Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hormonal Contraceptives Linked to Depression

Hormonal contraception was introduced way back in 1960 with the release of the combined oral contraceptive pill (containing two hormones: estrogen and progestin). Now, more than 50 years later, an estimated 20 percent of women use some form of hormonal contraception worldwide, and in the U.S., that figure is significantly higher: more than 60 percent. Depression is also prevalent in women, who are more than twice as likely to experience symptoms than men. And that leads us to the troubling association between the two (contraceptive use and depression), as supported by recent research.

Women who use hormonal contraception are a whopping 40 percent more likely to experience symptoms of depression after only six months of use, according to the latest research published in the American Medical Association's peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study tracked 1 million-plus women ages 15-34 for more than a decade. The risk increase was even more pronounced when evaluating specific contraception use: Progestin-only pills more than doubled the risk, while levonorgestrel IUD use tripled the risk. Risk also increased for users of hormone-based transdermal patches and vaginal rings.

While the researchers are quick to note that their findings don't necessarily mean hormonal contraceptive use causes depression, the moral to this story is clear: All women should have an informed discussion with their health care provider regarding the relative risks and benefits of any type of contraception before initiating use. *

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

3 Ways To Get Fit This Summer!

If you're like most of us, you spend most of your year slaving away indoors, either at home or at your local gym. What better time than summer to get your sweat in the great outdoors and take a well-deserved break from your musty, dusty, altogether routine exercise routine? After all, exercise is where you find it – here are a few places you can look first.

1. Stairway to (Fitness) Heaven: You'll be amazed how easy it is to find a set of outdoor steps / stairs that can serve as a fun fitness tool. Whether it's steps leading down to a secluded beach or up to the top of a local landmark, steps provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy summer while getting a tremendous incline / decline workout. If steps aren't your thing, try a challenging hike that lets you enjoy the outdoors while getting a great workout at the same time. Any of these options will feel like a refreshing change from your machine workouts at the gym / home.

2. The Road Less Traveled: In general, when we encounter a wall of any sort, we either go around it or find a door to go through it. But what if, for fitness purposes at least, you chose to jump over (or on top of) it? Of course, it can't be too high a wall – we're talking anywhere from 2-3 feet, depending on your level of fitness. If it's a short, wide stone / cement wall bordering the sidewalk, you can either jump over it (and then back) for 10-15 repetitions or jump on top and then back down again. It's the outdoor version of the box jump, and it's another great workout you can do outdoors this summer.

3. School's in for Summer: Kids are out of school, but those abandoned playgrounds are a perfect outdoor gym to help meet your summer fitness goals! Whether you do chin-ups on the monkey bars , swing from the rings, climb the rubber rock wall (an increasingly popular element of new playground set-ups) or find more creative ways to utilize the equipment, you'll get a tremendous whole-body workout and teach your kids how to do the same thing during the school year.

Too many of us spend too much of our lives indoors, and that applies to our exercise regimens as well. This summer, change things up by moving your workout outdoors whenever possible. It's time to find your summer fitness groove and run with it.  Get more great health info here!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Healthy Habits Can Cut Your Cancer Risk In HALF!

Adopting a healthy lifestyle could prevent a huge number of cancer cases and possibly save tens of thousands of lives in the U.S, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at 89,571 Caucasian women and 46,399 Caucasian men enrolled in two ongoing cohorts to see how much a healthy lifestyle could reduce cancer risk. 

Of the people studied, 16,531 women and 11,731 men had a healthy lifestyle pattern and were determined to be low risk. These healthy patterns included moderate or no drinking, a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, weekly physical activity that included at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, and either never having smoked or currently not being a smoker. 

The authors then studied cancer rates among the high- and low-risk groups. They found that overall, 20 percent to 40 percent of carcinoma cases and about half of carcinoma deaths can be potentially prevented through lifestyle modification. Carcinomas form in the lining of certain tissues or organs and is the most common form of cancer. 

The authors clarify that more study needs to be done to ensure these findings translate to other ethnic groups.
"These findings reinforce the predominate importance of lifestyle factors in determining cancer risk. Therefore, primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control," the authors concluded in the study.- abcnews

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

More Running = Less Cancer!

Are you getting at least an hour each day of physical activity? How about 30 minutes of moderate-level activity five days a week? Or at least 20 minutes of intense workout three days a week? If yes, congratulations! If no, then you are not meeting the recommended minimum weekly exercise requirements—just like more than half of the American population.

