Saturday, August 04, 2012

Talking to children about smoking

Greensboro, NC – The youth smoking prevention program “Real Parents. Real Answers.” (RPRA) has posted an E-Book on its website to inform parents how stress can lead to smoking among children and teens and how to effectively talk to their children about managing stress and making healthy choices.

Parents can visit the website to find the E-Book, which offers insight into what triggers children to smoke cigarettes. In authoring the easy-to-read, pamphlet-sized book, noted parenting expert and RPRA spokesman Dr. Michael Popkin explains that children who smoke attribute stress to be among the top reasons to light up. The book also gives parents examples of what may be leading their children to feel stressed out, and how they can help teach healthy stress management techniques.

Parents may be wondering what their children could be stressed about, but as discussed in the E-book, the pressure to succeed is more intense, and is increasingly applied at an earlier age. Schoolwork, over-scheduling or inconsistencies in the home environment are factors that lead to stress in young people. How they handle these stressors could make a difference in their long-term health.

The E-book sheds light on some techniques parents can use to communicate with their children about what is causing their stress. It also teaches them how they can help their kids better manage these factors and make better decisions.

Dr. Popkin acknowledges that, “it’s not always easy to ask for advice, but smoking is a difficult topic to cover with your children, and having the right approach and information when conducting the discussion can make a big difference.”

Opening more channels of discussion, in his opinion, will not only lead to a healthy outlook on the dangers of youth smoking, but will also ignite a better relationship between parents and their children.

For more information about youth smoking prevention, including a pledge program for kids plus recorded webinars and podcasts for parents, visit Parents can also participate in the program on Facebook by liking the program at

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Saving Skin from the Endless Summer Sun

Across the country the summer sun has been extremely intense, putting outdoor enthusiasts at a higher risk of sunburns and much more. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year across the United States.

"Skin cancer is affecting younger and younger people," explains Robert Miller, M.D. of WellSpring
Oncology. Recent studies suggest one of the main reason is 80 percent of people visiting tanning salons are girls and women aged 16-29. "Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for people ages 25-29. This is a disease you have to prevent from day one. Just one blistering sunburn in youth more than doubles your risk of melanoma," says Dr. Miller.

But Dr. Miller isn't suggesting skipping the outdoors entirely, just to be more prepared when heading out with these five tips.

Check the Clock
The summer sun gives off the most UV rays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dr. Miller suggests finding shade or staying indoors during these hours. "You don't have to be laying out to get a sunburn, even walking to and from your car can expose your skin to UV rays," Dr. Miller explains.

Block the Burn
No matter what time of day it is – remember to block the burn with sunscreen. Dr. Miller recommends SPF 30 for any outdoor activity. This will keep out about 97% of the sun's UVA and UVB rays and give  a safe way of enjoying the warm weather. Sunscreen should be applied one-half hour before going outside, giving the skin time to absorb it. Because sunscreen tends to be broken down over time by the sun, and rubbed or washed off with sweating and water exposure, it should be reapplied at least every two hours outdoors, and immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. At least one ounce (two tablespoons) is needed to cover the entire body surface.

Top off Your Look
Hats aren't just for fashion, according to Dr. Miller. Wide-brim hats provide protection for the ears, nose, shoulders and scalp from sunburns. "Shielding your eyes from the sun is also crucial to preventing any UV damage. So don't forget the sunglasses!" Dr. Miller warns.

No Tanning Beds
"Many used to think tanning beds were the safe way to get that summer glow," says Dr. Miller. "But now we know there is no safe tan." The Skin Cancer Foundation warns indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. As a safe alternative, Dr. Miller suggests opting for spray-on tan instead.

Check the Mirror
"It's important to know your own risk factors," explains Dr. Miller. That includes fair skin, family history and prior blistering sunburns. Dr. Miller encourages self-exams by canvasing the skin and
looking for atypical moles or freckles and documenting any changes. "The faster we catch the cancer, the more likely we'll be able to eradicate it completely," Dr. Miller says.

