged with orders for wheelchairs or heaven forbid those motorized scooters. I hope that the study results will have an impact on physicians and insurance companies and the FDA so that we can stop DME (durable medical equipment) companies from trying to get people to call them for those scooter chairs - "and we will bill Medicare for you." AAGH

The article I read in USA Today was disturbing. There has been a recent increase in the number of persons who are not aging with the ability to live independently because of their lack of physical stamina [also some concern that inactivity and obesity are causing cognitive decline that also makes living alone unsafe].

Oh, the study - it will have a research and a control group. The control group will receive an education class only(and I hope they take the advice to get moving) the research group will go to a center twice a week for an exercise program including cardio and weight training AND will be told to exercise at home 3 x a week. YES, that means that these 70 and near 90 year olds will be exercising FIVE TIMES A WEEK, how many times a week do you exercise?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Odds and Ends

Tamiflu - an email came out this week from the nonprofit organization Public Citizen noting some research that the benefits of using Tamiflu in reducing duration, symptoms and severity of the flu is highly exaggerated by the makers of the medicine, Roche. In fact, the headline was Scamiflu - pretty funny that.

Juicers - I have heard commercials for juicers recently. I imagine that this is due to it being the holiday season. The ads are misleading in that you get the impression that juicers are really healthy. Sure making your own juice has got to be better than buying juice, but that isn't the point. Eating fruit is the healthiest option. Fruit contains fiber along with fructose and drinking juice without fiber " in its natural state" is not so wise a thing to do. You consume more calories and more simple sugar.

Fosomax - At a conference this week, some positive words were offered in regards to oral bisphosphonates like Fosomax. Two separate studies, retrospective, have shown that women who have taken these drugs for at least one year have less incidence of breast cancer than women who have not taken them. This is not a clinical study however, so no conclusion can be drawn. It is probable that people will be enrolled in a study in the future in which some are given an oral bisphosphonate and others placebo and those people followed over time. The results of the studies have not yet been published or evaluated by the medical community. The drugs do have a history of being effective in preventing bone loss, but concerns about side effects have also been raised.

Peanut Butter - I just have to say, because it is a passion - even mission - of mine, to have all the world eat Smucker's All Natural Peanut Butter, or at least that type of peanut butter - why would anyone NOT. Just remember that the peanut butter of your childhood is not good enough for your kids and not good enough for you. If the ingredient list is long and unpronounceable, it is NOT wholesome. Peanuts contain good, heart healthy fats (so reduced fat is not needed). Buy a brand that contains peanuts - or peanuts and salt - PERIOD. Trust me, the added oils are not needed and your daily dose of Omega 3s should be in grams not milligrams... Just trust me....

(Go NYG - game on!)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


You have an assignment today/tonight.

Get a piece of paper and a PENCIL.

I want you to take a personal inventory of your life for the past ten years or so. Seriously - do this now. Depending on your age; young, middle or older, your lists will be different. If you are 20 today, take yourself back to when you were ten. Where were you living? Who were your friends? What grade were you in? Were your parents married to each other? Don't write any of those answers, just use that as a guide to set your stage. If you are 40, think back to 30. Where were you working? Were you in a relationship? Did you own a home? If you are 80 - were you still working at 70? How many grand kids did you have? Was your spouse still living? Did you live on your own or in a facility? Okay - you got it? That is just your starting place.

Now make a list of things that have happened in your life from then to now. Personal things, such as - graduated school, bought a car, wrecked a car, got pregnant, etc and worldly things, such as -first black President, economic boom, economic crash...etc. Make sure your list is reflective of all of life, not just bad things and maybe not just good.

Here is my example in case you are struggling. Let's see 1999 - 2009.

I : rented an apartment, bought a house, sold a house, rented an apartment
changed jobs, went back to college, changed jobs, went back to college - moved three times... moved to another state
my father died
my beloved cat died, adopted another cat, new cat ran away
hurricane Katrina, Iraq, economic crash
ended a relationship, got a new car, ran it into the ground, got a BRAND new car
ran a marathon
fell off a horse

Make your list!

