Author Archive: sejaldalsania

Seriously, stop using your smartphone in bed

ID-10072070Insomnia is becoming increasingly prevalent in this age of technology. Multiple studies have shown this, with the latest survey done with 9,846 teenagers aged 16 to 19 in Norway. The teens recorded their sleep patterns as well as their technology usage throughout the day, with a focus on the hour before bedtime. Researchers found what they call a “dose-response relationship” — the more you dose yourself with devices, the higher your risk of sleeplessness. A multiple number of reasons can be attributed to this. First, the blue light that comes from all LED screens, which has been found to interfere with production of the sleep hormone melatonin in the brain. Second, the hunched-over posture that tends to come with screen usage can lead to headaches and muscular pain. It is also possible that the electromagnetic radiation coming from cell phones can keep us from getting a good nights sleep. Researchers say the ideal activity to partake in before going to bed is reading a slow-paced book to help the mind and body relax and drift off to sleep. What are your tips for diminishing the use of devices before bed? What do you typically recommend to teenagers?

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More College Freshmen Report Having Felt Depressed

ID-10065994An increasing number of freshmen are feeling depressed and overwhelmed, according to an annual survey. “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014,” surveyed over 150,000 students and found that 9.5% of respondents had frequently “felt depressed” during the past year, a significant rise over the 6.1% reported 5 years ago. Those who “felt overwhelmed” by schoolwork and other commitments rose to 34.6 percent from 27.1 percent.“It’s a public health issue,” said Dr. Anthony L. Rostain, a psychiatrist and co-chairman of a University of Pennsylvania task force on students’ emotional health. “We’re expecting more of students: There’s a sense of having to compete in a global economy, and they think they have to be on top of their game all the time. It’s no wonder they feel overwhelmed.” The survey also reported that students are spending less time watching television and surprisingly, a decline in drinking and smoking cigarettes among college freshman. How do you speak to young people about stress? What are your favorite strategies in dealing with stress?

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New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers

ID-10033583According to the New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, four major retailers are accused of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements. Authorities conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — finding 4 out of 5 of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The products contained cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, potentially dangerous to those with allergies. “Mislabeling, contamination and false advertising are illegal,” said the state attorney general. The FDA has now threatened to take legal action if the companies do not resolve the problem. In response, Walgreens has agreed to remove the products nationwide, not just in New York. GNC is also willing to
cooperate with the attorney general “in all appropriate ways,” but stands behind the quality and purity of its store brand supplements. Target could not be reached for further comment. How often do you discuss the quality concerns with your patients?  What are you typically looking for in a product in terms of quality? What are some of your favorite trusted companies?

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Too much jogging ‘as bad as no exercise at all’

ID-100133983A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says that too much jogging may be just as bad as not jogging at all. Over a 12 year period, scientists studied more than 1,000 healthy joggers and non-joggers. They found that those who ran at a steady pace for less than 2 1/2 hours a week were least likely to die in this time. Meanwhile, those who ran more than 4 hours a week or did no exercise had the highest death rates. Researchers suggest that “long-term strenuous endurance exercise may induce pathological structural remodeling of the heart and arteries.” Guidelines recommend moderate-intensity exercising for at least 150 minutes a week and for those who are just starting, even a brisk walk is a good place to begin. What types of exercise do you recommend? What about for people that are new to working out?

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Ask Well: The Best Time of Day to Exercise to Lose Weight

ID-100110814Researchers in Belgium have found that exercising in the very early hours of the morning can help the body to burn more fat and potentially keep off weight gain, compared to exercising at other times. In the study, researchers had young, healthy men to gorge themselves for 6 weeks with a diet consisting of 30% more calories and 50% more fat than what they had been eating prior. The first group of the volunteers remained sedentary while eating. The second began a strenuous, midmorning exercise routine after they had had breakfast while the third group followed the same workout regimen, but before they had eaten anything. After the 6 weeks, the first group predictably had gained the most weight, at 6 pounds, and had begun to develop insulin resistance. The second group gained 3 pounds and also developed insulin problems. But the third group of men gained almost no weight and retained healthy insulin levels. Their bodies were also burning more fat throughout the day than were the other men. It is important to note though that the early-morning exercise prevented weight gain, which is not the same thing as inducing weight loss. But the results are encouraging to anyone who is looking to have a healthier lifestyle. Does this study motivate you to work out early in the morning? What about in this weather?

