Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Women get creative about breast cancer

…Is good or a burden? To see something wrong and try to fix it? HA has that affliction.

…Marcy Alboher, NYT, Oct 25, 2007), says many breast cancer survivors are feeling better and then attacking things that went wrong with their treatment experience.

…Rachel Roixell and Kristin Dudley started a company called Lymphedivas to make a better looking compression sleeve for the swelling that overflowing lymph glands can sometimes cause after b/c surgery.

…Banu Ozden started a company called Smart Medical Consumer to help others manage the paperwork that dogged her during two bouts with cancer.

…One provider of microloans, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, said that six of the 100 businesses that got a million bucks from her company were founded by b/c survivors.

…There are now 23 million such survivors in the US.

…HA knows people with lymphedema and it can be a very annoying problem. The sleeves women must wear are, as one said, invented by middle-aged white guys who weren’t even the customer.

…Now Lymphedivas offers a better looking alternative. Go to

…The woman who started the medical records company was told twice she had cancer, the second time, it had spread.

…Leigh Hurst started a company to help women get serious about self-exams. She told everyone she met, she says, “to feel your boobies.” Now she sells T’s that advise the same.

…Another woman, Kim Carlos, used to meet at Nordstrom’s with other relatively young women with b/c. The result was a book—"Nordie’s At Noon,” which led to a career as a motivational speaker.

…Life-enhancing…emphasis on life. And on enhancing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What if you knew a drug would probably work?

…HA has a hate on for big pharmaceuticals docs pass out—which then half-kill people.
There is way too much of this going around.

…She keeps thinking we are at a very primitive point with this “one size fits all” stuff.

…Several years ago, HA wrote about the Hercept Test—this was a test, marketed with the breast cancer drug Herceptin, that gave docs an idea whether the patient would benefit from Herceptin.

…Writing in the Arizona Republic (Oct 18, 2007), Ken Alltucker talks about the future of tailored medicine.

…The Virgina G Piper Center for Peronalized Diagnostics, headed by a Nobel laureate, is starting here in Phoenix.

…If you use a medicine likely to be effective, it saves money.

…Get this: The past eight big cancer drugs approved in the US cost $40,000 to $100,000 per cycle of treatment and helped only 20-30% of those who got them.

…The new center will develop blood tests to see if a drug is appropriate for a given patient.

…You might want to ask your doctor if there is a personal diagnostic test for a drug he or she prescribes.

…HA saw a recent study that showed that many women did not get the Hercept Test before getting Herceptin, which then had a good chance of not working on their breast cancer.

…If we get tests, we need to get docs to use them. And insurers to pay.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Superstition or caution?

…According to Alan Fram and Trevor Tompson, Associated Press, a third of people believe in ghosts.

…OK, granted, ghosts are real. Moving on…

…Half believe in ESP.

…Almost one quarter say they have been in the presence of a ghost—or as HA kid’s said in one apartment, “the person who moves things around.”

…Almost a third say they have awoken with the sense of a strange presence in the room. HA has not, and thanks a mill for putting this thought out there!

…HA did decide not to wrap her house in CAUTION TAPE this Halloween—a little too CSI for comfort.

…The percentages of people who believe in ghosts are about the same as those who believe Bush is aces.

…In other words, they could be wrong.

…People in HA’s family have been out in the desert and watched UFOs chase for hours. (There were some lights in Phoenix no one can explain to this day.)

…If you drill into the study, single men are more superstitious than single women—almost twice as.

…Mentioned as no-nos are walking under a ladder, black cats, breaking mirrors, opening umbrellas indoors, and Friday the 13 or the Number 13 in general.

…The other day, HA’s kid said take your purse off the floor, it’s bad luck. HA said she had never heard that. “It’s Mexican,” HA’s daughter replied.

…Hey, we can’t be logical and shrewd all the time. Where’re the shivers and fun in that?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hiking is supposed to be fun

…HA lives in a special, seared, thousand-degree hell circle, where people go bounding up mountains with their dog and come back without their dog, which has expired on the slopes.

