High meat diet ‘linked to early periods’

Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
In my book, God's Design for the Highly Healthy Teen, I discuss the disturbing phenomena of young girls having their periods at younger and younger ages. Researchers have postulated all sorts of reasons for the, but now a study suggests that girls who eat a lot of meat during childhood tend to start their periods earlier than others. UK researchers compared the diets of more than 3,000 12-year-old girls. They found high meat consumption at age three (over eight portions a week) and age seven (12 portions) was strongly linked with early periods. Here are the details from a BBC report: Writing in Public Health Nutrition, the researchers said a meat-rich diet might prepare the body for pregnancy, triggering an earlier puberty. During the 20th Century, the average age at which…
Read More

Mediterranean diet also helps existing heart disease

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Eating a Mediterranean-style diet can help heart patients stay healthy, new research from Greece shows. The Mediterranean diet, which I recommend in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, involves eating lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, vegetable and olive oils, no-fat dairy products, legumes, whole grains, and fish, and has been shown to help shield people from heart disease and also ward off certain cancers. But less information is available on whether the Mediterranean diet might be helpful for people who already have heart disease. According to a report in Reuters Health, to investigate this, Chrysohoou and her team looked at 1,000 patients who had suffered heart attacks or severe chest pain while at rest or with only light exertion. They rated each patient on a scale of…
Read More

Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller

General Health
In my book, Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely, I have a chapter discussing acupuncture in which we conclude: Despite its limited effectiveness, acupuncture’s low cost and relative safety can make it a viable option Despite its limited effectiveness, acupuncture’s low cost and relative safety can make it a viable option for some conditions, such as pain relief after dental procedures and the reduction of nausea and vomit- ing after chemotherapy or surgery. Now, according to a report in HealthDay News, "Needle insertion stimulates production of chemical known to reduce discomfort, scientists say." This may now explain how acupuncture works. Here are the details: The needle pricks involved in acupuncture may help relieve pain by triggering a natural painkilling chemical called adenosine, a new study…
Read More

Defeating the Lice Without Emptying Your Wallet

Children's Health, Parenting
It's an unfortunate fact of life. If your children go to school or camp, they will each almost certainly end up with at least one case of head lice during their childhood years. So, here is a great article about treatment options that I found in the New York Times: Between six million and 12 million children a year become infected with lice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The tiny bugs, no bigger than a sesame seed, spread easily among children ages 3 to 11, who are likely to come into close head-to-head contact with one another or share hats, headbands and the like. Although head lice pose no health threat, they can be an expensive, creepy nuisance. Some estimates put the cost of…
Read More

The Amazing Story of Anastasha – Part 4

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
I don't have any medical updates this week from Craig and Tonya DeLisi about their unborn child Anastasha. Those of you following their journey know that Anastasha has been diagnosed, via ultrasound, with anencephaly. There is no cure or treatment for anencephaly. Most anencephalic children do not survive birth. If the infant is not stillborn, then she will usually pass on within a few hours or days after birth. In the first three parts of this amazing story, Dr. DeLisi bravely shared with us how he and his family are wrestling with this tragic news. Their faith has shone through his writings. Now he writes: This song was written by one of the singers from Selah, a contemporary Christian group.  A few years ago she (the writer and singer of the…
Read More

Kitchen Spoons Dole Out Dangerous Overdoses to Kids

Children's Health, Parenting
For years I've told parents in my practice that kitchen teaspoons and tablespoons are highly inaccurate in dispensing medicine to kids. I have always recommended using an inexpensive oral syringe for dosing pediatric medications. Now comes study warning that using these kitchen spoons to dispense medicine to children can cause dangerous overdoses. Researchers from Greece and Boston examined 71 teaspoons and 49 tablespoons that they collected from households in the Attica region of Greece, which includes Athens, and found that the capacities of the spoons varied widely. Here are the details from a report from Web MD: The variation in Teaspoon capacity ranged from 0.08 to 0.25 of an ounce, with an average volume of 0.15 of an ounce. The capacity of tablespoons ranged from 0.23 to 0.45 of an…
Read More

Whooping Cough Epidemic Hits California: Six Babies Die

Children's Health, Parenting
In several of my past blogs, including two earlier this week (Low immunization rates linked to epidemic spread of whooping cough and Parents who refuse vaccines put other people’s children in harm’s way), I've warned of the potential dangers, including death, that can occur among unvaccinated children. Now, we're learning that children are beginning to die in California's whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic. Unfortunately, there may be more in future days. My recommendation? (1) Be sure your children are up to date on all of their vaccines. If you're concerned about the vaccine "scare stories" or "myths," take a look at my blog series on "vaccine myths." (2) Be sure that all adolescents and adults in your family get the Dtap (diptheria, tetanus, and acellular [purified] pertussis [whooping cough]) vaccine (even if…
Read More

