“Christmas Firsts” – A Christmas story from “Bryson City Seasons”

General Health
My most popular books, at least based upon sales and letters, are the Bryson City series, made up of: Bryson City Tales: Stories of a Doctor's First Year of Practice in the Smoky Mountains (read a chapter here) Bryson City Seasons: More Tales of a Doctors Practice in the Smoky Mountains (read a chapter here) Bryson City Secrets: Even More Tales of a Small-Town Doctor in the Smoky Mountains (read a chapter here) In the second book in this series, Bryson City Seasons, I published an account of caring for my first patient with HIV/AIDS (even before that horrible disease was named). It was in December 1982 and occurred in Bryson City, North Carolina. I've excerpted the story for you and hope it will be a Christmas blessing for you and…
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How to begin a personal relationship with God

General Health
One of the joys of being a Christian family physician is being able to discover where my patients are on their personal spiritual journeys. I'm delighted when I can pray with and for them. And, it is a special privilege, on occasion, to guide them in beginning a personal relationship with God. So, just how do I advise them. And, if you are interested in the same, just how does one begin a personal relationship with God? Is it based upon devoting yourself to unselfish religious deeds? Is it based upon becoming a better person so that God will accept you? Nope, I do not believe it is based on either of these. However, God has made it very clear in the Bible how we can know Him personally. And,…
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Pack Right for the Holidays to Avoid the ER

General Health
HealthDay News reports "there may be nothing wrong with stuffing your turkey full to bursting, but you might not want to do the same thing with your suitcase as you pack for holiday trips." They go on to say: More than 53,000 people were treated in 2008 in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical facilities for luggage-related injuries, such as muscle strains, pulls and tears, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Lifting and carrying luggage that is too big or heavy for a person's size and frame can put serious strains on your body," Dr. Jeffrey A. Fried, an orthopedic surgeon and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said in a news release from the academy. "To minimize any damage to your…
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How to help kids follow a healthy diet even over holidays

Children's Health, Parenting
The AP is carrying a very well done story on how we, as parents, can help our children with more healthful nutrition during the holidays: Pam Vetter's 15-year-old son balked when she told him she was opting for a healthier holiday season this year: fish rather than turkey, fewer carbs and sweets. He threatened to purchase a turkey, stuffing, potatoes and pies and put together his own traditional meal. "It's a moral challenge," said Vetter, 44, a nonreligious celebrant in West Hills, Calif., who conducts funerals. She also has a 14-year-old son. "Do you make part of your family angry for the holiday season by cutting out the carbs and sweets?" Many parents are trying to figure out how to have a healthier holiday without depriving their kids of Christmas cookies,…
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Tips for Avoiding Holiday Back Pain

General Health
Planning on shopping 'til you drop? CBS News reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over 50,000 people every year sustain some sort of winter-related back injury, and 5,800 of those are holiday decorating-related. Your back could sustain all sorts of strain from carrying heavy purchases, and from the increased stress of lugging suitcases, decorations and gifts. Primary care physician Dr. Alanna Levine spoke to Debbye Turner Bell on CBS' "The Early Show" about how your protect your back this holiday season. The first tip Dr. Levine gave was about carrying heavy shopping bags. Smaller bags, she said, are better. "You don't want to load everything up into one bag and lug it around," Dr. Levine explained. "You want to distribute the weight on your body." She also…
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Head of Christian Doctors Group Quits AMA Over Pro-Abortion Advocacy

Bioethics
I received an announcement this morning from my dear friend, David Stevens, MD, announcing something that is coming as a surprise to many -- his resignation from the AMA. Resignations from the AMA are not really the fodder for news stories or blogs, except when the person resigning is the CEO of a national organization for Christian physicians and healthcare professionals. Dr. Stevens heads the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association, and is contending the AMA has become a pro-abortion advocacy group. Stevens told LifeNews.com on Tuesday that he is canceling his membership in the American Medical Association as a way of publicly protesting what he says is the AMA’s control by special interests that do not represent most physicians. The AMA has come under fire for endorsing healthcare overhaul legislation after…
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MEDIA ALERT: Dr. Walt and Barb to be featured on Focus on the Family Wednesday, December 16, 2009

General Health, Marriage and Family Health
Barb and I have just learned that an interview we did with Dr. James Dobson for his daily international Focus on the Family radio broadcast has been selected among "The Best of 2009." The broadcast was titled, "Differences That Strengthen a Marriage" and will be broadcast on Wednesday, December 16, 2009. This is from the FOTF website: Dr. Walt Larimore and his wife, Barbara, offer insight to couples in a discussion based on their book His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen a Marriage. On or after December 16, 2009, you can listen to a replay of the broadcast here. Or, you can find a local station on which to listen to the broadcast here. If you would like to order an autographed (and personalized) copies of…
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Join Dr. Walt and Barb in saying thanks to our military in Iraq

