Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dental Care: Braces

Are you getting braces and have no idea what to expect? Maybe you had braces before and need them again? Or perhaps as an adult you are “finally getting your teeth done.” Whatever your situation, you are not alone; millions of people, including adults, wear braces.

As a matter of fact, more people over age 30 are getting braces today than ever before. There is no age limit for braces. As long as you have good periodontal health, braces can be used to straighten your teeth and correct your bite.

To better understand why braces are needed, let’s talk about teeth. Your first teeth probably came in when you were about six months old, and you most likely had all 20 of them by age three. During your childhood, these ‘baby’ teeth fell out one by one, and were replaced by permanent, adult teeth. A complete set consists of 32 teeth, including four “wisdom teeth.”

You May Need to Think Twice About Those Silver Fillings

Silver-colored fillings, officially known as amalgam fillings, contain mercury and have been used by dentists for over a hundred years to treat cavities in teeth, but the FDA is now saying they may have toxic effects on the unborn fetus and young children. In the past, regulators have warned pregnant women against eating certain fish that contain high levels of mercury, but now the FDA has also agreed to post warnings on the danger mercury in fillings may cause to a developing human's brain, in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of various groups.

As a result of the lawsuit, the groups agreed on a settlement where the FDA is conducting a review of the mercury contained in fillings that has to be completed mid-year 2009. Depending on the findings, the process may require that warnings be provided, through prescribing information, to dentists and patients to warn of nervous system dangers to fetuses and young children, said Pepper Long, the FDA's spokesperson.

The American Dental Association doesn't feel the settlement was very significant, because the FDA is not limiting the use of mercury fillings. The dental group has said that they feel the amalgam fillings remain safe for dental patients based on many studies and scientific reviews conducted by both government and independent agencies.

Consumers: Beware of Counterfeit Colgate Toothpaste

Consumers should be on the look-out for illegally manufactured counterfeit toothpaste falsely labeled as “Colgate” and imported from South Africa. Updated information shows this product contains harmful bacteria, but authorities did not elaborate as to what the bacteria are. This update comes from additional developments included in a report by Canadian health authorities as well as Colgate’s own investigation.

In the initial recall announcement, the importer, MS USA Trading, Inc. of North Bergen, N.J., said the toothpaste may contain diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze. The trading company said the problem was discovered in routine testing by the Food and Drug Administration.

Colgate-Palmolive assures customers that “counterfeit toothpaste is not manufactured or distributed by Colgate and has no connection with the company whatsoever”. They also add that diethylene glycol is not now and has never been an ingredient in Colgate toothpaste anywhere in the world.

According to a Colgate-Palmolive news release, the counterfeit products were found in several ‘dollar-type discount stores’ in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Updated information also includes small discount retailers in Canada.

Colgate-Palmolive, in cooperation with government health and law enforcement authorities, continues to remove counterfeit toothpaste from the shelves of retail stores. Here are some indicators to look for to identify the counterfeit product:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Genetic Link Discovered in Short Sleepers

The first ever gene linked to human sleep behavior has been revealed. Although the National Institutes of Health maintains that adults need seven to nine hours of nightly sleep in order to maintain good health, a group of researchers from the University of California in San Francisco have found an exception to the recommendation. The group has discovered a gene that diminishes the nightly sleep requirements of both a mother and daughter to only about six hours.

Sleep logs revealed that the 69-year-old mother and her 44-year-old daughter have naturally been short sleepers for the majority of their lives. They both go to bed at about 10 p.m. and rise at 4 or 4:30 a.m., while the other members of their family share typical sleep patterns. Neither of these women has suffered any ill effects from their sleeping habits. In fact, they appear to be quite healthy. The two women share a rare mutation in a gene known as DEC2 that is associated with regulation of circadian rhythms, also known as the body's internal clock. According to the researchers, people having this gene mutation simply need less sleep. Details on the finding are published in the journal Science.

Previous research has shown that many Americans suffer from chronic insomnia as well as other sleep disorders including sleep apnea. For most of us, getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep nightly on a regular basis increases the risk for health problems such as memory impairment, a weakened immune system and more.

Regarding the study on the mother-daughter duo of short sleepers, lead researcher Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco, Mission Bay, concluded, “They really have shorter sleep requirements.” Another factor that may play a role in the two women’s sleep patterns is that both are very active. In fact, the mother often travels internationally and dances three to four times weekly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Natural Abstinence: How to Avoid Weekend Food Indulgences

Food: One of life’s necessities and usually a hot topic of conversation. Whether it is the latest hot chef, food trend, cookbook, or diet craze, food crops up in conversations, news, blogs, and in our everyday lives. The topics of eating disorders, dieting, and health eating have been widely reported on HealthNews, including the obesity epidemic that has hit our nation. Common sense dictates eating a variety of foods, several times a day, without overindulging. However, that is easier said than done.