Exercise boasts results such as: mood improvement, weight loss, hormone balancing, increased metabolism, clear skin, lower blood pressure, and the positive list goes on. But now, researchers have discovered that the more often you exercise, the less likely you are to develop 13 different types of cancer.

The National Cancer Institute conducted a study over the course of approximately 11 years. Researchers focused on 1.4 million participants, how much they exercised, and whether they had been stricken with some form of cancer over the duration of the study.

JAMA Internal Medicine recently published the findings: over 186,000 cases of 26 different types of cancer had evolved. Here’s the good news—the people who exercised more frequently had a lower risk of getting 13 of those recorded cancers from the study.

The greatest reduction of risk (in those who worked out a good amount of time and with moderate intensity) was in esophageal cancer. A person who exercises regularly has a 42% less chance of getting it than someone who doesn’t exercise enough.

Other types of cancer where the risk was lessened was: liver, lung, kidney, colon, bladder, and seven others—including breast cancer, which had a 10% reduction risk.

The study also concluded that even taking yoga classes or walking quickly counted as forms of exercise. As mentioned, the researchers remained focused on physical activity as a possible deterrent to certain forms of cancer. Whether the participants smoked, drank, or engaged in unhealthy eating habits were not factors regarded in this particular trial.

The Centers for Disease Control want to remind the public that although 150 minutes of exercise per week may sound like a lot, it’s closely equivalent to the amount of time spent watching a movie or an evening of television. And, the upside is that workout time can be spread throughout the week (as long as some vigorous movement occurs at least three times or more.) Move with energy, stay healthy. - Thrive

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Better Posture, Better Health

Ever try balancing a book on your head (for more than a second)? To do it, you need more than just patience; you need ideal posture.

One hundred and thirty thousand years ago, when residents of the planet possessed complete Neanderthalic characteristics, posture wasn't really that high on the list of health priorities, to say the least At the time, we assume finding food, surviving the seasons and avoiding death by all manner of creatures were considerably more important. But this is 2011 and we can stand upright, walk upright and consider our health a precious asset. And yet, like the Neanderthals, our apparent disinterest in good posture remains.

Why is good posture so important? It's pretty simple. When the spine is properly aligned with its natural curvature and the entire body – from the ears to the shoulders to the hips, knees and down to the ankles and feet – is in balance, we maximize spine health and avoid poor posture-related pain and dysfunction. Ideal posture creates ideal balance; it also optimizes breathing and circulation. And shouldn't we all want to achieve that?

May is National Correct Posture Month, so we thought it was high time to get you out of your slumped, bent-back, round-shoulders position that is likely all too common if you work at a computer, spend considerable time texting or checking e-mail on your cell phone (who doesn't these days?), or engage in any of the countless activities that put your back, neck and spine at risk courtesy of poor posture. It's time to stand tall, walk tall and improve your spinal health, all at the same time!

For tips on the best ways to perfect your posture, look no further than Straighten Up America, a health promotion initiative developed in 2005 with an admirable vision: to educate the public about the importance of good posture and spinal health, to the point that "every American will take two or three minutes every day to care for their spinal health, just as they care for their dental health." Straighten Up, which partners in promoting the nation's health with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, is designed to get children and adults up and moving while they improve their posture and spinal health. The Straighten Up program also includes healthy lifestyle recommendations congruent with the goals and objectives of Healthy People 2010, America on the Move, Steps to a Healthier US and the 5 A Day programs.

One of the earliest tests of this program proved quite encouraging: After five weeks of daily practice of "Straighten Up" exercises, more than 80 percent of participants reported improved posture; just under 80 percent said they had strengthened their core muscles; and 80 percent reported that after performing the exercises, they now sat and stood more upright, and their backs felt more comfortable in that position.

 Are you and your family ready to perfect your posture? Here are a few Straighten Up exercises; to download the complete list and for more information, visit

The Butterfly: Standing and with head held high, belly button in, place your arms behind your head and gently pull your elbows backward. Slowly and gently press your head against your hands while counting to two. Relax, breathe, and repeat three times.

Tilting Star: With head high and belly button in, spread your arms and legs into a star. Breathe in and slowly stretch one arm over your head and slide your opposite arm down your leg. Slowly tilt your star to the opposite side. Relax. Repeat two times.

