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Make Safety A Priority This Halloween

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Halloween is a night for goblins and ghouls – or at least people dressed up as goblins and ghouls. And while it is one of the nights that kids look forward to, because they are allowed to stay up late and are showered with candy and chocolate, adults get to have a little fun of their own too. There will also undoubtedly be a lot of Halloween parties where grown-ups get to dress up and let go and be kids for a night.

HalloweenHalloween this year falls on a Sunday, which means the parties can begin as early as Friday night. As we set out to have a fun Halloween weekend, however, it is important to also think about safety and make this a priority as well.

An article on The Daily Times provides tips for a safe Halloween, courtesy of the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Parents are urged to exercise caution in choosing  Halloween costumes for their kids, although it can be quite a challenge to do that if your kid is at an age where he or she already has an idea or two regarding what they want to be for Halloween. Ensure that your child’s costume does not obstruct his or her view and that the costume is made of material or is of a color that is visible to motorists. You can probably be creative and strategically place reflective material somewhere on the costume. Before setting off to go treat-or-treating, try to review traffic safety rules with your kids.

If you have no kids and will be spending Halloween partying the night away, then plan on choosing a designated driver, or think about staying over at the party location or at a nearby hotel that is walking distance from the party. Drinking and driving is never a good idea, and it is even more so on Halloween, when there will be kids milling about on the streets. Be sure to obey speed limits in residential areas, and to be very conscious about children on the streets.

Have a happy, and safe, Halloween weekend!

Health & Wellness

Foods You Should Be Scared Of This Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner, and for those who are watching their weight and are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, this holiday marks the first of a series of holidays that will tempt you to have more than your ideal share of foods that are all wrong. WebMD shares a few of these “treats” that may taste heavenly – but ought to scare you away.

Halloween treatsColder nights call for warm hearty meals, and one of the yummy feel-good meals is creamy chicken pot pie, or a thick broccoli cheese soup. These are nice meals to come home to after that chilly commute from work – but one pie from the grocery store freezer can contain more than 1,000 calories. To get the same warm, welcome-home feel, try a flavorful roast chicken breast paired with a warm whole-wheat roll instead. If the game plan calls for a warm bowl of soup, a throw and a scary movie, go for broth-based and vegetable-based soups instead of creamy, cheesy ones.

Parties with chips, salsa and beer are a surefire way to pack on the pounds. Should you be a spoilsport and steer clear of parties? Not necessarily. It’s all about portion control, and about choosing what you eat. If you find veggies somewhere in the spread, munch on those instead of the nachos and wings. If you don’t have much of a choice, grab a plate and give yourself reasonable helpings – then don’t go back to the buffet.

These are just the meals… we will still have beverages and desserts to go through in succeeding posts!

Health & Wellness

Halloween Drinks And Desserts That Will Break Your Diet

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Should Halloween be an excuse to let go completely and forget about your diet? Not really, especially if you have made some progress but are still far from reaching your goal. This does not mean that you need to swear off Halloween, though. A little bit of homework, and a lot of discipline, will still allow you to go to shindigs and enjoy yourself, without straying too far from your health goals. A feature on WebMD shares how.

Halloween party foodsThere are a lot of tempting treats during the holidays, and one of these come in the form of warm, decadent beverages that are just perfect now that the nights are cold. There’s hot chocolate, cinnamon latte with whipped cream, and eggnog; all are yummy but are laden with calories. So how do you keep warm? Try a cup of green or flavored tea, a healthier and calorie-free substitute.

Another party staple is beer – bottles and kegs of it. Some helpful things to remember: set a drink limit for yourself (one to two should do it), and if available, choose light beer over regular beer. You can also try wine spritzers instead.

And what is a party without desserts? There will undoubtedly be pans of apple, pecan, and sweet potato pies, as well as all kinds of pumpkin desserts. What is one to do? You can still indulge – it is a holiday, after all – but just not all the way. Cut yourself a reasonably stingy sliver, just enough to tickle your taste buds without giving in to gluttonous desires.

Early Disease Detection

Non-Invasive Colon Cancer Screening Shows Promise During Early Trials

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It is an accepted fact that while colon cancer is ranked as among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths, the disease can be curable for as long as it is detected in its early stages. Unfortunately, colon cancer screening can involve invasive and uncomfortable procedures that some people shy away from. It is for this reason that part of colon cancer research focuses on developing non-invasive ways of detecting the disease.

colonA feature on Bloomberg Businessweek shares the results of early trials conducted on a new non-invasive test for colon cancer.

