Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.
Spinach is the green that comes to mind for light summer dishes. It’s available year-round both at farmers’ markets and supermarkets, wilts in minutes, and afterward keeps well in the refrigerator.
In summer, you can use it for cold soups or quick omelets, or combine it with seasonal tomatoes in easy pastas. Spinach contains iron, vitamin A and vitamin C, manganese, folate, calcium, potassium and a variety of other nutrients.
One thing to note: The sodium content can be high in some brands of bagged spinach. A 3-ounce serving of Dole organic baby spinach, for example, contains 135 milligrams of sodium. The same amount from Fresh Express contains 65 milligrams. The difference may have to do with the solution that certain commercial producers use to wash the spinach.
If you do use bagged baby spinach, check the values on the package. A 3-ounce serving (85 grams) should not have more than 70 milligrams of sodium.
Some evidence vitamin D might fight colds
(Reuters Health) – A daily vitamin D supplement may help young men enjoy more sick-free days during cold and flu season, a small study suggests.
Vitamin D has been the subject of much research of late, with studies linking low vitamin D levels in the blood to higher risks of type 1 diabetes and severe asthma attacks in children and, in adults, heart disease, certain cancers and depression.
But whether vitamin D is the reason for the excess risks — and whether taking supplements can curb those risks — has yet to be shown.
Does chickenpox protect against skin condition?
Reuters Health) – Kids who get chickenpox may be less likely to develop atopic dermatitis and asthma when they’re older than their peers who don’t get chickenpox – including those that are vaccinated against it, suggests a new study.
But vaccine experts warn that the study was limited, and that one finding shouldn’t challenge the benefits of the chickenpox vaccine.
Hepatitis B linked to lymphoma in study
(Reuters) – People infected with hepatitis B virus are around twice as likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, researchers reported on Tuesday.
Hepatitis B was already known to cause liver cancer and some scientists had suspected it might cause lymphoma, too. The study, published in Lancet Oncology, confirms this. Hepatitis C is also linked to lymphoma.
The blood cancer is not common and widespread vaccination against the viruses is unlikely to affect non-Hodgkin lymphoma rates much, the researchers noted. But it may be possible to treat the virus and help non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients, they said.
B vitamins may not help stroke patients
(Reuters Health) – B vitamins are safe, but they don’t appear to protect those who have suffered a stroke from heart attacks or new strokes, a large study shows for the first time.
The overall risk of suffering one of these events — between 15 and 17 percent — was similar for patients taking vitamins and placebo pills, respectively.
Plain cells turned into beating heart cells: study
(Reuters) – Two studies published on Thursday show new ways to fix damaged hearts, one by turning structural heart cells into beating cells and another by restoring a primordial ability to regenerate lost tissue.
The two approaches need more work before they can be tried in humans, but they represent big steps forward in the new field of regenerative medicine.
And they show it may be possible to repair broken organs in the patient’s body, instead of resorting to transplants or artificial devices.
In one study, a team at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease at the University of California, San Francisco made beating heart cells from more ordinary cells called fibroblasts.
Too Little Sleep May Raise Heart Disease Risk
Skimping on Sleep Could Double Your Risk of Chest Pain, Heart Attack, or Stroke
Aug. 2, 2010 — People who sleep for less than seven hours a day, including naps, are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleeping fewer than five hours a day, including naps, more than doubles the risk of chest pain, heart attack, or stroke, according to a study conducted by researchers at West Virginia University’s (WVU) faculty of medicine.
Most at risk were people over age 60 who slept for five hours or less per night. Their risk of developing cardiovascular disease was more than three times that of people who slept for seven hours.
Study Links Processed Red Meat to Bladder Cancer
Preservatives in Processed Red Meat, Especially Nitrite, May Play a Role in Cancer Risk
Aug. 2, 2010 — Eating large amounts of processed red meats may raise the risk for developing bladder cancer, according to a new study.
Processed meats often contain the preservatives nitrate and nitrite. They are typically found in hot dogs, pepperoni, and deli cold cuts.
Researchers suspect that when processed meats are eaten regularly over time and in large quantities, these preservatives may interfere with the bladder’s lining when they are passed through the urine.
How the meat is prepared — grilled, fried, microwaved, or broiled — may also play a role in cancer risk.
