The Buffalo News - Health Latest stories from The Buffalo News en-us Sun, 13 Jul 2014 21:47:04 -0400 Sun, 13 Jul 2014 21:47:04 -0400 <![CDATA[ Conference to focus on peer counseling ]]>
That’s why the regional mental health community seeks more of them.

The first Western New York Regional Peer Conference will take place next Saturday in the Butler Rehabilitation Center on the campus of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

The theme of the conference will be “Peers Promoting Wellness and Recovery Throughout the Lifespan.”

Peers have the lived experience of mental illness. The peer perspective is viewed as a way to help others maneuver through health services that focus on wellness and recovery. The conference aims to:

• Attract new people to the mental health peer movement.

• Offer education to peers, providers and families in our community.

• Give peers an opportunity to share their skills and expertise, and network with others involved in supporting recovery.

• Increase awareness of how peers can contribute to others in recovery from serious mental illnesses.

Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health, will give the keynote address, and a variety of peer-led workshops will be part of the conference. Topics will include: peers working with peers; stepping beyond illness; youth peer mentorship in the community; understanding peer support services in the Veterans Health Administration; and the power of laughter for wellness.

“Much of the training offered today is through webinars and video presentations,” said Kathy Lynch, director in the psychiatric center’s Center for Self Discovery and well-known local peer advocate. “We find that those living in the rural areas of the Western New York region rarely have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with others involved in the peer movement. The peer conference will make it possible for peers to meet and learn from more experienced peers.”

The Regional Peer Conference will be preceded Friday by the 13th annual HA HA Conference – Healthy Alternatives Through the Healing Arts – also taking place in the Butler Rehabilitation Center. The HA HA conference will provide a variety of workshops to help individuals use holistic healing to support their recovery journey.

The registration fee for peers is $15 for one day and $24 for both days. Partial peer scholarships are available. The fee for non-peers is $20 for one day and $32 for two days. The fee includes a continental breakfast and lunch.

For more information, contact conference co-chairs, Lynch, 816-2142, or Sharon Ward, 816-2913.

The conference is sponsored by the Center for Self Discovery in collaboration with peer and mental health provider organizations that include Healthy Alternatives Through the Healing Arts (HA HA), the Restoration Society Inc., Mental Health Peer Connection, Peers Helping Peers, New Directions Recovery Center, the Mental Health Association of Erie County, and the state Office of Mental Health Western New York Field Unit. ]]>
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:20:51 -0400
<![CDATA[ Adverse reactions to energy drinks raise red flag ]]>
Catching a third wind is priceless, which is why energy-drink sales are in the billions each year. But there may be a hidden cost.

As sales skyrocket, so do energy-drink-related emergency room visits: Between 2007 and 2011, they doubled from about 10,000 to nearly 21,000 visits. In a recent study from the University of Southern California – which randomly sampled emergency room patients – a third of patients who reported downing energy drinks had adverse reactions ranging from heart palpitations to chest pain to seizures.

Even more frightening, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received reports of at least 15 deaths related to energy drinks. Although there’s no proof linking these negative reactions to drinking an energy drink, “no one really knows how dangerous they are,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. “They certainly raise a caution flag about drinking too much (caffeine) too quickly.”

The FDA recently launched an investigation into the safety of caffeine added to food and beverages.

Contrary to what you might think, these purported power drinks aren’t just being guzzled by frat boys. The largest increase in energy-drink-related ER visits was in people over 40.

Why? Energy drinks may deliver an instant jolt that java doesn’t.

“Some contain large amounts of caffeine. And they’re consumed differently than coffee. They’re are gulped, rather than sipped,” said Jacobson.

And that’s where the problem lies.

“In the ER, we’ll usually see somebody who has heart palpitations or maybe hand or body tremors from drinking too many. However, we have seen a few patients who’ve had seizures,” said Dr. Sean Nordt, director of toxicology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine.

These reactions aren’t imaginary, either. A new, unpublished, study presented at the American Heart Association’s 2013 Scientific Sessions found that downing energy drinks raises systolic blood pressure by an average 3.5 points and can cause potentially fatal irregular heartbeats. Your risk of dangerous heart-rhythm disturbances is higher if you have an underlying heart condition or high blood pressure.

The most active ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. While some brands have just 50 milligrams, others pack as much as 215 mg. To put that in perspective, an average 8-ounce cup of coffee contains roughly 100 mg and most experts advise limiting your caffeine to 400 mg a day, max.

Even more troubling, you may not be able to find out exactly how much caffeine is in your can. Energy-drink manufacturers are not required to list the amount of caffeine – whether it’s marketed as a beverage or as a dietary supplement – unless it’s added in the form of pure caffeine.

Almost every energy drink has its own “energy blend” of proprietary ingredients. If a drink’s caffeine comes in the form of coffee, tea or another natural caffeine-containing substance, such as guarana, you might not know the total amount. So even if a can said it contains 200 mg of caffeine per serving, it may deliver significantly more.

Energy drinks can be dangerous on their own, yet they’re even more perilous when combined with alcohol. And that pairing has gone mainstream: bars serve up a new breed of cocktails like “1.21 Gigawatts,” a concoction of Red Bull, raspberry vodka, cognac and grenadine. When you mix alcohol and caffeine, their effects blunt one another.

“The caffeine makes you think you’re sharper than you are,” said Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, vice chairman of clinical affairs in the department of medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “But your judgment is still that of a drunk person.” ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:18:51 -0400 By Karen Ansel

<![CDATA[ 7 ways to make doctor visits more successful ]]>
“Doctors think that if patients don’t speak up, they don’t want a conversation and they want to be told what to do,” said Dr. Michael J. Barry, a clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and president of the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some simple but effective tricks to making sure you leave the doctor’s office with what you need:

1. Know what’s important: Before the office visit, think clearly about what’s important to you in a treatment decision. “Ask yourself what you really care about,” said Karen Sepucha, director of the Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “How much are you willing to do to get rid of your symptoms? What are your main concerns and what are you hoping to achieve with treatment? Make sure the doctor knows what is important to you – and write things down.”

2. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind: Many people are fearful about appearing to contradict or disagree with their doctors. “We know from a lot of research that patients are often afraid about speaking up,” Barry said. “People are afraid of being labeled a bad patient by their doctors if they speak up too much or push back.”

We go to doctors for their medical opinion and expertise, but the one thing they don’t and can’t know on their own is how you feel about a test or treatment. Most doctors believe in shared decision making, but may default to “Doctor knows best” if you don’t speak up for yourself. Just say, “Could I take a minute to tell you what I really think about this?” Saying it in the form of a question can defuse some of your nervousness.

3. Ask about options: Medical decisions researchers have identified and tested some simple questions that can help you to get more out of encounters with doctors. The following questions have been shown by research to improve the outcome of decisions between doctors and their patients:

• What are my options?

• What are the possible benefits and harms of those options?

• How likely are the benefits and harms of each option to occur?

“These questions are good ones and have been tested,” Barry said. “When people speak up, there is a more engaging conversation about treatment options.”

Also, ask for estimates of benefits and harms in the form of numbers. Out of every 100 people who have a treatment, how many stand to benefit? And how many could have a serious side effect? Not all doctors will have these numbers immediately at hand, but they may be willing to do some homework and get back to you.

4. Pick a doctor who’s willing to share decisions: Expect your doctor to bring you into the decision. Many experts in health care, including Barry, feel that shared decision making should be the rule, not the exception. It requires you to be assertive, but also requires doctors to be welcoming. A doctor who does not express interest in what you think might be a bad match. “Both parties have to agree there is a role in working together to get to the right decision,” Barry said. “There’s time in the visit where we need to be hearing the patient’s agenda instead of just pushing the doctor’s agenda.”

