Grab Bag “Break the Habit” Habit:
Men’s Health magazine profiles a few common habits, why they’re so nasty for you and how to change them. Here is my summation:
1. Habit: The occasional (a la Obama) cigarette
Reason to Stop: Even one cigarette can instantly bring damage to blood vessel walls, which can bring about heart disease and/or blood clots.
Ways to Stop: When the desire strikes (most likely when drinking and being around other smokers), hold something like a drink stirrer between your fingers to give you the tactile cue that you are satisfying the craving. Carry nicotine gum or lozenges with you and use them when the craving maxes out.
2. Habit: TV Addiction
Reasons to Stop: A) For every hour beyond 80 minutes that you watch TV, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases by 30%(!!) – Case Western Reserve University research shows that people aged 20-60 who were less involved in all recreational activities (classified as passive, intellectual and physical) were the ones at much higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s later in life. The Alz. patients were more active in one category in earlier years – TV viewing.
B) Watching more than 19 hours a week increases your odds of being overweight by 97%.
Ways to Stop: Use a DVR to record shows you want to watch… zapping through commercials can cut 25-35% of viewing time. Also, make plans to meet with friends at least 2-3 evenings a week, substituting TV time for games, talk, or a sport.
3. Habit: Java Junkie… Oh, no, not that! Oh, yes….
Reason to Stop: Daily doses of intense caffeine can increase anxiety and “unsteady” your nervous system. Dartmouth researchers in 2007 reported that those who consumed the equivalent of 4 cups of java a day for a week had a 35% decrease in insulin sensitivity, which can lead to diabetes.
Ways to Stop: Start keeping track of your actual caffeine consumption. Tally up total milligrams from sodas, coffee, tea, energy drinks. Decrease your consumption by 10% every few days (going cold turkey will likely bring on edginess and headaches… it’s a nasty addiction, for sure)… try mixing in a little decaf into your regular coffee and increase the ratio slowly. Even with a slow decrease, be prepared to feel fatigued and get some headaches. Get to bed earlier to combat the tired feeling and carry some Tylenol or Advil if you really can’t shake the brain pain.
4. Habit: iPod Ouch.. cranking the tunes a bit too high
Reason to Stop: You quickly become accustomed to higher volume levels with headphones. And the louder level then becomes your default setting. Our bodies have no self-defense mechanism for loud noise, so the brain tries to adjust. Meanwhile, painless damage is being done to the delicate cells of the inner ear. Hearing loss appears years later, and is, at least here in 2009, irreversible.
Ways to Stop: Gradually retrain your brain to appreciate lower volume levels as normal. Start by lowering your iPod or car stereo volume so you can hear other people talk (they shouldn’t have to shout). Hearing specialist Catherine Palmer, Ph.D, advises, “If you force yourself to listen to music at a lower level, your brain will begin to perceive it as normal after about a week”. Also try Loud Enough headphones ($40) which will knock 20 decibels off your music player’s max. volume.. kind of like a governor for your ears 🙂
5. Habit: Talking and Texting While Driving
Reasons to Stop: OK…we are so in love with our phones, and instant access, and staying connected, and it’s all so cool… but we really suck at doing that while driving. Even having a handsfree conversation while driving slows our reaction time by 20%.
Ways to Stop: Train yourself to not want to pick up your phone while driving. When tempted, visualize what would happen if you plowed into the car in front of you, what that might do to the people in that car, how the outcome would affect you and your family… you get the picture. Just in case you don’t, this public service message produced in Scotland really brings the message home. Warning: this is tough, but valuable, to watch.
Grab Bag “Loco on Coco”nut Oil Issue:
Coconut oil (the partially hydrogenated kind, not the “virgin” kind) used to be in lots of snack foods; movie popcorn, candy bars and baked goods, among others. Years ago we were told that coconut oil was bad, bad, bad. It has been phased out of many foods due to that bad press and, of course, the reality that it is a highly saturated fat (saturated fats, as you probably know, can raise cholesterol).