Letter from Professor about the Family Physician Academy and Coke

Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Obesity, Parenting
In a past blog of mine (Partnership Between Family Physicians and Coca-Cola Poses Ethical Problem) I wrote, "What does my national academy of family physicians, the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians), and Coca-Cola have in common? The common sense answer should be, 'Nothing.' The actual answer is, '$500,000.' Ouch!" Now, the family medicine professor I featured in the previous blog has written the following to me. I'd be interested in your take, dear reader, on this issue: Dear Walt, Partnership Between Family Physicians and Coca-Cola Poses Ethical Problem As a fellow family physician, I am sure you know about the AAFP's decision to accept money from Coca Cola to develop "health education materials" regarding beverages, hydration and sweeteners on familydoctor.org. True to their word, they have done this. What…
Read More

Choosing the Best Sunscreen – Consumer Reports Recommendations

Cancer, Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
With summer upon us, it's time to stock up on sunscreen for the season. To help navigate the vast selection crowding store shelves and to ensure you're getting the best protection against, sunburn and skin cancer, Consumer Reports Health has released its list of top-rated sunscreens. And, here are the details from a report on AOL: Consumer Reports analyzed how well 12 different sprays, lotions and creams blocked both UVA and UVB rays, and tested whether their claimed sun protection factor (SPF) -- the measure of UVB protection -- held up on volunteers who soaked in water while wearing the sunscreen. Four of those tied for best overall score: Up & Up Sport Continuous SPF 30 (Target) Walgreens Sport Continuous SPF 50 Banana Boat Sport Performance Continuous SPF 30 Aveeno…
Read More

Choosing the Best Sunscreen – Health Magazine Recommendations

Cancer, Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
If you're heading outside this summer, bring sunscreen. But with so many choices on the shelves, how can you choose which one is best for you and your family? Here's a great report adapted from ABC News that will help: Sunscreen spray has become the most user-friendly these days, but many still cling to their lotions. "It's all about personal preference," said Frances Largeman-Roth, a senior editor for Health magazine. She tested sunscreen products and compiled a list that will keep you and your family safe from the sun's rays. Largeman-Roth said, "The Banana Boat Ultra Defense SPF 85, we loved it because it absorbs on contact and it's a continuous spray. So if you have little kids who love to run away from you when you put the sunscreen on, just…
Read More

No evidence sunscreen use promotes skin cancer

Cancer, Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
On the NBC Nightly News (May 25, 2010), NBC medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman, MD, discussed sunscreen use, disputing a charge made by an environmental group that sunscreens containing vitamin A may increase the chance of developing skin cancer. After pointing out that the study to which the group referred was performed on mice, Dr. Snyderman stated, "I don't see any evidence or proof that the use of sunscreens causes or promotes skin cancer" in humans. She went on to advise viewers to wear sunscreen while outdoors and to look for products that protect against "UVA and UVB rays that cause skin cancer and ... wrinkles." She added, and I agree, "Anything over an SPF of 50, you're probably wasting your money."
Read More

Poll: Too many Americans not using sunscreen

Cancer, Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Even as summer temperatures soar, Americans are turning a cold shoulder to sunscreen, according to a poll released recently. According to a report in Reuters Health: Only one-fifth of Americans wear sunscreen before going outside most days during the summer and just under one-third apply it even a few days during the season, according to the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. Despite the attention of the healthcare industry on the role of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer, about 40 percent of Americans never apply sunscreen at all before going out and only 9 percent wear it everyday, the poll of 1,004 people, showed. One of the regions with the lowest use of sunscreen was the South, where 46 percent of people said they never using sunscreen at all during the summer.…
Read More

Parents who refuse vaccines put other people’s children in harm’s way

Children's Health, Parenting
For quite some time, I'd warned parents that not vaccinating their children is not only potentially harmful (or fatal) to their children, but also the children in your neighborhood or your children's school. Now, an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times backs up my contention. Pamela Nguyen, of UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital, points out that, according to CDC data, "there were 197,000 measles deaths worldwide" in 2007. And, virtually all of the cases were in unvaccinated children. The following year, Dr. Nguyen writes, "a seven-year-old unvaccinated child who was exposed to the virus while abroad" and ignited an outbreak in San Diego among mostly unvaccinated children. Still, she writes, "many parents continue not to vaccinate their children." Some believe certain "vaccine-preventable diseases" are "no longer a threat," while "parents in…
Read More

Study indicates separate MMR, chickenpox shots may be safer

Children's Health, Parenting
I hope you're not getting too tired of all the vaccine-related blogs of today and Monday. Not to worry, on Friday I'll post several blogs for adults and parents about sunscreens. Anyway, the Los Angeles Times is reporting, "Children who receive a single vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox appear to have an increased risk of fever-related seizures in the days after the shot than do children who receive two separate vaccinations." The Times notes that "a combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (commonly known as chicken pox) was approved for use in 2005, providing an option for parents who wanted to stick one fewer needle in their small children." But, "a new analysis from the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center ... hows…
Read More

