Friday, January 30, 2009

Are you on a statin?


…You know how HA luvvs to exaggerate, so what do you think? Should we all become a nation of pained, limping zombies who can’t remember a lick?

…HA has read so many nice things about anticholesterol, heart enhancing statins her remaining eye is blurring. She has interviewed cardiologists who laugh about how they all take them and joke about it at their meetings. If they get leg pains, they switch to another brand! Gotta have the statins.

…This all goes back to a study of simvastatin in Scandinavia 20 years ago. Of course, a few doctors have timidly ventured that 20 years isn’t a lot of time study-wise.

…Of course, HA also sort of hates studies about studies—where they look at a ton of studies and try to draw common conclusions, but one caught her eye—at Univ of CA San Diego. They looked at 900 studies on the adverse effects of statins. Nine hundred—adverse effects…so there must be SOME adverse effects, right? (American Acad of Cardiovascular Drugs)

…Number one is muscle problems. Then come pain or numbness in the fingers and toes and after that trouble remembering. But tendon problems can also develop and blood glucose can rise.

…To make matters worse, many physicians are not on top of this, the researchers said. They don’t know about, or poohpooh, symptoms.

…At the heart of these drawbacks may be an injury to the body’s energy-producing cells, mitochondria. These produce energy and those free radicals that the antioxidants we all love fight against.

…Ergo, when mitochondrial function is reduced, less energy, and and more free radicals.This comes from blocking Coenzyme Q10—CoQ10—which is blocked along with cholesterol.

…Risk of statins goes up as age goes up and they are not worth the risk, some doctors day, after age 70 or 75. High blood pressure and diabetes are linked with mitochondrial problems. Ergo…statins have a higher risk for those people.

…Not to read like a bad outtake from a biochem textbook—but people vary. Statins protect some people from muscle and kidney and heart rhythm problems—and can worsen risk of those in others.

…Ask questions. Lots.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More on sweet treats


…Just like people still went to the movies during the other Dep…er, Big Giant Recession, people today still want their candy.

…Hershey, reports the WSJ (Jan 28, 2009), is UP 51%, no bailout needed. Maybe they could name a candy bar Bailout, though.

…The industrialists (do we still have those?) say even on V-Day, the lower end confections will rule.

…Hershey had been duking it out with Mars, which was pushing its “premium” Dove dark chocolates. Hershey did come up with Bliss and helped Starbucks develop some candy.

…Now the “good” stuff is sitting one some grocery shelves and Hershey is sitting pretty.

…A Godiva guy insists they are still happenin’. They sold a lot of $130 assortments at Christmas but also a lot of lower-end candy.

….Lindt (HA’s favorite when she can get it) was up 5.8%, but below projections.

….At Hershey the KitKats and Reese’s are more popular now (despite peanut butter worries).

…Still, their stock is iffy.

…Isn’t everyone’s? Have a KitKat! Isn’t that the takeaway here? Eat candy for tomorrow you shall have no candy?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Whoa--the Sprouts have gone too far


…Alert, alert….Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs, and Lemon Chalet Crème Girl Scout cookies are going smaller and/or fewer to the box.

…OK, we can’t sell our houses, we may get laid off any minute, unemployment is running out, the pantry is all peanut butter all the time, the TV is about to punk out, but cut back on cookies? What else do we have?

…”We are talking about a couple of fewer cookies,” tut-tutted one spokesman. Well, we care! We notice!

…Flour is up 30%, they whine. Cocoa, 20%. The Sprouts wanted to keep the price at $4.00 a box or so. Hey, even in 2005, that was 25 cents a cookie—now it will be more!

…About all these scheming youngsters have going for them is that these yummies only come out for a short time once a year—people forget!

…Sort of. Some people.

…Anyhow, the Cadbury egg has also gone on a diet.

…Oh, who cares on that? But Tagalongs?

…If you can’t trust a Girl Scout, we are lost.

…And by the way, HA’s sister and mother were sharing a Mounds the other day and those halves looked pretty light on the old scale, shall we say.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ER or no ER?