Then, in the past couple of years, there has been a surge of information circulating on the internet and among health food store employees that coconut oil is actually very good for you to consume. Some claims include weight loss, hypothyroidism treatment, pancreatitis treatment, dissolving kidney stones, strengthening teeth, and more. So I slowly did research on the topic and my read is this: coconut oil carries some very good benefits, but there is not enough reliable evidence to spoon it up in your diet.
Here’s the thing. I can’t find information I’m really comfortable with to support the internal consumption of coconut oil at this time. The level of saturated fats could be a risk for heart disease (although there is an argument that the Medium Chain Fatty Acids in coconut oil may actually have more benefits than risks). The claims of health benefits out there range from mild to ridiculous, most without sound substantiation. Research continues, however. See MSN’s Health and Fitness research into the topic here. For now it’s not in my diet.
BUT, it IS uncontroversialy (no, that’s not a real word) great for your hair and skin. For skin moisturizing, skin infections and hair conditioning it can have real benefits. And, no, there is no concern that the saturated fats can be absorbed through the skin… the fat molecules are, well, too fat 🙂
Grab Bag Cool Stuff:
Surface View is a company that specializes in two things: art prints on canvas in various sizes, and monumental art prints as murals for your wall. This British company has created quite a stir in the industry, and their website shows why.
Check them out:
Grab Bag “Boon for the Boobs” Report:
An important recently published study details the comparison between mammography alone and Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (AWBU) along with mammography. The goal was to see if the AWBU addition would improve early detection of breast cancer, specifically in women with dense breasts. The results are pretty astounding. Here is a summation of the study:
Purpose: Mammography, the standard method of breast cancer screening, misses many cancers, especially in dense-breasted women. We compared the performance and diagnostic yield of mammography alone versus an automated whole breast ultrasound (AWBU) plus mammography in women with dense breasts and/or at elevated risk of breast cancer.Results: Breast cancer detection doubled from 23 to 46 in 6,425 studies using AWBU with mammography, resulting in an increase in diagnostic yield from 3.6 per 1,000 with mammography alone to 7.2 per 1,000 by adding AWBU. PPV for biopsy based on mammography findings was 39.0% and for AWBU 38.4%. The number of detected invasive cancers 10 mm or less in size tripled from 7 to 21 when AWBU findings were added to mammography.
Conclusion: AWBU resulted in significant cancer detection improvement compared with mammography alone. Additional detection and the smaller size of invasive cancers may justify this technology’s expense for women with dense breasts and/or at high risk for breast cancer.
Santa Barbara’s own Dr. Judy Dean , along with 2 docs from the Los Angeles area are responsible for the years of work behind this study. Thank you, Judy.
So here’s what this means to you and me: If you have dense breasts or in a higher-than-normal risk group for breast cancer, you really need to consider how important this added image could be for you. And if you can afford it, you may want to add this image to your regular mammogram no matter what your risk factors are, just for the added diagnostic ability. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not yet see the need to fully cover the cost (approx. $350) of this ultrasound. The current insurance coverage issue is explained by Dr. Dean:
Since the device received preliminary FDA approval last October we have
been billing insurance, with some success. There is no code for
ultrasound screening, so we have to use existing codes and usually get
at least partial payment.
And if you haven’t seen Judy for your mammogram (w/ AWBU?) in the last 12 months… get in there.
Grab Bag “Speaking of Boobs” Tip:
Valuable info for all to see, since apparently few of us buy the right bra. Click on the pic below to link to the Daily Candy video:
Grab Bag Wildfire “Know-It-All” Site:
Every year California and other fire-prone states face a series of wildfires that often threaten or destroy thousands of homes. To get the latest information on a fire in any of fourteen states, bookmark this link and you’ll be able to get the latest info, which includes the screenshots below of incident lists, detailed information of individual incidents, and maps showing the area involved.
Grab Bag Brain Game:
Grab Bag Funny Stuff:
More “Billboards We’d Like to See”:
Grab Bag Cute Stuff:
French Bulldog Can’t Roll Over
She may have been genetically modified with the genes of a turtle…
Vodpod videos no longer available.