5. Ask for a second opinion when it counts: For many routine decisions, asking for a second opinion may not be worth the time and money. If the issue is trust, maybe you need another doctor. But for decisions that have high-stakes consequences – cancer treatment, for example – doctors should be comfortable with facilitating second opinions. “If the stakes are major, and particularly if what the doctor is suggesting doesn’t sit right with you, second opinions are a good approach,” Barry said. “Seeing different doctors in different specialties is a good way to get different points of view, and good doctors aren’t offended by that.”

6. Bring someone along: Take a spouse, adult child or friend with you for support. “They can sometimes be very effective at making sure certain questions get asked,” Sepucha said. “Having someone there who can support you is always going to be a good thing.”

But don’t bring someone who will try to take over the decision for you. “Make sure that person is going to support your preferences rather than replacing his or her preferences for the doctor’s,” Barry said. “You want to go with someone who is at least sympathetic to your perspective.”

7. Take your time: “Probably one of the most important tips that I tell people is to take your time,” Sepucha said. “Most medical situations, even important ones like a cancer diagnosis, are not emergencies.” You may have several weeks to absorb information, research options, seek out second opinions, consult with family and friends, and make a decision. “Ask the doctor, ‘Does this need to be done right away? How much time can I safely take to consider my options?’ The goal should not be to procrastinate. But on the other hand, it’s good to remember that you don’t have to make the decision in one short visit.”


As in most aspects of health care today, the success of treatment depends as much on you as on the doctor. If you often find yourself leaving encounters with doctors feeling that your concerns weren’t really addressed, don’t just go with the flow. Ask what you – or your doctor – can do to improve the quality of medical decisions. Your health, and possibly your life, could depend on it. To get the best care, you have to be an active participant in that discussion. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:18:17 -0400 Harvard Health Letters

<![CDATA[ Obesity increases risks for pregnant women ]]>
But now many women face an increasingly common problem: obesity, which affects 36 percent of women of childbearing age. In addition to hindering conception, obesity – defined as a body mass index above 30 – is linked to a host of difficulties during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

These range from gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia to miscarriage, premature birth, emergency cesarean delivery and stillbirth.

The infants of obese women are more likely to have congenital defects, and they are at greater risk of dying at or soon after birth. Babies who survive are more likely to develop hypertension and obesity as adults.

To be sure, most babies born to overweight and obese women are healthy. Yet a recently published analysis of 38 studies found that even modest increases in a woman’s prepregnancy weight raised the risks of fetal death, stillbirth and infant death.

Personal biases and concerns about professional liability lead some obstetricians to avoid obese patients. But Dr. Sigal Klipstein, chairwoman of the committee on ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said it is time for doctors to push aside prejudice and fear. They must take more positive steps to treat obese women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant.

Klipstein and her colleagues recently issued a report on ethical issues in caring for obese women. Obesity is commonly viewed as a personal failing that can be prevented or reversed through motivation and willpower. But the facts suggest otherwise.

Although some people manage to shed as much as 100 pounds and keep them off without surgery, many obese patients say they’ve tried everything, and nothing has worked. “Most obese women are not intentionally overeating or eating the wrong foods,” Klipstein said. “Obstetricians should address the problem, not abandon patients because they think they’re doing something wrong.”

Klipstein is a reproductive endocrinologist at InVia Fertility Specialists in Northbrook, Ill. In her experience, the women who manage to lose weight are usually highly motivated and use a commercial diet plan.

“But many fail even though they are very anxious to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy,” she said. “This is the new reality, and obstetricians have to be aware of that and know how to treat patients with weight issues.”

The committee report emphasizes that “obese patients should not be viewed differently from other patient populations that require additional care or who have increased risks of adverse medical outcomes.” Obese patients should be cared for “in a nonjudgmental manner,” it said, adding that it is unethical for doctors to refuse care within the scope of their expertise “solely because the patient is obese.”

Obstetricians should discuss the medical risks associated with obesity with their patients and “avoid blaming the patient for her increased weight,” the committee said. Any doctor who feels unable to provide effective care for an obese patient should seek a consultation or refer the woman to another doctor.

Obesity rates are highest among women “of lower socioeconomic status,” the report notes, and many obese women lack “access to healthy food choices and opportunities for regular exercise that would help them maintain a normal weight.”

Nonetheless, obese women who want to have a baby should not abandon all efforts to lose weight. Obstetricians who lack expertise in weight management can refer patients to dietitians who specialize in treating weight problems without relying on gimmicks or crash diets, which have their own health risks.

Weight loss is best attempted before a pregnancy. Last year, the college’s committee on obstetric practice advised obstetricians to “provide education about possible complications and encourage obese patients to undertake a weight-reduction program, including diet, exercise and behavior modification, before attempting pregnancy.”

An obese woman who becomes pregnant should aim to gain less weight than would a normal-weight woman. The Institute of Medicine suggests a pregnancy weight gain of 15 to 25 pounds for overweight women and 11 to 20 pounds for obese women.

Although women should not try to lose weight during pregnancy, “a woman who weighs 300 pounds shouldn’t gain at all,” Klipstein said. “This is not harmful to the fetus.”

Klipstein also noted that obesity can cause physiological changes that can negatively affect pregnancy, starting with irregular ovulation that can result in infertility.

Obese women are more likely to have problems processing blood sugar, which raises the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. There is also a greater likelihood that their babies will be too large for vaginal delivery, necessitating a cesarean delivery that has its own risks involving anesthesia and surgery.

The babies of obese women are more likely to develop neural tube defects – spina bifida and anencephaly – and to suffer birth injuries like shoulder dystocia, which may occur when the infant is very large.

High blood pressure, more common in obesity, can result in preeclampsia during pregnancy, which can damage the mother’s kidneys and cause fetal complications like low birth weight, prematurity and stillbirth.

It is also harder to obtain reliable images on a sonogram when the woman is obese. This can delay detection of fetal or pregnancy abnormalities that require careful monitoring or medical intervention. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:18:04 -0400 By JANE E. BRODY

New York Times

<![CDATA[ Health care apps offer patients active role ]]>
But what if you could snap a photo of your rash, or your child’s ear canal, and send it to your doctor? That’s the idea behind a new breed of apps and devices that increasingly put medical tools in the hands of consumers.

CellScope Oto, for instance, combines an app with an attachment that lets you turn your iPhone into an otoscope – the tool physicians often use to examine the inside of your ear. Various apps and online services now let you communicate with your dermatologist by snapping a photo of a rash or mole and transmitting it electronically. And with an app-and-attachment combination called AliveCor, you can turn your smartphone into a heart monitor, record an electrocardiogram and send it to your doctor.

The trend of do-it-yourself examinations and tests is part of a shift in health care toward consumer participation that began with online health information sites and is accelerating with advances in mobile technology. Consumers are increasingly comfortable using walk-in medical clinics for minor ailments, and they see at-home digital tools as yet another level of convenience, said Ceci Connolly, managing director of the Health Research Institute, an arm of the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“We know from our research that consumers are very interested in these conveniences, as opposed to going to sit in a doctor’s office,” she said.

Erik Douglas, co-founder and chief executive of CellScope, said ear infections were a top reason for visits to pediatricians, so the Oto device might help eliminate unnecessary trips.

Robert L. Quillin, a pediatrician in Webster, Tex., has used CellScope’s Oto for several months during the device’s testing period. Shaped like a traditional otoscope, it fits over the phone’s camera, has a plastic tip that is inserted in the patient’s ear, and uses the phone’s camera to take photos or video of the ear canal and eardrum. Quillin can show the image on the phone directly to the patient – or to medical students, to educate them about ear infections. Ultimately, he said, a physician or nurse practitioner must interpret the image, make a diagnosis and prescribe any necessary treatment.