OKAY, now in and of itself, this is a good activity. It helps you to see that the years don't just go by with nothing to show. Life happens. Now if you are obese and have been obese and do not intend to change that - OR if you are a smoker and have been a smoker and do not intend to change that - ERASE your list.............

People who do not maintain a healthy weight and people who smoke tend to die ten years earlier than those who practice a more healthful lifestyle. [ it is NOT too late to change your ending]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Exercise Definitions

Hello. I have two days to finish half of a novel, before it is due at the library, so I am cheating tonight by posting some information I have been working on for my up and coming website. I do hope you find it useful.

Exercise involves activity that is planned, repetitive and for the purpose of some type of conditioning, i.e cardiovascular, bone or muscular. It is a form of physical activity. Physical activity is often described with the following qualifiers:

Moderate-this is a very hard term to describe. It is often subjective. It has a lot to do with one’s current level of activity. This can be thought of as a five or six level of intensity with ten being the most intense you can do. Examples include brisk walking or cycling. These activities race the heart rate.
Vigorous – again, this is subjective. This involves a substantial change in heart rate and running or jogging is usually the standard for vigorous exercise. Some high impact aerobic classes and sports are also considered vigorous.
Impact – this is whether or not you are hitting the ground with any amount of force. Running for instance is considered a high impact activity as is step aerobics and plyometrics. The lowest impact, actually no impact activities are swimming and cycling. There is a continuum then. An elliptical machine other gym centered cardio equipment is usually low impact while walking is moderate impact.
Cardio activity is that which raises your heart rate for a sustained amount of time and this usually involves moderate or high impact activities. Many websites offer examples of cardiovascular or cardio-respiratory activity. Both intend to enhance oxygen consumption and the efficiency of the heart. Here is just one website in which to learn about cardio activity
Top Cardio Exercises
Resistance activity is your strength training. I have several videos available for you at You Tube but I also recommend this website Weight Training, Exercise Instruction & Kinesiology
Terms to be familiar with are sets and reps. Repetitions are the number of times you lift the weight and sets are the number of times you do that. For example, bicep curls. Two sets of eight reps with each arm.
It is important to get instruction on proper weight lifting techniques. Search for a certified personal trainer with an education in exercise physiology, science or kinesiology.
Balance activity is important for preventing falls as we age. Falls are the main risk factor for osteoporotic fracture. Use of the stability ball, plank exercises, yoga and pilates can all help in this area. Some fitness centers also offer core stability classes. Very simply you can practice balancing on one leg and that will help too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Colorectal Cancer Deaths Decline

Several non profit cancer research, surveillance and advocacy/ educational organizations put out a report this week stating that deaths from colorectal cancer had declined and were expected to continue to do so.

I am writing about it today because someone at my office printed the article but never took it off the copy machine so I thought - hmmm, I guess someone should take that article and read it, so I did.

Here is what concerns me. The scientists never say that the incidence of this cancer has gone down or will go down, only that deaths from it will. That is of course good news, I just wish it were better news.

Chemotherapy and surgery are used to treat this cancer and most of us know that the intervention is not without complications, risks or unpleasantness. Early detection is important as well and that requires a colonoscopy and or a blood fecal occult test. Insurance coverage for testing and treatment will certainly affect the outcomes as well.

The authors of the report, which is considered too optimistic by some, for the reasons I noted above (early detection and access to treatment), include the American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

In a recent blog post of mine, the number one cancers by incidence and death were noted.

The number one cause of death in our country is not cancer, but heart disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death and in that category, more persons DIE from lung cancer than any other (because it is hard to detect and then harder still to maintain or treat). Colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer deaths were the second leading cancer death in 2006. In case you forget, for women, breast is next and for men,prostate (except with the change noted here, the 2009 estimates move breast cancer deaths into second for women). Still breast cancer has good survival rates because of early detection and treatment while prostate cancer isn't necessarily cured, but grows slow enough so that the patient dies from something else first, like heart disease.