Patients Lose Weight After Total Joint Replacement
Surgery for Osteoarthritis Helps Patients Regain Mobility, Shed Pounds
July 30, 2010 — Osteoarthritis patients who were obese lost weight after undergoing total knee or hip replacement surgery, according to a recent study published in Orthopedics.
Obesity Rates Still Rising, CDC Says
Mississippi Has Highest Obesity Rate, With 34% of Residents Obese; Colorado Lowest at 18%
Aug. 3, 2010 — More Americans are becoming obese. Obesity rates inched up 1.1% between 2007 and 2009, according to a new report released by the CDC.
In just the past two years, 2.4 million people have joined the ranks of the obese. About 72.5 million U.S. adults are now obese, the report found. That’s 26.7% of the population, compared to 25.6% in 2007.
Some states are more affected than others, says Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the CDC, who presented the data at a teleconference Tuesday. “The number of states where self-reported obesity is 30% or higher has tripled, from three to nine.”
Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Are Indoor Risk
Researchers Find EDC Levels Are Higher Indoors Than Outdoors
Aug. 5, 2010 — Concentrations of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) — found in many everyday products and of concern due to potential health hazards — are higher indoors than outdoors, according to a new study.
But they are equally present, the researchers found, in an urban, low-income community near an oil refinery and in a rural, affluent coastal community without much industry.
“The higher your exposure to consumer products, the higher your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” researcher Ruthann Rudel, director of research at the Silent Spring Institute, Newton, Mass., tells WebMD.
Risky Combo: Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Forms
Combining Cigarettes and Other Types of Tobacco Usage Linked to Higher Risk of Disease
Aug. 5, 2010 — Men and young adults are most likely to smoke cigarettes in combination with using tobacco in other forms, the CDC says.
The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Aug. 6, reports that the use of other forms of tobacco is linked with higher nicotine addiction, the inability to kick the habit, and increases the odds that smokers will develop cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
The CDC’s analysis of data from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System says many smokers use cigarettes in combination with other forms of tobacco, including smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes.
Experts roll out malaria map, urge mosquito study
(Reuters) – Nearly 3 billion people, or two-fifths of the world’s population, were at risk of contracting malaria in 2009 and closer study of the mosquito’s life cycle is needed to combat the disease, researchers said in two reports.
In the first study, scientists mapped out the geographical spread of the Plasmodium vivax — the most common parasite that causes malaria — using reported cases of malaria and details on temperature and aridity.
“We estimate that the global population at risk of P. vivax malaria in 2009 was 2.85 billion people. Regionally, the great majority of this population (91 percent) resides in central and southeast Asian countries,” wrote Simon Hay, a zoologist at the University of Oxford who co-authored the study.
Americans’ immunity to mumps less than ideal
(Reuters Health) – About 90 percent of young to middle-aged Americans have antibodies against the mumps virus — a level of immunity that is at the low end of what’s needed to prevent significant outbreaks of the infection, a government study finds.
The findings underscore the importance of having children receive the recommended two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
Clue found to why swine flu spread in people
Reuters) – The H1N1 swine flu virus underwent a mutation and used a new trick to spread efficiently in people, another signal to help experts predict whether a flu virus can cause a pandemic, researchers said Friday.
The H1N1 swine flu virus was first identified in people in April 2009 but genetic research later suggested it had in fact been circulating for at least a decade and probably longer in pigs.
“This pandemic H1N1 (virus) has this mutation and is why it can replicate so well in humans,” wrote Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Tokyo, who co-authored the paper.
No big outbreaks of disease in Haiti, surveys find
(Reuters) – Two new surveillance systems set up in Haiti after January’s monster earthquake showed no major outbreaks of disease, and might form the basis of one long-term improvement for the Caribbean nation’s health, researchers reported on Thursday.
Establishing the networks was one triumph for public health experts and also showed the quick response of aid agencies may have helped prevent an even worse health disaster, the Haitian and U.S. experts said.
“The earthquake was a terrible disaster. But I really think it was an opportunity that has given them a chance to rebuild parts of their country, especially in the health sector,” Erin Sauber-Schatz of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a telephone interview.
Rotavirus vaccines save poorest children: reports
(Reuters) – Trials in Asia and Africa show rotavirus vaccines can save the lives of even the poorest young children and programs should begin to vaccinate as many as possible, researchers reported on Thursday.
