Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RealAge, a Real Help

I admit it. I'm jealous. RealAge has so much valuable information that I can't stop reading. Nor can I compete with its scientific advisory board. Their team of experts includes physicians, epidemiologists, and medical writers who research the latest findings.

How come I didn't have the wisdom to produce a site such as this years ago???

The only thing I can do is synopsize some of their information for my own readers. According to RealAge, you need to make sure you are getting enough magnesium, calcium, vitamins C, D3 and E. Speedy eaters are three times more likely to be overweight. Certain herbs can freshen your breath. Try parsley, basil or cilantro.

I was turned on to this site by my financial advisor who had a life-threatening medical issue.

I'm hooked. And you should be too.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Age and Rate of Cancer

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, children who have survived cancer are more likely than the general population to have cancer return. Those who were first diagnosed under the age of 15 were most likely to have a tumor either in the central nervous system or non-melanoma skin cancer.

Adults older than 40 and experiencing their first diagnosis were more likely to develop a new tumor in the digestive, urinary or genital tracts.

Whereas the general 60-year old population may develop tumors at the rate of 8.4%, cancer survivors develop them at the rate of 13.9%.

Childhood cancer survivors who were treated with direct radiation near their abdominal or pelvic region may develop colorectal cancer in particular by the age of 50.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

To Nap or Not to Nap? That Is the Question

Some of the world's great minds savored midday naps. Brahms, Napoleon and Churchill understood the benefits of a siesta.

According to sleep researchers, "the urge to nap in the afternoon is nearly universal."

Here are some tips for a restful nap:

1. Short naps are better--even a mere 10 minutes.

2. Don't nap close to your bedtime.

3. Not everyone feels better after a nap. Those people need to find other ways to get through a midday slump such as a brisk walk.

If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, speak to your doctor. You may be suffering from depression, sleep apnea, medication effects, or another health issue.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Head For the Pillows

Here's something you don't know about me? I often dread going to bed because I have a hard time getting to and staying asleep. I'm open to any suggestions including the ones from UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, March, 2011:

1. Use a pillow to keep your neck aligned with your spine.

2. Pull the pillow down between your chin and shoulder if you sleep on your back or side.

3. Look for a softer pillow if you sleep on your back; a firmer one if you sleep on your side.

4. Try a cervical roll for good neck support.

5. Use a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back or one between your knees if you sleep on your side.

6. It's best not to sleep on your stomach.

7. A firmer mattress calls for a thinner pillow. A soft mattress calls for a fatter one.

8. Replace your pillow if it is thin and lumpy.

9. More expensive pillows are no better than reasonably priced one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Not Overindulge in Food Just Once

Just this once I'll try everything on the table at the holidays or at a festive meal. It can't hurt, right?

Wrong, says The UC Berkeley Wellness Letter (March, 2011) about a one-time food splurge. One large fatty meal can have a variety of immediate adverse effects.

Fatty foods can interfere with the ability of blood vessels to dilate or expand--meaning that with exercise after such a meal, you might get angina or a heart attack. A large meal can cause your heart rate to increase because so much energy is used for digestion.

Your blood pressure and heart rate might increase.

The larger the meal, the more heartburn many people experience.

If you're young and healthy, overindulgence may not pose any problem. But if you're older and already have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or a pre-existing heart disease, or if you are overweight and smoke can be hazardous.

Don't arrive ravenous at parties. Eat slowly. Stay away from buffets. Stick to salads, fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunscreens: Better Than a Watchdog

Because I am fair-complected and live in a sunny climate, sunscreens are very important to me. They are often misunderstood and underused.

Sunscreens (at least 15-30 SPF) reduce the risk of burning, photoaging, and tanning. They help prevent skin growths and protect against some skin cancers. People who take certain medications or persons with some medical conditions may be more at risk.