Anyway, the reason some persons feel that the assertion made in the report of a 50% decline in colorectal deaths from the year 2000 to 2020 is because the leading causes of the disease may not be addressed as fervently as they need to be.

The situations that put a person most at risk for this cancer are : smoking, being obese and eating red meat more than twice a week or more than 6 to 8 ounces a week. Are you making the necessary modifications in your life style? Seriously, because those are the same things that increase your risk for a heart attack.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


If you are not worth your salt, well you aren't any good are you? So salt must be good.... Say what? Such blaspheme. Salt contains sodium and sodium is an essential element. About 40% of table salt is sodium, meaning a gram of salt gives us 400mg of sodium.

Most of us relate sodium to hypertension and thus to heart, kidney and cerebravascular disease. People with high blood pressure are at high risk of a brain hemorrhage or stroke. However, not everyone with hypertension got it from a high salt intake and not everyone who has HTN will see it normalize if they restrict their salt. Some people are salt sensitive and some are not. At this time, we really don't know which category anyone will be in unless they begin to have problems.

In our bodies, sodium is concentrated outside of cells. Sodium helps to regulate the amount of water inside or outside the cell. This a very important job. Electrolyte imbalances from dehydration can result in heart irregularities and even death. When water is lacking and the system (I think kidneys excrete salt which pulls the water from the cells) starts to take it from cells (which have already lost water), it takes minerals along with the water. It is a very dangerous situation.

Back to SALT. There is no population whose diet has been found to be too low in salt. Therefore there is much more concern about the upper limit than the lower (which may be about 200-500mg/day). What is really interesting is that if all is okay with your body, you do not have to worry about your salt intake at all.

Most all of our foods contain salt and too many of us add it, but the kidneys can filter out the extra sodium and even save some in case you swing the other way. The important thing to remember is to also drink enough water. Water will carry out the salt that is in your blood, by making urine. You should actually get rid of the same amount that you consume, on a daily basis. If you are concerned about water weight and salt making you swell, then what you need to do is drink MORE water, not less. You will pee it out. We do not gain any "pounds" from drinking water.

As I have been saying, it isn't clear that high salt intake causes hypertension, however it is clear that high calorie diets (which may also be high in sodium) increase obesity rates. Obesity is linked to HTN. Though not all people with high blood pressure see a reduction when salt intake is reduced, many people see an improvement when their WEIGHT is reduced. There is evidence that lower fat diets that are high in fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as fish and moderate amounts of low fat dairy are more health protective then simply restricting salt.

The higher ones blood pressure, the higher risk of death from heart disease, so do not think I am trying to minimize HTN, I am not. What health experts recommend is that everyone be mindful of their intake and try not to exceed the 2400mg a day limit on most days. There certainly is no harm in that.

Otherwise, if you do not have a history of kidney disease or hypertension in your family, eat your salt but drink your water too! Certain things will deplete your salt levels. Extreme physical activity, vomiting and diarrhea can alter your electrolyte balance. See a health care professional if dizziness, fainting and or headaches occur following these activities.

(For EH)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Health of our Pets

I closed last night with a teaser - obesity in pets. I had not read the article that I intended to talk about at the time, I read it just now. It is actually someone else's blog post from a site called

Anyways, WOW I was taken aback when I read it. Not that I was naive about the weight thing. I know that we have a problem with overweight animals and in the post it was said that half of all dogs and cats are overweight or obese. So that is 60 percent humans to 50 percent pets, in the USA anyways.

The cause of their weight and the outcomes from it are just the very same as ours. That is consuming too many calories which lead to excess weight which leads to arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung or breathing problems, and high blood pressure. Indeed, animals end up on the same sort of chronic disease medications as people do.