The vaccines prevented between 39 percent and 48 percent of infections in some of the poorest countries in the world, where more than 400,000 children die from rotavirus every year.
They urged the governments of developing nations to make the vaccines a priority.
“Rotavirus vaccines have the potential to protect the lives of nearly 2 million children in the next decade alone,” Dr. John Victor of the Seattle-based PATH non-profit development organization and colleagues wrote in one of two reports in the Lancet medical journal.
California firm recalls 1 million pounds beef for e.coli
(Reuters) – A Modesto, California, meat company is recalling about one million pounds of ground beef patties and bulk ground beef after the meat was linked to seven illnesses from the e.coli 0157:H7 bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.
The meat was produced by Valley Meat Company from October 2, 2009 to January 12, and distributed to retail and food service firms in California, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and internationally.
The products bear the establishment number “EST. 8268” and production codes 27509 through 01210.
Older adults get HIV diagnosis later, die sooner
(Reuters Health) – People over 50 with HIV are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage disease than younger adults, according to a British study.
They are also more than twice as likely to die within a year of their HIV test as are younger people, even if they are diagnosed late.
“We have a group of people who don’t get tested because they don’t think they are at risk,” said Dr. Valerie Delpech, of the U.K. Health Protection Agency Center for Infections in London, who worked on the study.
IUD works for emergency birth control: study
(Reuters Health) – A copper intrauterine device was 100 percent effective at emergency contraception in a study of almost 2000 Chinese women who had the device implanted up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
The device – called Copper T380A, or Copper T – continued to be effective at preventing pregnancy a year after it was inserted.
“It is by far the best emergency contraceptive option,” Dr. James Trussell, who studies birth control methods at Princeton University but was not involved with the current study, told Reuters Health of the device. “But many people just don’t know about it.”
Prenatal test not linked to blood pressure problems
(Reuters Health) – Despite concerns raised from some earlier research, a new study suggests that a prenatal test done to screen for genetic abnormalities does not raise a woman’s risk of developing pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
The test, known as chorionic villus sampling (CVS), is an invasive procedure done to detect Down syndrome and other genetic disorders in some women considered to be at elevated risk — such as those age 35 and older, and women with a family history of a specific genetic disorder.
Too Much Pregnancy Weight Gain Raises Child’s Obesity Risk
Study Finds Pregnancy Weight Contributes to Childhood Obesity Independently of Genetics
Aug. 4, 2010 — Women who put on too many pounds during pregnancy are at risk of having a baby with a high birth weight, which may increase the child’s risk for long-term obesity, researchers report.
High birth weight is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) — a measurement of height and weight — later in life. However, researchers were not clear whether weight gain during pregnancy contributed to a child’s risk of obesity independently of genetics. Earlier research suggests maternal weight is more strongly associated with a child’s BMI than paternal weight, indicating that pregnancy, not only genetics, may play a key role in a child’s weight.
Researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Columbia University in New York looked at multiple single pregnancies in the same mother to assess the effects of maternal weight gain and to exclude the effects of weight gain from genetic components.
Study: No Need to Delay Pregnancy After Miscarriage
Women Who Conceive Within 6 Months Less Likely to Miscarry Again
Aug. 5, 2010 — How soon until we can try again? This is one of the first questions that women who have experienced a miscarriage will ask their doctor. And a new study suggests that there is no reason for many women to delay getting pregnant after a miscarriage. According to a new study, the sooner a woman conceives again, the better her chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Specifically, women who conceive within six months after a miscarriage are less likely to miscarry again or experience other pregnancy-related complications when compared with women who wait for longer periods of time. The findings appear in the journal BMJ.
Women Are Attracted to Men in Red
Researchers Say Women May View Men in Red as High Status, Leading to the Attraction
Aug. 5, 2010 — OK, guys, here’s a tip about romance: Wear red. It might help you catch the eye of women.
A new multicultural study finds that women are attracted to the color red when looking at men — and they aren’t even aware of this arousing effect.
Researchers at the University of Rochester find in a new study that the charm of cherry may be its ability to make men appear more powerful.
“We found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money, and more likely to climb the social ladder,” says Andrew Elliot, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “And it’s this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction.”
