A Memorial Day Remembrance: Major Philip B. Larimore, Jr.

General Health
This weekend, many of us will gather with family and friends for barbecues and picnics to celebrate Memorial Day, the unofficial kickoff to summer. But, at some point between the hot dogs, hamburgers, and volleyball, I hope each of us will take time to reflect on what Memorial Day is really about – remembering the American soldiers who have lost their lives in battle to protect the freedoms so many of us take for granted. While Memorial Day is intended to honor our fallen, we should not forget those who have pledged to make the same sacrifice if called upon – the young men and women still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States and in more than 130 foreign lands. And, I want to take this opportunity to share…
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How to Keep Bugs Off This Memorial Day (and Summer)

Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer season for most of us. So, now that summer is officially here and everyone is spending some quality time outside -- which means protecting ourselves and our kids from mosquitoes and other insects. Bug bites are not only irritating, but can put you and your family at risk for all kinds of diseases, such as West Nile virus and malaria. CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton shared the best bug repellent products as judged by Consumer Reports to keep your family safe through this summer season. Ashton suggested these bug sprays: Off: Deep Woods Cutter Off: Smooth and Dry These sprays can give you up to eight hours of protection against mosquitoes, however, many products contain a chemical commonly used…
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Grilling This Memorial Day (and Summer)? Spices may play role in reducing cancer risk

Cancer, Nutritional Health
Researchers are reporting that adding certain spices to your steaks or burgers before tossing them on the grill this Memorial Day (and summer)  will not only add to the flavor of the meat, but may also cut the risk of cancer long associated with the cooking of beef. Here's a report from the AP: Scientists at Kansas State University found that three spices in particular — fingerroot, rosemary, and tumeric — seem to direct the greatest amount of antioxidant activity toward preventing the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs, they note, are the cancer-causing compounds that are produced when foods such as beef are barbecued, grilled, broiled or fried. Specifically, the three spices appeared to cut back on HCA production by upwards of 40%, the team observed, thereby significantly reducing…
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5 Skin Protection Tips For Memorial Day (and Summer)

Cancer, Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Whether you are light- or dark-skinned, whether it's cloudy or sunny outside, we physicians recommend you wear a sunscreen, and plenty of it. But, the simple act of preventing a sunburn while enjoying the sun has become complicated with questions about how much sunscreen to use (more than you think), how often to apply (frequently) and what those acronyms (UVA, UPF, SPF) mean. Here's a CNN article with helpful details: This week, the Environmental Working Group likened some sunscreens to "modern-day snake oil," calling most of the products ineffective and questioning their safety. It said that the products were "exposing people to potentially hazardous chemicals." The report did not appear in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Dermatologists say there is no evidence that sunscreen is unsafe and that going unprotected is much…
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Warning to Parents: Tobacco “candy” could poison your kids

Children's Health, Parenting
A scary report is out from Reuters Health claiming that thousands of young children are accidentally poisoned by tobacco products each year in the U.S., and new dissolvable tobacco products that resemble candy might pose an additional risk. Reuters reports: In a study of reports to U.S. poison control centers between 2006 and 2008, investigators found that 13,705 children younger than 6 were accidentally poisoned by tobacco products. Cigarettes were the most common culprit, followed by smokeless tobacco products, and more than 70 percent of the victims were infants younger than one year. The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics. In a baby or small child, even a small amount of nicotine, as little as 1 milligram, can cause nausea and vomiting. Larger doses could lead to weakness, convulsions or…
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So, just how much activity is needed to improve your health?

Children's Health, Heart Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
The government's latest physical activity guidelines recommend: Keep track by the week. Adults need at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types. These activities should be done in at least 10-minute bouts and can be spread throughout the week. Get more ambitious.For even more health benefits, engage in 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week or 2½ hours of vigorous activity. Strengthen those muscles.Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities at a moderate- or high-intensity level for all major muscle groups two or more days a week, including exercises for the chest, back, shoulders, upper legs, hips, abdomen and lower legs. The exercises can be done…
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Indulging in four unhealthy behaviors ages the average individual by 12 years

Heart Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
It is generally understood that being inactive, eating poorly, smoking, and drinking too much are bad – very bad – for your health. Now, a newly published study assesses and quantifies those behaviors. In short, "combine all of the above and you'll end up seeming 12 years older than people your age who do none of the above." That assertion is based on a study in which investigators "tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years," the AP reports. "Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors." That is, they smoked tobacco, had "more than three alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than two daily for women," attained "less than two hours of physical activity per week; and" ate "fruits and vegetables fewer than three times daily."…
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Overall survival rate for children with cancer approximately 80%