Vulvar pain linked to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Millions of women suffer from unexplained vulvar pain so severe it can make intercourse, exercise and even sitting unbearable.

New research now shows that women with this painful vaginal condition known as vulvodynia are two to three times more likely to also have one or more other chronic pain conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia (musculoskeletal pain) and interstitial cystitis (bladder pain).

These increasingly prevalent chronic pain conditions are known to be underdiagnosed – and the new data sheds more light on how they may also be related, according the University of Michigan Health System study that was published in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Millions of people in the U.S. have chronic pain. This report stresses the need to further study relationships between these types of disorders to help understand common patterns and shared features,” says lead author Barbara D. Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H., professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School.

“Chronic pain conditions like these can seriously hamper quality of life and it’s imperative that we understand the commonality among them. Results we see in any studies related to one of the conditions, such as regarding etiology, physiology, or treatment, may be relevant to any of others.”

Other studies show that chronic pain conditions are much more prevalent than previously estimated, and there has been growing interest in understanding the patterns of co-occurrence, Reed says.

“Women who have these disorders often see physicians but are not given a diagnosis or are given an erroneous diagnosis and continue to suffer without being treated properly,” Reed says. “Until their symptoms have a name, it can be really discouraging because patients begin thinking it’s all in their head.

“Chronic pain is starting to get a lot more attention, with more research being done on all of these disorders, as well as combinations of these disorders. I think the identification and treatment of these conditions will continue to improve.”

Authors used data from the six-month follow-up survey of the Michigan Woman to Woman study, a population-based cohort of 2,500 adult women in southeast Michigan. An original study found that more than 25 percent of surveyed women in the metro Detroit area have experienced ongoing vulvar pain at some point in their lives but only 2 percent ever sought treatment for their pain.

Additional Authors: Besides Reed, authors include Siobán D. Harlow, Ph.D., Ananda Sen, Ph.D., Rayna M. Edwards, MPH, Di Chen, MPH, and Hope K. Haefner, M.D.

New book teaches kids how to deal with bullies

"All Kitty Cats" book about bullying
Approximately a third of all children are bullied at school at some point. It’s a problem that impacts millions of children every year, leaving many parents unsure of what to do. Before the school bells ring for the next school year, it’s important that parents have a serious conversation with their children about bullying, to help them avoid being a victim, or doing the bullying. It is never too early to educate children about bullying.

“Issues like bullying are familiar to most kids. They may have been a victim of it, they may have done the bullying, or they may have seen others being bullied,” explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the first book in a new series “We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats,” which releases on August 1, 2012. “The first thing we need to do is start a conversation about it early, so that we can address it and start reducing the incidents. And prevention is most effective when implemented at the preschool level.”

Bullying, according to the National Institutes of Health, is when someone repeatedly tries to harm someone that they think is weaker. Bullying comes in multiple forms, including physical (e.g., hitting, kicking, pushing, etc.), verbal (e.g., threatening, teasing, etc.), and social (e.g., rumors, exclusion, etc.). In recent years, cyber-bullying has also become more widespread, which involves bullying through the use of electronic means, including online and through text messaging.

Here are some tips for parents when talking to their child about bullying:

  • Discuss what bullying is so they have a clear definition of what would be included.
  • Teach them to not react to bullies. If they do react, the bully is more likely to continue the behavior. By your child not reacting, the bully will most likely lose interest.
  • Explain that children need to be confident when dealing with bullies. If ignoring them doesn’t work to end the bullying, they need to stand up to them by being confident, looking them in the eye, and telling them to stop the behavior.
  • Encourage the child to make friends with others, so that the bully sees that the child has support.
  • Always make sure that the child knows to seek assistance from school personnel. Bullying should be reported, so that the school can properly deal with it.
  • Help children identify their strengths and learn to focus on those, rather than focusing on any negative traits that the bully may tease them about.

There are several ways parents can help children learn to better understand bullying, including through reading books together and role playing. If a parent realizes that their child is the bully, they need to discuss the problem with their child, try to get to the bottom of why they are engaging in such behaviors, and work with the school administrators to help stop the behavior.

