Category: Health

Angelina Jolie Misses “Unbroken” Premier Due to Chicken Pox

Posted on Dec 17, 2014 by 2 Comments

I remember having chicken pox when I was a kid. It was like the curse of a thousand mosquito bites. Today with the chicken pox vaccine, I can’t remember the last time I knew someone who had the nasty itchy blisters.

Chicken pox is not only inconvenient but is also contagious. So when I heard Angelina Jolie had chicken pox, the first thing I thought was “at least it’s not shingles.” But shingles is what the chicken pox virus does to people 50 and up.  Angelina is only 39.

Having chicken pox means she was around someone contagious. and it happened at a time when she has a full schedule with the promotion of the movie “Unbroken” which she directed.

Even though her case of chicken pox is deemed mild, it has still sidelined her from public appearances lined up to promote the film, which is about former Olympian Louis Zamperini. The chicken pox timing isn’t good, but there’s never a good time to be sick or contagious for those of us who have a full schedule.

Universal Pictures made the announcement on Friday, Dec. 12, letting the public know Jolie would not be able to make the L.A. premiere, but said her kids and husband, Brad Pitt, will represent her for the event.

Jolie did appear in a YouTube post showing fans that she’s okay and that her chicken pox are mild. In it, she says, “I will be home itching and missing everyone. I can’t believe it, because this film means so much to me… But such is life. There it is.”

Her case of chickenpox came just days following the Sony cyber-attack that revealed she was badmouthed by top Hollywood executives in private emails which were made public. Plus her film was ignored by the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globe awards.

All this is a perfect example of how even rich, famous people have their ups and downs. I wish her all the best with the film. It’s one I plan to see.

Photo credits: Universal Pictures

24 Year Old Dies After Overdose on OTC Weight Loss Product

Posted on Dec 15, 2014 by No Comments

In our quest to lose weight, we’re often willing to try “natural” over the counter options. Cara Reynolds was a 24 year old healthcare worker who decided to try Forza raspberry ketone supplements.

She took the recommended dose, but she experienced heart palpitations. Her father told the Daily Mail, “That’s when she said she wasn’t going to take them for weight loss any more – it really worried her.”

She had purchased the supplements which had been promoted by personalities like Kim Kardashian and even Dr. Oz. A few preliminary studies on animals have shown ketones may help with weight loss, but outside these studies there really isn’t much evidence to support that ketones really help in our quest to lose weight.

For Cara, the supplements turned deadly, not when she took them for weight loss, but when she broke up with her fiancé the following month. In her despair, she took a lethal dose. Doctors tried to resuscitate her 44 times, but she did not respond.

Along with the raspberry ketones, the Forza supplements contain resveratrol and 250 milligrams of caffeine per pill. To give you an idea of how much that really is, it’s about what you’d get by drinking four cans of Red Bull; so the amount Cara Reynolds took would be equivalent to 250 cans of Red Bull.

The British Medical Journal just cited Reynold’s case as an example of dangerous side effects associated with untested supplements. And while it is a side effect of overdosing on the product, I’m not sure that I’d call that a normal side effect.

It’s not how we would respond to the recommended dose. In fact, most of us would have thrown the bottle away after we tried it if it caused heart palpitations. I feel terrible that Cara lost her life, but if this product holds promise to help people to lose weight, I’d hate to see it condemned for this one incident.

The FDA lists raspberry ketones on as “generally recognized as safe” but only for use in small amounts in food, not in a weight loss product.

I’m not sure tighter regulation is the answer, or even that the product should be removed from shelves. Perhaps a warning on the label could suffice.

Photo credits: Amazon

Demi Lavato Opens Up About Eating Disorder and More

Posted on Dec 10, 2014 by 1 Comment

Demi Lavato always comes across as such a strong young woman. Along with her talent and success, I admire the fact that she is willing to let people see her imperfections and struggles.

She grew up a child singer and actor, and when she hit the teen years started receiving some nasty remarks about her weight. That’s something many of us can relate to. It thrust her into a quest to be thin that pushed her over the edge.