…Common sense, shall we say, is not commonplace.

…Now that it’s cooling and getting downright crisp in some places, time to hit the trails again.

…Writing for the Cronkite News Service, Sonu Munshi has some tips for those venturing into the woods.

…First, you may think you are some orienteering genius and a practiced woodsman, but trees look similar to each other and you can get lost. Sign in, do whatever you are supposed to to give searchers a starting point.

…Even if it’s a day trip, take food and plenty of water (even if you are not in the desert—have you ever had giardia—well, HA has and here’s a tip, don’t drink creek water).

…Lug one gallon, per person, per day.

…Take a map—or make one as you go along.

…Wear proper shoes…you may be on those feet 24 hrs, not three.

…Take a fully charged cellphone. You may not get a signal, but you could.

…Take a whistle and signal mirror.

…Take a jacket—even the desert gets cold at night.

…Take some bandage pads and antiseptic.

…Take a knife or multitool.

…Take matches or a firestarter.

…That Survivorman guy Les Stroud (HA loves him because he bitches about the out-of-doors while making his living off it) never seems to think of looking for berries or food for about four days.

…But some trail mix or granola bars might be nice.

…Stroud once ate a fish an eagle dropped. You don’t want to count on eagles for your sustenance. They are flighty.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Car safety for preggos

…Lauren Fix is host of an automotive program called The Car Coach.

…Pregnant women, she says, are often worried that their belly is too close to the steering wheel or that the airbag will hurt or not protect the baby.

…Even though seatbelts are uncomfy in later stages of pregnancy, they are necessary!Keep the lap belt low, under the tummy. Keep at least 12 inches between your belly and the airbag area. Position the chest belt so it doesn't cut your neck.

….Don’t use a pillow in front—move the seat back.

…If your vehicle is high—say a pickup—you may need a stepstool to get in. But be very careful!

…After the baby is born, you will also need space—for all the junk! Make sure it is higher for loading, sich as a Crossover or SUV.

…Minivans are easiest for installing the carseat.

…Always look for a five-star crash test rating on both the driver and passenger seat and both sides. Airbags front and side are ideal.

…Infants and small children should be in carseats. But kids up to 4’9” need a booster.

…Belted in, of course!

…HA is shocked to see little kids even in the beds of pickups! Where is a cop when you need one?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beware soccer toe

…Foot and ankle surgeon Matthew Dairman, DPM, says he sees a lot of children with ingrown toenails during soccer season.

…Apparently, the youngsters wear hand-me-down cleats that pinch and roll toes over.

…They even like a tighter feel, helping them to control the ball.

…Add to that the blows from kicking—and yeowch!

…When you kick with an ingrown toenail, you won’t soon forget the pain!

…This doctor knows—he had one.

…It can take a 10-minute surgery to remove the ingrown part of the nail. This also allows removal of the nail root so that part does not grow back.

…Most kids are fine the next day.

…Dairman recommends cutting tonails straight across and not too short.

…Parents should keep checking cleats for size—a growing kid can change sizes mid-season.

…If an ingrown toenail burts, hot soaks and gentle massage can help.

…HA can honestly say she is not playing any soccer and promises to never even put that picture in your mind again—but if you are, heed!

…For more info, go to


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spritzing for health

…NutraMist is an oral spray, with variations for things that ail or affect ya.

…It comes in four types…Energy Surge for er, more energy. Crave Control (hoodia)to prevent scarfing. Sleep Now (melatonin and valerian) and Immune Boost (C, Zinc, echinacea)—well, you get the pix.

…You squirt 6 shots into your mouth and …wait…

…The manufacturer says half of Americans have trouble swallowing pills. Thus the squirting.

…HA has a deeply held belief that trying these things out for you readers is above and beyond the call, but she did try the energy boost one five mins ago.

…Is she typing faster?

…Has she become an optimist?

…This stuff is caffeine free (think B12, ginseng, green tea).

…”Replace the blahs with the ahs,” it says. HA wishes she had written that.