General Health
Hundreds of you joined Barb and me last Christmas in sending "Thank You" post cards to our military men and women overseas. The program, sponsored by Xerox, is starting once again. If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is completely FREE and will only take you a moment or two of your time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every soldier, marine, airman, and sailor received a bunch of these?…
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Holiday Eating Without the Guilt – or the Pounds

Nutritional Health
If you love those holiday smorgasbords, but are already stressing about the added pounds you'll have to sweat off come Jan. 1, help is at hand from a report on Health on the Net: It's possible, say nutrition experts, to enjoy holiday eating and make it to 2010 weighing the same as you do today. It's all about devising a strategy and thinking about holiday food just a little differently, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, and Julie Redfern, manager of the Nutrition Consult Services at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Both are registered dietitians who shared their best holiday eating tips. First, have a plan . Ponder it before family dinners and parties, said Redfern. For instance, you may decide before…
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Breastfeeding offers women long-term protection against metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis

Cancer, Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
We all know that breastfeeding has myriad benefits for the baby. Breastfeeding reduces babies' risk of these diseases by these percentages: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):  36% Type 1 Diabetes:  19-27% Type 2 Diabetes:  39% Leukemia (acute lymphocytic) :  19% Leukemia (acute myelogenous):  15% Asthma:  27% Gastrointestinal infections:  64% Lower respiratory tract diseases:  72% Atopic dermatitis:  42% Acute otitis media:  50% We know that breastfeeding has psychological benefits for the mother -- and that there are physical benefits for the mother including the fact that it is easier for a breastfeeding mother to loose weight after the birth and breast feeding helps reduce the risk of some types of cancer by these percentages: And breastfeeding reduces mothers' risk of these diseases by: Type 2 Diabetes:  4-12% Ovarian cancer:  21% Breast cancer:  28%…
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Study shows no link between increased cell phone use and brain cancer incidence

General Health
The first week of December, most new outlets reported, as did NBC Nightly News on 12/3, "There's been speculation for years that there's been a link between" cell phones and brain cancer, but "the results of a very large, very long study of just about everybody in Scandinavia found no link." This is great news for all of us who use cell phones. USA Today reported that, according to the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found "no link between rising cell phone use and rates of brain cancer." The finding is "consistent with most other studies," but Melissa Bondy, of MD Anderson Cancer Center, noted that "even if the study had found an increase in brain tumor rates," cell phones may not be "to…
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Nicotine patches and gum likely safe during pregnancy

Woman's Health
Nicotine patches and gum seem to be safe and effective in pregnant women, according to a new study. Such patches and gum have been shown to help non-pregnant adults stop smoking, study co-author Dr. Geeta K. Swamy told Reuters Health. However, women and their physicians have been uncertain about their safety and effectiveness during pregnancy. Reuters Health reports Dr. Swamy, from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues took another look at data on pregnant smokers who had participated in a study comparing psychological treatments with nicotine patches or gum to help them quit. Adding nicotine patches or gum tripled the number of women who quit, from 8 percent to 24 percent. However, almost a third, 31%, of the women who used the patch or gum had…
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Nicotine Patch Plus Lozenge Best Therapy for Smoking Cessation

Cancer, Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
MedScape is reporting "An important head-to-head study of smoking cessation therapies shows that combination treatment with a nicotine patch plus lozenge almost doubles the rate of abstinence at 6 months compared with placebo, new research suggests." "This is the first time that a head-to-head study has been done looking at all the different smoking cessation pharmacotherapies, and it's also one of the first times that combination therapies have been looked at in a large sample," said lead author Megan E. Piper, PhD, assistant professor, Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison. "When you get a 40% quit rate at 6 months in a group, that's really promising for smokers who are trying so hard to quit." The study was published in…
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Larimore Family Newsletter – December 2009 Edition

General Health
Here is the Table of Contents for the December edition of our Family Newsletter: Family Update Great Christmas Gift Ideas Personalized and Autographed Books Available Several Books on Clearance Sale for $4.99 (plus shipping) TSI: The Gabon Virus – Copies Autographed by Both Authors available Publication Update Lintball Leo: The book that thought it could. Dr. Walt interviewed for Examiner Article on STDs in Teens Broadcast Update Dr. Walt and Barb’s Focus on the Family Interview in the “Best of 2009” Events of the last month Upcoming Events Family Update Barb, Kate, and I were able to spend my favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving, with son Scott, his wife, Jennifer, and their girls. Sarah Elisabeth, who was born premature at 35 weeks is doing incredibly well. And her older…
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Doctors Not Giving Clear Advice on Infant Sleep Positions