“Bullying is a serious issue, and we need to have an open dialogue about it,” added Goodman. “That’s what my books are all about. They start a conversation that will last a lifetime.”

In his first book of the series, “The First Day of School,” Goodman addresses the issue of bullying. Through a cast of cat characters, he helps children learn what bullying is, and what parents and classmates can do to help address it. To learn more about the book series, or to purchase the volume that addresses bullying, visit

Breastfeeding increases but barriers still exist

Although breastfeeding rates have reached the highest level in a decade, mothers who want to breastfeed still face many barriers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, “Breastfeeding Report Card – United States, 2012,” released August 1st, shows the largest annual increase in breastfeeding initiation over the previous decade.
 “This encouraging increase shows that the evidence around the benefits of breastfeeding is compelling to pregnant women, and the health care providers and hospitals that care for them,” said Michele Deck, Lamaze International president and childbirth educator. “Scientific research shows breastfeeding helps ensure babies are well nourished, protected against disease, and given the best chance to develop optimally. What women need most often is good information and support to get breastfeeding off to a good start, and to help them reach their breastfeeding goals.”
“While breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t always come naturally,” said Deck. “Many moms have difficulties establishing breastfeeding and some of this may be due to birth practices that aren’t the best for moms and babies. Pregnant women can help to push for the best birth and breastfeeding experiences by using childbirth education to understand the most common barriers and how to navigate them.”
According to the CDC report, national improvements in hospital maternity care practices also support breastfeeding; however, the indicators show that there is room for improvement to ensure moms are getting the quality care that can help them reach their breastfeeding goals. Lamaze points out the following top five breastfeeding barriers that may happen in the first 24 hours of birth:
1.    Unnecessary birth interventions:  While there are many unknowns during the birthing process, women can seek maternity care practices backed by science that can make birth safer and healthier. Fetal monitors, confinement to bed, artificially starting or speeding up labor and cesarean surgery can make birth more difficult and lead to a harder start for breastfeeding. For example, women whose babies are delivered by cesarean surgery can face a delay before the mature milk comes in. Pregnant women can find more information about reducing these and other challenges in childbirth by visiting Lamaze’s Push for Your Baby resources at: 
2.    Separating mom and baby: Abundant evidence shows that mother-baby, skin-to-skin care beginning right after birth and continuing uninterrupted, for at least one hour, or until after the first feeding for breastfeeding women, helps mothers, babies and breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin care helps a mom feel more confident, respond more quickly to her baby’s needs, reduces stress and makes breastfeeding easier. There are also clear benefits for babies: they breastfeed sooner, longer and more easily, they cry less, have more stable temperatures and blood sugar levels, have lower levels of stress hormones, and adjust more easily to life outside of the womb.
3.    Use of pacifiers or other artificial nipples before breastfeeding is well established: Does the hospital nursery use pacifiers or bottle-feed babies without need? It’s an important question for expecting parents to ask. Studies show that early pacifier use may interfere with breastfeeding, and could decrease mom’s ability to exclusively breastfeed and reduce the duration of breastfeeding. Artificial nipples should be avoided until breastfeeding is well established (after about four weeks).
4.    Supplementing breastmilk with formula: Breastmilk is best for babies. Formula simply does not provide the added nutritional and health benefits of breastmilk that’s naturally packed with antibodies, and should not replace formula unless there is a compelling medical reason to do so. Even the few days following birth are vitally important. The breasts produce a vital substance called colostrum, which protects the baby from illnesses and provides important nutrients.
5.    Lack of postpartum breastfeeding support: Many new moms need breastfeeding support after hospital or birth center discharge. Support may include: a home visit or hospital postpartum visit, referral to local community resources, follow-up telephone contact, a breastfeeding support group, or an outpatient clinic. This is a good time for a mom to talk about any challenges she may be having, and get the help she needs to give her baby the healthiest start.
"While breastfeeding decision-making can spark controversy among moms, improving breastfeeding awareness is not about passing judgment,” said Deck. “It’s about considering the scientific evidence and giving women the support they need to achieve their breastfeeding goals."
Valuable resources and information for expecting parents, like Lamaze’s Push for Your Baby (, are aimed at giving expecting parents the tools to push for the best care practices for moms and babies, including those that support breastfeeding education and awareness.
The CDC report can be found here:
To find out more about breastfeeding in the workplace, Deck also offers a Q&A video on breastfeeding options for working women here:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tips to avoid foot injuries for all athletes