Forgetting meals, constant snacking, and all-you-can-eat buffets can be the thorns in our side. And weekends can be especially bad; at home with unlimited access to the refrigerator and pantry can lead to unhealthy temptations. Late nights, sleeping in, forgoing exercise, and eating without limits can all pack on the pounds and leave you feeling sluggish and reversing the effects of the good choices you have made during the week.

It’s important to avoid the overindulgence you may encounter during your two days of rest and relaxation. To avoid packing on the pounds during the down time on “S” days (Saturday and Sunday), here are a few tips adapted from fitness expert Joanna Hall’s latest book, The Weight Loss Bible:

Exercise Before & After: Keep your heart rate going and make sure to workout—even if it’s a quick walk around the neighborhood or a few laps in the pool—before and after a day you know you will be making less than great food choices, for example a summer barbeque chock full of meats and sweets.

Stay Hydrated: Continue to drink water, even if you are drinking other beverages throughout the day. The more hydrated you are, the less hungry you will feel and your body will thank you; especially if you are partaking in poolside margaritas, late-night pints, or tropical vacation piƱa coladas.

Cut Calories During the Week: Hall says that if you cut 300 calories (usually a small snack like a mini potato chip bag or granola bar) out of your daily intake before and after you know you will be eating more, it will curb any guilt you may feel and help stave off too many unnecessary calories.

Pile on the Veggies: Since studies show that eating vegetables with high water content (think carrots, celery, onions, etc.) make you full faster and have more energy, it may be easier to hold off temptation because your brain isn’t signaling hunger. Eating something substantial before a big night out, like vegetable soup, can leave you satisfied longer and keep off any unwanted bulge.

Stimulation Drinks: The New Craze Amongst Functional Beverages?

With energy drinks on the rise and Red Bull cans practically selling faster than bottled water, there is always another market for something new in the beverage world. Forget Rockstar, Monster, Amp, or any of the many other energy cans, bottles, or convenient shots out there and indulge in a new trend: stimulation drinks. What is a stimulation drink, you ask?

General Nutrition Centers, or GNC as they have been come to be known across America, are now stocking stimulation beverages called Fever that is described as a drink that “produces feeling of pleasure and euphoria” and is marketed as a wellness beverage that is supposed to naturally enhance your normal bodily functions throughout the day. In sweet, new enticing flavors such as Kiwi/Strawberry, Mango/Banana/Coconut, and Strawberry/Pineapple, the makers of Fever want consumers to know that this detoxifying, organic form of energy elixir is full of antioxidants.

A “stimulation drink” seems to be a puzzling phrase as I could claim that vodka is a stimulant, a drink, and is also made of natural resources—broken down to its roots, vodka is merely distilled and fermented grains or potatoes after all. Coffee is another that comes instantly to mind—you know…those beans that come from a plant that are roasted, ground, steeped, and served to millions of customers at Starbucks every singe day. The founder and CEO of Fever Beverage USA, Delmond Newton, insists that Fever is different than any number of other drinks out there providing stimulation, “Fever is not another energy drink. It is a stimulation beverage. This is a brand new category.” While the category stimulation beverage may be vague and I contend that vodka, coffee, and Fever can all fall under it, the 14-oz soft drink containing nine herbs just may turn out to be the healthiest of them all.

Perhaps the most interesting addition to Fever is the aphrodisiac qualities it produces in order to stimulate the libido in both women and men. The phyto-aphrodisiac is also supposed to promote bone health. Although I am not sure this product would be suitable for the normal workday, with its mascot being a lion sporting a cupid and bow on its back ready to aim, there is also no evidence that the beverage is distracting, it is merely supposed to help you get fired up. At 120 calories per bottle, Fever is safe to drink daily and is being toted as the sexy alternative to drinking healthy…sex sells, right?

Newton continues to say that these drinks have more potential as the growing popularity of natural health takes shape, “The functional beverage category offers endless opportunities for beverages to do more than just hydrate and energize….We are thrilled to be included in GNC’s family of products devoted exclusively to helping its customers improve the quality of their lives.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FDA Issues Rules for Early Access to Experimental Drugs

Patients who suffer from serious and fatal illnesses may be granted early access to drugs that are still in the experimental stage. By clarifying the rules for granting patients access to the so-called investigational drugs, U.S. health officials said this week that they hope to be able to expand the number of people who might benefit from these medications that are not yet approved.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said, “The fact that patients can get the drugs hasn’t changed, but there is now a clearer pathway. We have always been afraid that only those in the know about this can get these drugs. Better dissemination is another piece of transparency that’s being provided.”