Twirling Star: In the star position (hands and legs forming a star; see Tilting Star description), turn your head to look at one hand. Slowly twist your entire spine to watch your hand as it goes behind you. Relax and repeat (each side) two times. Keep your head high, belly button in.

The Hummingbird: With head high and belly button in, put your arms out to the sides with your hands up and pull your shoulders together in the back. Now make small, backward circles with your hands and arms. Bend at your waist from side to side, keeping the circles going as you count to 10.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lack of Sleep Could Be Endangering Your Teen!

We all know how important sleep is – if you don't, go without it (or without enough of it) for a few days and then see what happens, even in the short term.

Now consider the established consequences of chronic sleep problems: increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke, among other health issues.

Who's suffering? Anyone can experience sleep problems, whether short or long term, but research is revealing one population may be at particular risk: teens – and some of the consequences are issues that already keep worried parents awake at night.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests teens who get less than seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to engage in one or more risky health behaviors including texting and driving, drinking and driving (or riding with a driver who'd been drinking), or not wearing a seat belt than teens who get nine or more hours of sleep nightly. Of course, all of the above behaviors increase the risk of serious injury or death.

So, how can you help teens get better sleep? The Cleveland Clinic offers the following advice to help ensure teens get adequate sleep on a nightly basis:

  • Be Consistent: Teens need approximately nine hours of sleep a night to function optimally. To achieve this, try to maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule throughout the week and even on weekends.
  • Nap Wisely: A good nap is a great way to rejuvenate, but limit them to 20-30 minutes in the early afternoon only to avoid difficulty falling asleep at night.
  • Exercise Matters: Consistent exercise of at least 30-60 minutes a day, four-plus times a week, will help teens sleep better - but make sure to avoid exercise within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
  • Eat Smart: Going to bed hungry (or too full) can cause sleep problems, so eat healthy meals throughout the day and a light snack 1-2 hours before bedtime.
  • Preparation Is Key: A quiet, comfortable, dark bedroom is ideal for proper sleep. Another key: Keep it clean (a challenge for many teens) and relaxing.

To read the clinic's complete list of sleep recommendations for teens, click here. If you're a teen or the parent of a teen who's having trouble getting adequate, restful sleep, talk to your doctor about these and other solutions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Think Straight: Concussion Facts

If you've done any research on concussions, you have probably already familiarized yourself with the Zurich Statement1 and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's fact sheet,2 among other relevant literature.

While public awareness of the problem is much greater today than it was 10-15 years ago, there is still much confusion among the general public. Here are some important points to be aware of and discuss with your doctor:

You Don't Have to Hit Your Head to Hurt Your Brain

Many people still think a blow to the head is required to get a concussion. There is now widespread scientific consensus that an injury to another part of the body can transmit enough force to the head to cause concussion. Therefore, all sorts of trauma, including sports injuries, assaults, slip-and-fall incidents and whiplash, can cause concussion.

A Concussion Doesn't Always Result in a Knockout

While a dazed feeling is common, loss of consciousness actually afflicts a minority of concussion victims. This fact still surprises many people.

The Concussion You Have Immediately Isn't Necessarily the Concussion You Have Eventually

The severity of the concussion may not be apparent until hours or days after the trauma. If this is not understood by those in close contact with the concussion victim, deterioration can be easily missed.

You Can't Just Snap a Picture of a Concussion

Ever suffered a blow to the head, but an MRI was done and found no concussion? The misconception that standard imaging will rule out concussion is still prevalent. A careful history and physical exam are essential in evaluating and following the concussion victim.

Concussions Don't Always Go Away by Themselves

Sadly, concussion victims are too often told to "walk it off," even today. While a majority of adults recover from signs and symptoms of concussion within 10 days (3-4 weeks for children and adolescents), a significant minority develop post-concussion chronicity.

An Injury That Hurts Your Brain Hurts Your Spine

The misconception that doctors of chiropractic have no legitimate role to play in managing the concussion victim is unfortunately widespread within the health professional community, as well as the lay public. It surely boggles your imagination that someone could emerge from a concussive injury and not have new subluxations or exacerbation of existing ones.3 Recent clinical findings indicate failure to correct these subluxations can be a factor in chronicity of concussion symptoms.4

By Charles Masarsky, DC, FICC
1.    McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport. The 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport Held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med, 2013;47:250-258.
2.    "Facts for Physicians About Mild Traumatic Brain Injury." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.
3.    Masarsky C. "The Concussion-Subluxation Complex." Dynamic Chiropractic, Nov. 15, 2015.
4.    Masarsky C. "Post-Concussion Patient Care: Relevance of the Chiropractic Adjustment." Dynamic Chiropractic, Aug. 1, 2014.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why Choose Chiropractic?