CHICAGO – July 31, 2012 – The 2012 Summer Olympics have arrived, and according to foot and ankle surgeons from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), intense play performance throughout the games can cause an increased risk for foot and ankle injuries.

From plantar fasciitis to Lisfranc injuries to ankle sprains and stress fractures, Olympic athletes, including Jason Burnett, Jon Horton, Chellsie Memmel, Sam Mikulak, McKayla Maroney and others have dealt with their fair share of injuries as they prepared for and now compete in the Summer Games.

According to Maryland foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow member of ACFAS, Timothy Swartz, DPM, FACFAS, “One of the most common athletic foot injuries, plantar fasciitis, is a painful injury that is most commonly found in those who are on their feet a lot, like athletes. It can be caused by abnormally high or low arches, insufficient support in footwear or simply putting too much strain on one’s feet.”

People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as worse when they get up in the morning or after they’ve been sitting for long periods of time. After a few minutes of walking the pain decreases, because walking stretches the fascia. For some people the pain subsides but returns after spending long periods of time on their feet.

Plantar fasciitis is often treated conservatively with a period of rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, orthotics and stretching.

While plantar fasciitis is considered a heel injury, a Lisfranc injury occurs in the mid-foot region, where the metatarsal bones (long bones that lead up to the toes) and the tarsal bones (bones in the arch) connect. The Lisfranc ligament is a tough band of tissue that joins two of these bones. This is important for maintaining proper alignment and strength of the joint. Injuries to the Lisfranc joint most commonly occur in athletes such as runners, horseback riders, football players and participants of other contact sports, or can occur from something as simple as missing a step.

“Although plantar fasciitis and Lisfranc injuries don't have a lot in common, what they do have in common is that they can be chronically symptomatic and it may be difficult to get an athlete back to his or her previous level of activity in a short period of time. A Lisfranc injury can also be mistaken for a foot sprain, but when not diagnosed and treated early, it can lead to more serious complications in the long run. Lisfranc injuries may occasionally be treated with immobilization and rest, but most require surgery to stabilize the joints. The specific mid-foot joints that are stabilized depend on the ligaments that are injured and may vary somewhat on a case by case basis,” Swartz said.

Other common injuries seen in athletes are ankle sprains and stress fractures. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved. Ankle sprains are not the same as strains, which affect muscles rather than ligaments.

Stress fractures, on the other hand, are tiny, hairline breaks that can occur in the bones of the foot. According to Dr. Swartz, they can be caused by overtraining or overuse, improper training habits or surfaces, improper shoes, flatfoot or other foot deformities, and even osteoporosis. These tiny breaks in the bones of the feet can lead to a complete break if left untreated.

Athletes of all levels can benefit from these injury prevention tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons to help keep them at the top of their game:
  • Wear supportive shoes. Shoes that don’t support the arch of the foot and provide cushion for the heel can cause heel pain (plantar fasciitis). Shoes that are too small can also cause a neuroma, or a thickening of the nerve tissue. Never wear flip flops or leisure shoes for athletic activities.
  • Remember to stretch after warming up as well as following rigorous playing to increase blood flow to the muscles and allow for more flexibility so injuries can be avoided.
  • And remember, just because you can walk on it doesn’t mean it’s ok to do so; Stress fractures may take days to appear in the form of bruising or swelling.
  • If injured, athletes should remember RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, and make an appointment with their local foot and ankle surgeon if the injury is not improving after a few days.