She struggled with bulimia, a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder. In 2011, she entered rehab because she knew she was in trouble and that she couldn’t “do it” on her own. At that time she was suffering from not only bulimia, but also addiction and self-harm.

During that time in rehab, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She decided not to keep it to herself, but to share it with the world as part of her healing process.

Now at age 22, the actress opened up again in an interview with Fitness Magazine about her past difficulties and she talked about how she has come to accept her own imperfections. Her desire is to help other women to come to terms with the fact that they have a problem and to seek help.

In the interview, she also talks about being bipolar.

“They say it takes the average person 10 years to get the right diagnosis and treatment. That statistic was very true for me, but I’m lucky to have the resources I need. Not everyone does. Sharing my story felt important if it meant that I’d be helping people get access to better care or showing that it’s still possible to live a normal life” – Demi Lavato via Fitness magazine

She also admitted that she almost returned to rehab in the summer of 2013 because of her struggle with food, but her boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama helped her deal with her eating.

She told Fitness magazine that changing her lifestyle was the key to batting her problem and staying out of rehab. As part of that lifestyle, she has started exercising and has changed her diet, but along with that said, “I’m also really inspired by other women in the spotlight right now who are embracing their curves.”

She went on to say that she will always have “thick thighs” but has accepted it. “Learning to be grateful for our bodies and taking care of them are the best ways for us to empower ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

I’d say we can all learn a lot from this strong, young woman. She is willing to pull back the curtain to reveal that life, even a successful life, has issues that require us to change for the better.

Photo credits: I CHOOSE PEOPLE

Keep a Food Diary and Lose Twice as Much Weight

Posted on Dec 8, 2014 by No Comments

Counting calories has proved itself as a weight loss technique that works for me. Yet, for some reason once I lose the weight I buck the counting and think I can maintain weight loss without it. Let’s just say that hasn’t worked so well for me.

Counting calories requires keeping a food journal. I don’t mind that part. It’s the figuring out how many calories are in food that gets to be tedious and feels legalistic after a time, even with all the handy tools and calorie calculators available.

However, a new study concluded that dieters who keep a food diary lost twice as much as those who didn’t track what they were eating. In fact researchers found “that the more days a person kept a careful record, the more weight he or she lost.”

A food diary doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I just use a spiral notebook and write down everything I eat including how many glasses of water I drink. I also track my exercise, and once a week my weight.

After reading the results of this study, I’m going to pick up the habit again. If you’re not one to use a paper journal, there are plenty of apps and online options like FitDay out there to let you track what you’re eating electronically, too.

One word of advice from a person who’s been there. Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for honesty. Writing down what you’re eating will help you stay focused because it shows you in black and white where your calories are coming from and how easily the add up. It’s a form of eye-opening accountability and a way to track your progress.

Plus, according to this latest study it’s a tool that may actually double the amount of weight you lose. I’d say it’s worth a try…again. And this time once I reach my goal, I’ll keep a journal minus the calorie counting, just to help me stay focused.

Photo credits: Becky Wetherington

Study Shows Berberine May Help Burn More Calories

Posted on Dec 2, 2014 by No Comments

When it comes to weight loss, let’s face it. We’re always looking for something to help us get the job done. Now a new study has found that mice injected with a plant-based compound, by the name of berberine, may have found a trigger to help the body burn calories.

Berberine is found in some Chinese herbal medicines and supplements, and according to a study on mice, it looks like it might stimulate heat-producing tissue known as brown fat.

Brown fat is different than white fat. White fat is the culprit that stores all those extra calories we eat. It’s the stuff responsible for our love handles, big bellies, thunder thighs, and muffin tops. Brown fat on the other hand expends energy in the form of heat.

If you’re like me, you might be thinking about how often you’re warm and no one else is, but that most likely isn’t brown fat at work. Turns out brown fat is what helps maintain an infant’s body temperature. It takes up so little space that doctors didn’t even think adults had brown fat, until recently.

In the study, researchers injected mice with berberine each day for four weeks. Results showed they burned more calories than the mice who did not receive the injections.

Body temperatures were monitored when the mice were exposed to cold air, and the injected mice had a higher body temperature. Researchers also concluded that the berberine seemed to protect the mice from weight gain during the study.