When you're suffering low back pain, shoulder pain or any number of similar musculoskeletal conditions, who gets the call: your medical doctor or your doctor of chiropractic? Your choice of health care provider in those situations could make a big difference, and research is continuing to prove it.

According to the latest study, chiropractic care is at least as effective as medical care for certain musculoskeletal conditions, while reducing health care costs and leaving patients more satisfied with the results.

The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), went so far as to state that for certain musculoskeletal conditions, visiting an MD first instead of a DC may actually be a mistake:

"The findings of this study support first-contact care provided by DCs as an alternative to first-contact care provided by MDs for a select number of musculoskeletal conditions. Restrictive models of care in which patients are required to contact a medical provider before consulting a chiropractic provider may be counterproductive for patients experiencing the musculoskeletal conditions investigated and possibly others."

The study sample included 403 patients who saw medical doctors and 316 patients who saw doctors of chiropractic as the initial health care providers for their spinal, hip or shoulder pain complaint. Four months following care, all patients completed a questionnaire that evaluated pain on that day and four months earlier (11-point scale); satisfaction with care received and the results of that care (5-point scale from "very satisfied" to "very unsatisfied"); and other variables. The researchers evaluated related costs of care by reviewing an insurance claims database.

"Patients initially consulting MDs had significantly less reduction in their numerical pain rating score and were significantly less likely to be satisfied with the care received and the outcome of care." What's more average per-patient costs over the four-month period were significantly lower in patients who initially consulted DCs ($368 difference compared to MD care).

JMPT Editor-in-Chief Claire Johnson, DC, MEd, emphasized the importance of the latest findings: "Comparative studies – in other words, research that compares the outcomes between two different providers or modalities – are rare for chiropractic care," she said. "Thus, this study ... is especially important if payers and policy-makers are to better understand the ‘triple aim' as it relates to chiropractic. Specifically, this study helps us better understand what type of care provides better patient satisfaction, is more cost effective, and improves population health."

The answer, suggests an increasing body of research, is chiropractic care.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sure-Fire Ways to Stay Healthy Into Your Golden Years

With life expectancy on the rise in the U.S. and many other countries, the opportunity exists to live longer – if we choose to take advantage of it. Live a life of bad health habits and you'll find your golden years filled with chronic disease or altogether nonexistent.

The key to healthy aging is pursuing healthy-living strategies regardless of whether you're in your 20s or your 60s. Here are four sure-fire ways to stay healthy into your golden years and join the increasing numbers of seniors living healthy, productive lives.

1. Keep moving: You can never discount the benefits of physical activity, particularly as it relates to healthy aging. After all, regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes exponentially. What's more, physical activity has a hidden benefit when it comes to health: it makes you feel – and look – good, which can help fight depression, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve self-esteem, all of which can make a big difference as you age.

2. Keep in touch: Research suggests people who maintain large social circles as they age tend to live longer than those who have only a few friends / acquaintances they connect with regularly. Keeping in touch on the Internet or via e-mail is one thing, but there's nothing like a face-to-face experience to reinforce your reason for being and make you feel alive. You might not think that matters much when you're younger, but consider how it might feel to be alone at age 70 versus surrounded by friends and loved ones.

3. Keep thinking: The brain requires constant stimulation or it starts to decay, evidence suggests. That's why people who continually challenge their brains – with board games, puzzles, learning new skills, etc. – tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive decline than people who don't. Stimulate your brain and your brain will reward you by staying sharp and healthy as you age.

4. Keep calm: There are few things more dangerous than stress when it comes to your health, so do everything you can every day to keep stress levels low. Even when faced with a high-pressure, high-stress situation, take a deep breath and think about how you can defuse the pressure / stress and make it more manageable. Chronic stress has been implicated as a factor in physical and psychological disease, so keep your stress under control and you'll up your chances of living longer, healthier and happier.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

5 Ways to Survive the Worst Allergy Season Ever

Spring is in the air – literally, in the form of massive pollen levels that are causing an historic spike in cases of seasonal allergy, also known as allergic rhinitis.

