Study links excessive texting among teens to alcohol, sex, and drugs

Children's Health, Mental Health, Parenting
How many texts does your child send and receive in a day? Could an increasing number indicate an increasing risk for problems? And, could a certain number indicate your child is more likely to experiment with drugs or sex? The AP reports, "Teens who text 120 times a day or more -- and there seems to be a lot of them -- are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don't send as many messages, according to provocative new research." The authors of the study "aren't suggesting that 'hyper-texting' leads to sex, drinking or drugs, but say it's startling to see an apparent link between excessive messaging and that kind of risky behavior." In "Vital Signs," the New York Times reported that "the study…
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Overweight Children Are Affected More By Stress

Children's Health, Obesity, Parenting
American kids are really stressed out — not least of all overweight and obese kids, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association. The report found that children who are overweight or obese feel particularly stressed, more so than their normal-weighted peers. And such stress has a lasting impact on other lifestyle behaviors that negatively affect overweight kids' health. Below I have some of the details from a report in Time. If, however, your kids are overweight or obese, you may want to pick up a copy of my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. The book is currently on sale in HARDCOVER for $4.99 here (save $18) and in SOFTCOVER for $1.99 here (save $11). The book is chock-full of ways you,…
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Adolescent obesity associated with risk of severe obesity in adulthood

Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
Like many physicians who care for children and teens, I'm acutely aware of and concerned about the epidemic, the tsunami, of childhood overweight and obesity. Because of that, I headed a research project at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida, that resulted in the book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. The book is currently on sale in HARDCOVER for $4.99 here (save $18) and in SOFTCOVER for $1.99 here (save $11). If you have children or teens who are overweight, NOW is the time to make some changes. And, my book has an 8-week plan your family can put into action to start the New Year. The reason to do so is that to NOT act is to doom your kids to a shorter life…
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Eating monounsaturated fats boosts heart health

Nutritional Health
We've actually known this fact for sometime. In fact, monounsaturated fats are one of the reasons the Mediterranean Diet is so healthful. Which just shows that the success of a low-cholesterol diet can actually be improved by adding monounsaturated fat, which are commonly found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils such as olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil. And, now some new research is backing these facts. Here are the details from USA Today: In the study, researchers randomly assigned 17 men and seven postmenopausal women with mild to moderate elevated cholesterol levels to either a high-monounsaturated fat diet or a low one. Both groups consumed a vegetarian diet that included oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, soy, almonds and a plant sterol-enriched margarine. In the high group, the researchers…
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Should smokers get a screening CT scan?

Cancer
With the news that CT scans — or computerized tomography — can prevent lung cancer deaths, smokers and ex-smokers may wonder whether they should ask for a screening. USA TODAY did a nice job in asking experts for their advice: Q: How could a lung cancer screening help save lives? A: Like a mammogram, CT scans can find tumors when they're small and potentially curable, says the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which funded the $250 million study. Today, most lung cancers aren't found until people develop symptoms, such as a coughing or shortness of breath. At that point, the cancers are usually incurable. Q: Should everyone get a lung cancer screening? A: No. There is a risk of harm associated with the scans, so a patient's benefits must outweigh the…
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New Guidelines for Antidepressants

Men's Health
New guidelines say to select antidepressants based on side effects, other medical conditions, drug interactions, and cost ... because they're all similarly effective. This means the best bets for initial therapy are usually an SSRI, SNRI, bupropion, or mirtazapine ... along with appropriate counseling. Here are details from the experts at Prescribers’ Letter: Prescribing Antidepressants based upon Side effects: The new guidelines recommend prescribers take advantage of side effects when possible. For patients with insomnia, we prescribers should use a MORE sedating antidepressant, such as paroxetine or mirtazapine. For patients with fatigue or sleepiness we should use a LESS sedating drug, such as fluoxetine, bupropion, or venlafaxine For those who have sexual side effects on an antidepressant, we should try bupropion. For those who want to minimize weight gain on an…
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A Christmas story – Part 3

General Health
Monday, I began a Christmas story that came from my book Bryson City Seasons. Part 2 was posted Wednesday. Here's the last of three parts. I hope it's been a Christmas blessing for you and yours: ======================================= “Evan, I know God wants to have a relationship with you. My understanding of the Bible is that it tells us that God loves each of us. Actually, he loves us so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus, not just to be born in a manger but to live a perfect life for us as an example and then to die a torturous death for us—for all of our wrongdoing. Evan, if you’re willing to believe that, God’s willing to begin that relationship with you—today—but only if you want to.” Evan looked…
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Holiday Depression And Stress

