From the monthly archives: "March 2009"
Salmonella Alert: The FDA has passed a warning to stay away from all foods containing pistachios. California-based Setton Farms, the nation’s second-largest pistachio processor, is voluntarily recalling all of its 2008 crop–more than 1 million pounds of nuts. All this on the heels of the recent peanut salmonella outbreak that has killed hundreds.

Although two people have called the FDA complaining of gastrointestinal illness that may be associated with the nuts, the link hasn’t yet been confirmed. Nevertheless, the Setton Farms plant has shut down as of last week.

The FDA learned of the problem last Tuesday, when Kraft Foods Inc. notified the agency that it had detected salmonella in roasted pistachios through routine testing. Kraft and the Georgia Nut Co. recalled their Back to Nature Nantucket Blend trail mix the next day.

By Friday, grocery operator Kroger Co. recalled one of its lines of bagged pistachios because of possible salmonella contamination, saying the California plant also supplied its nuts. Those nuts were sold in 31 states.

According to Jeff Farrar, chief of the Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Public Health,

“It will be safe to assume based on the volume that this will be an ingredient in a lot of different products, and that may possibly include things like ice cream and cake mixes,” Farrar said. “The firm is already turning around trucks in transit to bring those back to the facility.”

Salmonella, the most common cause of food poisoning, is a bacteria that causes diarrhea, fever and cramping. Roasting nuts is supposed to kill the bacteria, but nuts can be roasted improperly or the product can be re-contaminated. Re-contamination can occur from mice, rats or birds getting into the facility.

Stay away from any product containing pistachios for now. I’ll keep you updated on the news as I get it.

Does poor health result from too little medication in the bloodstream? Think about this, as it’s a philosophical question. You would think that this notion is the common wisdom by the way medications are consumed in this country, but our over-medicated culture is leading to some creepy consequences. Check out this tripper.

Scientists have found that fish caught near wastewater plants in five major U.S. cities contain residues of pharmaceuticals including cholesterol lowering drugs, antihistamines, high blood pressure medication, and antidepressants. This shouldn’t be any surprise to my regular readers as I reported on this nasty little phenomenon last year.

And from where are the fish picking up these pharma-residues? Why from human urine, that’s where. Gross, right? Americans consume so much medication that we are contaminating the oceans where we dump our wastes. And the organisms which habitate these ecosystems are bearing some of the brunt of our faulty (and foul) paradigm.

It is not lost on me that the drugs they found in fish mirror the drugs most commonly pushed on the American people. And if that isn’t enough to make your stomach turn, the EPA reports that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in our drinking water too.
So what do you think? Is your health so dependent on pharmaceutical drugs that you keep a constant flow of meds passing through your bloodsrtream at all times? Somebody’s is–just ask the fishes.

Move over, Darwin. Natural selection is sooooo yesterday. The future is in artificial selection–you know, genetic engineering. That’s right, you want a blue-eyed baby? No problem. Five pound strawberries–no problem. Cloned meat products? Yes. And now there may be a genetic solution to indolence. Intrigued? Read on.

Scientists at UC Berkeley have found a gene that is responsible for turning carbohydrates into fat. The gene, called DNA-PK, works in the liver, regulating the conversion of sugars into fats. What this means is that that silly little process of turning low energy carbs into higher energy triglycerides is controlled by this one simple gene. Mice bred with a disabled version of the gene were able to eat large portions of carbohydrate meals–the equivalent of the all-you-can-eat-pasta bar–and still have 40% less body fat when compared to a control group of normal mice. And the implications for humans? The researcher team thinks it might be a great target for new drugs to help prevent obesity.

Modern science never ceases to amaze me. Think about it, you can eat all you want–pizza, Ding Dongs, Fig Newtons for days–and not gain an ounce. What do you think? Brilliant, yes? Forget that our genetic makeup is the product of billions of years of evolution. Forget that natural selection is the selection of favorable traits that become more common in successive generations. And forget that there might be an evolutionary advantage to turning low energy carbohydrates into higher energy fats–trivialities all. What matters is that we can manipulate nature–Ta-Da!–cuz we can. Reminds me of that joke about why a dog licks his nards. Silly humans.

If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, gentlemen–watch out! You might wake up on the street somewhere sans your wallet. So says the U.S. Embassy in Japan, which has advised Americans to stay away from nightclubs and bars in central Tokyo’s Roppongi nightlife area due to a rise in drink-spiking incidents.