…Maybe with more squirts, she could.

…Uh-oh, in her new energized state, HA reread the B12 amts—25,000% of recommended daily dose of B12. Isn’t that a lot of thousands of percents?

…That made HA tired…

…Honestly, she cannot feel much of a difference, which is probably good. She didn’t want to feel heart-poundy and relentlessly creative.

…Check out NutraMist Oral Sprays at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, GNC, and the like.
It’s about eight bucks for 180 zaps.

…Or go to HA could not get it to open, so she sprayed it.

…Irrational exuberance? Could it be the B12 finally?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't hurt the little goblins

…More than 3 million kids have food allergies—and what activity is bad for that?

…Why, pulling random items out of a paper sack and eating them, of course.

…You may like to call this Trick or Treat, but for many parents, it’s Threat or Treat.

…Remember when we used to be afraid of some perv putting razor blades into apples (like who would give an apple as a treat?)

…Most common food allergens are found in candy, says Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

…Eight foods account for 90% of allergies—milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Shrimp candy, ewwww.

…Food allergies have doubled in the last 10 yrs and scientists are not sure why. There is no known cure—you have to find out what is in your food and avoid the bad things.

…Ironically, there are so many warning labels now that people are tuning them out. Often, too, they are written in legalese, warning that one allergen may have been in the same machine before another…weird stuff.

…Naturally, FAAN has a solution—hand over money instead of death-laden candy so that research on allergies can continue.

…Maybe those apples aren’t such a bad idea.

…HA also favors hard candy—sugar, water, and the usual complement of unpronounceable, yummy chemicals. No nuts, no soy.

…Horseman, pass by.

…For more info, go to

Friday, October 19, 2007

Strive to be a medium loser

…Elizabeth Weil, NYT, Oct 18, 2007, says some people on a diet are being discouraged and intimidated by NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

…HA always considered the name of this program to be problematical, but she digresses.

...These contestants are isolated, they work out with trainers 5 hours a day, and scamper around in between doing challenges. Their food is also controlled.

…Still, sometimes when they step on the scale, they have lost a mind-bending 30 lbs in a week or something.

…Two pounds is considered realistic--and even that slows down over time.

…This sends some dieters in the real world lunging for the ice cream!

…Losing too fast can lead to gallstones, heart arrhythmias, and problems with your electrolytes---especially if you get into colonics or something to pace the contestants on the show.

…Ironically, the heavier you are, and the lower you pitch your calorie count, the harder it is to lose.

…People on the show also have nothing else to do or think about except weight. They spend an hour or two a day with weights and up to three hours on the treadmill or elliptical.

…They eat rice and salmon that someone else fixes, so no nibbles allowed.

…Dull, dull—the show edits this out.

…Even on the outside, experts warn us not to compare progress with others. Didn’t Weight Watchers trademark this approach, though?

…Everyone has a different metabolism, remember. Some are better than others. Way better.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time for your annual checkup---not

...Remember the annual physical? Oh, you still get one?

…Did you know the major medical groups now say it may not be necessary?

…If you have no symptoms, this workup may not be helping you much.

…Trotting over for those blood tests and the rubber glove costs $7.8 bill a year!

…Docs have been questioning this since the 1970s.

…It may be useful for the doc to “intervene” and lecture you on weight, cholesterol or smoking, the critics allow.

…But the physicians—say some—should be deciding who needs periodic testing.

…HA can never get her test results when she does go.

…What are we to make of doctors who will not extend your prescriptions unless you caome every three months, six months or a year? How do we know if this is justified or just a revenue issue?

….It’s your decision—ask the doctor about it. It’s all part of the crapshoot we now call medical care.

…Your call.

…But first, let’s review, shall we? This does not apply to pregnant women, women in childbearing years, or people with symptoms!

…If something is wrong, call the doctor. I don’t want you saying HA said I didn’t have-ta.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


…Bee goo is delicious! The National Honey Board recently graced HA with a smokin’ package about the golden delights of honey.