That information was not new to me. Indeed, though I do not have any pets at this time, I did have a cat who was very large, and she did have a chronic heart problem for which she had to take a pill every day and then she died what appeared to be a rather painful death - no wait, I misspoke, I had her put to sleep when it seemed she would suffer even more if I did not.

I have had one cat after her and did NOT give that cat any table food whatsoever, nor milk, but some treats now and then. Interestingly, last week my brother was saying how he did give his current dog table food because he did not do so with the dog before and it died of a cancer, I think he said. He was angry about that.

I absolutely believe that table food is bad for pets, and for birds and ducks and squirrels and bears and dolphins and heck, people some times. But what the article emphasized was simply the calories. CALORIES count! Calories may need to be moderated if your pet is overweight. Now, we don't do such a good job of reading labels for ourselves or our children, but we need to and we need to read them for our pets too. That includes the dry or canned food label or the Internet site of the company AND the labels on any treats we give them. [and not all brands or flavors will be the same!]

Here was the jaw dropping part - most cats are the same, where as dogs differ greatly in size, activity levels, and metabolism - but the average cat weighs ten pounds and needs 275 calories a day to maintain that weight. Since dogs can be under ten and over a hundred pounds the calorie need might be 300 to 1200 a day. I have to tell you , there is just about NOTHING from the table that you can give your pet without putting him or her over the limit. And you have to count that. That and the things he or she might scavange, steal from the kids or kill outright. My my my - ain't that something>

Oh some advice was given about how to judge if your pet is overweight. Sort of made me laugh - I mean we won't admit it when WE are overweight and it is the same sort of assessment. It begins with LOOKING at the pet. The pet should have an hour glass shape (!) The you see if the belly is sagging and if you can grab any fat, oh and can you feel the ribs easily or are they hard to find?

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Zealand Nutrition Conference

I thought if I just wrote obesity conference as the title, you might skip this read due to obesity burnout. I will keep it short for you.

Tomorrow in New Zealand - Wellington to be exact, nutrition experts from across the country are meeting with tobacco control experts in an attempt to revitalize the campaign against obesity. The rates of overweight and obese are similar in New Zealand to USA and other western countries. About 33% of adults are overweight and 25% are obese. They may have more obese adults than the USA.

In a press release about the up coming conference the Cancer Society Health Promotion Manager, Dr. J. Pearson shared some of her thoughts or concerns and here I will share those that resonated with me.

She said that they (the country) needed to tackle this problem the way New Zealand and other countries have dealt with tobacco. Many countries have successfully reduced their national smoking rates, some, like the USA have cut them in half. You know how it was done - ongoing campaigns about the dangers, increase in cost, limited access and promotion, esp. to children, and medications or programs to assist in quitting.

When Dr. Pearson mentioned the advertising of unhealthy and fast foods I had a thought. Remember when tobacco ads were more prominent? Do you ever remember seeing a person who looked sick (or dry skinned and wrinkly) smoking a cigarette? No. Do you see many obese people doing commercials for Twinkies, Fritos, sodas and McDonald's?

I understand that eating is pleasureful but for some it is a pleasure substitute or a lack of understanding. Even if food makes you happy I am near certain that being overweight does not bring you contentment. When we first started to crack down on smoking people - addicts, became upset that the government was trying to control them and tell them what to do. That is mostly because the tobacco companies were minimizing the health effects and glamorizing smoking. Now that the majority of the population DOES believe that tobacco kills, having limited access to tobacco and being protected from tobacco smoke is seen as a GOOD thing.

So think of a person who is hearing that obesity, even moderate overweight(ness) , can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis but seeing healthy, slim, active people eating high fat high calorie foods? Or the person wants to eat the lower calorie plant based or Mediterranean diet but cannot find those foods or afford them?

As Dr. Pearson said, "It is like telling a smoker not to smoke, then putting them in a room full of smokers and handing them a cartoon of cigarettes!"