“It’s a great tool for teaching parents and young doctors,” he said.

Joseph C. Kvedar, founder of the Center for Connected Health, part of the Partners HealthCare system in Boston, Mass., said that in these relatively early stages of mobile health tools, doctors might be most comfortable using them to expedite follow-up care, or to treat conditions with a relatively low level of risk. For instance, a patient who is doing well under a treatment plan for acne may be able to send photos and answer a few questions for the dermatologist to feel comfortable advising the patient to continue a treatment plan without an in-person examination. “For something like acne,” he said, “probably the time has come.”

Right now, he said, these new digital tools help expedite evaluation and diagnosis by a doctor. But in the long term, he said, they may become more disruptive and controversial as they begin to use algorithms and large databases to diagnose conditions and recommend treatment, without a doctor being directly involved.

Here are some questions about do-it-yourself health tests and apps:

Can I buy these tools now, for use at home?

Some are available now, while others are expected to become available shortly. AliveCor is sold online for $199 (it used to require a prescription, but does not anymore, according to the monitor’s website). There are several available online dermatology services, including DermatologistOnCall, currently available in a half-dozen states, that connect you to dermatologists you may not know; various mobile apps connect you with your own doctor. Typically, you’ll pay a fee of $60 to $70 to submit an image for review. CellScope Oto is expected to become available to consumers by the end of the year, Douglas said.

Does insurance cover consumer use of these tools?

In general, you can expect to pay out of pocket for using such services. The reimbursement policies followed by Medicare and other health plans were cited as one barrier to further adoption of telemedicine options, in a study released in April from the RAND Corp.

“Right now, reimbursement is still a hurdle in our health care system,” said Connolly, of PricewaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute, so “many entrepreneurs and new entrants are thinking about devices that consumers are willing to pay for out of pocket.”

The tools may, however, be covered by your flexible spending or health savings account, which lets you cover health expenses using pretax dollars.

Are there any caveats? ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:17:56 -0400 By ANN CARRNS

New York Times

<![CDATA[ ‘Dancing With the Stars’ semi-finalist writes diet book ]]> The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness: How I Lost 40 Lbs. and Kept It Off and How You Can, Too!,” by Maria Menounos. (Ballantine/Zinc Ink, 325 pp., $22)

Your first reaction to the cover of actor-TV personality-“Dancing With the Stars” semifinalist Maria Menounos’ book might be laughter. Those gorgeous abs … on an “EveryGirl?” Really?

But there’s also a “before” picture of this former fast-food junkie, at size 14 and 160 pounds.

“Stop dieting,” she writes. “Instead, eat real food.” (Although she cut her calories to “under 1,500 a day,” which for most people would be a diet.)

The scoop

Her 11 diet and fitness rules range from “Eat food that comes from the ground” to “Always be moving.” Other suggestions include “Set a deadline,” “Buy a journal,” “Cut back slowly” and “Bring your lunch to work.” She also cut carb servings to one a day.

Bottom line

Her 75/25 plan: “Aim to eat real or whole foods 75 percent of the time.” There are recipes, many from her Greek background, an exercise guide and celeb interviews.

There’s nothing in this upbeat, commonsense guide that could hurt you. But will you look like Menounos if you follow her lead? Well, optimism is a good thing.

– Peggy Brown, Newsday ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:17:47 -0400
<![CDATA[ Dr. Oz: Get the facts straight on vaccinations ]]>
In many cases, the anti-vaccine movement is persuading parents not to vaccinate their children; that’s causing a lot of harm to at-risk children and adults who are susceptible to these preventable diseases. So before you refuse – or skip – a vaccination, get the facts from us.

Myth 1: Vaccines do more harm than good.

Fact: Vaccines save lives. We’re not saying vaccines are risk-free, but the ratio of serious adverse reactions to beneficial effect is about 1 to 40,000.

Before pertussis – whooping cough – vaccines were available in the 1940s, an estimated 200,000 children were infected annually, and 9,000 died.

Before there was a measles vaccine, up to 4 million Americans a year were infected; 1,000 suffered brain damage or hearing loss, and 450 died.

Diphtheria killed 15,000 Americans in one year (1921) before there was a vaccine. During a prevaccine rubella (German measles) outbreak in the 1960s, 2,000 babies died and 11,000 pregnant women had miscarriages.

Another vaccine benefit: If you and your children are inoculated, you’re protecting others who can’t be due to a compromised immune system or age. Case in point: Infants receive their first of two measles vaccinations between 12 and 15 months and their first of four pertussis inoculation shots starting at 2 months; until those kick in, they are at risk for infection, when these diseases can be most dangerous.

Your next step: Review your own and your child’s vaccination needs. Discuss your concerns with your doc, and schedule needed shots.

Myth 2: Vaccines are just for kids.

Fact: Adults need them too:

• About 40 percent of people over age 65 haven’t received a pneumonia vaccine, and 85 percent are missing out on the shingles vaccine, which protects against excruciating nerve pain.

• A whopping 86 percent of adults haven’t had their Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster, recommended every 10 years, and 87 percent haven’t had a hepatitis A booster, while 65 percent skip the hepatitis B vaccine.

• Plenty of teens and young adults are missing out on the meningococcal vaccine (plus a booster shot), which can prevent 80 percent of meningitis cases, a potentially fatal bacterial infection.

• About 65 percent of young women and 95 percent of young men ages 19 to 26 haven’t gotten the HPV vaccine, proven to slash risk for infections that cause many cases of throat cancer and most cervical cancer.

Your next step: Check out payment options: Thanks to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, most vaccines are covered for adults. Ask your doc which shots will give you or a loved one more benefits than risk and then get it done.

Myth 3: It’s too soon to think about a flu shot.

Fact: It’s best to get your influenza vaccine in September or October. It takes about two weeks for your body to build up defenses against the virus once you get the vaccine. So a shot in September is just in time for the start of flu season in October. You’ll cut your risk for the flu by about 60 percent and reduce your odds for a heart attack or stroke during flu season by 50 percent. If flu strikes anyway, it’s milder, cutting the odds for complications that lead to hospital visits by more than 70 percent. Pregnant women who get a flu shot pass on some immunity to the fetus.

Your next step: Contact your doctor to reserve your dose, or ask your pharmacist when the new batch will be available.

You’ll be hearing more about vaccines that work against various cancers, including melanoma and liver cancer. Stay tuned, and when new vaccines are developed, talk to your doc about when to put them on your schedule.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:17:35 -0400
<![CDATA[ Not all protein shakes are the same ]]>
You might think the desire to gain weight is unusual, but it’s not. About 5 percent of our population sees themselves as too thin.

This caller says he exercises and is the fittest of all his friends, but no matter how much he porks out, he can’t get fat. He says he takes after his dad, who’s been thin his whole life. He wonders if protein shakes would help him to tip the scale.

I certainly think protein shakes are an option, but which one to use is the issue. So I went to my favorite online source for these things, Consumer Lab ( It’s a pay-as-you-go site (full disclosure: I get a free membership as a journalist) much like Consumer Reports.

It seems that a friend of mine, TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, had the same question when he did an on-air interview with the website’s founder and medical director, Dr. Ted Cooperman. Questions about protein shakes are understandable because the shakes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This means you don’t know what you’re getting.

There are several types of shakes. Whey and casein shakes are derived from milk, so the protein is complete, meaning it contains all the amino acids needed to make up a complete protein. Egg-based shakes are just as complete. Soy-based ones are good but don’t have all the amino acids the others have. And as for rice-based shakes, I’d stay away from them.