According to reports, victims are given drinks spiked with Rohypnol, also known as roofies. The victims then wake up after several hours in either the bar or the street, usually missing their credit cards. Large sums of money are generally charged to the cards, or the loot and cards are stolen outright.

Roppongi is popular for it’s hostess bars, where men pay beaucoup bucks to drink and chat with women. It has been a popular area for tourists and businessmen looking for cheap drinks and casual sex. But reports have drink-spiking incidents happening at eleven different establishments, eliciting the warning. No formal claims have been filed, though.

As with travel to any foreign land, practicing caution is critical. Although one never expects to be drugged in a legit establishment, I guess anything can happen. In 2004, four businessmen died and twelve others fell ill after snorting cocaine when Roppongi dealers secretly cut heroin into the mix. And in 2000, Briton Lucie Blackman, a hostess at a Roppongi gentlemens’ club, was murdered and her body mutilated and abandoned by a wealthy Japanese businessman. Her killer was a regular patron at the club in which she worked.

If you are traveling to Japan any time soon–be careful!

More trouble for the antidepressant drug industry, as federal prosecutors accuse Forest Laboratories, makers of Celexa and Lexapro, two popular antidepressants, of improperly attempting to sway pediatricians to prescribe the drugs to kids. All this on the heels of the FDA’s approval for the use of Lexapro in treating depression in children.

According to recent reports, the US Justice Department accused Forest of wrongly pushing their product onto pediatricians with inducements like spa visits, fishing trips and tickets to sporting events and Broadway shows. Neither Celexa nor Lexapro had been approved for kids until Lexapro won the FDA’s nod on Friday. The federal complaint also includes allegations of Forest pushing aside a study showing Celexa as inneffective for pediatric use, and having their sales staff promote another favorable study instead.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise to regular readers of this blog. I’ve reported similar stories on GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Paxil, another popular antidepressant, who may have hid evidence of suicide risk in their product. I’ve also reported on studies showing antidepressants to be no more effective than taking a sugar pill.

Why would the makers of these most widely sold drugs have to hide important data and woo doctors to push their products? Easy–it’s big time money. Not your simple inordinate-bonuses-for-executives-during-tough-economic-times greed as we’re seeing today. It’s much, much bigger than that. We are talking long-term-hook-a-generation-on-useless-and-dangerous-drugs to “treat” a difficult, yet normal, human condition called depression. It’s an outrage.

I’m going to step out on a limb and speak the truth here: The pharmaceutical industry, particularly the makers of antidepressant drugs, is amoral. The only factor important to this outfit is profiteering. I do not make these claims lightly. I am a strong believer in the capitalist system, and believe that economic markets help drive human progress. But I also believe that commerce should be attached to products and services that help people, not just opportunities to make money at any cost. So when companies exhibit a disregard for the betterment of their customer base, I think they should be considered criminal. In other words, I feel no sorrow for the Chinese businessmen sentenced to death for putting the toxic chemical, melamine, into milk products to pass the necessary protein requirements in their watered down product. Perhaps if the same punishment was held over the heads of greedy pharmaceutical execs, we’d see a lot less shenanigans going on in that industry.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a drug that could decrease the need for sleep, allow more time to work and study, and essentially make you smarter…without side effects? Well, if you remember my post on the subject last year, you’ll recall that that drug doesn’t exist. Oh, there are plenty of drugs that’ll keep you up and allow you to study harder–in the short term; but the one without side effects–dream on.

According to a recent study, the popular prescription stimulant, Provigil, has a higher risk of addiction than previously thought. Brain scans taken of people on the drug showed changes in the brain’s pleasure centers, which were similar to those occurring with the more frowned upon stimulants coke and meth. The study which is due for publication in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association may break the myth that Provigil is safe for healthy people.

Provigil, or Modafinil, is known as a “smart drug” for its ability to keep people up for hours, thus making it popular with students and other academia (professors) in search of unlimited knowledge. Modafinil, however, is approved as a narcolepsy drug–that is, to fight off the daytime sleepiness associated with this disorder and obstructive sleep apnea. But why worry about that detail? Speed is speed is speed.

The “controversy” over smart drugs was brought to light last year when several scientists commented in the journal Nature that people should have the right to boost their brain power through the use of drugs like Provigil. At the time of that editorial it was thought that Provigil provided stimulation without side effects. This new study is the first evidence that Modafinil increases dopamine release–the “feel good” neurotransmitter implicated in most forms of addiction.

Well, as I’ve said time and time again, there’s no free lunch. You want to play you gotta pay. You can gain knowledge and be productive through hard work and study. But there’s simply no substitute for sleep. Sorry.