…Do you eat honey—or did you forget about it?

…The Egyptian royals were buried with honey to “sweeten” their passage to the afterlife.

…Honey is antibacterial, so some of that funeral honey is still being found unspoiled, which to HA is both cool and disturbing, her favorite combination.

…Supposedly Cupid dipped his arrows in honey to fill the lovers’ hearts with sweetness.

…Honey, according to the Honey Board, is being considered for a role in cataracts and ulcers (in curing them, that is).

…Honey is also applied to severe burns because—ironically—it does not stick to the wound.

…In the US alone, there are more than 300 types of honey. The flavor comes from the blossoms nearby. HA remembers trying honey once that tasted like hay. Check out

…This could be a fun project for kids, too. Go to

…The buzz on bees, however, is sort of disheartening these days—they are falling prey to some mite or disease.

…So get your honey while you can!

…(Oh, and if the bees disappear, so will most foods, and mankind, but sleep tight.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Think of hospital as giant box of germs

…Didn’t there used to be an expression, “Hospital clean?” Not anymore!

…Infections contracted in hospitals are the fourth largest killer in North America.

…As many people die of hospital crud in a year (103,000) than of breast cancer, AIDS, and auto accidents combined.

…A few hospitals have lashed into the problem and have found that handwashing, cleaning of rooms and equipment, and testing incoming patients for bugs can make a huge difference in infection rates.

…HA has noticed that hospital rooms often don’t look clean—there are little splotches and scraps of paper on the floor, the toilets with those plastic urine-catcher things seem yucky, and overall, things often are not sparkling.

…HA has never seen a doctor use her hospital room sink to wash. Never! According to the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (, a person wearing gloves may be no cleaner—if they put the gloves on unwashed hands.

….Ask that the stethoscope be swabbed with alcohol.

…Ask about your surgeon’s infection rate. They know what it is.

…Stop smoking before surgery—smokers get more infections.

…After surgery, when you go walking, ask for clean socks before going back to bed.

…Ask for sanitary wipes for your own hands—or a basin and water

…If you get a urinary catheter, get it removed as soon as possible. Sometimes patients and staff think these are convenient, but they are a major site of infection.

…Ask to have your IVs changed every few days.

…HA had not thought of some of these.

…As always, she welcomes the paranoia. Kinda.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Active virtual lives for the disabled

…This gal is an avatar, a fantasy character HA has named Water Woman. HA wanted to make her the spokeswoman for a bottled water company but the stodges there didn’t “get it.”

…According to Rob Stein, Washington Post, some disabled people are using avatars to operate in a virtual world online—and this is leading to improvements in their real, actual physical condition and behavior.

…In one case, an autistic person learns online to pick up visual clues and talk to others.

…One doctor called it a major technical and social transition.

…Med schools are using virtual worlds to train doctors. First responders get tested for reaction time and judgments online.

…You pick your avatar—your fantasy self. If you can’t walk, the avatar can, if you choose.

…If you are housebound, your avatar can flit around huge worlds filled with shopping malls, bars, homes, and parks.

…And avatars of different people can talk to each other…using realistic shrugs and body language.

…Experts call this emotional bandwidth.

…Of course some people—through their avatars—take this too far, becoming violent or angry.

…Will this take people away from “real” relationships? experts wonder.

…Still, the government has engaged in this (eyeroll)…The Centers for Disease Control has an office in the virtual world Second Life. The American Cancer Society has a big operation—with doctor avatars giving talks.

…The CDC has also investigated epidemics in some virtual worlds to see how people might react in the real world.

…A disabled woman even walked again, visualizing it with her avatar in a field on Dreams, a secure part of Second Life.

…Her avatar even stumbled. Just like RL.

…Real Life.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Brave New Supermarket

…Merry Olde England! They have developed so-called “intelligent” shopping carts that tell you when you are piling in too much junk food.

…One aspect, touch screen computers mounted on carts to give nutritional advice, has been test-driven in the US, too.