Low immunization rates linked to epidemic spread of whooping cough

Children's Health, Parenting
Barb, my wife, reported to me that friends who are expecting a baby very soon, have informed those who may be visiting or caring for the baby, including grandparents, be immunized against whooping cough (pertussis). Barb asked me, "Is that reasonable?" "Absolutely," I replied. I believe it is the parents' responsibility to provide a bubble of protection around their newborn. The hospital requires nurses and doctors who care for babies to have a variety of immunizations. And, it's past time for parents to do the same (for themselves and care providers). We doctors certainly do the same thing each flu season. Since babies cannot get the flu shot until they are 6 months old, the only protection they have is for their care givers to be immunized. The same with…
Read More

The Amazing Story of Anastasha – Part 3

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
Thanks to Dr. Steiner and Kate for thoughtful and encouraging comments on Part 2 of Anastasha's story. You can find their comments here. I'm hoping others of you will comment as Dr. DeLisi shares more in the future. I admire his courage in opening this painful door into his, Tonya's, and their children's lives. I hope you'll keep them in your prayers. Here is the latest I have from Craig who is asking each of us (and society) some very important questions: Viability. This week Anastasha is 24 weeks old in Tonya’s womb. This is (roughly) considered the time when a baby’s lungs are at the minimum maturity for her life to be sustained outside the womb. Anytime before 22/23 weeks is considered incompatible with survival if an infant is born.…
Read More

Sugar Before Shots Reduces Discomfort for Infants

Children's Health, Parenting
A new review is reporting that fewer tears are shed by babies when they get a sweet solution before injections. A report in HealthDay News says, "A sugar solution appears to help babies tolerate immunizations and get through the pain, researchers have found." I've been doing this for years in my practice, but wanted to be sure that you knew of this new review. In fact, the approach works so well that the new report is recommending that doctors and nurses consider giving a sweet solution to all babies before immunization in children 1 month to 1 year old. Previous research has shown that a small amount of sucrose or glucose -- a few drops to half a teaspoon -- in a solution can reduce pain. In the new report, released in…
Read More

Delaying childhood vaccinations offer no benefit to children, and may be harmful

Children's Health, Parenting
I’ve written in the past about the debate between doctors about delaying vaccines. This debate is based upon the fears among some parents that the current regimen of infant vaccinations involves too many vaccines too soon. Then, to add to these fears came Dr. Robert Sears, a pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, Calif., who in October 2007, published “The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child.” Included in Sears’ book was an alternative vaccine schedule that would allow parents to delay – and in some cases completely avoid – many vaccines for their children. In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued its updated childhood vaccination schedule, along with an article that deconstructs Sears’ popular and very controversial “delayed vaccine” schedule. Now to add to the AAP’s recommendations is…
Read More

Several vaccines at once absolutely OK for kids’ brains: Study

Children's Health, Parenting
Reuters Health has a report saying, "Parents can rest assured that getting kids their vaccine shots on time will not hurt their mental skills later on." Here are more details from Reuters: "A lot of parents are concerned that children receive too many vaccines too soon," said Dr. Michael J. Smith, of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. Some parents skip recommended vaccines out of fear of autism, for instance, and some choose to space out shots Although there is no evidence that would be safer, Smith said, he wanted to study the issue to address parents' concerns. So he and a colleague tapped into data from more than 1,000 preteen kids who had undergone extensive psychological tests of IQ, memory, attention, and language. Then they divided the…
Read More

Coffee’s endless health debate is grounded in fact

Heart Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health
Today, I have three blogs to encourage all of you who, when you wake up at the crack of dawn each day need your coffee. Some of you think it's healthy. Some of you worry it may not be. So, I hope these blogs will bring you the latest "medical news that you can use" on the health benefits and risks of a beverage that's chock full of antioxidants ... coffee. This first blog report is an excellent review of the published data published in USA Today: "I'm up every morning by 5 o'clock. Coffee gets the energy going," says the owner of Natalia's Elegant Creations in Falls Church, Va. Kost-Lupichuk is among 56% of American adults who drink coffee regularly, the National Coffee Association says. Though many refer to their java…
Read More

Coffee may have perks for longer living

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Drinking up to six cups of coffee a day may lower the overall odds of dying prematurely, mainly because it cuts the risk of dying from heart disease, a recent study suggests. But the study found that heavy coffee drinking doesn't cut your chance of dying from cancer. "Our results suggest that long-term, regular coffee consumption has several beneficial health effects," says Esther Lopez-Garcia, lead author of the Harvard School of Public Health report. Here are more details contained in a report from USA Today: The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, examines the relationship between coffee and mortality. It is based on the coffee drinking habits of 41,736 men and 86,216 women with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer. The men were followed for 18…
Read More