In fact, health experts are calling this the worst allergy season on record, which means the tactics you overlooked last year to survive the sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes and various other symptoms may require real attention this time around. Bad news for spring-lovers who can't wait to emerge from their winter cocoons and enjoy the outdoors. After all, who wants to smell the flowers when doing so causes you to feel miserable?

If you're an allergy sufferer who's used to "getting away" with minimal attention to allergy avoidance, this is definitely not the year to push the envelope. With an early spring and record pollen levels, you could be asking for trouble – big trouble. Here are five ways to minimize your risk of succumbing to seasonal allergies this year:

1. Pick your spots: One of the best ways to minimize your exposure to allergens such as pollen is to make smart choices. For example, pollen levels tend to be highest in the morning or when it hasn't rained in awhile. And let's not get started on wind, which can not only circulate pollen, but also tends to cause allergy-like symptoms – a bad combination that can ruin your day.

2. Keep it out: Unless you've got a garden in your living room, the good news about pollen is that it's outside, which means you can take a few simple steps to keep it there. For starters, keep windows closed whenever possible (especially if it's windy). If you've been out, change your clothes once you get in the house, and try not to repeat-wear clothing. If it's been a particularly bad day in terms of pollen and/or you've spent most or all of the day outdoors, you may want to throw your clothes directly into the washer. And speaking of that garden in your living room, avoid bringing flowers into the house – unless putting a romantic gesture on display is worth the allergy symptoms that may accompany it.

3. Seek shade: The eyes are often the hardest hit by allergy symptoms. No one wants to spend their day rubbing watery, itchy, dry, red eyes, and trust us, it doesn't look good when you're making that big presentation in the boardroom. Two tips: 1) Wear sunglasses whenever you're outside during allergy season. (This is also a good idea because with spring comes sunnier skies, putting your eyes at risk for sun damage if they aren't protected.) 2) Carry saline drops to keep your eyes moist throughout the day, which will help when pollen, dust, etc., inevitably attack your field of vision.

4. Clean up: It's amazing how many health issues can be minimized with the simple act of washing your hands, and when it comes to seasonal allergies, it's a great recommendation. During allergy season, it becomes even more important because pollen and other irritants transfer easily from your hands to your face / mouth if you're not careful (much like germs that cause the common cold).

5. Eat smart: Research suggests vitamin C, which is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to being available in supplement form, provides an antihistamine benefit that may help minimize allergy symptoms. (Histamine is released from cells as part of an allergic reaction.) Probiotics or "healthy bacteria," found in yogurt and increasingly added to a number of food products, also may reduce allergic symptoms caused by exposure to pollen. And don't forget that in general, a balanced diet high in antioxidants and other immune-boosting compounds helps your body defend whenever it's attacked – even by allergens.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Eat Healthier With "More of This and Less of That"

The latest guidelines from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Dept. of Health and Human Services provide a road map for better health through nutrition, but you may need to make some adjustments to make the guidelines a part of your daily eating routine.  Here's a brief breakdown of some of the major recommendations in the new guidelines to help you and your family eat healthier, more nutritious meals:

Say No to Sugar
Sugar’s been on the danger list for some time, but the latest guidelines go even further, particularly when it comes to sugar found in processed foods. The new recommendations suggest added sugar should constitute no more than 10 percent of daily calories, down from 15 percent in the old guidelines.

Lower Your Sodium Intake
The latest guidelines recommend we consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (salt) per day. From a visual perspective, that means no more than approximately 1 teaspoon daily. From a numbers perspective, consider that your average can of soup (2-3 servings total) contains almost that amount, if not more. Salt is also a staple of many processed foods, packaged meals, and of course, fast-food and restaurant fare.

Keep the Protein LeanThe guidelines endorse lean meat, turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds as elements of a healthy diet, but urge Americans to consume no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat. That means keep the meat lean and avoid common meat- and meal-toppers such as butter, whole milk / cream and certain oils.

Stick With the Staples
While not endorsing a vegetarian diet, the updated guidelines stress that the balance of your daily diet should be heavy on whole fruits, colorful vegetables, legumes (beans and peas) and whole grains. At least 50 percent of your daily grain consumption should be of the whole-grain variety, according to the guidelines.

To review additional recommendations in the new guidelines, click here.