President Obama and his crew have got this health care thing all wrong. Socializing–damn it, I mean universalizing–health care isn’t the answer. And the data they’re using to come to their conclusions is convoluted.

Take the latest report from the Business Roundtable, a gathering of U.S. CEOs from major companies that provide health insurance to their employees. This meeting produced the usual appeal from American businesses to get medical spending under control. Yeah, no kidding–if you’re footing the bill for hundreds of thousands of people, you’ll want costs to come down significantly. But having the taxpayer pick up the tab isn’t going to change the facts. And the facts are what’s under contention.

The conventional wisdom is that medical care in the U.S. is too expensive. The numbers show that Americans spend $1,928 per capita on health care. That’s two grand a person per year on average. This number is then compared to what’s spent in G-5 countries (Canada, Germany, Great Britain, France and Japan), all with government-funded systems, albeit different from each other. In these countries, the per capita health care spending is $1,100 (all data is from 2006). In the emerging competitive economies, the BIC group–Brazil, India and China–per capita health care spending is about $290. Looking at these numbers, I guess you would conclude that our health care is more expensive and burdensome.

But I think these numbers only tell part of the story. To begin with, I don’t find the BIC group worth comparing. These three countries have huge populations, large numbers of poor people, and they still lag behind the more developed countries in quality of life amenities that we take for granted in the modern western world. This includes health care. In fact, I am certain that hoards of people in those countries have no health care available whatsoever. This isn’t the case in the U.S. where we have free clinics and laws against turning away patients from emergency care.

So, in my opinion, the only worthy comparison is G-5 countries. The only way to know if our care in the U.S. is too costly is to have comparative pricing–that is, we’ve got to know how much mending a fracture is, not only from country to country, but from hospital to hospital. Without that information, we’re shooting blindly in the dark. And how about an overnight hospital stay, or a shot of morphine, or how about a simple doctor’s visit–you know, those useless physicals or whatever it is that we get duped into every year. Without that information, there is simply no way to know what’s too expensive.

Then there is the issue of comfort. Some people demand that their hospital room resemble a suite at the Ritz Carlton. Hey, I’ve got no problem with that concept–money talks and BS walks, so they say (check out how this Japanese mobster got a liver transplant and five-star service in the U.S. for one reason only–cha-ching!). So lowering cost will invariably lower comfort (which I believe will lead to high-priced boutique medical care and private hospitals, and then you’ll really hear the masses scream).

Finally, by the sheer fact that everyone has government-funded insurance, I’m certain that things get pret-ty busy in those G-5 hospitals, probably similar to any big city’s general hospital–you know what I mean, looooong wait times. Swollen elbow? You’re sitting in the waiting room for nine hours, Laddy. My guess is that this keeps only the most critical emergencies from going into the ER. Anything of a lesser severity has to wait for a doctor’s appointment. There you go: controlled visits, controlled costs.

Here’s the real problem as I see it: Americans have been brainwashed–OK perhaps spoiled is a better word–into believing that you run to the doctor for any minor ailment. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to in the last month who have gone to the doctor for antibiotics for that miserable cold and flu that has come upon us–the same one my daughter and I had, and got over with zero medication, just sleep, water and lots of TLC. Listen up people: antibiotics don’t do diddly against the common cold OR the flu–both viruses. So how many of you ran up the nation’s health care costs this month?

And also Americans have immediate access to medical care at any time. Call it an emergency and you can’t be turned away, or the hospital will liable. Can’t pay the bill? Most hospitals have charity plans–they’ll write off your care if you can’t afford it. So add the notion that you’ve got to run to the fancy schmancy hospital or doctor in Century City (Upper East Side, UCSF, whatever) whenever you have a boo boo; and you have the ability to do so no matter what your income level, and what do you think the result will be? You think we might spend a little more money than the Euros who are sitting at home nursing their own colds and flu?

I actually hope we do nationalize the system, because I think it’s the only way Americans will see that it’s their lifestyles that lead to their poor health.

I don’t mean to be obnoxious…well, OK, yes I do, but I couldn’t help but notice today while lunching at The Cheesecake Factory the young girl at the table across from me enjoying a pizza (a large one solely for her) and a very large coke. Wow! As I watched this intriguing display of gluttony, I wondered: Health officials are really banging their heads trying to figure out the childhood obesity epidemic? Duh!!!