When Consumer Lab tested protein shakes, they found good shakes and bad shakes. For example, some have very little protein and lots of carbohydrates. Others say they have just a bit of cholesterol but are actually loaded with it. Some nice-looking ones, fancy label and all, contained lead. Who wants lead in their shake? Nobody.

The bottom line is I would only choose a shake that’s been tested by a reliable third party such as Consumer Lab or Consumer Reports. Otherwise, you might not get what you pay for.

And one more thing: Ensure and Boost, the shakes you generally see advertised for the elderly, also are an excellent source of protein, but they tend to have more carbs and more calories.


Dear Doc: I know you cook; I have a tip for your old greens. I throw my old parsley, spinach stems, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, even beet greens into a plastic bag and freeze them. When I have enough, I put them in a pot with some peppercorns and simmer them for a long time. When you strain the stuff, you’ve got a wonderful veggie-soup base.

It might not be a nutritionist’s delight, but it sure tastes good, and makes me feel thrifty. Keep up the good work.

Cheryl from El Paso

Dear Cheryl: You are right. Any time you can stretch your veggie-spending dollars, do it. And I always like to have a veggie base in my freezer. The commercial stuff is usually loaded with the salt that none of us need.

Keep cookin’. I love to find inventive ways to use all the produce I buy. Years ago, I started freezing old bananas for banana bread. Your veggie mix will go right next to those in my freezer.

Dr. Zorba Paster hosts a radio program at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7; email him at ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:17:26 -0400
<![CDATA[ Nancy Weil, a spokeswoman for the benefits of holistic medicine ]]>
“It was during Hurricane Katrina, and we wanted to do something,” said Weil, of Snyder. “We ran a little holistic event to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, to rebuild homes in New Orleans. I had this amazing group of people who wanted to help, and then nobody showed up for the fundraiser. We ended up working on each other. We had a wonderful time together, and we raised a little money.”

Eight years later, the alliance Facebook page has more than 375 followers – you must live in the region to be given “friend” status – and 30 to 50 people generally gather for alliance meetings at 7 p.m. the second Friday of each month in the community room at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph’s Campus, 2605 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga. They hear a guest speaker talk about their holistic health practice and mingle afterward. Next week’s speaker is Clay Dinger, a hypnotist who will talk about how self-hypnosis can relieve stress. The gatherings are free and open to the public.

Weil, 52, owns the Laugh Academy – which teaches therapeutic laughter and laughter yoga – and also is grief coordinator with Catholic Cemeteries in the Diocese of Buffalo, a job separate from her holistic health work.

She continues on her learning curve when it comes to holistic health. When you’re looking into all avenues to keep well in mind, body and spirit, she said, it’s a process, not a destination.

“Because of the community we’ve built with all these holistic health practitioners, I learn from all of them,” said Weil, author of the book “If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might.” That community includes chiropractors, homeopaths, neuropaths, massage therapists, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, meditation leaders, reiki masters and more.

How does laughter fit with holistic medicine?

As I learned laughter yoga and exercises, I began to learn more about the benefits of laughter, why we laugh, how we are wired. Because one of its benefits is stress reduction, I began to see there’s all these other things – essential oils and breathing techniques – that you can do for stress reduction. … I teach these simple, effective tools at corporations and companies that are just at the maximum stress level. They lose productivity. Morale drops. Stress is killing us, so to be able to teach these natural, holistic ways that are able to help reduce the stress is great.

Who comes to the alliance meetings and doesn’t come back?

The group’s attitude is “How can I help people?,” not “How can you help me? How are you going to send me business?” If someone comes in and they’re all ego, we know they won’t come back because we don’t feed that. We don’t have membership (dues). We’re just a group that gets together once a month, like-minded people who support each other and support the holistic lifestyle. Eating vegetarian doesn’t sound weird in this room. It isn’t “Really? How are you not going to eat steak?,” it’s “So, have you seen this website? They’ve got some great recipes.”

This sounds like a support group.

Our primary focus is education, because how are you going to know that something’s available to you if you don’t know what it is? Once you get into holistic, there’s so many ways that people practice, study and offer (services). If you don’t know what that means, or is, how are you going to take advantage? People know yoga, they know meditation, but you can spend a lifetime learning those. This also becomes a support network: the referrals, the support. We’re finding more and more interest in the community, and people are hungry to want to know more.

You say Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hospice Buffalo are embracing holistic medicine?

I was in the room at Hospice with somebody who was passing a few weeks ago when a music therapist came in and played her guitar. You could watch this woman, who was dying, you could see her whole energy change as the music came over her. It was amazing to see her relax, see her breathing change. And the Life Transitions Center – the bereavement arm of Hospice – has a reiki master come in for people going through cancer or serious illness.

You’re seeing more and more of this become integrative, or complementary. It’s not about being against Western medicine. If I break my arm, please put a cast on it, please take care of me. We are absolutely not about isolation of treatments; we’re about integration of treatments. When my mother had cancer in Cincinnati, I found an oncologist who did acupuncture, and research shows that acupuncture tends to alleviate some of the side effects of chemotherapy.

So if people come thinking “I could get rid of my doctor” – please don’t. That’s not what we’re about. If someone happens to have an interest in holistic – they want to come but really don’t know much about it – when they come, they will not feel out of place.

So is this a judgment-free zone?

Exactly. We’re not trying to convince anybody of anything. Anytime you have a group the size as this one, you’re going to have a lot of different backgrounds, beliefs, philosophies.

What do you say to critics who maintain there’s no place for holistic health in a health section or serious discussion about health care, it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo?

If that’s your truth, then that’s OK, but there are other people who do have an interest and do want to know more. We’re not looking to change anyone’s mind. We’re not looking to recruit people. We don’t need to. We’re just saying that if you’re interested in this, educate yourself. Take self-responsibility for the decisions that you’re making about your life. It’s just “Here’s what this is; maybe you’ll find this helpful.” One meeting is not enough to know everything. It’s a little seed you plant.


On the Web: Read about the Laugh Academy and an electrical-worker-turned-massage-therapist at ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 10:31:41 -0400 Scott Scanlon
<![CDATA[ The Kid’s Doctor: Cleansers, lotions can help control acne ]]>
I’ve seen a lot of teens lately for their routine checkups, and skin care is always part of our discussion. If you have adolescents, you know how self-conscious they can be when it comes to their skin.

Some teens are just blessed with good skin, and when you ask them what they do to maintain their skin, their usual reply is “nothing.” Of course, that’s not the norm. Adolescence is the prime time for acne, and whether the breakouts are mild or persistent, good skin care is key for everyone.

The first thing every adolescent needs to do is to wash his or her face twice a day. Don’t bother with “fancy” skin potions or lotions; the drugstore has more than enough choices to begin a good cleansing program.

Using a mild soap-free cleanser may be enough to begin with, something like Purpose, Basis, Aquanil or Neutrogena. If the skin is more oily and acne prone, try a cleanser that contains glycolic or salicylic acid, products like Neutrogena Acne wash, or Clean and Clear (read labels to check the ingredients). These provide gentle exfoliation of the skin surface. Wash with a soft cloth, but don’t scrub or buff; just wash.

After washing your face in the morning, always apply a gentle non-comedogenic moisturizer with sunscreen. This will not cause acne, but will prevent the sun damage we all experience daily. Note: This is not the same as applying sunscreen for a day at the beach or lake. I like Oil of Olay complete, or Neutrogena but there are many other products out there, so find your favorite.