This berberine-calorie-burning-connection has also been shown in a study published in July in the journal Diabetes. It showed men with high level of brown fat burned more calories than men with low levels when they were exposed to low temps.

So for those of us who are always wanting to turn that thermostat down, maybe we can add another reason for why. It will help everyone lose weight! Sounds like a plan.

Photo credits: Amazon

Identical Twins Face Breast Cancer Together

Posted on Nov 28, 2014 by No Comments

Identical twins share a special relationship. They start with everything in common, but 34 year old identical twins, Kelly McCarthy and Kristen Mauer, have shared in an unique way.

When Kelly learned she had breast cancer she urged her sister to get checked out. They were diagnosed with breast cancer just months apart around the beginning of last year. Kristen said, “Kelly was more upset than I was during my diagnosis, and likewise, when she was diagnosed I was a mess.”

Identical twins make the perfect donor for each other because their skin, tissue and organs are a perfect match genetically. Each twin underwent surgery.

Breast reconstruction usually involves implants and/or the woman’s own tissue. In Kelly McCarthy’s case she didn’t have enough tissue because radiation treatment had damaged the tissue near her breasts. Her sister stepped up and offered to be a donor. Kelly said that her sister’s sacrifice “is humbling.”

The twins surgeon says it isn’t unusual for identical twins to both get breast cancer because they have the same genetic makeup. He said, “With twins, there’s also often a “mirroring effect,” with breast cancer developing in the opposite breast. That’s what happened with McCarthy and Maurer.”

Breast reconstruction between identical twins is still rare. It’s only been done a few times, and Kristen and Kelly,who is a nurse, are among the youngest patients to undergo the procedure.

Kristen underwent a double mastectomy, which was recommended due to the aggressive nature of her sister’s cancer. She had reconstruction with implants after the birth of her second child last March.

Kelly underwent a second mastectomy more recently along with the reconstruction of both breasts. However her reconstruction used some of her own tissue to fashion one breast, and her sister’s tissue to reconstruct the second breast.

The twins have always been very close, and this experience has brought them even closer. Kelly admits, “I feel closer. Her tissue is over my heart.”

Photo credits: pfala

Laundry Pods Send One Kid a Day to Hospital

Posted on Nov 26, 2014 by No Comments

Over a year ago I read about a 7-month-old baby dying after ingesting some laundry pods. It was a sad story, and I wondered at the time why the baby would continue munching on soap once he tasted it. If you’ve ever gotten soap in your mouth you know it tastes nasty, and you certainly wouldn’t want seconds!

But it seems, according to a report published in Pediatrics, that when it comes to these laundry packets that they sent an average of one child a day to the hospital in 2012 and 2013.

To my surprise, it turns out that these convenient laundry soap packets are all over the news because a in a report published in Pediatrics it reveals that in the first couple years they were widely available (2012 and 2013), these packets were responsible for sending a child a day to the hospital on average.

During that same time period, poison control centers took about one call an hour related to kids under 6 being “exposed” to these laundry soap packets.

I’m astonished that eating soap could be so attractive. Perhaps that’s the problem. The colorful pods “look” good to young children.

And when I looked into it further, it turns out the kids aren’t actually eating these pods like they are candy. However, when they bite into them, they get a squirt of concentrated laundry soap shot down their throat or in their eyes.

Turns out this makes the children sicker that when exposed to traditional laundry detergent, probably because they are getting a more concentrated dose. It results in symptoms like vomiting and coughing and in some rare cases it cane even lead to breathing problems, seizures, or coma.

Since these numbers have surfaced, manufacturers have added clear warnings to their labels and have made the packaging harder to open.

While I appreciate the manufacturer’s making these kinds of changes, I remind parents everywhere that we need to take steps to keep hazardous products out of reach from our children.

At this time, there aren’t any laundry pods manufactured to be child resistant. So it is up to us. If we choose to use this laundry product, we need to keep it out of reach.