Desert dust’ days may worsen kids’ asthma
Reuters Health) – Dust blown from faraway deserts may accumulate in the air to levels great enough to contribute to children’s asthma attacks, a new study suggests.
It’s well established that poor air quality can worsen symptoms in people with asthma or other lung disease, and children are thought to be particularly susceptible due to factors like their smaller airways and less developed immune systems.
One recent study in the Atlanta area found that on days where levels of ozone and certain traffic pollutants were highest, the rate of children’s ER visits for asthma attacks also rose.
Kidney stones becoming more common in kids?
(Reuters Health) – The number of children treated for kidney stones at some U.S. hospitals has been on the rise over the past decade, for reasons that are not yet certain, according to a new study.
Kidney stones develop when the urine contains more crystal-forming substances — including calcium, uric acid and a compound called oxalate — than can be diluted by the available fluid. The stones usually cause no lingering damage, but can be painful to pass.
Cosmetic Procedures Up Overall, Steady for Teens
Rhinoplasty, Breast Reduction, Hair Removal Most Popular Procedures Among Teens
Aug. 3, 2010 — The number of cosmetic surgeries performed is rising overall, but the percentage of people aged 18 and younger choosing cosmetic procedures has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade. That’s according to a trends report of 2009 statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
The report showed that the most common cosmetic plastic surgical procedures for teens were rhinoplasty or nose reshaping, followed by breast reduction, correction of breast asymmetry, gynecomastia, in which breast development occurs in boys, and chin augmentation — often performed with rhinoplasty to achieve a balanced look in the face. The most common nonsurgical cosmetic procedures among teens were laser hair removal and chemical peels.
Brain Changes in Obese Kids With Diabetes Hinder Learning
Exercise, Weight Loss May Lessen Brain Effects, Researchers Say
Aug. 3, 2010 — Obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes may experience changes in their brains that affect how well they are learning in school, according to a new study published online in Diabetologia.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S, and as a result diseases that were previously seen only in adults are now increasingly being diagnosed in children. These diseases include high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Octogenarians have more heart surgery, live longer
(Reuters Health) – Heart surgery and the use of other invasive treatments have risen sharply in elderly people who’ve suffered a heart attack, Canadian researchers said Tuesday.
In addition, the number of deaths within one year of those heart attacks dropped by almost 10 percent between 1996 and 2006, data from Quebec hospital patients aged 80 and older show.
“Over the last decade we are doing procedures in patients once believed to be too old for these procedures,” said chest surgeon Dr. Mark R. Katlic, of Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the new study.
New Criteria for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Coming
Earlier Diagnosis Needed as New Drugs Come Down the Pike
Aug. 4, 2010 — The race is on to finalize proposed new ways to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early, even before any symptoms occur. The newly proposed diagnostic criteria were developed by experts from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association and cover three stages of the disease: pre-clinical Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s dementia.
Promising new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s are in the pipeline, which is why the researchers who are developing the new diagnostic criteria must hit the ground running, experts said during a media briefing sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. About 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, most of them aged 65 and older, according to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Low Blood Flow Ages Brain Faster
When Heart Pumps Less Blood, Brain May Be at Risk for Dementia
Aug. 2, 2010 — People whose hearts pump blood inefficiently may lose brain volume faster, putting them at risk for dementia, a new study indicates.
Researchers examined brain and heart MRI data on 1,504 patients without a history of neurologic disease enrolled in the Framingham Offspring Cohort study.
Resveratrol May Slow Aging in Humans
Plant Extract Resveratrol Suppresses Inflammation, Study Finds
Aug. 4, 2010 — The plant extract resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, appears to suppress inflammation and may fight aging in humans, according to a new study.
Common food sources of resveratrol include grapes, wine, peanuts, blueberries, and cranberries.
Study author Husam Ghanim, PhD, of the University of Buffalo says the popular plant extract has been shown to prolong life and reduce the rate of aging in roundworms, fruit flies, and yeast, apparently because resveratrol affects a gene associated with longevity.
Now, Ghanim and colleagues say they have found that resveratrol reduces inflammation in humans that could lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Internet Overuse May Cause Depression
Study: Teens Who Pathologically Use Internet May Be About 2.5 Times More Likely to Become Depressed
Aug. 2, 2010 — Teenagers who are addicted to the Internet are more likely to develop depression or other psychiatric problems than teens who are classified as normal Internet users, a new study says.