Mental Health
Yesterday, my last day in the medical office before Christmas, I saw three patients all suffering from holiday depression. One was a grandmother who had suffered the tragic loss of her first grandchild this summer. Two others were people who had lost dear ones over the last few months. It was a good reminder to me to keep an eye out this season for those around me to whom Christmas may not be a joy, but an emotional roller coaster. Indeed, the holiday season can be a time full of joy, cheer, parties, and family gatherings. But for many people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures and anxiety about an uncertain future. So, here's some information on the holiday blues for you and yours from…
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Toy Safety Tips for Christmas Day

Children's Health, Parenting
As the presents are being opened tomorrow, if you have small children in the house, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges gift-givers to keep safety in mind when choosing and opening toys for young children. The CPSC estimates that more than 120,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries each year. Here are the details from the CPSC: "Toys are an important part of holiday gift-giving, and CPSC is on the job 365 days a year to make sure toys are as safe as possible," said CPSC chairman Ann Brown. "CPSC's goal is to prevent deaths and injuries; unfortunately, each year some children are hurt by toys. By always reading labels and being safety conscious, parents and caregivers can help prevent toy-related injuries." CPSC requires…
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A Christmas story – Part 2

General Health
Last time, I began a Christmas story that came from my book Bryson City Seasons. Here's the second of three parts. I hope it will be a Christmas blessing for you and yours: ================================================ I passed through the lobby and went first to the X-ray suite. Carroll, the radiology technician, was there. He found the patient’s films and put them on the viewing box. “Looks like an atypical pneumonia, Walt.” I nodded. Carroll was as good at reading films as any radiologist I knew. “I went ahead and did tomograms of the hilum,” he commented. I nodded again, as Carroll was thinking just what I was—this pneumonia was probably caused by a cancer. The tomographic X-ray allowed us to look at the area between the lungs—in this case, for lumps…
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Give Yourself the Gift of a Stress-Free Holiday

Mental Health
Here are some steps you can take (if not this year, next) to protect your and your family's health by keeping it simple during the Christmas season. This was originally published at HealthFinder and I hope it's helpful: 'Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed out, and an expert offers some tips on how to take care of yourself during the holiday rush. While it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the shopping, planning and other tasks associated with the season, you need to take steps to keep your stress under control in order to protect your health, said Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Va. "Stress is the way our body automatically responds to difficult situations. You may feel nervous, irritable…
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Ten Ways to Avoid Christmas Tree and Holiday Allergies

General Health
Here are some nice tips from the folks at Fox News. Of course, by now, some of us have learned the hard way, right? Rule No.1 – Keep your decorations “off season” in enclosed containers, this will reduce dust and mildew from accumulating – and avoid sniffles when opened. Rule No.2 – Avoid artificial “snow sprays” that can aggravate your sinuses, eyes and cause annoying respiratory symptom including cough. Rule No.3 – Watch out for those lovely faux holiday “poinsettias” if you have skin allergies, especially if you have a sensitivity to rubber, it may cause a itchy rash. Rule No.4 – Don’t bring in wood for the fireplace until needed, it may bring mildew and molds into your home, especially when not completely dry or damp. Rule No.5 –…
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A Christmas story – Part 1

General Health
My most popular books, at least based upon sales and letters, are the Bryson City series. The series includes: 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. This week I'll be excerpting the story for you and hope it will be a Christmas blessing for you and yours: ================================================…
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Books for those considering the mission field (or praying for missionaries)

International Health, Medical Missions
My dear friend, John McVay, who is the Chief of Staff at the In His Image Family Medicine Residency and also directs their Medical Missions Program wrote me to say: I am writing to ask if you would spread the word about the new missions books listed below. The first one I helped put together last spring after ten years of gathering answers.  Perspectives co-editor Steve Hawthorne wrote: "The Ask a Missionary book is like having a dozen missionary friends at your side, coaching you with kindness and clarity. Who knew wisdom could be so encouraging?" The second book, Where There Was No Church, is by an interagency team that includes an old friend of mine. And the third book, Operation World, was completely revised recently. I would add, please forwarding this…
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The ABCs of CPR Rearranged to “CAB”

Heart Health
Every shopping season we all hear a wrenching story or two of someone who dies of a heart attack at a mall with people standing around but NOT offering help. I think it's not only because so many have not had CPR training, and don't know what  to do, but that the definitely do NOT want to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on someone they do not know. Well, now even untrained observers can do CPR, except it's now called "CAB." Here are the details from MedScape: Chest compressions should be the first step in addressing cardiac arrest. Therefore, the American Heart Association (AHA) now recommends that the A-B-Cs (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) be changed to C-A-B (Compressions-Airway-Breathing). So, if you see someone collapse and they are not breathing and do…
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Good Conversation Can Boost Brain Power, Study Finds