At bedtime, after washing your face, if your skin seems to be breaking out begin using a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide lotion – you only need a dime-size amount for the whole face – applied after your face has completely dried from the washing. If the lotion is applied to a wet or damp face it may cause redness. Benzoyl peroxide products come in several strengths and may be titrated up in strength as tolerated.

If this regimen is not working well, it’s probably time for a visit to the doctor to discuss some prescription products.

Submit questions to Dr. Sue Hubbard at ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 10:27:23 -0400 By Dr. Sue Hubbard

<![CDATA[ Skimping on fluids could compromise your health ]]>
Here are some basic tips:

1. Reach for water: According to the Institute of Medicine, women should get about 91 ounces of fluids each day; men, about 125 ounces. Since about one fifth of that typically comes from food, aim for 9 to 12 cups of fluids. Make water your main choice: it’s free – of cost and calories!

2. Add a spritz of flavor: For a more natural option, add a squirt of lime or lemon to naturally freshen your water. Or try mint, watermelon, or a slice of cucumber to give your water some punch.

3. Eat up: All foods contain some water. Fruit and veggies deliver the most.

4. Guzzle when it’s hot – and cold: In hot weather, you typically need to drink more because you sweat more, especially if you’re exercising. Humidity also increases your water needs since it makes it harder for your body to cool itself. And although we tend to skimp on water when it’s chilly out, don’t. You lose more water while breathing frigid, dry air.

5. Replace electrolytes when needed: Electrolytes – which include nutrients like sodium and potassium – are lost in sweat. Electrolytes are essential for vital reactions in the body. It’s important to replace electrolytes when they’re depleted. Most electrolytes can be replenished simply with regular, healthy meals, but if you’re exercising for longer than 60 minutes, you may want to consider a sports drink, particularly if it’s a warm day.

6. Refill your bottle: The best way to make sure you’re drinking enough water is to keep a water bottle handy when you’re on the go. What kind of bottle is right for you?

• Glass water bottles are the easiest to clean and recycle. Glass is also the most fragile, so consider one with a protective silicone sleeve.

• Plastic bottles are typically inexpensive. And since 2010, most are free of bisphenol A (BPA), a compound that, according to some studies, may be linked with some types of cancer, infertility, heart disease and diabetes. Note: Health concerns with other leachable toxins in plastics still exist and plastic bottles generally are not safe for hot liquids or microwaves.

• Stainless steel is lightweight and dishwasher safe, but can dent if dropped. ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 10:10:01 -0400

<![CDATA[ Painkillers: Separating fact from fiction ]]>
1. The more you take, the better they work: More does not equal better. It’s true that in the short term, after a severe injury, for example, two pills may be more effective than one at relieving pain. But over time, taking too much backfires. Research suggests pain medications may do something to desensitize the way your brain and spinal cord interpret pain signals. “You develop a tolerance to the medication over time,”Rosenquist said. “Sometimes, if you take chronic pain medications for a long time, your pain may actually get worse.”

2. If you take them for a valid reason, you can’t get addicted: It can’t happen to me. I’m a good citizen. I’m a normal person. I couldn’t possibly get addicted. Thinking this way is dangerous. Even if you start taking a prescription pain medication for a legitimate reason, you run the risk of addiction. This has nothing to do with moral character and everything to do with the highly addictive nature of these drugs.

3. Everyone who takes them gets addicted: On the flipside, just because you take a prescription painkiller does not mean you will become addicted. It depends largely on your personal risk of addiction. That’s why Rosenquist and others in pain management screen for risk factors: a family history of addiction, a personal history of alcohol and drug abuse, or certain psychiatric disorders.

“If I’m considering prescribing opioids, I’m going to do drug screening and make sure you’re not taking recreational drugs,” Rosenquist said. “If somebody uses recreational drugs, the likelihood they’re going to use pain medications inappropriately is really high.”

Not everyone gets addicted, but everyone who takes painkillers for an extended time period will experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop. It’s a natural reaction.

4. There are no long-term consequences: Addiction is not the only risk that comes with prescription pain medications. When taken for extended periods of time, they also can harm your body’s endocrine system and throw your hormones out of whack, affecting everything from your libido to your risk of osteoporosis.

“There are a lot of bad things that can happen, but people don’t always hear you when you describe them,” Rosenquist said.

5. You should avoid painkillers altogether: Obviously, there’s plenty of scary information about painkillers. However, there are certainly legitimate uses. In addition to treating the pain from acute injuries, a small fraction of chronic pain patients see improvements in both pain levels and function from taking pain medications, especially when other pain management techniques fail for them. For most people, though, prescription pain medications should be a short-term treatment at most.

6. Pain medication can fix your pain: This may be the biggest myth of all. Pain medications simply mask your symptoms; they don’t treat the root cause of your pain. That’s why Rosenquist focuses on how you function rather than just how you feel.

Are you moving better? Are you able to get back to work? These are important questions about function. So is the question of whether you’ve been making efforts to get better. For example, have you been following doctor’s orders and doing physical therapy to recover from an injury? Have you been losing weight if you’re suffering from weight-related back pain?

“If you’re not doing the other things you need to do, I’m not going to keep prescribing those drugs,” Rosenquist said. “On their own, they’re not therapeutic.”

For more health tips and information, visit HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic at ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 09:54:15 -0400

<![CDATA[ Hydration is key in summer heat ]]>
Experts say these deaths can nearly always be averted by taking simple precautions.

Summer heat waves are becoming more frequent and increasingly intense. They put young and old, the physically active and the sedentary, at risk of a heat-related illness and death.

New York is among cities that have taken steps to mitigate the risk by planting trees, making surfaces like roofs more reflective and opening air-conditioned centers where people can go to cool off. Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Million Trees program is two years ahead of schedule, with 2015 the expected completion date.

Prevention starts with preparation. While being properly hydrated is always important, it can be lifesaving in summer heat. The bigger you are, the more time you spend outdoors and the more intensely you exercise, the more you should drink.

Don’t rely on thirst to tell you how much. A liter or two of water is needed to replace what is lost through sweat and respiration; some salt may also be needed, especially for people exerting themselves.

Normally salted food is adequate, but if you sweat heavily or exercise in the heat for prolonged periods, consider a sports drink diluted by half with water (because most commercial sports drinks contain too much salt). Do not take salt tablets.

Before engaging in vigorous activity in hot weather, give yourself a week or more to become acclimated. Start with moderate exercise for short periods, and then build up slowly over eight to 10 days to more strenuous or prolonged activity.

Heat illness is a leading cause of death and disability among high school athletes, with the highest rate among football players, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Preseason football practice typically starts during the hottest, most humid summer days, when players are least physically fit and most prone to collapse. Although the National Athletic Trainers’ Association has guidelines on the duration and intensity of summer practices and the gear to be used, coaches often neglect to follow them.

A player who becomes confused, disoriented or unsteady should be removed from practice to a cooler environment, fanned, rehydrated and doused with or immersed in cool water.

Remove the athlete’s clothing or soak it with water, which conducts heat away from the body much more effectively than air.

If the player’s core temperature (the most accurate measurement is rectal) rises to 104 degrees or higher, it’s considered a medical emergency.

Call 911 and immerse the player in ice water while waiting for an ambulance, according to revised guidelines issued last week by the trainers’ association, which emphasize, “Cool first, transport second.”

A body temperature of 105 degrees for more than 30 minutes can be fatal, noted Douglas Casa, the director of athletic training at the University of Connecticut.

When the rectal temperature drops to 102, cut back on cooling to keep the person from shivering, which will produce more heat, but keep monitoring body temperature.

While the player is being cooled, vigorously massage the arms and legs to propel cooled blood back to the body’s core, where heat causes the worst damage.