…The little devils peek at barcodes and start spewing advice.

…One industry exec said shoppers want barcode readers to calculate nutritional content and tell them when they have blown their caloric budget.

…Maybe the former. The latter is a skinny person’s job.

…They checked. A third of those surveyed wanted the computer on there.

…Can’t you just see Mom with three screeching tots lobbying for Cocoa Puffs and some mechanical voice going, “Surgary cereal violation on Aisle 3, sugary cereal violation on Aisle 3."

…Technology buffs? Leave us alone, why don’t you?

…And your puny little idea that having the nutritional info on the computer would save trees because labels could be smaller…please do bite HA.

…We may throw a bottle of booze or a PopTart in our cart, but we are not stupid!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oooo, my achin'

…According to Peter Jaret (NYT, Aug 29), four percent of Americans have a headache every day. Can you imagine?

…According to researchers, a large number of these headaches are coming from the cure—common pain medications.

…This applies to both prescription and over-the-counter remedies.

…If your headaches get markedly worse or more frequent, it is likely to be the medicine.

…You should be suspicious if you use headache medicine for three months or more and have headaches that occur more than 15 days a month.

….The overuse comes more often with chronic use of the medication.

…The only way to tell if it’s the pain meds is to stop the meds. This can take two months for you to see a difference.

..Migraine sufferers have most problems with this “rebound” effect.

…Any kind of pain killer will caues a rebound effect on headaches if used too much. Those with caffeine, like Excedrin, are often villains.

….Also watch out for drugs containing butalbital, a barbiturate (Fioricet and Fiorinal).

…Patients are afraid to stop their headache meds, but once they do, a large percentage see a marked improvement in a few months or a year.

…Don’t you love it when you faithfully put a pill in your mouth that is actually not helping and might be harming?


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Be careful before getting eyes carved up

…Is it just HA, or does it bother you that a medical procedure is being advertised on buses and billboards—and discount coupons offered in the approximately 1000 yellow pages books we get each month?

...Is eye surgery something for which you would even want the lowest bidder?

…Wanting to toss the specs, millions of Americans are getting eye operations to change the shape of their corneas.

…Tiger Woods did it, according to Sabine Vollmer, McClatchy Newspapers. Even the Air Force relented last spring and will let people who have had Lasik apply for pilot training.

…But, Vollmer notes, every year, thousands of people who had had Lasik (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) are left with chronic pain, dry eye, distorted night vision, and even blindness.

…The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery puts the side effects at 2-3%.

…The FDA, however, says that six months after the surgery, 28% of patients complained of eye dryness, up to 16% had blurry vision, and up to 18% had trouble driving at night.

…This real surgery with real risks, commented one patient who had multiple problems.

…Most insurance will not pay for this so stats are somewhat lacking.

…But there is a growing market for contacts that counteract Lasik side effects.

…Still struggling with her detached retina, HA is an eye fanatic. You only have two. Be careful!

…Are glasses really that bad?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pink ribbons--and you still don't know squat

…Judy Peres, writing in the Baltimore Sun (Oct 1, 2007) says that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (we are in it) is sorely needed.

….B/C may kill 40,000 women this year, many of them believing myths rather than reality.

…For one thing, heredity is not the biggest risk factor. Only 5 to 10% of cases come from inherited traits.

…7 out of 0 women surveyed recently said they believed eating fruits and veggies could help prevent B/C. The evidence is lacking.

…Most women (2/3 of those between 18 and 24) think B/C can be prevented. There are only a few things women can do to cut the risk, such as not taking hormones and not drinking alcohol. Being female and getting older are the biggest risk factors.

…Most women believe early detection is important to save lives. Four out of 10 say self-examination is best. The same proportion vote for mammograms. Major studies show that self-exams can lead top anxiety and unnecessary biopsies.

…Mammography has been shown to cut the statistical risk of dying, but can result in being treated for a tumor that would never have caused problems.

…Sadly, one doctor noted: We don’t truly know how to prevent breast cancer, cure it, or enough about what puts us at risk.