Woodcock stressed that these medications would potentially be available only to those individuals who are gravely ill or have life-threatening conditions and for whom there is no other reasonable treatment alternatives available. However, she could not say exactly how many more patients might be able to benefit from this program under the new protocol.

Lynda Dee, who is a patient representative for the FDA’s Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee and who is a founding member of the AIDS Treatment Activist Coalition in Baltimore, stated that anything that the Food and Drug Administration does to help promote transparency is good for us, because this will go very far in helping people who need to receive these new treatments. Both Dee and Woodcock spoke at a news conference that was held on Wednesday to announce the publication of the two final rules related to these access questions, and to announce a new web site that is geared to patients and health-care professionals.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Women Opting to Have Their First Child Later in Life

The number of women who are choosing to wait until they are older to start their families has been on the rise over the past three and a half decades. The average age of first-time mothers has increased by 3.6 years over last 36 years, from the age of 21.4 years in 1970 to the age of 25 in 2006.

Researchers T.J. Mathews and Brady E. Hamilton of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, Reproductive Statistics Branch, analyzed data from the birth data set to derive the new information. The birth data set is primarily used for analyzing U.S. birth trends and patterns, and is a part of the National Vital Statistics System that contains information on reported live births in the U.S.

The researchers were interested in pinning down the average age of first-time mothers since the age of a woman’s first birth has a bearing on the total number of births she may have within her lifetime. In turn, this has an impact on family size and future increase in the overall population. In addition, a mother’s age, whether younger or older has an effect on outcomes of births including birth weight, multiple births, and birth defects.

Breastfeeding Can Cut Risk for Breast Cancer

While the decision to breastfeed your baby is a personal one, there is new evidence that may tip the scales in favor of breast over bottle. Not only is breastfeeding best for your infant, if you have a family history of breast cancer, breastfeeding can cut the risk for breast cancer before menopause in half.

In a long-term study of approximately 60,000 women, researchers found that women that had a close family history of breast cancer had a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer themselves before menopause if they breastfed their infants, when compared to the women who did not breastfeed. The lead researcher of the study, Alison Stuebe from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, stated that breastfeeding is good for both the mother and for their infant.

The findings of this study stem from data on 60,075 nurses who had given birth and also participated in the long running Nurses’ Health Study between the years 1997 and 2005. Stuebe and her associates reported that by the end of June 2005, 608 women, which is approximately 1 percent, had developed breast cancer when they were at the average age of 48. They also reported that the women who had a mother, sister, or other close relative that had breast cancer had a 59 percent lower risk of developing the disease if they had ever breastfed than if thy had not.

The researchers also noted that amount of the risk reduction “compared favorably” to that seen by women who were at a very high risk for developing breast cancer who take the hormone therapy tamoxifen to help prevent breast cancer. There also seemed to be no association between breastfeeding and breast cancer in the women who did not have a family history of the disease.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hopitalization and the Continuity of Care

We are undergoing fundamental and profound changes in healthcare in the United States. In order to make the care within a hospital more efficient, and discharge patients in a shorter length of time, many hospitals have changed the physicians who are responsible for the care of the patient while in the hospital. A group of physicians trained to give inpatient care, but not outpatient care, has developed and they are called “hospitalists.”

As a result of hospitalist care, the length of stays of individuals has shortened dramatically. The tests performed and care given for patients with the usual complaints or problems have been standardized and streamlined so that any necessary tests are not forgotten, and care is given according to guidelines so that no necessary treatment is omitted. With shorter hospital stays, hospitals are able to avoid losing money and being threatened with bankruptcy or closure. Patients benefit by earlier discharge, with fewer complications and less chance that some mistake will be made in their care.

Getting a Healthy Tan

Being born with pale practically see-through skin, I have always wanted to know what it was like to have the “kissed by the sun” look that tanning brings. Every summer I look down at my white skin slick with sunscreen instead of tanning oil and desire the ability to have golden skin instead of aching and peeling sunburns. However, the rising numbers of skin cancer have me thinking the grass may indeed not be greener on the other side. Skip the sunbathing, pass on the tanning beds, buy a new bottle of sunscreen, and use these alternatives to get your body glowing with a healthier tan.