General Health
As I've grown older, I've become fonder of sitting and just having conversation with dear friends. I'm privileged to participate in an authors' group that meets every couple of weeks just to chat. And now, along comes some data showing that thinking skills seem to improve with friendly chats, but not from competitive discussions. So, maybe Paul, Al, Jerry, and Larry are making me smarter!?!? Here are the details from HealthDay News: Friendly discussions with other people can help you solve common life challenges, but conversations that are competitive in tone aren't helpful, finds a new study. "This study shows that simply talking to other people, the way you do when you're making friends, can provide mental benefits," lead author Oscar Ybarra, a psychologist and researcher at the Institute for…
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Five ways your cell phone could save your life

General Health
Whether you own a BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, or just a cell phone, there are applications and other tools you can use to turn your device into a safety tool. Here are a few suggestions from CNN: 1. Program your cell so people can find you Cell phone apps can save your life. If you're lying unconscious somewhere, how would anyone locate you? Verizon, Sprint and AT&T all have locators where you can find members of your family. In addition, you can do a search on iTunes for applications that use your smartphone's GPS to let you know where you are. 2. Put your "in case of emergency" contact into your cell phone The trick here is to put your "ICE" information into your cell in as big and obvious a way…
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Vitamin E consumption for stroke prevention may be harmful

Men's Health, Woman's Health
In a past blog I told you, "... a spate of high-profile studies published in the last few years shows that a variety of popular supplements — including calcium, selenium, and vitamins A, C and E — don’t do anything to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or a variety of cancers.” Also, I said, “In the past few years, several high-quality studies have failed to show that extra vitamins, at least in pill form, help prevent chronic disease or prolong life.” Now there's some evidence of harm, at least with vitamin E. Bloomberg News reports, "Taking vitamin E supplements doesn't reduce the risk of stroke, and may even be harmful, an analysis of previous research found." Vitamin E "raised the risk of a severe type of stroke by 22…
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Vicks VapoRub may help ease nighttime cold symptoms in children

Children's Health, Parenting
My mom, a nurse, used Vicks VapoRub on us boys as we grew up. She believed in it, as did our pediatrician, Gloria Weir, MD. And, Barb and I used it on our kids. Loved it. And, it seemed to work well. Then, it fell out of repute … but, now … it’s back! The CNN "The Chart" blog reports, "Parents get frustrated with the FDA recommendations not to use cold medicines in kids under the age of four because they are left with few options." Thus, "Vicks VapoRub is often used to fight colds and congestion," but "there has never been proof of how well it works." Now, however, research underwritten by Procter & Gamble indicates that the "combination of camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oils actually does ease cold…
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Regular exercise wards off colds and flu

General Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Earlier this week I discussed how regular exercise can reduce your risk of depression. It can also help you reduce your risk or colds and the flu. The CNN "The Chart" blog reported, "Working out regularly helps ward off colds and flu," according to a study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. HealthDay reported that after collecting "data on 1,002 men and women from ages 18 to 85," investigators "tracked the number of upper respiratory tract infections the participants suffered" over 12 weeks during the fall and winter of 2008. Study participants also "reported how much and what kinds of aerobic exercise they did weekly." The study authors found that "people who were physically fit and who engaged in exercise five or more days per week were…
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Kids’ use of electronic media at night linked to problems

Children's Health, Parenting
More than half of children who use electronic media before bedtime may have mood or learning problems during the day, a preliminary study of 40 young people suggests. The kids in the study, average age 14½, were all treated at the JFK Medical Center Sleep Laboratory in Edison, N.J. About 77% had trouble falling asleep; others had daytime sleepiness. Here are more details from USA Today: And it's no wonder: Turns out they sent an average 34 text messages or e-mails a night, according to the study, to be presented today at the meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Vancouver, British Columbia. Texts were sent anywhere from 10 minutes to four hours after bedtime. "Across the board, all of the children admitted to using electronic media — texting,…
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Exercise Reduces Depression Risk

Mental Health
In past blogs I've told you about how exercise can help both prevent and treat depression. I also discuss this phenomena in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. Now, along comes one of the largest studies ever published on the topic (of 40,000 Norwegians), which found that people who take regular exercise during their free time are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, a study of 40,000 Norwegians has found. However, physical activity which is part and parcel of the working day does NOT have the same effect. Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers said it was probably because there was not the same level of social interaction. Here are the details from the BBC: The mental health charity Mind…
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Want to Marry Your Soul Mate? Could This Lead An Increased Risk of Divorce?

Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
I must confess: this one surprised me. But, after reading the details, I wonder ... After all, Brad Wilcox is one of my favorite researchers and writers. See what you think ... A surprising new study has reported that the idea of marrying your ‘soul mate’ may be a nice idea in theory and in chick flicks, but may not be such a good idea in real life.  Here are the details from Cosmopolitan: "Couples who believe in soul mates have such high expectations of marriage, and when those aren't met they're more likely to enter into conflict or even end up getting divorced," explains Bradford Wilcox, PhD, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. He added that these types of couples expect an intense positive…
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More US adults aware they have hypertension. Do you?