 

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Ramping up e-cigarette voltage produces more formaldehyde: study

ID-100265931Smoking e-cigarettes at a higher voltage can can people to have more exposure to formaldehyde, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from Portland State University took flavored nicotine liquid made by Halo Cigs and tested it in a personal vaporizer from Innokin. The vaporizer allows consumers to adjust the voltage from 3.3V to 5.0V. The higher the voltage the greater the nicotine kick, but also the greater the amount of formaldehyde. Inhaled as a gas, formaldehyde has been linked to an increased risk of nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia. Researchers concluded that the life-time risk of developing formaldehyde-related cancer was roughly 1 in 200 for high-voltage e-cigarettes versus 1 in 1,000 for cigarettes – at least five times higher. They found no increased risk for people smoking at a low voltage. What are you thoughts on smoking cigarettes vs. e-cigarettes? How often do you counsel patients about e-cigarettes?

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Fitness apps lack evidence-based tools

ID-100132827A new study shows smartphone fitness apps aren’t always effective in helping people stay healthy. More than half of American adults own smartphones – and half of those owners use some type of fitness app, explains David Conroy, the study’s lead researcher from Northwestern University in Chicago. Unfortunately, a vast number of them have no research defending their effectiveness. In November 2013, Conroy and colleagues identified the 100 top-selling health and fitness apps in the Apple iTunes and Google Play marketplaces. Researchers looked for any of 93 possible behavior-changing techniques and found only an average of 7 techniques per app. The study shows that social media integration is pervasive, Conroy said, even though there is only limited research showing social media can positively affect behavior. “A lot of these apps, it turns out, are kind of hollow,” he said, adding they look nice and have many features, but no techniques to motivate people who are not currently active. What do you think of fitness apps? Do youfavorite ones that truly help you to stay active?

 

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Asthma is not more prevalent in the inner city, researchers say

asthmaFor decades, childhood asthma was linked to living in urban areas. This is not the case anymore, says researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Race, ethnicity and poverty are actually more closely associated with the lung disease than location in urban neighborhoods. Looking at data from 23,065 children across the United States, they found that self-reported asthma attacks were equally found between inner city areas and all others areas. Interestingly, researchers found that “black race, Puerto Rican ethnicity and poverty rather than residence in an urban area per se are the major risk factors for prevalent asthma.” For African-Americans and Puerto Ricans, higher risk of asthma may be genetic, says Corrine Keet, assistant professor of pediatrics. For the poor, it may be stresses such as exposure to mouse and cockroach allergens, cigarette smoke, a higher rate of pre-term births and more maternal stress, she said. It is unclear whether inner-city children who have asthma may suffer more severe symptoms as a result of allergens there. Another study is currently being conducted to determine this. How often do you counsel patients with asthma symptoms?  Are you in agreement with the latest findings?

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A Blast of Cold Jump-Starts Fat Burning and Generates Body Heat

obesity_lThere seems to be some good news coming from the recent Arctic blast of cold air. Brown fat cells (the “good” fat cells) are activated every time the body feels the icy cold wind. Full of mitochondria, brown fat cells are responsible for protecting vital organs. During the winter, that calls for burning extra glucose the body stores as white fat (the “bad” fat) cells for heat. Researchers found that men who slept in 66 degree temperatures for a month saw an increase of brown fat cells by 30-40%. On the other hand, brown fat cell levels fell below baseline when they slept in rooms where the temperature was above 80 degrees. This led to the question of whether stimulating these fat cells would help in obesity and type 2 diabetes. A study led by Dr. Hei Sook Sul of the University of California, Berkeley, showed that when mice were fed high fat diet, those who were exposed to transcription factor Zfp516 (the protein critical to brown fat cell formation) gained 30% less weight than those mice who were not exposed. While the exact time one has to be outside is unknown, Sul recommends giving it a try at a safe exposure. How do you feel about recommending colder sleeping environment?  What other recommendations would you be comfortable to provide based on the results of this research?

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