Even if a heat-exhausted player recovers quickly, he should not return to vigorous activity that day.

“A player may say, ‘I feel better now,’ but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to go back in the game,” said Dr. Christopher B. Colwell, the director of emergency medicine at Denver Health Medical Center. “The way someone feels doesn’t necessarily reflect the body’s core temperature, which could still be seriously elevated.”

People who work in hot settings can also face heat illness. Farm workers have a substantially higher risk for heat-related deaths than other workers. Others at risk include those who work outdoors (road crews and construction workers, for example), firefighters, and workers in bakeries, boiler rooms, factories and mines.

Workers at greatest risk include people ages 65 and older, and those who are overweight or have heart disease or high blood pressure or take medications like beta blockers that reduce sweating and raise heat sensitivity.

The CDC recommends that workers in hot settings wear light-colored, breathable clothing; schedule heavy work for the coolest parts of the day; take frequent breaks in the shade or a cool area; drink water often; and avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol or lots of sugar.

Special attention to older adults, the physically handicapped and people with chronic physical or mental illness is critical when the air temperature soars. Colwell urges relatives, friends or neighbors to check in with such people daily.

Older adults with cognitive issues may be unable to accurately report symptoms over the phone, so twice-a-day visits may be necessary to check for signs of heat exhaustion and assure that they are drinking plenty of cool beverages.

Frequent showers or tepid baths can help keep body temperature normal, but an older or handicapped person may need assistance to do this safely.

It need not be very hot for older adults or the chronically ill to succumb, Colwell said. If their homes do not have air-conditioning, he suggests installing fans, and if they are unable to go out on their own, he suggests taking them to a movie theater, indoor mall, supermarket, public library or cooling center in midday.

But if their home is cool, they are best off staying indoors on hot days and avoiding exertion. ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 09:47:04 -0400 By JANE E. BRODY

New York Times

<![CDATA[ Sunglasses can protect your eyes from damage year-round ]]>
This exposure also can contribute to the development of certain types of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration, so when you’re choosing sunglasses, look for UV-protection details on product labels and select sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Stay away from brands that don’t provide details on their UV protection, Tomasik advised in a new release. Polarized sunglasses cut glare and haze so your eyes are more comfortable and you can see better. They contain a special filter that blocks intense reflected light and reduces glare, making them very popular among boating, fishing and outdoor enthusiasts, Tomasik said.

He said today’s sunglasses are made to be worn anytime you’re outdoors, particularly under these circumstances:

• During the summer, when the level of ultraviolet radiation is at least three times higher than during the winter.

• When at the beach or in the water.

• When participating in winter sports, especially at high altitudes.

• When using medications that can cause photosensitivity.

Most optical stores provide a variety of sunglasses. ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 09:38:10 -0400
<![CDATA[ Drs. Oz and Roizen: Unmasking bacon, butter and cheese health food imposters ]]>
There’s a lot of questionable science being touted as fact when it comes to advocating these trendy fat bombs. Don’t believe Internet falsehoods like “butter is a health food” or “bacon is good for you.” And what about the recent, headline-grabbing study that asserts saturated fat is not harmful? It was flawed.

Researchers from the U.K.’s University of Cambridge reviewed 77 studies involving 643,226 people and found no connection between saturated fat and heart health. Our response: Focusing just on the effect of saturated fat in a person’s diet is misleading.

There’s plenty of evidence that a diet that slashes saturated and trans fats, added sugars and syrups and grains that are not 100 percent whole and includes plenty of produce, whole grains and lean protein is way better for your heart and your brain. It also can prevent cancer, impotence and wrinkles, and is better for your waistline than any other nutritional regimen.

In fact, one study by Spanish researchers had us cheering. They found a diet based around foods such as avocados, olive and canola oils, nuts and fish, containing plenty of good fats – the odd omegas and poly- and monounsaturated – and not much saturated fat slashed heart attack and stroke risk by 30 percent!

But even so, the butter-bacon-cheese craze is getting crazier:

• Butter consumption – at 5.6 pounds per person per year – is at a 40-year high!

• Bacon’s gone wild, with sales at an all-time high of $4 billion, thanks in part to the popularity of oddities like bacon-topped sundaes, bacon-themed restaurants, even bacon-flavored vodka. It is not just the saturated fat, but the carnitine in the bacon that changes your gut bacteria, creates inflammation and inhibits your ability to stop cancer and brain decay.

• U.S. cheese consumption is up from 11 pounds per person in 1970 to 33½ pounds two years ago. The amino acids in cheese add to inflammation, decay in orgasm quality, impotence, wrinkles and brain dysfunction.

Now a little sat fat – 4 grams at most – is OK once in a while, but big portions and a regular habit are risky. Butter has 7 grams of sat fat per tablespoon; bacon’s got 1 g per slice, along with boatloads of sodium and preservatives; and cheese packs about 5 g per slice.

better ideas

1. Steer clear of bacon and other processed meats: Just one serving a day raises your odds for fatal cancers by 20 percent, heart disease by 42 percent, and diabetes by 19 percent. And like cheese, they’re linked to wrinkles, brain rot, impotence and decay in orgasm quality. Chalk up all this trouble-making to the amino acids and blood-pressure-raising sodium in these meats, along with nitrate preservatives that mess with your body’s ability to produce and respond to insulin, the hormone that tells cells to absorb blood sugar.

2. Don’t trade in saturated fats for food felons: Remember the low-fat diet craze that had people munching fat-free foods loaded with sugars, syrups and refined grains? Today, we know that these bad guys also increase levels of heart-threatening triglycerides (another blood fat), torpedo your good HDL cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and many forms of cancer.

When you replace saturated fats with good fats like the DHA-omega3s, omega-7s, and healthier proteins in grilled salmon (instead of a burger), walnuts on your salad (instead of cheese) and a handful of almonds (instead of chips and dip), you’ll lower your lousy LDL cholesterol level and protect heart-healthy HDL cholesterol. That means sharper mental powers, better looking hair and skin, a younger RealAge and more zip in your love life!

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 09:36:52 -0400
<![CDATA[ Learn medicine at UB Mini Medical School ]]>
The UB Mini Medical School consists of several lectures on topics ranging from childhood cancers and healthy eating to hot flashes in menopause and liver disease. Lectures continue from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays for the next three weeks in 150 Farber Hall on the UB South Campus.

Mini Medical School is free to UB students. Members of the public may attend any evening at a cost of $5.

“UB started the Mini Medical School in 1997 as a public service to the community,” said Dr. Roseanne Berger, Mini Medical School director and senior associate dean of graduate medical education at UB. “We’re continuing that tradition because we want to provide the public and people interested in careers in medicine with a fun, casual and informative introduction to medicine.”

Lecture topics include:

Tuesday: “Ordered Eating: Simple Foods for Optimum Living,” presented by Peter Horvath, and “Eating Disorders,” a talk by Dr. Dalinda A. Condino.

July 15: “Now’s the Time: The Mandate to Treat Hepatitis C,” presented by Dr. Andrew Talal, and “Fatty liver: The Coming Plague” .

July 22: “Problems of the Pelvis,” presented by Dr. Tova Ablove, and “Marvels of Menopause,” a talk by Dr. Vanessa Barnabei.

To register for the lectures, visit For more information, call 829-6126 or email ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 09:33:14 -0400
<![CDATA[ Dr. Zorba Paster: Test yourself to see if you are dairy intolerant ]]> Dear Dr. Z: On your radio show, you told the parent of an adopted Chinese toddler that if the child wasn’t gaining weight she should drink more whole milk. You are wrong. This is not advisable.