On a final note, there is also concern in New Zealand that many of the schools healthy lunch programs have lost funding and that the Government seems to think that increasing physical activity is going to solve the problem. As I have learned and Dr. Pearson notes "strong international evidence" is telling us that this problem cannot be solved if people do not start eating LESS calories. Physical Activity is a must for good health and disease prevention but it is NOT a first line weight loss strategy, calorie control, is.

Now stay tuned tomorrow for news on the problem of obesity in our PETS :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Odds and Ends with a video bonus

Antioxidants in Lotion: In a popular magazine I read about using antioxidant rich lotions to aid in skin repair and made a note to myself to check that out because I did not believe that the research existed to back it up. It took me some time, but I did find an article on Medscape that actually did confirm that the lotions with certain antioxidants could be helpful. I will paste some of the particular ingredients so that you can review product labels. In reading about skin this week and just now, it was also mentioned that one should avoid any cigarette smoke, use sunscreen and watch for soaps that strip skin of oils. The following is taken from an article on research by Joseph F. Coffey, BSc, MD; Gordon E. Searles, OD, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Two types of antioxidants are available: enzymatic and nonenzymatic. The nonenzymatic type (e.g., vitamin C, alpha-tocopherol, retinol, beta-carotene, and glutathione) reduce the potential for cellular oxidative damage[19] by acting as free-radical scavengers. Enzymatic antioxidants (superoxide dismutase, catalase, G-6PD, glutathione peroxidase) protect the keratinocyte by enzymatically hastening biochemical reactions.[5-9,20-23]

(vitamin A and C are also mentioned in the article)

Play 60: I have already given big kudos to the NFL for their initiative to get children active by promoting 60 minutes of physical activity (play) every day. I noticed today that the Play 60 logo was on the football field during the games. Very cool.

USF/WS: I currently live in Florida and my employer has an affiliation with the University of South Florida, so I like them! I lived most of my life in Winston Salem, NC, and I like WS too. This week it was reported that USF has created an antidepressant that may be more tolerable for persons who suffer with depression and a partnership with a WS company could lead to a billion dollar deal. I do not really like drugs, but it was cool that these two institutions connected.

More Antidepressant News: Seroquel is a medication that is FDA approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, both are forms of mental illness. Seroquel is linked to weight gain and new onset diabetes. I hate the drug profile. Astra Zeneca has just gotten approval from the FDA to market Seroquel XR (extended release) to treat resistant depression. That means persons who have been on other antidepressants but have not gotten better. Astra Zeneca would very much like their medication to be a first line med for depression. I hope that never happens.

Nicotine Inhalers: I got a late boarding pass for my return flight from NY and had to cross my fingers and hope that I would still get an aisle seat. I saw one quickly, next to an older woman(she had old skin) and her son. Older meaning , maybe fifty. As I was putting my bag overhead I saw the nicotine inhaler clutched in her palm. First I was glad it was not one of those ridiculous e cigarettes, second, I knew what it was from my job, third, I did not know if she was using it solely for the plane ride or if she had quit smoking. I sort of panicked before sitting down. What if she smelled of cigarette smoke? Could I handle three hours of smelling those chemicals? As soon as I sat down, I knew she didn't smoke. In fact, she had been off the cigarettes for seven months and was nearly through with her Nicotine Replacement Therapy taper.

Fish Oil: I haven't had a chance to check this out yet, but I will. If you are concerned, and you should be, that your fish oil supplement may not be pure, you can review the data on many brands at this website - Oh, yes, in the article I read it was suggested that you cut two or three of your capsules in half and squeeze the oil into a cup of water. Put the water into the freezer and see if your oil freezes. If it does it is more saturated fat than the protective Omega 3 fats in fish. I don't know about yours, by my Cooper Institute capsules cost way too much to waste with that experiment!

Hummus: This spread is made from chick peas and is usually very healthful. High in protein and often low in fat, it makes a great snack. A friend in NC, sent me a chocolate hummus recipe and I revised it and video taped it, so enjoy.