..Believing myths can retard the big push for research dollars. Hear that, candidates?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ticks suck

…The first sign was some little blackish spider things in one of HA’s CD cases (she listens to CDs in her room at night). Of course, she also couldn’t see these insects too well, either, even with glasses.

….She put the critters down the toilet.

…Her new dog Jimmy (stray, 4 months in residence) was scratching. He is woolly as a lamb, thick, thick—she could not see anything on him.

…In bed a few nights later, HA felt teeny little feet on her arm. She threw on the light! A brown bug was crawling on her! She brushed it off. Ick, ick.

…Next night, same. She then turned to Jimmy at the foot of the bed…A similar insect was crawling over the top of his wool.

…Screeching around, HA got her daughter to get flea and tick shampoo.. As the dog was wetted down, his big old floppy ears were STUDDED with gray dots. Tons of them. They were all over him!

…HA lathered and lathered. He ran away. She got him back. HA raked engorged insects of his ears, his stomach, everywhere.

…Now, four days later, the exterminator has come for the first of two treatments. Ticks live in your walls and come out, he said, to feed. Feed! Oh, gross. There are stages and each requires a "blood meal." One article mentioned "mouth parts." HA quit reading.

….Three were feeding on HA. She got those off and the blood thinners they inject made the blood flow down her leg to her ankle.

…By the time you read this, the dog will have been shaved. HA can now search him pretty well. The cats were also treated, but they don’t get infested, HA was told.

…Ticks come in many types. Here in the Low Desert, we don’t have the deer tick that spreads Lyme Disease (they are the size of a period on a sentence). These are big—housefly size or a little smaller. They can transmit relapsing fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Also a bunch of dog diseases.

…HA is more freaked out about the ICK FACTOR, the little feet tiptapping, the poor studded dog, waking every hour to scan the walls. The creepy crawly feeling.

…The exterminator used a supposedly safe spray. We did not have to leave the house. He will treat again in two weeks. The dog will be shaved by the time you read this.

…But HA will never be the same. Always on the lookout. Did he scratch? What is going on in those walls. Should she turn off the night light?

…HA now hates Nature. Crocuses in the snow, mountain streams, tigers, trees, and lilypads can stay, but everything else has to go!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Older and mouthier

…Writing in Newsweek (Oct 8, 2007), Sharon Begley talks about how some seniors tend to make racist remarks like calling people “colored.”

…It is not their generation or how they were taught. Seems the frontal lobes shrink as we age and can lead to blurting out weird stuff.

…This is the area of the brain providing inhibitions, encouraging social niceties. Inhibitory control—as the scientists put it—can wane as we age.

…They tested this, of course. Docs at Australia Univ of Queensland gave volunteers paragraphs with distracting words in the text and asked them to read it aloud without the distracting words.

…Begley said it would be like reading her article all except for words beginning in “s.”

…Then they tested racist attitudes.

…The subjects only blurted out racist comments to the degree that they could not avoid the distracting words.

…So that, kids, accounts for why Grandma might ask you some embarrassing questions or say things in front of your significant other.

…Plus—it’s fun!

….OK, HA added that. She tries to stick to inappropriate use of the F word and telling kids to get off her lawn.

…But there’s time yet.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Baby onboard

…HA’s niece is expecting and HA has been poring over baby development sites to see the week by week progress.

…Here is one… Some of the book chapter headings have ultrasounds of babies hanging out and yawning, etc. The book will be out next May. (So will HA’s niece’s baby—long before then.)

..Another good one is

…It’s fun to relive the glory days of reproduction. You know, when you are sitting on the end barstool and thinking, “Hmmm, these eggs might be getting a tad old.”

…Strollers, carseats, recalls…Yes, everything we thought we knew seems to be subject to revision.

…Take those cute baby bumpers you put around the inside of the crib so the infant will not scrunch over to the edge and bump into a hard dowel.

…HA’s daughter had the cutest ones—with snarky green alligators on them (explains so much about her, come to think of it).