…Nothing like being broke and even with insurance, facing ginormous copays, to make a parent sweat. Should we take the feverish, tossing, whimpering kid over to the ER or not?

…This is not meant to be binding medical advice! But it does come from a hospital. (By the way, hospitals like to say "ED"--for Emergency Dept--but you know how common HA is, so she says ER.)

…If your child is sick, consider calling the doctor. However, sometimes going to the Emergency Room is best. To wit:

….If your baby is younger than a month and has a fever of 100.4 or higher.

…If the baby is not acting right—isn’t looking at you, feels limp or floppy or has a strange cry.

…Turning blue, difficulty breathing. ER or 911!

….If an older child’s temp does not come down below 101 after taking a fever reducer.

…A seizure.

…Suspected urinary infection has to be treated…Think about this if the child is showing pain when going, has to go all the time, or there is a different odor.

…Dry diapers for 12-24 hours can mean dehydration—this can get out of hand quickly.

…Go by your gut—when you think you need to go, go. Worry about the money later.

…When HA’s kid was young, the pediatrician gave us a little photocopied book of what to do when. Do doctors still do that?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Women have harder time refusing "bad" food


…This is one for The Big Book of Duh. But here we go.

…According to HealthDay reporter Randy Dotinger (Jan 20, 2009), a scientist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY did a study to see why some people don’t feel “full” no matter how much they eat (HA has this problem). It’s called satiety. Some people don’t experience it very strongly.

…In the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team asked 13 women and 10 men about their favorite foods. The list included lasagna, pizza, brownies, ice cream and fried chicken.

….Then they fasted for 20 hours and the favorite dishes, warmed up where appropriate to smell FANTASTIC, were shown to them, although they couldn’t have any.

…While this was happening, they were getting a PET scan of their brains, especially the areas governing “motivation.” Both the men and women tried to make themselves feel less hungry and said they did feel less starving—BUT in the case of the women, the scans showed the same areas firing off anyway.

…The docs said it was probably because women needed not to stop eating because they occasionally would be eating “for two.”

…Still, there is a lot of time when that second little peanut isn’t there—thanks a heap, Nature!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Edible greetings


…HA saw a commercial for fruit bouquets—so cute! (Pictured, one from www.fruitpetals.com).

…According to Charles Passy (WSJ, Jan 22, 2009), there are many companies that offer thee appealing gifts. (Appeeling, get it?)

…Aw, kwitcher groaning, it’s HA’s blog.

…These bouquets—with carved fruit in place of flowers—are meant to be fun and a little healthy, maybe.

…They also feed 2-4 people.

….Since 1999, an early company, Edible Arrangements, has gone global with 800 retail stores.

….The stalwarts at WSJ compared some offerings. (All are about $100 delivered.)

…All say they use the best fruit—but sometimes the less ripe versions are stronger and more structural. So: Weird green cantaloupe warning.

…Another one was way too elaborate. It was bursting with every munchable imaginable. “Not romantic,” sniffed one reviewer. (Hey, maybe it would be for a huge fruit-o-philiac)

…Others went nuts putting in touches—such as teachery stuff for a teacher, such as a pot made of blackboard material.

…The testers tended to like the chocolate touches, though, such as chocolate coated Franny Smith apple slices.

…Edible Arrangements’ chocolate covered bananas elicited raves.

…If there is no store nearby to send over your arrangement, you can opt for dried fruit.

…Is it HA, or do dried apricots look like little ears?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Booze may prevent disability in seniors


…We have all heard that red wine in moderation can be good for the heart, but now some researchers think moderate consumption of alcohol can help prevent creeping disabilities.

…This is UCLA, not University of Wishful Thinking, so listen up. First, they say, you have to start with reasonably good health. Then they looked at three batches of past information from govt sources.

…Drinkers were called light to moderate if they consumed less than 15 drinks a week (less for women).

…Physical disability was described as having trouble dressing, grooming, maintaining hygiene, arising from a chair and so on.

...Participants were asked if they had experienced no difficulty, some, or were unable to do these things.