Dr. David A. Ahlquist is a professor of medicine and a consultant in gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is the lead researcher in a study that conducted preliminary testing on new technology called the Cologuard sDNA test; according to the Businessweek feature, the test works by identifying specific altered DNA in cells, which are shed into the patient’s stool by pre-cancerous or cancerous polyps.

The discovery of DNA abnormality will still call for a colonoscopy in order to confirm the results.

Dr. Ahlquist shared that Cologuard is the first non-invasive test that has the ability to detect pre-cancerous polyps, and is the only test that can spot cancer in all locations in the colon. The test also does not call for the patient to undergo special preparation.

Preliminary trials showed that the test was able to identify 64 percent of pre-cancerous polyps, and 85 percent of full-blown cancers. A presentation of the findings of the study was to be conducted by Dr. Ahlquist at the meeting on colorectal cancer, sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, in Philadelphia.

Early Disease Detection

Husband Diagnosed with Breast Cancer After Wife’s Death

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Breast cancer is more commonly regarded as a woman’s disease, but it can certainly strike any gender, albeit at a smaller rate. This makes the experience of Mike Story certainly unique.

Mike StoryMike Story is Executive Vice President of Advantage Home Telehealth, Inc., a medical-device company. His wife, Kelly, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46, as shared in a feature by CBS News. Mike supported Kelly throughout her more than two-year battle with breast cancer, which included accompanying her for treatments at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).

A year after Kelly’s death, the RPCI website shares that Mike received a shocking diagnosis: he, too, has breast cancer, the disease that claimed the life of his beloved wife, and the disease has metastasized to his bones.

Now, Mike Story is once again visiting RPCI, this time as a patient. His Roswell Park care team, which includes his late wife’s oncologist, Dr. Tracey O’Connor, has put together a treatment plan for Mike. Mike shared: “There’s a whole lot that’s gone on in the last few years. There’s a lot that comes at you… It’s life. You deal with it and you get through it.”

Mike and Kelly have a 20-year old daughter, Carly, who is in her third year at Canisius College. Father and daughter shared their story with CBS’ The Early Show, and both expressed commitment to spreading awareness about the disease, and supporting efforts towards fighting it. Just this June, Carly participated as co-captain for a team during the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Early Disease Detection

Awareness Among Those Suffering from Hypertension Increases

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A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed relatively good news in terms of high blood pressure awareness. According to a feature on WebMD, the CDC report shared that more people who are suffering from high blood pressure know that they have the condition.

hypertensionThe percentage of Americans who are aware that they are suffering from high blood pressure has increased to 80.6% in 2007-2008, from 69.6% in 1999-2000. This increase is accompanied by an increase in the percentage of people who are taking medications for the conditions, which went up to 73.7% in 2007-2008, from 60.2% in 1999-2000.

Researchers have attributed findings that indicated an increase in the percentage of people whose high blood pressure was controlled in the past decade to this apparent increase in awareness.

Nieca Goldberg, M.D., director of the Women’s Heart Program and clinical associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, shared the following of the report from the CDC: “We are now seeing more people being treated with medication, particularly younger people. There has to be a greater effort to impress healthy lifestyles on young people because long standing hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke and heart failure.”

The report signifies that efforts towards increasing public awareness in hypertension seem to be working. Despite the increase in awareness, however, the incidence of hypertension among adults has held steady over the past decade. This is true for men and women, all adult age groups, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Mexican-Americans.

Health & Wellness

“No to Fatties on TV” Article Sparks Debate

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We have done our own share of posts on obesity and weight issues, and recognize the fact that obesity is an epidemic in the United States that certainly merits attention.

Mike and MollyA post by Maura Kelly on Marie Claire may have done just that – bring attention to obesity; whether it was the right kind of attention, however, may be subject to debate. And quite a few readers made their opinion of the post quite clear.

Serving as the focal point for the entire piece is the sitcom Mike & Molly, which debuted on CBS last month. The series is set in Chicago and revolves around an overweight couple, police officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) and fourth-grade teacher Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy). The two met at Overeaters Anonymous, and started a budding romance.