…Well, darn, now some killjoy doc says these little doodads can strangle your baby. They stuff their heads into the softness and can’t pull it back out, they say. Twenty-seven little ones have had this happen in the last 20 years.

…If you get the hard bumpers, junior explorers can stand on them and climb out.

…Sometimes the bumpers tie on with cords that can tangle the tot.

…Nothing is sacred anymore. Not even green gators.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Do more active brains grow less "moss"?

…A recent study (Arch Gen Psychiatry, Oct 1, 2007), suggests that disciplined, purposeful people with goals in life may get Alzheimer’s-like tangles of plaque in their brains, but not the accompanying dementia symptoms.

…HA read this with interest because she is very purposeful and fears getting ga-ga.

…The scientists speculate that all that purposeful thinking may create mental pathways that bypass the plaque areas.

…Lifestyle, personality, how we think, feel and behave, one doctor said, are tied up with this illness.

…People in distress or who worry about their lives may have a higher risk. Darn, there goes HA’s safety net!

…The subjects of the study were Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers (significant?). The “conscientious” ones were identified in advance with such questions as: “I strive for excellence in everything I do.”

…Dutiful people had a 54% lower chance of Alzheimer’s (HA guesses compared with slapdash, flighty priests).

…Staying active physically, doing crosswords and brain twisters, and other activities have also been linked to dodging Alzheimer’s.

…Presumably doing these things compulsively or dutifully is also good.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Waste of cold cash--or worse

…Even with the physician’s knowledge, the FDA is now thinking it might not be good to dose kids with over-the-counter cold and cough meds.

…Preliminarily (cue the wrangling), the FDA is nixing decongestants for tots under age 2, and antihistamines for those under 6 (and this most certainly includes giving antihistamines to “calm” kids on airplanes).

…There are 800 of these medicines on the shelves. The FDA will tackle this October 18-19.

…The questioning began in Baltimore, and the City of Balto was joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They say this stuff isn’t effective in kids. And there could be worse side effects besides keeping the cold.

…Since 1969, 54 kids have died of decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, or ephedrine.

…There were reports of 69 deaths from antihistamines containing dephenhydramine, brompheniramine, and chloroheniramine.

…Writing in the NYT, Tara Parker-Pope also says these drugs don’t work well in adults. In one study, 40% of those taking placebos reported improvement in their coughs.

…Other cold drugs can cause heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, and hyperactivity. Another side effect can be drowsiness—picture your kid tottering over into a coffee table or something.

…So what works? Cough drops or hard candy, warm fluids, humid air, honey (for kids over age 1), and …you guessed it…

…Chicken soup!

…You know what they say: A cold goes away on its own in seven days, and if you treat it, it takes a week.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Keeping kids healthy at their day job

…Healthy Schools Campaign and School Health Corp. have released The Quick and Easy Guide to School Wellness, a multimedia guide filled with practical advice for school nurses, teachers, aminsitrators, parents, and students to keep the school environment healthy.

…You will find many case studies, tip sheets, ideas that have worked, and so on.

…It’s not all “let’s fire the lunch ladies who made fatty foods,” either.

…The program has five parts: Improving food at school, increasing exercise, teaching good nutrition, encouraging staff wellness, and engaging parents.

…With respect to those parents, the program's creators realize parents are busy and harried or may have strong ideas of what they want done, to the exclusion of other approaches. Say they want only organic foods served or sold.

…Still there are things parents can do. Make the cafeteria more appealing, consult the kids, get them involved.

…Suggest selling bottled water at all events (there is now a movement against this).

…Eat with your kids (ask first). See what they are choosing—or trading.

…Meet with the food service staff and learn about their challenges and budget (and hairnet styles).

…Check up on the school’s health quotient—how many vending machines are there? Are there fast-food joints nearby and can kids go there?

…In this area, we have a continuing debate on whether HS kids should be allowed to pile into cars and race off to lunch. There have been fatalities and this is not healthy by definition.

...Any other ideas for healthier schools, readers?