…The upshot was that light to moderate drinkers in good health had a statistically significant lower risk of disabilities when other factors were winnowed out. The drinkers also had a reduced risk of dying in five years.

…BUT…of course…if you were too far into the disability area, taking up drinking might be a poor option. Right when you need it!

…HA is not sure she is buying this totally, but she'll drink to it. Salud!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Youch! Nippy


…It’s not just mountain climbers covered by avalanches who get frostbite.

…The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons warns against having just too much fun outside and losing a toe or something.

…Below 20 degrees F and the wind is 20 mph or more, the skin can get frostbitten in a few minutes.

….Hands, fingers, feet, toes and ears are especially at risk.

…If your skin feels numb or is hard or frozen and waxy or white, yipes!

…Dress appropriately, the docs advise. Light, loose, layered clothing. Top your outfit with a water repellent outer garment.

…Head coverings are important.

…Check yourself every so often for frostbite—if you are numb or waxy, get indoors.

…If you think you are frostbitten, get to a warm room and call for assistance. Drink warm drinks.

…Rest the bad areas—elevate feet.

…Warm up by immersing in warm (NOT HOT) water. The area may swell or change color.

…Do not rub on snow.

…Do not use dry heat like a radiator, heating pad or sunlamp. You could get burned that way.

…Alternate approach: Stay inside. Maybe a nice toddy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Survivors" with spare legs


…Josh Shaffer, McClatchy Newspapers, writes that increasingly people are listing their pets as survivors when they die and get an obit.

…Hey, when newspapers finally expire, where will we get obits—www.BummerDude.com?

…Anyhow, dogs and kitties are now mourners and “grievers” worth noting.

…Sir Rufus was a tuxedo cat and cherished by a woman in Durham, NC. He's mentioned in her obit.

…Some lawyers defend animals that people try to cut out of wills.

…People are too busy to be friends—but animals make time.

…Dogs do get pretty quiet and depressed when their owners die—this could be considered grieving.

…One guy listed a pig as his survivor. Presumably a four-legged one.

…Another put five pets next to hubs and the kids.

…HA can see this…and may do it. Animals are nicer than a lot of people and hardly ever steal or lie.

…Well, raccoons maybe. They can be tricky.

Monday, January 19, 2009

If you had it to do over


…Neal Templin has a column on the WSJ blog called Cheapskate or something like that. Check it out: http://wsj.com/Wallet. It’s in on Mondays.

…It’s sort of funny and sort of serious about helping you save money.

…Templin had a column in the paper (Jan 15, 2009), in which he reminisced about the dumbest things he ever did. (HA does that daily—she has it on a loop.)

…One thing that seems to haunt this guy is when he was carrying a giant bag of dog food and tripped. Quick! Drop the food and break his fall or hold onto the $15 bag and take out his left kneecap?

…Yup—held on.

…In another genius move, he decided to save money by not fronting cash to get the rest of his roof repaired when a wind storm took out half (the insurance company paid for that part). Well, when it came time to sell the house, he had to give a huge credit to the buyers because half the roof was decrepit.

…Another time, he and his Mom went fishing and added some dead fish they found on the dock to their catch, then thought, ewww, those could have gone bad.

…Dock kill? Is it HA or is this guy a little…er, offbeat?

….What’s more—the dog, an eager beagle, took advantage of his lying there in pain, and gobbled as much food from the broken bag as he could.

…That could have been quite a vet bill—financial insult to physical injury. Lucked out on that one. Picking a beagle was smart.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Health for lazy people


…If writing out resolutions makes you need a nap, the experts at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center have some tips for even the giantest of couch muffins.

…Mmmmm, muffins.

…HA! Focus!

…OK, first, get walking. Yup, that one has been around. Exercise can also help prevent recurrence of cancer.

…You can also use the stairs, ride a bike, dance, play a team sport, or use a stationary bike when you watch TV (or listen to audio books, HA’s passion). Well, maybe YOU can.

…OK, here’s an easier one. Eat an apple a day. We all want to keep you-know-whos away, right? Apples are loaded with antioxidants. These can reduce risk of breast, mouth, and colorectal cancer.

