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For April 26, 2018

  • Vigorous Exercise Helps Women Quit Smoking, Stay Smoke Free
    Vigorous Exercise Helps Women Quit Smoking, Stay Smoke Free

    CHICAGO (AP)--Women who exercise vigorously while trying to quit smoking are twice as likely to kick the habit than wannabe ex-smokers who don't work out regularly, a new study finds.

    The report also offers good news to female smokers who fear that giving up tobacco and nicotine will lead to weight gain. Researchers found that women who worked out as they tried to quit gained only about half the weight of those who did not exercise.

    "I can't say that definitively this will help all people, but given all of the other health benefits associated with regular exercise I would certainly encourage people trying to quit smoking to talk to their physicians about starting a program," said Bess Marcus, an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and the study's lead author.

    The findings appear in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Researchers at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., followed 281 healthy but sedentary female smokers who attended a 12-week program to stop smoking. About half of the women participated in supervised workouts three times a week during the program while the others did not.

    Of the 134 women in the group who exercised regularly, 19.4 percent kicked the habit for at least two months after their program ended while 10.2 percent of the 147 non-exercisers did the same.

    Three months later, the comparison of those still smoke-free was 16.4 percent to 8.2 percent, respectively, and 11.9 percent vs. 5.4 percent a year later. The women ranged between ages 18 and 65 and had smoked routinely for at least a year.

    "There seems to be a new drug every day to help you quit smoking," Marcus said in a telephone interview Sunday. "But this study suggests that there's a drug-free alternative to quitting smoking if that's what you prefer."

    While the researchers at Miriam Hospital studied only women smokers, men who want to quit should expect similar results, said Dr. Michael Roizen, head of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.

    "I don't think it (gender) makes any difference," said Roizen, a health and lifestyle modification enthusiast who was not involved in the study. "I think you almost have to do some sort of exercise to be successful at quitting."

    Read More...
  • Dieticians look at health effects of coffee
    Dieticians look at health effects of coffee
    From Medical Correspondent Linda Ciampa

    (CNN) -- Millions of Americans jump start their day with a cup of coffee, but what are the health effects of this morning ritual? That is the question being discussed at this week's American Dietetic Association's (ADA) meeting in Atlanta.

    "The research shows us that moderation which is about three cups of coffee a day is fine. It does not cause disease," said ADA's Edith Howard Hogan.

    While it is unlikely that coffee will cause cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis, there are a few reasons some people should cut back on their intake.

    For instance, studies have shown drinking more than three cups of coffee a day may affect a woman's fertility and increase pregnant women's risk of early delivery. And while the evidence in humans is inconclusive, caffeine has been shown to cause birth defects in rats.

    Also to be considered is caffeine's impact on mood and sleep. Dr. John Hughes of the University of Vermont and others say the substance is addictive and for some people, as little as a cup of coffee a day is too much.

    "If you have anxiety or insomnia, it's very important to look at your caffeine intake and cut down on your caffeine and see if that makes it better, because this is an easy fix," said Hughes.

    But stopping cold turkey is not always easy, some people experience withdrawal symptoms including headaches and cramps.

    Experts say caffeine is something that should be given up slowly. The best way to quit is by reducing the number of cups of coffee you drink each day, or diluting the full strength coffee with a decaffeinated version. As you slowly reduce intake the caffeine craving with disappear.

    Read More...
  • Nutrition Lies on the Net
    Nutrition Lies on the Net

    Internet Health Myths

    (MSNBC Health, September 17 1999) � Along with increased access to helpful health information, the Internet also offers inaccurate information that can distract people from healthful activities, and persuade others to take actions that are sometimes downright dangerous.

    FOR EXAMPLE, a weight loss diet including only grapefruit, vegetables, eggs and meat has been circulating on the Internet for several years. Supposedly, the world-famous Mayo Clinic recommended it, and it can melt pounds away. The Mayo Clinic never recommended such a diet. A single call to its nutrition department clarified that. Comparing this diet with recommendations from a wide range of nutrition and weight-loss experts will tell you more. People may temporarily lose weight on this diet because of very low calorie intake, but there is no magical effect of the grapefruit or combinations of the foods prescribed. When people get tired of the monotony of this diet, they tend to regain any weight lost. And the diet is not �healthy�; it is grossly inadequate nutritionally.

    Another story that has appeared on the Internet for several months involves aspartame (NutraSweet). The story contains a long list of illnesses linked to aspartame, including multiple sclerosis (MS), brain cancer and seizures, and it talks about the danger of aspartame to body cells. The medical literature, however, shows that aspartame is not absorbed into the body; it is first broken down into phenylalanine and asparatic acid (amino acids that are building blocks of protein) and methanol.

    The Internet story goes into detail about the damage from methanol, yet according to a review in the respected medical journal Lancet, fruit juice can contain twice as much methanol as soda with aspartame. Alcoholic drinks contain even more than that. The amino acid phenylalanine that is blasted in the Internet letter is far more concentrated in eggs, milk and most meat. The senior medical advisor for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation describes the Internet article as �scandalously misinformative.�

    Before you act on any information from the Internet, or pass it on to anyone else, check the sources. Call organizations cited to make sure they were quoted accurately. Check that the organizations themselves are credible sources of information, and check on the background of any cited �experts.� If that�s hard to do, it�s not a good sign for the accuracy of the story.

    You can verify information on diet and cancer risk by calling the American Institute for Cancer Research toll-free nutrition hotline at 800-843-8114.