Cancer, Children's Health
The Wall Street Journal "Health Blog" reported that research published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology indicates that the overall survival rate for children with cancer is now approximately 80%. This is GREAT news. However, during the past 10-20 years, the five-year survival rates for most solid tumors in children and teenagers have not changed, but overall, we're curing more childhood cancer than we ever have in the past. Nevertheless, with many newer and more effective treatments available for kids, the researchers report that "when 1975 age-specific death rates for children are used as a baseline, approximately 38,000 childhood malignant cancer deaths were averted in the United States from 1975 through 2006 as a result of more effective treatments identified and applied during this period." The blog also included…
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Calcium and multivitamins may be linked to reduced breast cancer risk

General Health
Daily Calcium Plus Vitamin D Supplements May Reduce Fracture RiskBloomberg News reports that "calcium doesn't just build strong bones, it may fight cancer too," according to a study presented at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Investigators found "that women who took calcium had a 40% lower risk of getting breast cancer, while those getting multivitamins showed a 30% reduction in risk." These "data contradict results of a December 2008 trial that showed no reduction in cancer risk from vitamin supplements." HealthDay pointed out that "the authors of the study ... did not separate out which specific vitamins might be beneficial, but suggested that the interactions of different vitamins together might account for the beneficial effect." You can read a couple of my other posts about the benefits of…
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Hormone Therapy for Menopause Reviewed

Woman's Health
According to a new review of the role of perimenopausal hormone therapy published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, women must be informed of the potential benefits and risks of all treatment options for menopausal symptoms and concerns and should receive individualized care. Here's an update from MedPage. It's long, but very helpful: "With the first publication of the results of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial in 2002, the use of HT [hormone therapy] declined dramatically," write Jan L. Shifren, MD, and Isaac Schiff, MD, from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "Major health concerns of menopausal women include vasomotor symptoms, urogenital atrophy, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, cognition, and mood. ... Given recent findings, specifically regarding the effect of the timing of HT initiation on coronary heart disease…
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Trip to Italy – Our Last Day

Family Newsletter
1. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain 2. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine Finally, we’ve reached the final day of our Italian adventure – and Sunday in Rome is a wonderful way to do this. This morning we said good-bye to Massimo, our host at the Roman Residence, since we will likely be gone for the airport by the time he arrives tomorrow. We recommend him and his four-room hotel highly. Massimo could not have made us feel more at home (and even had a load of laundry done for us). Being a native, he can give you all the tips you need to know. We spent our last day here just…
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Trip to Italy – Day #15 – Rome Day #3

Family Newsletter, General Health
Rome is magnificent and brutal, painfully historical and modern, wonderfully peacefully and maddeningly bustling, captivating and repulsing ... at all at the same time. To us, it's not nearly as serene as Venice, nor as romantic as Florence, but it is more so than both a showcase of Western civilization. If you're careless you can be run over or pickpocketed. And, with the wrong attitude I suspect you could quickly become frustrated. As Rick Steves says, "While Paris is an urban garden, Rome is a magnificent tangled forest." But, we've found that with pacing and organization, you can love this jungle and find many, many treasures in her. Today, Sunday, May 22, we began our day at some beautiful, ancient churches not far from the train station (Santa Maria Maggiore,…
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Trip to Italy – Days #13-14 – Rome Days #1-2 – The Wedding

Family Newsletter
Yesterday, Thursday, May 20, we trained to Rome and then checked into the Roman Residence (where we stayed earlier in the trip). Massimo, the owner, warmly welcomed us back and had our very large and comfortable room ready for us, including the wedding clothes he had kept for us. After sprucing up a bit, we took the metro to a small trattoria not far from the Vatican and spent the afternoon with about 40 dear friends from Kissimmee and Orlando who were attending the wedding of the youngest daughter (Anne) of our dear friends, Dr. John and Cleta Hartman. John and I practiced family medicine together in Kissimmee, from 1985 - 2001, when we left Florida to join the staff of Focus on the Family. Before that, in 1978-1979, John…
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New research touts the benefits of marriage on health

Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Tara Parker-Pope, of the New York Times, recently did an excellent analysis on the topic of the effects of marriage on health. Parker-Pope reports, "Contemporary studies ... have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer, or have heart attacks." I wrote quite a bit about this phenomena in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy.  Now, a group of Swedish researchers has found that being married at midlife is also associated with a lower risk for dementia. Indeed, Parker-Pope writes, "for many years, studies like these have influenced both politics and policy, fueling national marriage-promotion efforts, like the Healthy Marriage Initiative of the US Department of Health and Human Services. From 2006 to 2010, the program received…
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Raw milk advocates and health officials step up dispute

Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
In the past, I've blogged about the potential dangers (including a few fatalities) from consuming or giving your children raw (unpasteurized) milk. Recently USA Today carried a reasonable review of the topic: Maybe you can't cry over spilled milk, but that doesn't mean you can't have big fights if it's unpasteurized. To a small but dedicated community, it's "raw milk," a life-giving, vitamin and enzyme-rich miracle cure for asthma, gastrointestinal disorders and multiple other illnesses. The viewpoint, championed in the past decade by the Weston A. Price Foundation, which follows the nutritional teachings of a mid-century Ohio dentist, has gained a life of its own on the Internet. To public health officials and state departments of agriculture, unpasteurized milk can be a dangerous, germ-ridden drink that is especially hazardous to…
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Unexpected Consequences of Twitter, Facebook, and the Self-Esteem Movement?

Children's Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Here's an interesting story that I've excerpted from an article, "Twitter and YouTube: Unexpected Consequences of the Self-Esteem Movement?" published in the Psychiatric Times. To Americans over 30, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are buzzwords that lack much meaning. But to those born between 1982 and 2001—often referred to as “millennials” or “Generation Y”—they are a part of everyday life. For the uninitiated, these Web sites are used for social networking and communication. They are also places where individuals can post pictures and news about themselves and express their opinions on everything from music to movies to politics. Some sites, such as YouTube, allow individuals to post videos of themselves, often creating enough “buzz” to drive hundreds and even thousands of viewers; in some instances, these videos create instant media…
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Trip to Italy – Day #12 – Florence Day #4

Family Newsletter
Our final day in Florence started out cool and crisp before a drizzle interrupted, but did not stop, our few remaining explorations. After a breakfast of cappuccino, croissants, and fruit, we were off the explore, starting with the Duomo Museum. Many of the statues and artifacts of the cathedral, have been replaced with replicas, while the originals have been restored and placed in this amazing museum that we quite enjoyed. One of our favorite exhibits was a choir balcony designed and sculpted by the then little-known young sculptor, Luca della Robbia. It was commissioned after almost 150 years of construction on the building. The choir box he designed was a balcony for singers next to the organ in the cathedral. The original panels of the box are at eye level…
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Trip to Italy – Day #11 – Florence Day #3

Family Newsletter
Ah ... a great night's sleep. GREAT night's sleep. Did I say, we slept great? Anyway, our new room was cool and quiet and comfortable. In fact, we slept in a bit longer than we had planned ... after all, what's a vacation for! Last night, after posting my blog to you, we both had a hankering to walk a bit. We took off to enjoy Florence at night. And, as beautiful as it is at day, at night it is even moreso. Magnifico! The Duomo, Campanile, and Baptistry of Santa Maria del Flore We finally ended up on the Republic Square and found a cafe for a light dinner. We people watched, were amused by street vendors and performers, enjoyed a delicious dinner of bruschetta, fresh baked bread dipped…
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Church health fairs help spot high blood pressure

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Churches and parish nurse programs have proven to be essential to the physical, emotional, relational, and, of course, spiritual health of their congregants. Now, new research shows that church health fairs are an effective way of identifying people with high blood pressure and making sure they get treatment. Here are the details in a report from Reuters Health: These fairs are a venue to get people from low-income immigrant communities into medical care, Dr. Arshiya A. Baig of the University of Chicago told Reuters Health. Baig and her team worked with a faith community nurse program in Los Angeles that runs clinics and provides community outreach. Registered nurses also partner with churches, holding office hours there and providing services. Baig and her team visited 26 health fairs in Los Angeles…
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Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement

Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
In my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy, I talk about "avoiding loneliness like the plague." (more information on the book and free resources at the end of this blog) In other words, I stress that a strong social network bodes well for golden years. Now, another study finds this to be true. Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News: It's said that one of the joys of old age is taking pleasure in your grandchildren, but an English research team begs to differ. An active social life, being married and having a partner who is also retired all make a huge difference in seniors' enjoyment of life, but having children or grandchildren matters little, the University of Greenwich team found in…
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Major medical organization endorses active surveillance for large numbers of prostate cancer patients