Skin cancer cases are doubling and tripling each year, making it the fastest growing cancer in the United States. I wonder if that has anything to do with the thousands of tanning salons throughout America offering discounts and tanning packages to millions of patrons, many of whom are women under the age of 40. Unfortunately it has been said that most of the sun damage you acquire in your life happens before the age of 20, when young people are more ignorant and less concerned about damaging rays at the beach, in the backyard, or even while lingering with an arm outside the car window. Tanning beds have recently been in the news, not because of a booming business plan this summer, but because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has finally shown these popular sun-alternative beds as a high risk for cancer.

If you like the look of bronzed skin but want to protect yourself from cancer, apply

Chronic Stress Promotes Excess Belly Fat

Do you ever feel like everything you eat goes directly to your belly? If you are under chronic stress, that may be truer than you think. When researchers at Wake Forest University fed monkeys a typical American diet high in fat and cholesterol, they gained weight. But those who were socially stressed developed much more belly fat, a known risk factor for heart disease. And although the study was conducted primarily on monkeys, the researchers say the results would be very similar in humans and could lead to new ways of combating the ever-growing obesity epidemic in America and other Western nations.

“We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic,” said lead researcher Carol A. Shively, a professor of pathology at Wake Forest. “Much of the excess fat in many people who are overweight is located in the abdomen, and that fat behaves differently than fat in other locations. If there’s too much, it can have far more harmful effects on health than fat located in other areas.”

To better understand the role social stress plays in the development of heart disease, Shively and colleagues studied female cynomolgus monkeys that were fed a high fat and cholesterol diet and housed in a natural setting where subordinate and dominant personalities emerged. The team observed that the subordinate monkeys were less likely to be included in group activities, such as grooming, and were often targets of aggression.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Staying Fit with Budokon

Sure yoga has had more than its fifteen minutes of fame and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be over any time soon, and pilates is still a popular offering for those looking to add a bit more intensity to their workout, but there is a new type of “miracle exercise” popping up in magazines, gossip rags, and newspapers over the last few years. Have you ever wondered why Friends Courteney Cox Arquette and Jennifer Aniston are able to keep their figures and their friendship so tight? If you enjoy yoga but are also in love with the high-intensity kickboxing class across the hall, try a fusion class like Budokon (bu-do-kon) and get hip with the Hollywood crowd. Budokon is spiritual rhythmic class involving the poses of yoga with the quick, cardio aspect of martial arts training that is quickly sweeping the red carpet.

Created in 2000 by Los Angeles-based trainer Cameron Shayne, the word Budokon is Japanese for “Way of the Spiritual Warrior” and Shayne is the embodiment of his creation. Budokon isn’t just the hyped-about new fusion workout that has celebrities praising his name, but is more about precision and technique while being true to your mind and spirit while tending to your body’s health needs. Shayne says that Budokon is a “living art,” he goes on to say that it encompasses your entire being, “It is your waking and your sleeping, your walking and your sitting, your living and your dying.” Shayne promises that he isn’t selling anything with Budokon and that there are no gimmicks, there is only something he calls "The Way."

New Study Finds Organic Doesn’t Mean More Nutritious

Organic food, which was once only available in small stores or farmers’ markets, is now the fastest growing sector of the American food marketplace, despite its higher costs. In 2008, the value of retail sales of organic food was estimated to be more than $28 billion, up from $1 billion in 1990. And, according to the Food Marketing Institute, more than half of Americans now buy organic food at least one a month. So why this surge in popularity? Why pay more for food because it’s organically grown? Do organic foods offer more nutritional value than their traditionally grown counterparts?

Whether or not organically grown foods are more nutritious has become a hotbed of debate, and the answer would likely depend on who one asked. For instance, The Organic Center (TOC), a pro-organic nonprofit research organization in Foster, Rhode Island recently concluded that organic foods, on average, offer a 25 percent higher nutrient level over conventional ones. And researchers at University of California at Davis claim to have found higher levels of nutrients in organic tomatoes, kiwifruit, corn, and strawberries grown side-by-side with conventional versions.

On the opposite side of the fence are major health organizations like the American Dietetic Association and the Mayo Clinic that hold an organic label is no assurance that a food is nutritionally superior, which is the same conclusion recently reached by a group of British researchers after reviewing 50 years of published data on the topic. The review, commissioned by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that organic food contained no more nutritional value than food grown traditionally.