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Finally some good news in the recognition and treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). The AP reports that, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "more American adults are aware they have high blood pressure, and more are taking medicine to try to control it." The report, which included 24,000 adults who underwent blood pressure checks during the period from 1999 to 2008, also revealed that "the proportion of US adults with high blood pressure has actually been holding steady at about 30% for a decade." HealthDay reported that "part of the reason that treatment and awareness of hypertension has increased while the prevalence of the condition remains stagnant is the ongoing obesity epidemic and the aging population, both of which tend to…
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Seniors should get whooping cough vaccine

Children's Health, Parenting
An across the street neighbor was complaining the other day that her daughter and son-in-law in southern California were not going to let them visit their new grandbaby until they both had their influenza and pertussis vaccines. My comment, "Good for them!" Our neighbor seemed surprised. I said, "The kids are building a cocoon of protection for their baby. Since a baby cannot get the influenza vaccine until after six months of age, and since a child younger than six months of age is at risk for pertussis, or whooping cough, and several babies have died of it this year, they are making a wise decision for their family." The neighbor seemed perturbed by my response ... but, my bet is she and her husband will be immunized. And, they…
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Warning About Pacifiers Containing Honey

Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
One of the joys of my professional life is serving as a member of the visiting faculty of a Christian family medicine residency, In His Image, in Tulsa, OK. One of the residents recently sent out this note which is a good reminder to parents with children under one year of age. Hello everyone, I'm presently doing my rotation in outpatient Peds clinic. I just want to share something that caught our attention when a Hispanic mom brought her child in for a 2 month well child check. It was a usual normal well baby check until mom said that she gives her child a pacifier with honey on it. As we all know, giving honey to babies less than a year old is a health hazard as it can…
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Pros and cons of the meningitis booster shot recommendation for 16-year-olds

Children's Health, Parenting
For a number of years, I've been recommending the meningitis vaccine for kids at 10 to 11 years of age. I've always told parents, right now it looks like it will just take a single vaccination, but, in the future, we may see a recommendation for a booster. Now, that prediction has come true. The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported, "A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on Wednesday recommended that adolescents receive a booster shot of the meningitis vaccine at age 16." Three years ago, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices "recommended that the vaccine be given routinely to children at the age of 10 or 11, primarily in an effort to protect them as they enter college and the military." The scientific community had…
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Deficiencies Found in B-Complex Supplements

Alternative Medicine, Nutritional Health
Tests of B vitamin supplements, including B-complexes and shot-sized energy drinks, revealed problems with the quality of 4 out of 18 products selected for review by independent testing organization ConsumerLab.com. One widely-sold B-complex supplement was found to contain only 17.9% of its vitamin B-12. Another had no detectable vitamin B-6 and was short on both biotin and folic acid. Two energy shot liquid supplements were low on folic acid, respectively providing only 40.4% and 75.5% of the amounts listed on their labels. Both energy shots displayed B vitamins as their top-listed ingredients and listed caffeine as part of a proprietary “energy blend.” The amounts of vitamins B-6 and B-12 included in these two products were, respectively, 2,000% and 8,333% of the Daily Values of those nutrients. Taking three of four…
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Heavy smoking more than doubles the odds of developing Alzheimer’s

Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
USA Today reports that, according to a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, "heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles your odds of developing Alzheimer's disease." For the study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente "evaluated the records of 21,123 men and women in midlife and continued following them, on average, for 23 years." They found that, "compared with non-smokers, those who had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day increased their risk of developing Alzheimer's by more than 157% and had a 172% higher risk of developing vascular dementia -- the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's." The Wall Street Journal reports that smokers who did not smoke so heavily still faced an increased risk for dementia. For example, even smokers who smoked just half a pack…
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Breast Cancer Surgeon Explains How Abortion Elevates Risk for Women

Bioethics, Cancer, Woman's Health
As breast cancer awareness increases among women, one leading breast cancer surgeon and professor has written a full explanation of one of the risks women need to keep in mind when talking with friends and family about the deadly disease -- abortion. Dr. Angela Lanfranchi is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. She is a surgeon who, as the co-director of the Sanofi-aventis Breast Care Program at the Steeplechase Cancer Center, has treated countless women facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Lanfranchi was named a 2010 Castle Connolly NY Metro Area “Top Doc” in breast surgery. In an article she wrote for the medical journal Linacre Quarterly, Lanfranchi talks about why abortion presents women problems and increases their breast cancer risk. Here are…
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