Well over 90 percent of Asians are lactose intolerant. Give them milk and they bloat up like a balloon. You are setting this family up for a miserable time.

What is good for malnourished Europeans is not good for those with Asian ancestry. Please correct your awful advice.

Concerned Taiwanese

Dear Concerned: You’re wrong about that child – most toddlers can digest milk. Parents usually know the ones who can’t because the kids tell you so. If you’ve had a colicky baby, you know what I mean.

Plant-based milk such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk and oat milk are excellent, well-tolerated substitutes for children who can’t drink the stuff from the cow.

You’re right about adults, though. Nearly half the adults of the world, mostly in Asia and Africa, lose the ability that kids have to tolerate lactose. But not all dairy products are the same.

First off, milk and ice cream tend to be the worst offenders, with cheese being the least likely to cause issues. Yogurt, which is made from the natural “good” bacteria lactobacillus, is often well-tolerated. That’s probably why yogurt is much more common for adults to consume throughout the world than milk.

Then there’s the quantity issue. Some people start to bloat after they drink a glass or two of milk, while others don’t tolerate even a spoonful in their coffee.

My suggestion if you’re dairy intolerant is to remove all dairy from your diet and see what happens. Wait a week or so and then slowly introduce dairy back into your diet. Start with some cheddar cheese, then move on to a small container of yogurt. If you tolerate that, see if you can eat ice cream.


Dear Doc: I have to tell you a story your readers might enjoy. My mom remarried a very nice man who I really like.

But there was a problem. Every time we had a family gathering, he started to sneeze. Not just the occasional “ah-choo,” but about two dozen at a time.

We thought it might be an allergy to our dog and cat, but it happened at my brother’s house, too. They don’t have animals and his wife keeps the home obsessively clean.

Finally, one day last winter, it stopped and didn’t return until the following spring when my snow-bird Aunt Barbara returned from Florida. Ah-ha, we said, he’s allergic to her.

And guess what? We were right. But it wasn’t her, it was the hairspray she used.

When she tried a different brand, he stopped sneezing. Can you tell me why?

Jessica from Madison, Wisc.

Dear Jessica: Clearly, it was something in the hairspray, most likely the perfume in the spray, that set him up. If you can smell it, you can be allergic to it.

This is a problem in big cities, where people share small spaces such as elevators with all sorts of hairspray, perfume and men’s cologne. Have you ever noticed how some people douse themselves with it? In my office, I have noticed that teenage boys seem to bathe in the stuff. ]]>
Thu, 3 Jul 2014 09:14:51 -0400
<![CDATA[ Outdoor group fitness summer options ]]> Outdoor Power Yoga: 10 a.m. Saturdays, 6 p.m. Fridays at Canalside; 3:30 p.m. Sundays in Bidwell Park, Elmwood Avenue at Bidwell Parkway. Free.

Outdoor Bootcamp: 9 a.m. Saturdays, 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 6 a.m. Fridays. Package deals for parks across the region; average class costs about $10; for locations and registration, visit

Running classes: 11 a.m. Saturdays at Canalside; cost is $5 per class. . Suitable for all ages and fitness levels; similar one-time class from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday near the Delaware Park tennis courts, though this class will be free. Presented by Hybrid Fitness.

WNYBootcamp: 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 1 p.m. Sundays; 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays, Lincoln Park, Parker Boulevard, Town of Tonawanda. $7 per class, $50 per month; $35 monthly for students. Classes include mix of bootcamp exercises, mud runs, weight training, TRX Suspension training, kettlebells, core and functional training. For more info, call 817-0045 or (510) 292-0433, or visit

Outdoor strength training: and bodyweight circuit exercises, 6:30 p.m. Mondays, 9 a.m. Saturdays, 4180 Ransom Road, Clarence; $8 per class. For more info, call 604-7536 or email

Outdoor Cardio: CrossTrain Boot Camp, 7 p.m. Mondays; Zumba, 7 p.m. Wednesdays; Sculpt and Abs (please bring a mat and 2- to 5-pound dumbbells) 8 a.m. Thursdays, Niawanda Park Bandshell, Niagara Street, City of Tonawanda. Free.

Outdoor Bootcamp: 6 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mang Park, Mang and Wilber avenues, Kenmore. Each class costs $5. Led by Deanna Giordano, owner of Studio Sophia in Kenmore.

Yoga Festival: The Budding Tree Yoga Festival, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 13, Canalside. Free day of yoga that will include kids and family yoga, pre/postnatal yoga, Kundalini yoga, yoga-pilates fusion, Vinyasa flow, hoop-dance yoga, Zumba, Bollywood dance, paddle board yoga, laughter yoga, and a workshop on personal and spiritual development. For more info, visit

Outdoor barre: 7 p.m. July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Canalside. Presented by Barre Centric. Free.

Buffalo Bicycling Club: Membership information and a list of races and other summer outings is available at This club tends to be competitive but does offer some less-intensive group rides.

Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club: See membership information and schedule of bike runs, which take place mostly on weekends and tend to stretch 40 miles or more, at

Riverkeeper Kayak and Bike Tours: Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper gives free beginner kayak lessons and offers free tours on the Buffalo and Niagara rivers at various dates and times. See the “Get Involved” and “River Tours” links at for specific information. Buffalo-based bike and kayak tours all go out of Mutual Riverfront Park, at the foot of Hamburg Street; Niagara River tours go out of Niagara Falls and generally fill up less quickly. Sign up online. The nonprofit has 30 kayaks available for those who don’t have one, but they tend to go fast. They do take donations. The next bike tour is Wednesday.

Kayak Tours and Training: Various tours and training opportunities can be found many evenings and most summer weekends at;;; and There may be costs involved, and you’ll need your own kayak and equipment.

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:33:21 -0400
<![CDATA[ The Kid’s Doctor: Parents are wondering, do selfies spread head lice? ]]>
Are teenagers spreading lice when they put their heads together to take a perfect selfie? This is a hot topic trending lately online. I’ve received emails and texts from parents who are fighting head lice in their homes and are wondering if this is possible.

I was skeptical at first about the risk of transmitting lice during a selfie session. Lying on the same pillow or sharing hairbrushes or headbands seemed more likely culprits. But however it happens, what should you do if your teenager has head lice?

Start with an over-the-counter product that contains permethrin or pyrethrin and follow directions. Know that using a hair conditioner before applying an OTC product can diminish its effectiveness. Many such products recommend not washing the hair for several days after finishing the application. Re-apply carefully in order to treat hatching lice and lice not killed by the first application.

Read the OTC package insert carefully. Even when you follow the directions to a “T,” though, lice can continue to thrive. This may be due to the fact that the pests have become resistant to the products. Different geographic regions do seem to have different rates of resistant head lice.

Four prescription products have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use when OTC treatments fail, including Sklice, Natroba, Ovide and Ulesfia. Each contains a different ingredient that’s proven to work against the human louse. These products do differ by application time, FDA labeled age guidelines, precautions for use and cost. There is no one product that’s the best to use.

One study looked at oral Ivermectin as a therapy for head lice in children over the age of 2. The drug is not FDA labeled for this use, however. There are guidelines for its use when both OTC and prescription topical agents fail to zap lice.

There’s no need to try all the crazy remedies you may have heard about – like applying mayonnaise to your teen’s head, or blow-drying concentrated moisturizers into the hair shaft. In several areas of the country, there are even businesses that will “nitpick” your child’s head, but one of my patients spent $500 (really!) on this but continued to have problems with lice.

If lice simply refuse to budge, call your doctor before resorting to alternative, unproven therapies. And don’t forget to smile in your next selfie!