Tea and coffee ‘protect against heart disease’

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Drinking several cups of tea or coffee a day appears to protect against heart disease, a 13-year-long study from the Netherlands has found. It adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting health benefits from the most popular hot drinks. Those who drank more than six cups of tea a day cut their risk of heart disease by a third, the study of 40,000 people found. Consuming between two to four coffees a day was also linked to a reduced risk. While the protective effect ceased with more than four cups of coffee a day, even those who drank this much were no more likely to die of any cause, including stroke and cancer, than those who abstained. I've also discussed other benefits of coffee in a previous blog, Coffee and Your…
Read More

Six insect repellents earn recommendations from Consumer Reports

Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
'Tis the season of barbecues, hiking, camping . . . and biting bugs. A good repellent can help you enjoy the outdoors without the company of mosquitoes, ticks, and myriad other stinging, biting critters. But, what are the best repellents among the dozens available at most outdoor stores? Here are the details about the recommendations from Consumer Reports: At an outside lab commissioned by Consumer Reports, brave testers bared their arms in mosquito-filled cages and let ticks crawl on them. Consumer Reports recorded how long it took for mosquitoes to start biting and for ticks to crawl over treated areas. These bugs were free of disease, but wild mosquitoes in the United States can carry West Nile virus and Saint Louis encephalitis. Travelers outside the United States might encounter mosquitoes…
Read More

Who should I give money to? Anyone who asks?

Bioethics, Mental Health
Last week I blogged on the topic of "My Family, or the Poor?" The blog was based upon a devotional by my dear friend, Al Weir, MD, an oncologist in Memphis and a former staff member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Now Al is meddling with me once again by delving into the controversial topic of "Who should I give money to? Anyone who asks?" (this is my title, not his). And, once again, Al is challenging my thoughts and my actions. See what you think about his ideas on "Indiscriminate Giving": My Family, or the PoorIndiscriminate Giving Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matt 5:42 He stopped me in the parking garage…
Read More

Dr. Walt in an Online Documentary Revealing Abortifacient Effects of the Pill

Bioethics, Woman's Health
July 14, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Filmmaker Trent Herbert has produced a well-researched documentary called “28 Days on the Pill” that exposes the abortifacient properties of the birth control pill. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Pill, the documentary is being made available online for the first time. Featuring Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Christian author Randy Alcorn (“Heaven, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?”) and Dr. Walt Larimore (formerly with Focus on the Family), the film makes the case that few people are aware that oral contraceptives can cause abortions. According to the documentary, the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS), the Canadian Pharmacists Association's drug information resource, and the Physicians Desk Reference, the American standard, mention the abortifacient qualities of the pill.…
Read More

The Amazing Story of Anastasha – Part 2

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
Last week, I began to share with you the story of a wonderful, yet unborn, little girl named Anastasha. You can read the first part of her story here. Now, for so many of you who are praying for her and her parents, here's the next chapter ... with many others yet to be written. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23 Loved ones, It has been one month exactly since we found out that Anastasha has anencephaly. This has been a hard month, probably only second in difficulty to the month that Ariana was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2001. We’ve…
Read More

Should some kids take fish oil supplements?

Children's Health, Heart Health, Obesity, Parenting
This last April I blogged on the topic, "Should Kids take Fish Oil Supplements?" and concluded, "... most kids don’t need fish oil supplements." However, for overweight teens with high blood pressure, there may be a different story. Should Kids take Fish Oil Supplements? Reuters Health is reporting that fish oil supplements could lower blood pressure in slightly overweight teenage kids. A new study is suggesting that their hearts may reap the benefits years later. "Starting with a healthy diet and keeping it throughout life may provide better protection than waiting until later when you are more at risk," senior researcher Dr. Lotte Lauritzen of Copenhagen University in Denmark noted in an email to Reuters Health. Fish oil has been shown to help lower blood pressure in adults with high…
Read More

Regular teeth brushing linked to healthier hearts

Heart Health
Your mom told you to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Now comes another study proving mom right. Long-time readers know that in at least one past blog, I've discussed the cardiovascular benefits of dental and gum health. Now comes a report from Reuters Health claiming "People who don't brush their teeth twice a day have an increased risk of heart disease." This new study adds scientific weight to 19th and 20th century theories about oral health and chronic disease. British researchers studied nearly 12,000 adults in Scotland and found those with poor oral hygiene had a 70 percent extra risk of heart disease compared with those who brushed twice a day and who were less likely to have unhealthy gums. People with gum disease are more likely to…
Read More