Cancer, Men's Health
The Chicago Tribune reported that "for the first time," active surveillance is "being  endorsed for large numbers of men by a major medical organization: the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 21 leading cancer centers across the US." According to "new guidelines," the approach is recommended "for men deemed to have 'very low risk' prostate cancer and a life expectancy of less than 20 years," as well as for those men whose "prostate cancer is considered 'low risk' and" have a "life expectancy" of "less than 10 years." In other words, "almost 40 percent of the 192,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year could qualify for active surveillance under those standards, said Dr. James Mohler," part of the "committee that prepared the guidelines." Researchers in Illinois conducting active surveillance…
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Trip to Italy – Day #10 – Florence Day #2

Family Newsletter
Buono journo, friends and vicarious travelers.  And, we hope your sleep last night was better than ours! We didn’t rest so well last night for three reasons: our legs ached (ibuprofen and a hot soak in the tub helped, the hotel air conditioner is not on (it was cold last week and being in a controlled architectural zone, they must obtain permission to change from the heat to the AC), and opening the window let in the cool air, but also all the street noise. Fortunately, this morning, after an excellent breakfast at the Albergotto Hotel, they upgraded us to a larger, cooler, and much nicer room (not that the last one was a bad room at all). In fact, this one is huge. Twelve foot ceilings and the room…
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Trip to Italy – Day #9 – Florence Day #1

Family Newsletter
We were awakened today, Sunday, May 16th, for our third bell cantata by the church bells in Vernazza. Packing and saying goodbye to our hosts, Andrea and Franca Maria, we walked up the street to our last breakfast with Jeff at the Blue Martin Bar. There are two things I need to say here. The ‘bars’ in Italy, like ‘pubs’ or ‘taverns’ in the UK, are family oriented establishments. Yes, alcohol is served, but in most, so is a simple menu and we enjoyed all our meals here. Secondly, in his travel guide about Italy, Rick Steves says he has never met an American male who married an Italian female. Well, Rick, you need to meet Jeff the next time you’re in Vernazza. Jeff was born in California, met his…
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Trip to Italy – Day #6 – Venice to Cinque Terre

Family Newsletter
This morning, Thursday, May 13, we left Venice early (745 am), via water taxi to the train station and caught the bullet train to Milan. After a brief layover, we caught a second train to La Spezia and then a local train to the tiny harborside village of Vernazza, a quaint and charming little hamlet of about 500 locals - arriving about 5 pm. (more…)
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Most St. John’s Wort Supplements Fail Quality Tests

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
As I report in my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The claims, the options, the evidence, how to choose wisely, St. John's wort can be a safe and effective antidepressant herb for mild to moderate depression. But, as I warned in my book, and as yet another independent quality testing lab reports, heavy metal contamination and low potency are still concerns. ConsumerLab reports, "St. John's wort has been shown to be effective in treating mild to moderate forms of major depression." But, the independent quality testing lab's newest report found that only a few of the herbal supplement brands recently tested met quality standards. Among the ten St. John's wort supplements selected for testing, only four (40%) met ConsumerLab.com’s quality standards. In other words, 60% of the brands tested FAILED quality…
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Let Your Kids Play Creatively and They Will Become Healthier Adults

Children's Health, Mental Health, Parenting
According to new research, we grown-ups need to encourage our kids to play. Indeed, children who engage in creative and active play may grow up to be healthier adults, suggests a British study. The finding comes from a study that involved 505 young adults who provided information about their health and their childhood play experiences. Here are the details from HealthDay News: Four types of play were found to be associated in different ways with adult health, said the University of Ulster researchers. Higher levels of creative play in childhood predicted good adult health habits, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. More active play in childhood was associated with better overall health and more exercise in adulthood. Adults who had restrictions on play -- such as less…
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A Simple ‘Thank You’ Brings Rewards to All

Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Expressing gratitude benefits both you and the person being thanked, a new study finds. This new research backs up the studies I discuss in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. I discuss how an attitude of gratitude not only can result in a more highly healthy you, but even increase the health of those around you. More details on my book at the end of the blog, but here are the details of the study from HealthDay News: (more…)
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