I, for one, do not blame the makers of junk food for the epidemic–temptation is all around all the time; discipline is a virtue. So I don’t really applaud any research that proves junk food leads to obesity, like the latest study out of Columbia University and UC Berkeley, which showed that fast food restaurants near schools increase obesity rates. You don’t say. That’s where our research dollars are going? And do you think video arcades near schools lead to more sore thumbs? May I repeat–Duh!!!

Even worse is that the esteemed opinion of the researchers is that banning fast food restaurants will decrease obesity? Will it? Not without also banning Doritos, or Pop Tarts, or Dominos, or Frosted Flakes, or wait…how about Coke?!?! That’s right, is the government ready to ban the biggest culprit of obesity in the modern world, soft drinks? Seeing that Coca Cola is one of the biggest companies on the planet, I doubt it.

Fast food is the new tobacco. Like smoking yesterday, indulging in fast food is getting blasted from all angles. Instead of calling it like it is–an educational issue, an upbringing issue, a cultural issue, a discipline issue–let’s just play victim and blame the fast food itself. People don’t get fat, buckets of chicken do.

It’s not that I am so enthralled with fast food that I must defend it, or the businesses selling it; I just don’t like the government stepping in and minimizing my choices of eateries. I don’t personally make Taco Bell my first choice in grub, but I’ll eat it in a pinch. And it’s not like there’s no benefit to fast food. You know if you’re starving and have very little time, a Whopper will do–you know that. You know that if you are starving after your late night bar shift, you’ll eat a damn Big Mac–don’t lie to yourself.

So stop trying to feed me this useless science that says we need a ban on fast food. Maybe instead they can do fast food profiling like they do with antihistamine sales in pharmacies now (you know they do that, right?). Anyone entering Mickey D’s will need to give up his or her ID card and have their fatty-grub usage tallied. More than two visits per month and you’ll only be allowed the McSalad. Sound good? Yeah, not to me either. I guess we’ll just have to kiss the neighborhood KFC goodbye.

As I’ve been keeping you all updated, Delilah, my daughter, has been sick. She’s got a nasty cold, the one that many of you have probably had, too; you know, runny nose, incessant cough, fever. She has been better–that is, no fever–but the cough has been waking her (and us) at night. She sometimes coughs so much that she throws up. Much of that, I think is because she doesn’t yet know how to blow her nose or clear her bronchioles, so she’s swallowing all the mucus. When she vomits (it’s more like an upchuck) it’s a mucousy spittle.

Anyway, yesterday was pretty bad in that she hadn’t slept but a few hours. The cough kept her up most of the night–it was awful. Since I hadn’t adjusted her in awhile, I thought I’d check her neck. I had her turn her head left, then right–she had way more movement to the right. So we laid her down, and she struggled a bit. I told her that if she’d let me adjust her I would take her to Barnes and Noble at the Grove and we’d get that Gordon the Express Train from the Thomas the Tank Engine series. She let me. Bribery works really well, I’ve found.

So I went ahead and set her up, neck turned all the way to the left (see picture above), and with a quick move–crack!!!–her neck blasted, louder than I’ve ever heard in a child. Then came the tears. But I just reminded her of Barnes and Noble at the Grove, and of Gordon, and the crying lasted for all of about…oh, ten seconds.

I don’t know if the chiropractic adjustment made her cold any better–her nose is still running today (anyway, that’s health in my opinion, but that’s another blog post, altogether)–but I’ll tell you what happened immediately, she started getting sleepy, and shortly thereafter, she crashed. She stayed asleep for about three hours. And when she woke up, no runny nose, great appetite, very playful–I was psyched, to say the least.

Like I said, she’s still battling the cold. Her nose is a little runny, and she coughed a bit last night; but it didn’t keep her up. She got her Gordon the Express Train, and there were lots of smiles along with it. And she got her atlas (C1 vertebra) adjusted, which, cold or no cold, is good for her health. I’m so happy I have this gift to give to my family.

Grandparents are a positive force for families going through difficult times, like separation or divorce. Spending time with grandma or grandpa can help kids with social skills or behavior, especially kids from single parent households, so says a new study published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.

Researchers from the The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Oxford, and the University of London interviewed 11-to 16-year olds from England and Wales and found that the more conversations youths had with grandparents, the greater they got along with peers, and the less problems they had with hyperactivity and disruptive behavior. According to the study’s lead author, Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz:

“Grandparents are a positive force for all families but play a significant role in families undergoing difficulties. They can reduce the negative influence of parents separating and be a resource for children who are going through these family changes. This was found across all three family structures, but adolescents in single-parent households and stepfamilies benefited the most. The effect of their grandparents’ involvement was stronger compared to children from two biological parent families.”