Researchers in Australia and China studied pathological or uncontrolled Internet use and later mental health problems in 1,041 teenage students in China. The students were free of depression and anxiety at the start of the study.
Study May Reveal New Coping Strategies for Cravings and Addiction
Aug. 2, 2010 — Regulating cravings to smoke a cigarette or eat junk food may involve the same mechanisms in the brain used to regulate emotions, a finding which could help develop coping strategies for people struggling with addiction.
This finding is based on brain scans collected from cigarette smokers.The researchers used cigarette smokers in their study because smoking is the most common form of substance use disorder in the United States and is a behavior that is also linked to cravings. The results of their research are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Brief Chat May Reduce Violent Behavior in Teens
Youths in ERs Benefit From Advice From Therapist or Computer
Aug. 3, 2010 — Brief interventions with teenagers who show up in emergency rooms may reduce alcohol-based violence, whether they talk to a therapist while in the ER or get advice via computer, a new study indicates.
Lead author Maureen A. Walton, PhD, MPH, of the University of Michigan, tells WebMD that “a brief intervention” reduced peer violence and the consequences of alcohol use in teens six months after they were interviewed in an emergency department.
Happiest People Shun Idleness, Keep Busy With Tasks, Study Finds
Aug. 3, 2010 — People who stay busy with tasks tend to be happier than idle folks, new research indicates.
Researchers at the University of Chicago and Shanghai Jiaotong University enrolled 98 college students to take part in experiments requiring them to either be idle for 15 minutes or take a walk before performing another task.
The students were instructed to fill out multiple confidential surveys about their school and were told they could do nothing else while doing so.
How You View Others Says a Lot About Self
What You Say About Others Reveals Clues About Your Own Personality, Researchers Say
Aug. 6, 2010 — You might want to think twice before you talk about others, because your words could reveal a lot about your own personality traits, even ones that you may not be aware of, or clues to whether you’re kind or mean.
That’s the finding of a new study, which concludes that the way you view others reflects a lot about who you are, including both good and bad characteristics.
“Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality,” says study researcher Dustin Wood, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University. “Seeing others positively reveals your own positive traits.”
Mediterranean diet tied to lower breast cancer risk
(Reuters Health) – Women who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause than women with different eating habits, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that among 14,800 Greek women followed for a decade, those who kept most closely to the region’s traditional diet were less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those whose eating habits were least Mediterranean-like.
High cholesterol dangerous in young adults, too
(Reuters) – Adults as young as 20 need pay attention to their cholesterol because unhealthy levels may already be damaging their arteries, researchers reported on Tuesday.
They followed a group of 18- to 30-year-olds for 20 years and found that higher cholesterol at a relatively early age increased the risk of heart disease and stroke later.
“We don’t usually worry too much about heart disease risk until a person is in middle age because it’s rare to have a heart attack in young adulthood,” said Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Low-Carb Diets Improve Cholesterol Long Term
Low-Carb Diet Edges Out Low-Fat Diet in Raising ‘Good’ Cholesterol
Aug. 2, 2010 — Low-carbohydrate weight loss diets have an edge over low-fat diets for improving HDL cholesterol levels long term, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Dieters who followed low-carb or low-fat plans for two years along with a lifestyle modification program lost the same amount of weight — on average about 7% of their body weight or 15 pounds.
But throughout the two-year study, low-carbohydrate dieters had significantly increased HDL, or “good,” cholesterol levels compared to low-fat dieters.
Danger Lurking in Some Dietary Supplements?
Consumer Reports ID’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ of ‘Dangerous’ Ingredients; Industry Takes Issue With Report
Aug. 3, 2010 — A dozen ingredients commonly found in dietary supplements should be avoided, according to a new report, because they are linked to cancer, coma, kidney and liver damage, heart problems, and death.
Compiled by Consumer Reports, the report singles out 12 dietary supplement ingredients termed the ”dirty dozen.” “The dozen we call out in this report are by no means the only dangerous ingredients,” Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor at Consumer Reports, tells WebMD. “They are the ones we chose to highlight.”
A spokesperson for the supplement industry calls the report ”a little bit sensationalized.”