Children's Health, Parenting
A HealthDay News report led me to some new research that has found that although far more caregivers now place babies on their backs to sleep -- a practice that reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) -- that encouraging trend has leveled off since 2001. The study also shows that black mothers and caregivers are more likely than whites to place infants on their stomachs to sleep. But among all races, the most common reasons for using the stomach position were concerns about infant choking and infant comfort, said Dr. Eve Colson, lead author of the study published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine . "It also still looks like the really important thing is that they get very specific advice…
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Chelation therapy for autism not only potentially harmful, it’s based on faulty premise

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
No treatment is more emblematic of the world of alternative therapies for autism than chelation. The influential autism recovery group, Defeat Autism Now, calls removing metals from the body "one of the most beneficial treatments for autism and related disorders." Chelation is one of the highest-rated treatments on the parent survey of the nonprofit Autism Research Institute, the parent organization of Defeat Autism Now. Parents trade stories and advice about chelation on large Internet groups. One Yahoo group has more than 8,000 members. The treatment takes many forms, including creams for the skin, capsules, suppositories and intravenous infusions of powerful medicines usually reserved for people with severe metal poisoning. Families often embark on this course after seeing test results that make children with autism look like they spend their days…
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Many autism therapies are unproven and risky

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, Parenting
In a gripping series exploring autism and its treatments, the Los Angeles Times reports that "after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children." According to results of the investigation, "the therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly," with many being "unproven and risky, based on flawed, preliminary or misconstrued scientific research." Moreover, "lab tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted," and "the few clinical trials conducted to evaluate the treatments objectively" have yielded "disappointing results." The  Times reports that "up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies." While some…
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The Essential Role of the Father (and a Doula) in Childbirth — “Let my people go!”

Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
In the 1990s, I published a number of papers in the medical and birthing literature to help birthing families design and experience safer and more satisfying birthing experiences. On of the articles I published was for a midwifery journal on the issue of whether the father of the baby should be in the delivery room or not  (Larimore WL. The Role of the Father in Childbirth. Midwifery Today. Issue No. 51, Autumn, 1999, 15-7). Here's the text of that original article: During the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the earliest days of fathers' involvement in childbirth in America, men were expected to be intimately involved as advisors, coaches and decision-makers for the woman (Simpkin, P., 1992). However, experienced birth observers commented that few men seemed to be comfortably, confidently, and…
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Should dads be in labor and delivery?

Parenting, Woman's Health
Ten years ago I published an article for a midwifery journal on the issue of whether the father of the baby should be in the delivery room or not  (Larimore WL. The Role of the Father in Childbirth. Midwifery Today. Issue No. 51, Autumn, 1999, 15-7). I've reprinted the original article here in the post, "The Essential Role of the Father (and a Doula) in Childbirth — 'Let my people go!'" In that article, I concluded: Recognizing the potential strengths and weakness of the father’s role along with the role the father desires during the birth process (coach, teammate or witness) will facilitate the effectiveness of the entire support team and the outcomes the birth family will experience. Giving the father the freedom to be comfortable and the permission to…
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How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 13 – Summary

Woman's Health
This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. In past blogs we’ve looked at my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer. In this blog I’ll present some summary comments. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. Summary One critical review summed it up by stating, “Doing everything for everyone is neither tenable nor desirable. What is done should be inspired by compassion and guided by science ... As(care givers), we are ethically bound to be sure that the tests, procedures, and treatments we provide are worth the money, pain, and inconvenience that…
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If safer toys are on shelves this year, how can you find them?

Children's Health, Parenting
In general, parents shopping for children this holiday season can be confident that toys on the shelves are safer than they have been in the past, at least according to a report by ABC News. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had 38 toy recalls this year, down from 162 in 2008 and 148 in 2007, when 45 million toys were recalled and the public demanded stronger laws and better enforcement. But not all toys on shelves are safe, and parents still need to be vigilant. "We are seeing progress, but there's no magic wand you can wave to improve the CPSC overnight," Elizabeth Hitchcock, a public-health advocate with US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), which released its 24th "Trouble in Toyland" report on Tuesday, told ABC News. It's…
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NOW the healthcare reform debate begins