…Eat pumpkin, carrots and other orange stuff. HA had carrots for lunch—not a huge fan.

…Of course—quit smoking. This causes 80% of bad diseases. You have heard it all.

…The Four D’s for quitting the evil weed: Deep breaths, drink water, do something to distract yourself, and delay reaching for a cig.

…Limit alcohol. Well, for HA, the economy has done that. But postmeno women who drink more than one drink a day are at increased risk of breast cancer.

…Maybe the apple thing…start small…?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good old pap test


…Like so many conditions, you don’t want cervical cancer. HA doesn’t do “months,” but if she did, she might mention that January is the one for cervical cancer.

…The Pap test, named after a Greek doctor, gets cells from the area to be examined for changes that show cancer.

…Every adult woman knows about this—cold steel stuff in ya, rummaging around, etc.

…Andrea Milbourne, MD, professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the Univ of Texas, says there are six things you need to know about this test.

…Number 1. If you start getting more sexually active (lucky in the parlance), you are at increased need of a test. Sex can bring Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is strongly associated with cervical cancer. Even condoms don’t keep all the HPV out.

…Number 2. The HPV vaccine is in addition to the pap test and not as a substitute for it. Young woman can look into getting the vaccine, but should not let it give them a false sense of security. It also does not protect against all forms of HPV.

…Number 3. You need to “prepare” for your pap test. Avoid douching or using medicines or anti-spermicidal foams for 48 hours. Do not have sex for 48 hours. If your period starts, reschedule.

…Number 4. A woman is never too old to get a pap test. Even if you are over 65, if you are sexually active, get the test each year.

…Number 5. Money should not prevent your getting a pap test. To get a free or low cost test, call 1-800-CANCER.

…Number 6. Before the pap test, cervical cancer was a leading cause of death in American women. Between 1975 and 1992, death from it dropped 74 percent, thanks to the test, although cervical cancer is till the second largest cause of female cancer deaths worldwide.

…Ask your doctor if you are getting the Thin Prep Pap Test—it is more likely to get a sample containing abnormal cells if indeed they are present.

…Yeah, going to the gynecologist sucks, but not going can suck worse.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roaming surgeons


…According to the WSJ (January 13, 2009), some surgeons, unable to keep their practices going in today’s economy and reimbursement environment, are hitting the road.

…One, based in Tenn, closed her practice after eight years and now travels the country doing operations in smaller hospitals and towns.

…Nurses have done this for awhile, now doctors are. For one thing, their per capita income is down 25% from balmier times.

…General surgery is also less popular as a specialty.

…One in 20 general surgeons is now a temp. But don’t cry too loudly for them—they make $250K, twice what they made before circulating.

…Of course, there are tradeoffs. A surgeon who comes into town to do some surgeries isn’t wired in, doesn’t know the hospital staff or procedures. He or she may not be available for followup visits, which are very important.

…The temps counter this by saying they are not distracted by office woes.

…The hospital is also paying. This can amount to $1500 a day per surgeon.

…A temp costs twice as much as a permanent doctor.

…The American College of Surgeons has condemned “itinerants.” It has not issued guidelines but urges temps to make sure another surgeon oversees followup.

…The doctor featured in the story said she was very careful to tell the patient she would only be there for a few more hours, but Dr. So-and-So would be there if the patient needed him or her.

…Well, post-op, patients do need a surgeon. HA is iffy on this—more of "As the World Turns on Us," she guesses.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Playing outside can help kids' vision


…Spending just 2-3 hours a day playing outside can lower a child’s chance of becoming nearsighted.

…Docs at Duke did the study, which appeared in the Jan issue of Optometry and Vision Science.

…Nearsightedness is a global concern and a leading disability affecting more than 1.6 billion people worldwide. It seems to be on the increase.

…They studied kids of European origin with risk factors of myopia. If they spent 2-3 hours a day outside, they had only a slightly great risk than kids with no factors. A Singapore study had similar findings.