    Read More...
  • Nutrition Lies on the Net
    Nutrition Lies on the Net

    Internet Health Myths

    (MSNBC Health, September 17 1999) � Along with increased access to helpful health information, the Internet also offers inaccurate information that can distract people from healthful activities, and persuade others to take actions that are sometimes downright dangerous.

    FOR EXAMPLE, a weight loss diet including only grapefruit, vegetables, eggs and meat has been circulating on the Internet for several years. Supposedly, the world-famous Mayo Clinic recommended it, and it can melt pounds away. The Mayo Clinic never recommended such a diet. A single call to its nutrition department clarified that. Comparing this diet with recommendations from a wide range of nutrition and weight-loss experts will tell you more. People may temporarily lose weight on this diet because of very low calorie intake, but there is no magical effect of the grapefruit or combinations of the foods prescribed. When people get tired of the monotony of this diet, they tend to regain any weight lost. And the diet is not �healthy�; it is grossly inadequate nutritionally.

    Another story that has appeared on the Internet for several months involves aspartame (NutraSweet). The story contains a long list of illnesses linked to aspartame, including multiple sclerosis (MS), brain cancer and seizures, and it talks about the danger of aspartame to body cells. The medical literature, however, shows that aspartame is not absorbed into the body; it is first broken down into phenylalanine and asparatic acid (amino acids that are building blocks of protein) and methanol.

    The Internet story goes into detail about the damage from methanol, yet according to a review in the respected medical journal Lancet, fruit juice can contain twice as much methanol as soda with aspartame. Alcoholic drinks contain even more than that. The amino acid phenylalanine that is blasted in the Internet letter is far more concentrated in eggs, milk and most meat. The senior medical advisor for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation describes the Internet article as �scandalously misinformative.�

    Before you act on any information from the Internet, or pass it on to anyone else, check the sources. Call organizations cited to make sure they were quoted accurately. Check that the organizations themselves are credible sources of information, and check on the background of any cited �experts.� If that�s hard to do, it�s not a good sign for the accuracy of the story.

    You can verify information on diet and cancer risk by calling the American Institute for Cancer Research toll-free nutrition hotline at 800-843-8114.

    Read More...
  • Easy Rider: Pain-Free Bike Riding
    Easy Rider: Pain-Free Bike Riding

    (Prevention Magazine, 9 August 1999) Breezing around on a bike can make you feel like a kid again. But a stiff back or sore joints can snap you back to reality within minutes -- or really hammer you the next day. To keep bike riding pain-free, follow these tips to prevent...

    An achy back: Adjust the seat and handlebars so that your back's not too stretched out. Your elbows should be slightly bent and your back at no less than a 50-degree angle to the road. Another tip: Alternate rounding and arching your back every 10 to 15 minutes. Muscles fatigue quickly and become sore when they have to maintain the same position for a long time.

    Knee pain: A seat that's too high or too low can stress your knees. To get the right height, adjust the seat so that there is a slight bend at the knee even when your foot is at its lowest point. More tips: Stick to low gears so you spin easily instead of straining in a higher gear, and keep your knees pointing straight ahead as you pedal.

    A sore bottom: A large, cushy seat may not be the answer. Too-soft foam may allow you to sink into the hard frame. A seat that's too wide can cause your legs to rub, resulting in chafing. Try seats specially designed for women; they offer extra padding where you need it most. Or, try a gel seat cover. Another tip: Invest in a good pair of bike shorts. They come with a built-in cushion that pads and protects your bottom. There are also new baggy styles available, as well as underwear versions to wear with regular shorts. (These are all designed to replace regular underpants.)

    A stiff neck: When your upper body is too extended, it can cause neck strain. Unless you're a hard-core rider, you can try switching to handlebars that allow you to sit more upright, such as mountain-bike style or the old-fashioned, antler-shaped type. If you really want the aerodynamics of a road bike, make sure you move your neck around frequently, so it's not in one position for too long.

    Tingling hands: Gripping the handlebars too tightly for too long can lead to pain, numbness, or tingling. Change hand positions often, and keep your elbows unlocked.

    Quick Tip: If you're riding for several hours, the best way to avoid all-over aches and pains is to take frequent breaks. When you stop, walk around and do some stretches.

    Read More...
  • Canadian study offers new evidence of exercise's benefits
    Canadian study offers new evidence of exercise's benefits

    September 17 -- A University of Calgary study is one of the first to indicate that fibromyalgia patients may benefit from an exercise program that includes strength training.

    Published in the June 1996 issue of The Journal of Rheumatology, the study found that a short-term exercise program led to a decrease in both the number of tender points and the degree of muscle tenderness. Also, it improved aerobic fitness levels. The program combined strength training, aerobic activity, and flexibility training.

    Thirty-eight subjects completed the study. Eighteen fibromyalgia patients were in the exercise group, and 20 fibromyalgia patients were in a comparison relaxation group. For six weeks, the exercise group met for an hour three times a week to participate in equal amounts of aerobic walking, flexibility training, and strength training. The comparison group met on the same schedule to participate in hour long relaxation sessions that included yoga and visualization training.

    By the end of the study, the exercise group's number of tender points had decreased by an average of 2.5, and muscle tenderness had improved by about 32 percent. The exercise group did indicate more fatigue at the end of the study. Researchers attributed that finding to the sedentary lifestyle led by a majority of the group's members before participating in the study. The relaxation group inexplicably showed decreased aerobic fitness.

    This short-term study supports previous findings about the benefits of exercise. Only further research can determine the long-term effects of exercise in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

    As the study's authors noted any fibromyalgia patient wishing to begin an exercise program should seek out an instructor familiar with fibromyalgia who can design an appropriate individualized program.

    Read More...

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