If you spend time in the sun, the ultraviolet (UV) light can penetrate and damage your skin, no matter what your skin type is. Ultraviolet lights A (UVA) and B (UVB) lead to aging and burning if a person goes outside unprotected so it is crucial that your sunscreen guards you from both.

If you are using a spray for your face, apply it first to your hand and rub it on.

Put on about an ounce of lotion 15-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply at least every 2 hours. There's no such thing as completely waterproof so reapply sunscreen every time you come out of the water.

Use sunscreen even on overcast days.

Wear the right clothes, preferably darker, tighter weaves.

Use a lip balm with sunblock.

Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

If you're in a car on a sunny day, wear long sleeves or use a sunscreen.

Limit your sun exposure, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The best sunscreens contain ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) combined with avobenzone and octocrylene.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Teaching Your Grandkids About Money

As grandparents we often agonize about what to get the grandkids on holidays and birthdays. Sometimes it's apparent. More often we just don't know where to start.

The Wall Street Journal had an article on how to give children (probably 10 and older) the gift of investing.

Stocks: Combine interest in a toy or videogame with the company that produced it. Create a spreadsheet to follow the ups and downs. Discuss new releases and their implications on the stock price.

Bonds (with variable rate adjustments for inflation): This is a means to study the changing buying power of the dollar and risk of bonds vs. stocks.

Investment Accounts: Expose kids to more complex investments such as mutual funds. Choose a sector that particularly interests them such as a tech-sector fund.

Roth IRA: Consider opening a Roth individual retirement account in their name and matching a certain percentage of their earnings. Talk about tax benefits.

529 Plans: Consider a 529 college-savings plan in which withdrawals are tax-free as long as they are used for qualifying college expenses.

Your holiday gift can teach and inspire and last longer than we have time on earth.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prevent Falls By Listening to Cicetti

Falls are real. Among older adults they are the major cause of injury deaths. Hip breaks cause the greatest number of deaths and lead to the most severe health problems.

Fred Cicetti, the Health Geezer, provided us with one of the best list of fall preventatives I've seen:

1. Get bones tested.
2. Regularly exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, to slow bone loss.
3. Drink alcohol sparingly.
4. Avoid temperature extremes in your home.
5. Wear low-heeled rubber-soled shoes.
6. Hold onto handrails.
7. Use a grabbing tool instead of risking a fall from a ladder or chair.
8. Get rid of debris on your floors.
9. When carrying items, take special care to look out for your next step.
10. Install grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
11. Use non-skid mats or strips in bathtubs and shower stalls.
12. Don't move around in the shower until the soap suds have disappeared down the drain.
13. Use night lights
14. Put light switches by your bed.
15. Use bright bulbs.
16. Always have a telephone nearby; carry a portable phone.
17. Tack down carpets and area rugs.
18. Close cabinets and drawers.
19. Use a cane in the rain or snow.
20. Be aware of differences in floor levels.
21. Keep your hands free by using a fanny pack, backpack or shoulder bag.
22. Evaluate curb heights before stepping down.
23. Install light switches next to the entrance of each room.
24. Practice balancing.
25. Be careful around pets.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thirdhand Smoke Poses a Real Danger

Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 50,000 Americans a year. We don't know yet how many are lost to thirdhand smoke, the residue that smoke leaves on furniture, drapes, walls, clothing, food and dust but it is clear that it is a problem.

Hundreds of carcinogens and other toxic chemicals are in tobacco.

When staying in a hotel room or renting a car, insist on a smoke-free one and keep both you and your family out of danger.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Exercise Balls, a Good Replacement for the Common Desk Chair?

Save yourself the cost of a posture-improving chair by purchasing an exercise ball? These inflatable balls require "active sitting" and may improve your posture by strengthening your core muscles.

But they may also cause you discomfort. You might not have enough space under your desk. There are no armrests. You may not be able to reach other items at your work station. And you may fall.

A better option is to choose a chair of good ergonomic design--with an adjustable back, seat and armrests. Wheels help too.

Make sure you vary your position, lean back, stand up and move around.