Photo credits: US CPSC

After Dinner Habits that Cause Weight Gain

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by 1 Comment

It seems that every time I decide to get serious about trying to lose weight there are more exceptions than ever that come my way. What do I mean by exceptions? Things like someone’s birthday, invite to dinner at someone’s house, a pot luck dinner, and all those sorts of things that we tend to celebrate with food.

But while those things can be hurdles, they can be navigated if you make a plan before they happen. When I think about it, it’s not the exceptions that do me in. It’s my daily habits, in particular, it’s my after dinner habits that pack on the pounds.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I have more will power during the day. Perhaps because I’m working. I usually plan what I’m having for lunch, and even if I’m having a snack I give myself healthy options by planning ahead.

Even though I’m a freelance writer, I schedule a lunch and exercise time. It’s all good because I’m “being good.”

By the time I eat dinner, all I want to do is relax and do nothing. Except, I tend to mindlessly snack to relax. It’s like I equate eating pretzels, ice-cream, or cookies with unwinding. That one habit can ruin all my healthy efforts for the day!

To get around this, I’ve started extending my plan to include a snack after dinner. It would be better to not snack at all, but for now I’m trying to stick to something light, and then I’m done. If I still want something, I choose an herbal tea with cinnamon or peppermint flavor. It helps.

Another thing that can cause us to gain weight is to not get enough sleep. I’ve known this for years, but found myself up in the middle of the night frustrated because I couldn’t sleep.

Studies have shown people who don’t get enough sleep end up eating more than people who do. With that in mind, I’ve started getting ready for bed an hour earlier including brushing my teeth. Then I read for about a half an hour. That usually does the trick. I’m sleeping better than I have in decades.

Don’t let your after dinner habits sabotage your efforts to be a healthy weight. Stop snacking after dinner and try to get enough sleep. You may be surprised at the results. At least on my scale, the numbers are going in the right direction and it sure feels good to awake refreshed in the morning.

Photo credits: Latenitelullabies

Viagra Could Be Next Treatment for Heart Disease

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 by No Comments

The “little blue pill” called Viagra skyrocketed in popularity when it hit the market in 1998 after the Food and Drug Administration approved it for the treatment of impotence in men. It became the most successful commercial drug over the next decade with more than 1.8 billion pills sold.

I remember when Viagra first came out. It was sold as a heart medication which happened to have a beneficial side effect that helped overcome erectile dysfunction and enhanced sexual performance in men. Soon that became the main reason it was prescribed.

Now a new study shows that the little blue pill could also be a possible treatment for heart disease and suggests maybe it should be considered further for cardiovascular treatment.

So is the little blue pill ready to return to its roots? It was originally designed to treat high blood pressure and cardio vascular disease because it helped widen blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Back then it was developed under the generic name Sildenafil, but its early use as a heart medication ran into a setback when some users experienced cardiovascular events and resulted in the death of a few people. As a result, most doctors stopped prescribing it for men who had heart disease.

I can’t help but think of the commercials that warn us to talk to our doctor to see if our heart is healthy enough for sex. What they are really saying is to check with the doctor to see if our hearts are healthy enough to take Viagra.

It turns out that further research showed that the problems came about when Viagra was taken in combination with other medications which contained nitro compounds. The result was a sudden drop in blood pressure while having sex which can be harmful to a person with an existing heart problem.

“Clearly, this is the result of a series of conditions occurring simultaneously. When Viagra is taken correctly, it is no longer a concern.” — Andrea M. Isidori corresponding author

This new study shows that Viagra may actually help improve heart function. Turns out that the ingredient PDE5i shows promise in preventing the heart from enlarging and changing shape in patients who suffer from left ventricular hypertrophy which cause the muscles in the left ventricle to thicken.

Research also showed improvement in patients with other heart conditions, with no negative effect of blood pressure.

Most of the people in this study were men, so that leaves us with the question of whether or not it will offer the same benefits to women. Needless to say, more research is needed, but the little blue pill looks like it offers promise for those with heart disease.

The problem is that the kinds of studies needed are so expensive that drug companies may not be willing to make the investment. It just seems to me that the little blue pill has brought in an awful lot of money and could help pay for some of that research to find out what it can do for women, too. Don’t you think?

Photo credits: David Pakman Show