…What is so great about being outdoors? The sunlight and distance viewing (don’t get that with a computer) are possible reasons. They are continuing to “look” into it.

…HA wonders if kids who run around outside a lot aren’t healthier, too—apart from all the different things they look at.

…Of course, this presupposes they don’t put an eye out. Remember how your Mom used to say, “You will put your eye out!”

Monday, January 12, 2009

30 million drivers may not see you in time


…Vision problems are a major reason 30 million older drivers may have to hang up the car keys.

…Johns Hopkins did a survey—Salisbury Eye Evaluation and Driving Study (SEEDS)-- that looked at changes in sight and cognition and general health status (reflexes etc) of more than 1,200 licensed drivers 67-87 in Salisbury MD.

…The results (www.iovs.org) showed that after a year, 1.5% had given up driving and 3.4% had restricted their jaunts. The most common indicators of this necessity were slow visual scanning, psychomotor speed, and contrast sensitivity.

…You need all these skills when objects are moving at rapid speeds relative to one another.

…Women were four times likelier than men to stop driving or cut their driving. Depressed people also were more likely to stop—previously, depression was thought to come after.

…The researcher said it was encouraging that people knew they could not see well or whatever and stopped.

…HA thinks it may take more than that—such as a doctor, even at the behest of adult children--giving a push.

…HA knows of a couple where the man once chirped, “She can’t think anymore, so I do the thinking and she does the driving.”

…Give you the warm fuzzies?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Has it been 5 whole mins since we did the "Med"?


…Harvard is out there flogging the way Italians and Greeks eat, and HA used olive oil last night, so it must be time to do the Mediterranean "diet" thing again.

…Not only is this approach delish, Harvard opines, but it’s good for the ticker. HA once attended a conference on olive oil on Majorca and learned that olive oil is also statistically beneficial against breast and other cancers.

…So, first, pile on the veggies. Try for all different colors.

…Eat lots of whole fruit. Add fruit to salads. Make salads whole meals with nuts and diced chicken.

…Go nuts. Finally, permission! Nuts contain antioxidants and a steadying effect on blood sugar.

…Eat whole grains. Grains even have protein, not to mention fiber and vitamins.

…Forty percent of your cals can come from fat—but good fat, like olive oil. Also load up on Omega 3—which means lean fish.

…Eat legumes. OK—beans. (To HA, legume doesn’t sound like a food, more like a car.)

…Toast yourself with red wine.

…And eat slowly—those laid-back Mediterraneans take all afternoon for lunch. Can’t you take half an hour?

…This always sounds so yummy and easy. But HA always wonders where the Ramen Noodles fit in.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Speak up at the doctor's


…They call it doorknob stuff—the things you save up for the doc until her or she is putting a hand on the doorknob to leave—approximately 20 mins, if you’re lucky, after entering “the little room.”

…Examples. “Oh, I meant to mention—I think I saw some blood in the toilet the other morning.”

…”When I was walking the dog, I got this funny squeezy feeling in my chest.”

…The top things people are embarrassed to mention are: mental illness, STD symptoms, sexual orientation issues, sexual dysfunction, bowel or bladder changes, obesity, diabetes, domestic violence, memory loss, and substance abuse.

…Some people even feel that if they are not healthy, they are doing something wrong.

…That in itself is wrong. People get sick. Yes, lifestyle can keep us on an even keel somewhat, but things can go wrong.

…Tell the doctor about all medications—from other doctors, from the health food store.

…Answer lifestyle questions accurately. If you drink three drinks everyday, say so. If you are still taking those pain pills from your operation a year ago, mention it.

…Don’t conceal symptoms. For instance—don’t cover up instances where you lost time, say, because of a seizure, thinking your license may be taken away. The doctor needs to know this.

…Don’t shy away from mental illness symptoms, especially.

…If you wonder whether to bring something up—this means you should!

…Docs have heard it all. They hardly ever groan or barf.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Allergy dudes working on a cure


…More and more people are keeling and complaining of food allergies. For now, “don’t eat the food” is the only cure.

….But at the recent meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Seattle, some new therapies began to emerge.