Nutrition & Diet

Diet and Weight Loss News
The single biggest battle most people face these days is the battle of the bulge. Nearly everyone is trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight. Probably the most crucial element of maintaining a healthy body weight is ones diet.

Need to cut through the mass of diet material on the web? The Diet and Weight Loss category does just that, with a focus on eating healthy – and naturally. Check here for great recipes and advice on natural eating.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Skin Care: Facial Steaming

Our search for a more youthful appearance seems a constant quest, and how ironic that we find answers in practices from ancient times. For instance, using steam to cleanse the body dates back to Roman times when baths featuring a combination of steaming, cleaning, and massage appeared wherever the Romans made conquests. In our more modern times, steaming is used as part of a beauty salon facial.

Facial steaming has many benefits:
• Opens your pores
• Removes dead skin cells
• Improves circulation
• Allows for deep cleansing
• Is helpful for acne and blackheads

Facial steaming can be done on a weekly basis as part of your beauty routine and is an excellent precursor for your facial mask.

Reaping all the benefits, without the high cost of a beauty salon treatment, you can easily perform the steam at home. All you need is your face, cleanser, a pot, water, and a large towel.

1. Remove make up and cleanse your face using soap and water or your preferred cleanser. Gently pat skin dry after rinsing.
2. Fill pot with approximately three cups of water and bring to boil.
3. Transfer the water to a shallow wide bowl.
4. Keeping your face at least one foot away from the steam, place the towel over your head to form a tent around your head and the bowl of water. The steam should feel warm and soothing-NOT HOT! If the steam is too hot or you are uncomfortable at any time, STOP IMMEDIATELY!
5. Remain under the towel for 5-10 minutes, then rinse with cool water to close and tighten your pores.
6. Follow with a facial mask or a light moisturizer.

Millions of American Children Are Vitamin D Deficient

It’s called the sunshine vitamin because given a sufficient amount of sunlight the human body manufactures vitamin D, which has long been known to be essential to bone and muscle health by aiding calcium absorption in the intestines and the production of enzymes involved in collagen formation in the bones. But more recent research has found receptors for vitamin D in almost every organ and tissue system in the body, suggesting that deficiencies may affect many types of cell functions and increase the risk of not only osteoporosis but many other diseases. Ten to fifteen minutes of sunshine 3 times a week is enough to produce the body’s requirement of this cheery nutrient, but apparently that is easier said than done—even for the nation’s youngsters.

Two new studies designed to assess the possible effects of low vitamin D levels on cardiovascular risk factors in young Americans uncovered some very disturbing facts. For example, one analysis showed that overall 7 out of 10 American children are not getting the vitamin D they need. About 7.6 million (9 percent) children, adolescents and young adults aged 1 through 21 are vitamin D deficient, with blood levels under 15 nanograms per milliliter. An additional 50.8 million (61 percent) have slightly higher levels, at between 15 and 29 nanograms per milliliter, but still low enough to be insufficient. “It’s astounding,” said the study’s lead, Dr. Michal L. Melamed of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “At first, we couldn’t believe the numbers. I think it’s very worrisome.”

Depression Not Uncommon in the Youngest Among Us

Depression is a disorder that many people in the world are dealing with, but now it has been brought to our attention that childhood depression is on the rise. In recent years, the subject of childhood depression has received a lot of attention as we have tried to unravel how this disorder is affecting kids. However, little is still known about if, and how, depression is affecting very young children. New research suggests that children as young as 3 can be diagnosed with depression and that the disorder is often considered to be a chronic condition.

The recent study, which appears in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, is sure to raise eyebrows among the people who question if children that young are really emotionally mature enough to be depressed. The author of the study said that despite the skepticism, a growing body of research is suggesting that depression does in fact exist among preschoolers and they launched this new study to better understand it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wrinkles Be Gone: New Laser Treatment Approved for Home Use

Laser treatment to remove wrinkles around the eyes could now be at your fingertips. The FDA has approved the marketing of the first home-use laser device for removing wrinkles around the eyes. You may now be able to target those aging areas on your own without leaving the comfort of your home.

The new device was developed by Palomar Medical Technologies Inc. and will be marketed through retail channels by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos. Inc. There is no prescription necessary. The new device will be Palomar’s initial entrance into the consumer market. The company currently sells its large light-based equipment used for cosmetic treatments to health professionals. Details of the product are being held under wraps for now, but the company is excited about the opportunity their new product offers. Joseph P. Caruso, a chief executive for Palomar said, the new laser product "opens up a tremendous opportunity to tap into the multibillion dollar consumer skin care market with our patented technology."