These finding have especially strong implications for the U.S. where grandparents are increasingly living in households with their grandchildren. A 2004 US Census Bureau survey found that more than 5 million households include a grandparent and a grandchild under 18, up 30% since 1990.

This is interesting and important information in a country where the divorce rate is estimated to be around 41%. Knowing that grandparents can play such a critical role in the lives of children is enormous, and should place much more value in our older generations; especially since, as people age, they are often devalued by our youth-obsessed society. If you are a single or divorced parent, make sure that your children are spending lots of quality time with the grandfolks–it’ll be healthy for them all.

Not too late to exercise, Boomers. Recent studies show that starting a physical fitness program after 50 is as beneficial for men as quitting smoking.

That’s right, ten years of exercise for fifty-year-olds led men to have the same life-expectancy as men who have been exercising their entire lives. So says a Swedish study published in the latest British Medical Journal (BMJ). The researchers followed around 2,200 fifty-year-old men from 1970-2002, and found that regular exercise was as beneficial to overall health as kicking the cancer sticks.

The important factor here is regularity. Two to five times per week for 20-60 minutes every week is regular. Truth be told, duration and intensity is less important than frequency. What this means is that it isn’t so important how long you work out, or how hard, although both, if left unchecked, can lead to burnout. But frequency–how often you work out–and consistency reign supreme when discussing health benefits.

So 50-years old, man or woman, start working out today. And make it regular. It’s the greatest thing you can do to extend your life, and improve it’s quality NOW. Just do it.

Should you have the opportunity to rate and review doctors online? This is a current topic of controversy, as some doctors’ groups are seeking gag orders to prevent patients’ reviews.

What do you think? Do value reviews posted from previous or current clients? Or should they be for non-medical businesses only? According to Dr. Jeffrey Segal, a North Carolina neurosurgeon who has made a business of helping doctors monitor and prevent online criticism, “Consumers and patients are hungry for good information” about doctors, but Internet reviews provide just the opposite. Dr. Segal believes that online reviews are not constructive in helping medical practices improve, and that sniping comments can unfairly ruin a doctor’s practice.

Several online rating sites exist. RateMDs.com and Angie’s List are just two sites that provide reviews of MDs. Satisfied customers can post on their doctors, just as I did for the OB who delivered our eldest daughter Delilah (mine is dated 3/7/09). But disgruntled patients can also post, and likely more of these post than happy customers. Just call it the law of “bad press.” Happy customers might be satisfied (or more) with their care, but they usually just go about their lives not sharing it with anyone. Disgruntled, unsatisfied customers, however, want to tell everyone how they feel. That’s just they way it goes.

Dr. Segal is of the opinion that online reviews should, but rarely do, say anything about a doctor’s medical skills, expertise or knowledge–the factors that matter the most. He believes that bedside manner, punctuality and other non-technical factors shouldn’t make or break a practice; but that’s what people review, and that can dangerous to doctors. Hmmmm.

So here’s what they want to do: His company, Medical Justice, based in Greensboro, N.C. provides doctors (for a fee) with a standardized waiver agreement. Patients who sign the waiver agree not to post online comments about the doctor, “his expertise and/or treatment.” Segal’s company advises doctors to have all patients sign the agreements. If a new patient refuses, the doctor might suggest finding another doctor.

Nice, huh? Sign the waiver saying you won’t review me, otherwise, go somewhere else. Patient care in exchange for a guarantee that you won’t tell the world what you think. Unbelievable. As if doctoring should be above what all other businesses are subject to. Perhaps this is one of the major problems with the health care system in general right now–it’s held above the natural laws of consumerism. You can’t shop around for knee surgery based on price (go ahead, try), only on a doctor’s reputation. And now they want to take that right away from you. You can tell your neighbor what you think about the doc by word of mouth, but not online. Gimme a break.

You know, if you’re a doctor and you can’t stand by what people think about your service, then perhaps you need to take a long, hard look at the way you’re doing things. Everybody other than cops, DMV employees, postal workers and bus drivers have to give a hoot about how they treat people. Only when doctors become government employees will they stop having to care about bedside manner. Oops, I guess that should be any day now. Well, until then, exercise your right to review online. Power to the people!

What do you think: Should teeth-whitening be a salon service or should it be limited to dentists? That’s the question under scrutiny, as the American Dental Association (ADA) attempts to block salons across the country from providing the white-wash service.