…Food allergies affect 3.7% of adults and 6% of children. Allergies and asthma are on the increase.

…People eat more fish, peanuts and other tree nuts, milk, eggs, and soy.

…Eating out is popular—including huge buffets of mixed foods.

…Food allergies cross-react with latex, cockroach poop, dust mite poop and pollen.

…Food proteins are also included in therapies—esp dermatological preparations.

…Other aggravators can include C-sections, antacid use, and infant multivitamins.

…The three approaches besides avoidance: Nti-IgE anibodies, Chinese herbal therapy, and immunotherapy.

…Anti-IgE would protect 75% of the allergic if they are the wrong thing by mistake—but it’s not a vaccine and is expensive and has to be given continuously.

…Mice studies with Chinese herbal FAHF-2 are promising, but mice ain’t men.

…Immunotherapy means giving small amounts of the offending substance to build immunity.

…Effective treatment is 10-20 years out.

…We could get a man on the Moon by then!

…We did?

…Oh.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Aw, tune them out


…HA more cringes than charges into action when the January diet marathon starts on websites, TV, on the phone with friends, and so on.

…Between every dieter and the crest of the hill stands some sort of saboteur.

…”Come on, you can have one little piece.”

…”I like a little meat on my women,”

…”You always look great to me, honey.”

…”Are you sick? You are wasting away.”

…”We will see you after lunch—we know you can’t eat Mexican with us.”

…Or the backhanded compliment: ”You are great to try even though 95% of people fail.”

…If your friend or spouse is larger, they may want you to be the same. You might stop loving them, otherwise.

…If you feel you do this to someone else, try to stop. Walk with them at lunch. If you start to say something discouraging, ask why you are saying it.

…Above all: Bring flowers. Never candy!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Having "that little talk" with kids


…Nah, not about sex! About money. How we don’t have any.

…Jason Zweig writes about this in the WSJ (Dec 27, 2008). Actually, he says, people would rather tell their kids about sex than money.

…This is scary. If you saw your money drop by 50% last year, you are statistically twice as likely to die as those whose earnings held steady.

…If your kids are young and this financial stuff gets bad, they may suffer from depression as teens.

…Kids can also conclude that hard work doesn’t pay.

….Not having money does not make you less happy as an adult, but being talked to forthrightly by your parents was a big factor in your weathering it.

…Still, Zweig says, don’t spill your guts. Try not to let fear show. Keep mealtimes regular—things should seem to be under control.

…Kids should hear things, not overhear them—they can’t put everything into context.

…If you have to move or send kids to a different school, make the most of it.

…Let the kids suggest ways to to do it. Maybe they can help with a yard sale. Or start getting DVDs from the library.

…HA recommends books on CD—better than clapped-out cable movies any day.

…When she mentions money to her daughter, though, her kid stares at her, waits until she stops talking, and then says, “Can I borrow five bucks?”

Friday, January 02, 2009

This year--new cliches, please


…HA is joshing—to be a cliché, something has to be old-old-old. So old. Every year, some smarty-pantses come up with a list of stuff we shouldn’t say.

…This year, “stuff” is one. HA would add: “folks.”

…In the health realm, HA is going to try not to say “health czar,” “national nannies,” “green diet” (different from diet of greens), “organic,” “serving size,” “portion control,” “food stamps” (now a swipe card anyhow), “food police,” “food pyramid” (good grief, there are more of these than Eqypt has little liver pills and some are boxes), “cardio,” “frugalista” (cheapskate is still OK), “staycation” (said it), can you think of some more?

…”Universal health insurance.” Now that is an interesting one. Instead of a program covering everyone, it is morphing into “ordering” everyone to buy insurance—you know, universally. What is wrong with the word "national"? Are Martians getting these plans? Venusians?

…Oh, and don’t say “you know,” a lot.

…Ya know what HA is sayin'?

…”Under the bus” needs to drive off. There must be more than one bus involved by now, anyhow.

…”In harm’s way” and “last full measure” are not only sad, but shopworn.

…Oh, and Sudoku. [Suggested by Rubik.]