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a pediatrician, medical editor and media host. Submit questions at ]]>
Fri, 27 Jun 2014 08:51:20 -0400 By Dr. Sue Hubbard

<![CDATA[ Drs. Oz and Roizen: On heart or blood sugar meds? Eat like this ]]>
But that seems to be what many of you think. A recent UCLA study reveals that today’s statin users eat 10 percent more calories and 14 percent more fat than statin users did 15 years ago. They also weigh more than non-statin users.

Those bad food choices increase your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, and make your RealAge older, even while the statin keeps your lousy LDL cholesterol in check.

But if you take a second, or even third, look at your plate, you can take advantage of the remarkable health benefits of statins. Try a meal makeover that adds more proven, heart-smart edibles while subtracting nefarious food felons that boost your risk for everything from ticker trouble and high blood sugar to dementia and a lousy sex life.

We think this meds-plus-food strategy works for everybody concerned about their lousy LDL numbers, as well as the 47 million North Americans taking blood pressure drugs, and the 10 million or more who take medications to help control Type 2 diabetes. Here’s why:

Heart meds work way better with a healthy diet. People who take statins and other drugs for cardiovascular disease can slash their five-year risk for a heart attack an extra 22 percent by eating more healthfully, increasing physical activity and cutting out smoking.

If your blood pressure is still high despite medication – a problem for 20 percent to 30 percent of people taking BP meds – slashing sodium and simple sugars while nixing processed foods and opting for fruit, veggies, whole grains and lean protein could help you lower your blood pressure numbers by 9 to 22 points, all without taking more drugs or increasing your doses.

Blood sugar falls in line. If you take medication for Type 2 diabetes but still have high blood sugar levels, a plate makeover could help you bring your A1c – an average of your blood sugar level over 6 to 12 weeks – down to normal. In one University of Pennsylvania study, seven months of healthy foods lowered A1c levels from 8 percent (that’s high) to 5.8 percent (that’s healthy!) for people taking diabetes meds.

To accomplish this, we suggest you banish the five food felons: refined flour, added sugars and syrups, saturated fat and trans fats. Munch on these five delicious foods instead:

1. Leafy greens: Just 1½ servings a day can slash diabetes risk up to 14 percent. And a diet that includes greens and olive oil, another power food, subdues blood pressure by raising levels of compounds called “nitro fatty acids.” The lutein in greens such as spinach helps prevent plaque buildup along artery walls.

2. Five servings of vegetables and fruit: Eating these every day slashes heart attack and stroke risk by 20 percent. Bump it up to eight or nine, and you’ll cut your risk by at least 30 percent. Produce is packed with satisfying fiber that helps control appetite and weight, soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol, and minerals that help regulate healthy blood pressure. The same stellar nutrients help keep blood sugar in line, too.

3. Nuts and olive oil: In moderation, the good fats in nuts and olive oil help by contributing to healthy cholesterol levels. The fiber and protein in nuts (especially walnuts) help smooth out blood sugar spikes after meals.

4. Beans: A cup a day can lower your A1c, reduce blood pressure and – thanks to a big dose of soluble fiber – help whisk LDL cholesterol-laden bile acids out of your body when you have a bowel movement.

5. Seafood: Fish like salmon and wild trout can help cut your risk for diabetes while pampering your eyes, brain, joints and sex organs.

Now you’re primed to get the body do-over benefits of statins that you’ve been hoping for all along.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit ]]>
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:38:13 -0400
<![CDATA[ Personal Health: Don’t let summer get too hot to handle ]]>
With climate change, some experts predict ever-worsening summer heat waves and even more related illnesses and deaths. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that excessive heat caused by climate change could kill more than 150,000 Americans by the end of the century in the 40 largest cities.

“As carbon pollution continues to rise, the number of dangerously hot days each summer will increase even further, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of lives lost,” the council reported.

Extreme heat claims an average of 117 lives each year, but the real incidence is likely far higher. In addition, about 1,800 people die from illnesses made worse by heat, the council estimates.

“Death rates from many causes rise during heat waves that are related to heat but not reported as such,” said Dr. Christopher B. Colwell, director of emergency medicine at Denver Health Medical Center. “Lots of deaths that occur during heat waves are attributed to natural causes like heart attacks, kidney disease or respiratory disease.”

Especially at risk are the elderly, young children, athletes of all ages and weekend warriors whose bodies are not adapted to heat stress.

“As common as the problem is, it’s not common enough to grab people’s attention until it hits close to home,” Colwell said in an interview.

Even a high-profile death, like that of Korey Stringer, 27, a Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle who suffered heatstroke after a summer morning practice in 2001, has not prompted all coaches to take necessary precautions.

“Many coaches have held practices in the heat for years and no one died, so they think a bigger deal is being made of the problem than it really is,” Colwell said.

In the six years before Stringer’s death, 19 high school and college players died from heatstroke, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina. Too often, a player suffering from heat exhaustion, the first stage of a potentially life-threatening heat illness, is sent back on the field after a brief rest instead of being benched for the day, or longer.

While deaths of healthy young athletes tend to be well publicized, the elderly are much more likely to succumb to extreme heat. Colwell explained that with age, the body’s ability to cool itself declines. Among other changes, blood vessels don’t dilate as readily to allow heat to escape, a problem made worse by conditions like congestive heart failure and peripheral vascular disease.

Many older people without air conditioning or fans may not know when to get out of the heat, or they may be physically unable to leave an overheated dwelling.

Dehydration, a common problem among the elderly as well as among younger people who exercise strenuously, raises the risk of heat illness by diminishing the body’s ability to lose heat.

Medications taken by many older people also increase their vulnerability to heat stress, among them beta blockers prescribed for high blood pressure and anticholinergics used to treat lung problems and urinary incontinence.

Other drugs, too, can contribute to a hypersensitivity to heat, including lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines and antispasmodics. Recreational drugs, like cocaine, amphetamines, PCP and alcohol, can be a problem as well.

Heat illness often occurs several days into a heat wave, as the effects on the body accumulate.

The body normally operates within a rather narrow temperature range. If body temperature rises above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, enzymes begin to break down and normal metabolic processes are disrupted. When Stringer collapsed, his temperature registered above 108 degrees.

Heat radiates from the body when blood vessels are maximally dilated and the air temperature is lower than body temperature. But the most effective natural coolant is sweat; as it collects on the skin and evaporates, it draws heat from the body.

The risk of heat illness rises with the heat index, a combined measure of air temperature and relative humidity. When the humidity is high (or too much clothing is worn), sweat simply rolls off the skin without evaporating and cooling it.

Coaches, take note: Depending on athletes’ ages, intensity of activity and degree of acclimatization, you should consider canceling practice and games when the heat index exceeds 105, according to experts. City dwellers are most at risk during heat waves because paved surfaces, tall buildings and minimal tree cover enhance heat absorption, creating a “heat island.”

Heat illness is a form of hyperthermia, defined as a rise in core body temperature. But it does not respond to fever-reducing medications, making it extremely important to recognize heat exhaustion, an early sign of trouble. Common complaints include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, headache, nausea and muscle cramps.

Colwell explained that the brain’s cerebellum is especially sensitive to heat, which explains the early signs of a heatstroke: unsteady gait, confusion and disorientation. Heatstroke, characterized by a rise in body temperature above 104 degrees, has a death rate as high as 50 percent. Symptoms typically include a change in mental status, like delirium, seizures or even coma.

Among the elderly, heatstroke most often develops gradually, over several hot days. But among otherwise healthy people engaged in strenuous exercise, it tends to occur suddenly, within minutes to hours, which demands particular attention to early symptoms. ]]>
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:35:27 -0400 By JANE E. BRODY

New York Times