Kelly’s piece is an offshoot of a post by Lisa Respers France on CNN, which dealt mainly with plus-sized actors and their opportunities in Hollywood.

Kelly mentions quite a few valid points, citing that obesity has its associated costs in terms of health care and that it was something that one can overcome. She even gives a few pointers on eating sensibly and making the right diet choices.

There were, however, a few other things in that piece that understandably offended some sensibilities, such as the mention of finding it “aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.”

We do need to talk about obesity, and watch it on screen, even; would you say, though, that this is the right way to do it?

Chicago Health Screening

Health & Wellness

Philanthropist George Soros Donates $ 1-M to Marijuana Legalization

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Advocates for the legalization of marijuana received substantial support from philanthropist George Soros on Tuesday, according to a report on the Los Angeles Times.

George SorosIn addition to endorsing Proposition 19, Soros donated $1 million towards the effort in the final week before election, scheduled for November 2. Dale Sky Jones, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 19 committee, shared: “Better late than never… It will be a nail-biter to the end.”

Soros’ donation came at a time when polls showed that support for the initiative was slipping. The Yes on 19 campaign had just begun to air ads on cable television, and is set to roll out a campaign ad with a former San Jose police chief in Chico, Fresno and Bakersfield. Part of the donation will undoubtedly go towards TV ads and efforts to reach undecided voters.

The donation was made to a campaign committee that was being run by the Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group that also receives financial support from Soros. The new infusion of funds leaves $1.5 million at the disposal of the Yes on 19 campaign.

Over on the other side, the No on 19 campaign is not raising as much dough. As of mid-October, the campaign had raised $47,000; large donations increased funds to $93,000, but this is nowhere near the amount available to legalization advocates. Roger Salazar, a spokesman for No on 19, shared: “We’ve been outspent on this campaign from Day 1, and the more they spend, it seems like the lower they go in the polls.” The No on 19 campaign is currently running radio ads in Redding and Chico, according to the report.

Los Angeles Drug Screening

Early Disease Detection

Famous Breast Cancer Survivors

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Breast cancer is a disease that can affect anybody, and there are quite a few famous faces that have fought against the disease. Here are some of the more famous breast cancer survivors.

sheryl crowSheryl Crow. The 48-year old singer-songwriter was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2006. She had undergone “minimally invasive” surgery and radiation therapy, and has since been declared cancer-free. She now regularly performs at benefits for breast cancer, and opened a digital screening and diagnostic imaging center – the Sheryl Crow Imaging Center – in August, 2010.

Melissa Etheridge. Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. She is remembered for showing off her bald head – a side effect of chemotherapy – during the 2005 Grammy Awards.

Maura Tierney. One of the stars of the show E.R., Tierney was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2009. She has one advice for women: do not be afraid to go to the doctor. She is now in remission and is set to appear in a new drama, “The Whole Truth.”

Christina Applegate. The Emmy Award-winning actress was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, at the age of 36. She underwent a double mastectomy and has been declared cancer-free. She has launched a foundation dedicated to breast cancer, called Right Action for Women.

Cynthia Nixon. Nixon, one of the stars of HBO’s Sex and the City, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She had a lumpectomy and underwent six and a half weeks of radiation, and is now free from the disease. Nixon has served as an ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Health & Wellness

Why Are You Always Tired?

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Fatigue is a fact of life, and at some point during the day it may be natural to feel worn out, and we take that as a sign that we should take a break. It is a different story, however, to feel tired and sluggish throughout the day, or right when your day is ideally just beginning. There may be several reasons as to why this is happening, and corresponding ways to fight them – as shared in a feature on WebMD.

fatigueIf you are feeling tired already even before it’s time for your mid-morning break, think back to how you spent the night – and the night before that. It is helpful to remember that adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Getting too little sleep will affect how you perform the following day. It is recommended that one keep a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. Avoid having the distractions of a modern lifestyle in your bedroom, such as cell phones and laptops.

If you are still having trouble sleeping after all these, it may be time to consult a doctor regarding the possibility of having a sleeping disorder, such as sleep apnea.

One of the reasons why people may feel tired is not having enough to eat during the day – or eating the wrong kinds of food. Do not forget to eat a balanced diet, starting with a healthy breakfast rich in protein and complex carbs to kick-off your day. This will keep your blood sugar within a normal range; that fatigued, sluggish feeling that people sometimes feel may be a result of a drop in blood sugar levels.