Guide clarifies link between heartburn and cancer

Baltimore, Md.--July 31, 2012. Every day, an estimated 25 million American adults suffer from heartburn. Some experts believe that 40 percent of adults experience heartburn every month. Despite these staggering statistics, few people understand the real risk that Heartburn can cause Cancer. 

The Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) has produced a guide that provides information about Reflux Disease and its connection to Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer.  The guide will enable patients who suffer from heartburn to begin a conversation with their physicians and be better-informed advocates for their own health.  
“People don’t realize how dangerous heartburn can be and making the symptoms go away won’t prevent you from developing cancer.  We want people to understand the risks and get screened, so it can be caught early enough to save their lives,” said Mindy Mintz Mordecai, ECAN’s President and CEO.  She founded ECAN after the loss of her husband to Esophageal Cancer in 2008.
Presently, only one in five patients diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer will survive five years, largely because the disease is usually detected at late stages. But, if Esophageal Cancer is caught in its early stages, or even before it becomes cancerous, patients have a good chance for survival. 
ECAN Chairman Dr. Bruce Greenwald, professor of Medicine and a Gastroentrologist at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center said, “This Guide breaks new ground by presenting information that doctors from around the country and from different related specialties all agree upon.  Because there are currently no clear guidelines about who should be screened for Esophageal Cancer or Barrett’s Esophagus, this is valuable information patients can use to be advocates for their own healthcare.”
Supported with a $15,000. grant from health insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Patient Guide was created using an innovative online collaboration tool that involved more than 100 doctors from around the nation.  The guide presents the information in simple language, without confusing medical terminology. 
The guide suggests you should talk to your doctor about your concerns if:
1.    You have more than occasional heartburn symptoms
2.    You have experienced heartburn in the past, but the symptoms have gone away
3.    You have any pain or difficulty swallowing
4.    You have a family history of Barrett’s Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer
5.    You have an ongoing, unexplained cough
6.    You have been speaking with a hoarse voice over several weeks   
7.    You have a long lasting, unexplained sore throat
8.    You cough or choke when you lie down
The Guide is available for download at ECAN’S website:

Best of Netflix: California Dreamin

Rated 7.7 by IMDB users, California Dreamin is a lengthy 154 minutes.  Directed by Cristian Nemescu the Romanian-produced film is rambling and disjointed.  It is the rough cut. Nemescu, at 27 years old, was killed in a car accident with his sound engineer, Andrei Toncu, before the film could be finished. Still it won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes.

While crude and unrefined, the film carried a number of messages at many levels.  Probably most profound are its political messages. Based on a true incident, the film tells the story of U.S. Marines transporting by train secret radar equipment across Romania to war-torn Kosovo in 1999.  A superintendent of the train station in a Romanian village stops the train, claiming the goods are undocumented and require customs papers. His true motivation is one of anger built up over the years since his childhood. His parents had owned a factory that had supplied products to the Germans in World War II. They waited in vain to be liberated by the Americans. Both died at the hands of the Russian occupiers. At a micro level this is the story of a frustrated man who for the first time is able to take his revenge out on the Americans who never came during the final days of WWII.  On a macro level it tells the frustration of a nation, who except for a deal made by Stalin and Roosevelt, could have been free instead of being enslaved by Communism and the Soviets for 45 years.
Another theme reflects the Romanian lifestyle left over from Communist rule.  The village, like many that I have visited in Eastern Europe, is run down and with few modern infrastructures. The people are divided between rich public officials and poor workers and farmers.  The pubic officials have money because of bribes and the black market. They drive cars and have other luxuries. Probably the biggest luxury is the ability to get away and go to university. The really poor barely subsist and resort to horse drawn wagons as a means of transportation. 
The village people and their girls fall in love with the American soldiers, but the station superintendent stubbornly refuses to let the train containing the Americans and their equipment depart. Finally, the American captain schemes with the mayor of the village to unite against the station superintendent.  The final scenes show factions in the community fighting in the streets with sticks and Molotov cocktails while the train carrying the Americans pulls away to the singing of California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas.  Viewers are left with the message that when Americans interfere trouble follows.
This film is available online from Netflix. Read a further review at