According to news reports, many upscale salons are providing teeth-whitening along with eyelash extensions, henna tattoos and cellulite removal. Give the people what they want, right? Not according to the ADA. The dental industry claims that this is a health and safety issue, as there is no way to guarantee that salons are practicing safe hygiene. Dental offices, of course, are bound by state and federal regulations, but salons are not, something the ADA emphasizes in their arguments against allowing teeth-whitening to become a mini-mall service.

Proponents of salon whitening state that their treatments are no different than many available over-the-counter products that people can purchase and administer themselves like whitening strips and so forth.

“What we ultimately feel this boils down to is a consumer-rights issue, because consumers should have the right to whiten their teeth any way they want to whiten their teeth as long as it’s safe,” said Paul Klein, vice president of White Smile USA, the Atlanta-based company which licenses its whitening products to locations in 23 states.

However, according to Dr. Leslie Seldin, a dentist for 43 years and now consumer adviser and spokesperson for the ADA, said it’s hard to know whether the bleaching trays or ultraviolet lights used in some salons are sanitary or safe.

As it turns out, salons are currently losing the battle. Courts in Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wyoming have all judged against salon owners providing teeth-whitening services. The salons in those states are charged with practicing dentistry without a license and ordered to halt all activities.

Before becoming rash to decide, though, please note that in Ohio, the dental board there actually agrees with salon owners and believes that the service being provided in salons is not dentistry at all, since no salon employee ever touches the mouths of the customers. Hmmm.

According to Klein, “We feel the state is trying to use their regulatory power to protect a monopoly for the dentists, and we don’t think that’s right.” It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, Mr. Klein, that a health industry authority tried to block others from providing health services.

So what do you think? Should salons be allowed to provide teeth-whitening, something we all can do on our own at home. Or should all tooth matters be the realm of the dental industry. I’m curious for your thoughts.

Drum roll please: brrrrrrllllrrrlllrllrlllrllrllllrlllrllllrlrlrrrrrlllll…..

Low carb? Low fat? High protein? Atkins? South Beach? Hollywood? Cocaine? Uh…guess again.

How about…cutting calories. Ta-Dah! That’s right, cutting calories (translate: eating less) is the only, and I mean the only, way to lose weight (along with increasing exercise). I’ve said again and again in this blog: It’s simple physiology. Take in more calories than you burn–gain weight. Burn more calories than you take in–lose weight. Simple as that.

But if for any reason you didn’t believe me, here’s the proof: A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and Pennington Biomedical Research in Louisiana found that diets which modify the amounts of fats, carbs and proteins mattered not at all; the only factor that made a difference in whether participants lost weight was cutting calories.

If you are trying to lose weight, cutting calories probably is least attractive notion in that endeavor; but, without a doubt, it’ll get you to where you are going. Substituting activities for eating and drinking is of mega-importance: feel like eating, go to the gym, drink tons of water, and engage in something mentally like reading, problem solving or writing–anything that’ll get your mind off the food. Hate to make it sound so simple, but, well…it is. It’s just getting over the incessant mind trip that plagues everybody who has ever had to practice discipline–I know, I’ve been addicted to just about everything. And I’ve quit it all (with the exception of coffee), so I know how frickin’ tough it is, but it can be done.

So, again, the only way to lose weight is by cutting calories and stepping up the exercise. Sorry to be such a bummer and tell it like it is.

A drink or two a day is thought in some circles to be good for the health. Not so for women, we now know. According to a recent study, even moderate alcohol consumption causes an increased risk for several cancers in women. Youch!

A study of nearly 1.3 million British women found that as the numbers of drinks increased, so did the cancer risks. Breast, liver and rectal cancers were the most likely to develop. Throw in a few Marlboro Lights and oral and esophageal cancers went up too. Whether the women drank beer, wine, or hard liquor mattered not–the more drinks, the higher the cancer risk.

It’s true, studies have found some heart benefits to imbibing the hooch, but risk to benefit ratio must be weighed, especially in light of these findings. Healthy heart or breast cancer? Hmmm…might want to think twice about that one, especially since a good aerobic workout is better for the heart than a shot. The women with the lowest risk in the study drank fewer than two drinks per week. I know what you’re thinking, but saving them all up for an end of the month binge is probably not good either.

Listen, I’m no prohibitionist but just a little food for thought. As cancer slowly becomes the leading cause of illness and death worldwide, this is info everyone should have. So have a Martinelli’s tonight and sleep easy.

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