Bioethics, Medical Economics
Healthcare Reform that Most Americans Support Christian Medical Association Labels House Healthcare Bill an “Overdose” That Threatens Patient-Physician Relationship Yesterday, the United States Senate began debating Harry Reid’s 2,074-page healthcare “reform” bill. Declaring that the nation is facing a “real crisis,” Reid warned senators that they would be working Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the year in order to finish the debate as quickly as possible. Should Reid’s legislation become law, the “reforms” wouldn’t take effect until 2014. So much for the crisis. But you will start paying higher taxes next year. The Democrats are determined to pass healthcare “reform,” but the American people are increasingly skeptical of their judgment. A Gallup poll released yesterday finds declining support for fake healthcare “reform.” Gallup found that since October, support…
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Newly released test show most Milk Thistle supplements are substandard

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
White Plains, New York — December 2, 2009 — A recent review by ConsumerLab.com of ten milk thistle supplements showed that only one met ConsumerLab.com’s quality standards.  Two products failed to properly list the part of the milk thistle plant used -- a FDA requirement.  Among the remaining supplements, only one contained the expected amount of silymarin compounds, which are believed to be the active constituents of milk thistle. Studies suggest silymarin may be helpful in type 2 diabetes and, possibly, certain liver conditions.  While most products claimed that their milk thistle extracts were standardized to 80% silymarin, ConsumerLab.com found actual amounts to range from 47% to 67%.  Sales of milk thistle in the U.S. have climbed for several years, reaching $95 million in 2008 according to the latest figures…
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Herbal remedies need real regulation

Alternative Medicine
In my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I explain the reasons that natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) received so little regulation in the United States, and the many problems this causes for health consumers. Now, David Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and the editor of frumforum.com, has weighed in with a thoughtful article on CNN: Did you know that there exists an all-natural remedy for memory loss? Weight gain? Macular degeneration? Prostate enlargement? These products are so successful that clinical testing has already begun! Just listen to the following testimonial from an unidentified person ... As these ads blare at you from your favorite AM radio station, perhaps you wonder: How…
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Some herbal supplements associated with dangerous blood lead levels in women

Alternative Medicine
Reuters Health carried a very interesting report indicating that some herbal supplements may boost the levels of lead in the blood of women. A study, published in November showed that among 12,807 men and women age 20 and older, by Dr. Catherine Buettner, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues found blood lead levels about 10 percent higher in women, but not men, who used specific herbal supplements. When they examined herbal supplement use among women of reproductive age (age 16 to 45 years old), "the relationship with lead levels was even stronger, with lead levels 20 percent higher overall, and up to 40 percent higher among users of select herbal supplements compared to non-users," they report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Lead accumulates…
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Experts: Placebo effect behind many ‘natural’ cures

Alternative Medicine
We've known for years, that when it comes to doing randomized controlled trials of natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) as well as alternative therapies (everything from acupressure to zen), that the people in the placebo end of the study have very high, albeit short-lived, response rates. The reason, according to an article in USA Today can be based upon two words: "I believe." Here's the article: It's the placebo effect — the ability of a dummy pill or a faked treatment to make people feel better, just because they expect that it will. It's the mind's ability to alter physical symptoms, such as pain, anxiety and fatigue. In just the past few weeks, the placebo effect has demonstrated its healing powers. In tests of a new drug to relieve…
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Give Thanksgiving leftovers a healthy and delicious overhaul

Nutritional Health
One of the wonderful things about Thanksgiving dinner is there are often lots of delicious leftovers. You can just warm up a few of your favorite dishes or make a simple turkey sandwich. But for healthful alternatives, USA Today asked the Food Network's Ellie Krieger, the editors of EatingWell and Cooking Light to share some nutritious recipes that use Thanksgiving leftovers. I hope you try them out. Greek salad pitas with feta spread and turkey Ingredients: 3 tbsp non-fat plain yogurt 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 2 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 4 whole-wheat pita breads 4 large pieces of romaine lettuce, torn in half 1 English cucumber, sliced into half moons ¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves ¾…
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Spare the Rod? Is Spanking a Child Harmful or Helpful? – Part 11 – Is spanking ever necessary?

Children's Health, Parenting
Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, to look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the last of my 12 part series on the topic Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary. Counterpoint: All children need a combination of encouragement and correction as they are disciplined to become socially responsible individuals. In order for correction to deter disobedient behavior, the consequence imposed upon the child must outweigh the pleasure of the disobedient act. For very compliant children,…
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How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 12 – Prayer

Woman's Health
This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. Today we’ll look at the tenth “P” of my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer — prayer. Although labor and delivery has been considered a “spiritual event” by midwives at least since the publication of Spiritual Midwifery(82) in the 1960’s, there is some recent literature that looks at the influence of spiritual beliefs on labor and delivery outcomes. One study which examined whether family physicians were aware or not of their patient’s spiritual belief systems stated, “these results…
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