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Better with breakfast

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The National Institutes of Health has launched a campaign to educate people about the potential link between high blood pressure in midlife and dementia later in life.

Starting the day with breakfast might not help obese people lose weight, but it could improve their overall health, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Bath conducting the three-year “Bath Breakfast Project” have been exploring the effects of eating/not eating breakfast on body weight and health. They discovered that compared to obese people who skipped the morning meal, obese individuals who ate breakfast did not experience more weight loss but were more physically active in the morning and consumed less food later in the day.

According to lead researcher Dr. James Betts, the study demonstrated that the importance of breakfast depends on a person’s individual goals.

“For example, if weight loss is the key, there is little to suggest that just having breakfast or skipping it will matter,” he said. “However, based on other markers of a healthy lifestyle, like being more active or controlling blood sugar levels, then there’s evidence that breakfast may help.”

Study author Dr. Enhad Chowdhury noted that the type of breakfast matters, too.

“The effects of a sugary cereal compared to a high protein breakfast are likely to be quite different,” Chowdhury said.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the study.

Cranberry cure?

Each year, millions of Americans [mostly women] experience urinary tract infections [UTIs], and many aim to treat their symptoms by drinking cranberry juice.

According to Timothy Boone, M.D., a urologist at Texas A&M Health Science Center, the “cranberry cure” – for the most part – is an old wives’ tale.

“Cranberry juice, especially the juice concentrates you find at the grocery store, will not treat a UTI or bladder infection,” Boone said. “It can offer more hydration and possibly wash bacteria from your body more effectively, but the active ingredient in cranberry is long-gone by the time it reaches your bladder.”

That “active ingredient” can block bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall and causing a UTI; however, it is not present in cranberry juice – only in cranberry capsules.

Increased urge to urinate, pain with urination, pelvic pain or blood in urine all are symptoms of a UTI, which usually requires treatment with an antibiotic.

Gel manicure safety tips

Gel manicures have become increasingly popular due to their exceptional durability and shine. According to new information from the American Academy of Dermatology [AAD], they offer some real benefits but also include risks that can be minimized with proper precautions.

Speaking on behalf of the AAD, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Chris D. Adigun said gel manicures can be especially beneficial to those with deformed or discolored nails, particularly in light of the fact that regular polish might not adhere to or provide enough coverage on problem nails.

“Nails are very visible, so disfigured or discolored nails can be really embarrassing for patients, making it difficult for them to work and socialize,” Andigun said. “For many patients, a gel manicure can be life-changing.”

Adigun said gel manicures are not appropriate for some people with weak or brittle nails that may not be able to withstand the acetone required for polish removal, or for those who are highly sensitive to UV light due to genetic factors, certain medical conditions and some medications and supplements.

She said everyone should be concerned about potential skin damage from UV exposure during gel manicures and noted that “repeated UV exposure may have a cumulative effect, especially in people who start getting manicures at a young age.”

To minimize risks associated with gel manicures, Andigun recommended taking the following precautions:

• Improper curing can increase the risk of physical damage to the nail or separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, so for best results, use the correct polish with the correct curing lamp for the correct amount of time. Different lamps are designed for use with different polish formulas. If performing a gel manicure at home, stick with the polishes appropriate for your curing lamp.

• Be proactive about UV protection, ideally wearing fingerless gloves or a similar garment with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor [UPF] of 50 for every gel manicure. Keep in mind that UPF fabric loses some effectiveness with each wash. Other options for protection include wearing dark, opaque gloves with the fingertips removed, or applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater at least 15 minutes prior to the manicure. If using sunscreen, keep it off the nails, which provide natural UV protection.

• Keep in mind that attempting to remove polish by scraping or chipping can damage the nail, so make sure gel is applied and removed properly.

Early breast cancer prevention

A large-scale study has linked eating more fiber in high school and young adulthood with reduced breast cancer risk.

A large-scale study has linked eating more fiber in high school and young adulthood with reduced breast cancer risk.

Eating more fiber during high school and young adulthood might reduce the risk of breast cancer, a recent study suggests.

Using data on more than 40,000 women enrolled in the ongoing Nurses Health Study II, researchers observed a significant decrease in the incidence of breast cancer among those who reported eating about 28 grams of fiber daily during high school, compared to those who ate, on average, less than 15 grams of fiber per day.

Study authors said a diet high in fiber might reduce breast cancer risk by decreasing estrogen levels in the blood.

The study, “Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk,” was published in the March issue of Pediatrics, an American Academy of Pediatrics journal.

‘Mind Your Risks’

A new campaign from the National Institutes of Health [NIH] is aiming to raise awareness of the potential role of high blood pressure in the development of dementia.

The NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke [NINDS] has launched “Mind Your Risks,” a public education campaign about how controlling risk factors for stroke in middle age – especially high blood pressure – may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in later life.

According to the campaign website, while many people with hypertension are aware of their increased risk for stroke and heart attack, they are not motivated to get their blood pressure under control. A goal of the campaign is to inform people that new studies have linked high blood pressure at ages 45-65 to increased risk of dementia, too, meaning that uncontrolled high blood pressure is even riskier than previously believed.

To learn what steps can be taken to manage the risks of stroke, heart disease and likely dementia later in life, visit www.mindyourrisks.nih.gov.

On the calendar 

“Safety for Older Adults at Home” is from 11:30 am.-1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2 at the West County EMS & Fire Protection District Safety House, 13790 Manchester Road in Ballwin. West County EMS staff and a Missouri Baptist Medical Center physical therapist provide information on fire and fall prevention. Lunch is provided. To register, call (314) 996-5433.

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“Home Care Choices and How to Find Assistance at Home,” one in a series of classes for those caring for a loved one, is from 1-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8 at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, 12634 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur. Admission is free, but registration is required. Call (314) 542-9378.

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“Do you have Hip or Knee Pain?” is from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 at the Mirowitz Performing Arts Center at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. Dr. James Walentynowicz, orthopedic physician at St. Luke’s Hospital, is the presenter. For more information or to register, call (314) 542-4848, or visit www.stlukes-stl.com.

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“When Bad Things Happen to Good Shoulders” is from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16 at the St. Luke’s Hospital Desloge Outpatient Center, 121 St. Luke’s Center Drive in Chesterfield. An orthopedic physician provides a comprehensive look at all the causes of shoulder pain, including arthritis, rotator cuff tears, bursitis, tendinitis, impingements, instability and more, addressing easy therapies and more advanced solutions. Admission is free. To register, call (314) 542-4848, or visit stlukes-stl.com.

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