Dr. Walt’s Take on the Health Headlines – May 26, 2008

Here are Dr. Walt’s comments on today’s health headlines

Bible guides some in fitness routines

In all of my Highly Healthy books, I discuss the responsibility of Christians to be good stewards of (1) their Treasure, (2) their Time, (3) their Talent, and (4) their Temple, based on the Biblical principle, “your body is a temple.”

This report reviews the fact that more and more faith communities are offering believers church-hosted group exercise classes and diet support groups, as well as community gyms that offer faith-based wellness and training programs.

Fortunately, churches are beginning to re-evaluate their not-so-highly-healthy potluck dinners overflowing with saturated-fat laden with fried foods and sugar-packed desserts.

One researcher has well-said, “Overeating may be one sin that pastors and priests regularly overlook … and as such, many firm believers may have not-so-firm bodies.”

The growing interest in churches for better eating and exercise, is one that goes back more than a century and a half. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) got its start in 1844 in London, “with an initial mission was to provide housing, prayer, and Bible study to young men who came to work there.”

The next area, in my opinion, in which churches should get more active, is in health screening.

Premature babies ‘need cuddles’

New research shows that even very premature babies benefit from skin to skin contact with their parents. This Canadian study showed that cuddling babies born as early as 28 weeks reduced the stress of painful medical procedures which many must undergo.

Those of us who care for children, know this same principle is true for children.

For that matter, husbands and wives also respond to hugs and cuddles.

However, this is the first study to look at this in extremely premature babies – those born between 28 and 31 weeks.

Just Like Skin, Eyes Can ‘Burn’ in Strong Sun

This report reminds us to put on a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when we’re outside in the sun – and be sure our children do the same.

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to a number of eye problems, such as age-related cataracts, pterygium, photokeratitis and corneal degenerative changes.

What may surprise many parents is the fact that children and teens are particularly susceptible to sun-related eye damage, because “they typically spend more time outdoors than adults, and the lenses of their eyes are more transparent than those of adults, which means that more harmful light can reach the retina.”

Dermatologists Make a Case Against Indoor Tanning

We’re heading toward the peak season for tanning salons. Every day, about one million people in the U.S. go to tanning salons. Most are young women ages 16 to 29.

Unfortunately, this is one habit that dramatically increases the risk of premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

This story reminds us that tanning booths are more dangerous than you think.

Dermatologists report seeing a dramatic increase in melanoma rates in young women. They say, “And the only behavior difference between young women and young men is the fact young women are four times more likely to go to a tanning salon.”

Is sex over? Badly hurt vets talk intimacy

My friend, Mitchell S. Tepper, who is the assistant project director at the Center of Excellence for Sexual Health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, organized this conference.

Tepper said badly injured patients are extremely interested in the subject, even if they’re shy about asking. He said studies of the general population of people with spinal cord injuries find that some rank the desire to have sex above the ability to walk again.

Healthy intimate relationships add meaning to life and can aid in recovery from other injuries, he said. And the loss of a relationship can be detrimental, even a factor in suicide.

According to the Veterans Affairs Department’s National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual dysfunction tends to be higher in combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder than in those without.

European Court to Decide if Chimp is a ‘Person’

Animal-rights activists from Austria are hoping to have a 26-year-old chimpanzee legally declared a person. Why? So, they say, it can be adopted.

Unbelievably, the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to monkey around with this not-so-gray-area of bioethics to hear this case.

Currently, Austrian law limits guardianship to humans. In my opinion, it should stay that way.

Wesley Smith, a thoughtful bioethicist points out, “(If) it happens … it will be a moral earthquake that will harm humankind profoundly.”

Some argue that “all animals (including humans) are equal.” To support that delusion, they have to totally discount and overlook one tiny little fact. Only one was created in the image of the Creator.

Daily Doses of Bach and Breathing Lower Blood Pressure

This study argues that we should each consider spending 30 minutes a day listening to “rhythmically homogeneous music,” combined with breathing exercises.

It’s only a small, randomized trial, but backs up my recommendations to my patients to spend some time each day listening to comforting music while meditating, reading the Bible, and/or journaling.

Not only is this healthful for the spirit and soul, but only one month of the daily music-breathing therapy was associated with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure.

FDA says nipple cream could harm infants

Breast-feeding moms should not buy or use Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream – as it contains ingredients chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol which could cause respiratory distress or vomiting and diarrhea in infants.

NYC issues warning after aphrodisiac kills man

Health officials are warning New Yorkers to stay away from an illegal aphrodisiac made from toad venom after the product apparently killed a man.

The product is sold under names including Piedra, Love Stone, Jamaican Stone, Black Stone and Chinese Rock at sex shops and neighborhood stores. It is banned by the Food and Drug Administration.

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