Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Can you cure a sex addiction?

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In light of recent writings by Hillary Clinton revealing that her husband has received counseling for sex addiction, Slate's Explainer tackles the question: how do you cure a nymphomaniac?

The answer, as you might suspect, is that the methods for treating sex addiction don't vary much from those used to treat other kinds of addicts -- counseling, therapy, even medication in severe cases.

While not all doctors agree that a person can actually be addicted to sex -- many feel the condition is nothing more than an especially heightened sex drive -- the symptoms are similar. Withdrawal, denial, and the inability to curb the behavior -- even when it's proven to be destructive -- are common.

Wondering if your sexual escapades make you an addict? You can the Sexual Addiction Screening Test to find out for sure.

Get inspired by real life success stories

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Every now and then, when I need a little motivation, I pop by a weight loss blog I love. The woman who writes it decided one day to tackle her weight problem once and for all. In nearly two years time, she's dropped 140 pounds, through simple diet and exercise.

Reading real life success stories can be an inspiration when motivation is flagging. Just knowing that every day people tackled the same goals you are striving for can give you the strength you need t o push forward toward your own health or weight loss goals. When I read about someone who seems a lot like me -- and read about their success -- it makes my goals seem that much more attainable.

Are you just getting started on brand new weight loss goals? Or recommitting yourself after some holiday overindulgence?

Lose that newly acquired Santa Belly

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Well. Christmas is over, New Years is on the way, and it's time to figure out how to work off all the extra food you consumed during the Christmas holidays. Here's a workout that should help you get rid of that abdominal fat that you've added to your frame, making you look like a Santa imitator. The series of crunches described will help you tone your midsection, but keep in mind that no matter how toned your abs are, nobody will be able to see your six-pack if it's covered with a layer of fat, so you need to burn calories too to conquer the fat and get in to those skinny jeans.

What are you doing to get back into shape after the holidays? For me, simply getting back in to any type of routine required persistence because it's hard to get back in to a routine after a few days off.

Exercise: tips for beginners

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If you make New Year's resolutions, chances are one or two of them are health related. Diet and exercise seem to top the list of changes people want to make when making a fresh start in the new year. A consistent exercise routine is an important step towards good health, but if you've been sedentary a long time, there are a few things you might want to consider before diving into your routine at top speed.

Sparkpeople has outlined a few important exercise tips for beginners. They suggest that you start slowly and work your way up at a measured pace, and that you s ee your doctor if you're more than 20 pounds overweight or have a chronic health problem. Personally, I think it's important to set many small goals in the beginning so that you can feel the reward of success right away. Setting a long-term goal -- such as running a race -- six to 12 months down the road is another way to motivate yourself without doing too much too fast.

Congratulations for taking charge of your health. I'm hoping to make 2007 the year that my exercise resolution really sticks, then maybe in 2008 I can finally cross it off my list and move on to organizing my closets!

Exercise keeps your brain from shrinking

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In case you haven't been paying attention, exercise is awesome. It prevents obesity and cancer, improves cardiovascular health, stops you from shrinking so much in old age, and will combat those holiday pounds like nothing else will.

And now, as an added bonus, scientists have discovered that exercise also helps your brain. By stimulating the production of brain neurons in older adults, physical activity actually keeps the brain from shrinking in old age.

Previously, scientists had thought such production of new neurons was impossible. However, this recent research suggests that three hours of brisk walking per day can help seniors at risk of losing their independent functioning.

So get active!

Refridgerator Makeover: How does yours stack up?

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The fridge can hold some pretty scary things, especially at the office where my co-workers often forget to take lunches home of leave condiments in there for ages -- not that I am entirely innocent of this.The fabulous AOL diet has let diet guru Jorge Cruz take a peak into the office fridge at various companies and this week it's a restaurant PR firm that has hummus, cheese, M & Ms with the company logo, apple cider and granola in their fridge. Sounds mostly healthy, ri ght? They only got a B- because they have too much sugary food. Which makes me wonder how my office fridge would stack up? We are offered chips, soda, juice, chocolate, gummy candies, nuts and occasionally some doughnuts and muffins. Yikes! Occasionally, we are offered V8 juice instead of fruit juice, but other than that, our healthy eating is up to us!

How would your fridge stack up?

Are male surgeons better looking than other male doctors?

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I knew there was a reason I love Grey's Anatomy!

A recent small study published in the British Medical Journal found that male surgeons are perceived as being taller and more handsome than other male physicians. Am I the only one rolling my eyes? Anyway, a panel of eight female doctors and nurses were asked to rate 12 male surgeons and 12 male physicians (as well as a few celebrities as a control group) on a scale of one to seven. The surgeons (and the celebrities, surprise) were consistently rated higher.

The researchers in this study aren't sure whether the effect is genetic or just environmental. I'm not sure th at it matters. The first thing I think most people look for in a surgeon -- male OR female -- is a combination of skill and good bedside manner. I'm interested to hear what surgeons and physicians think of this study. Are there any out there that are willing to comment?

Why we snooze after a holiday meal

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The holiday meal is over. There's a fierce battle being waged, and it's not the football game on TV. It's for rights to the couch and for who gets the most comfortable spot for the post-meal snooze.

Why do we get so sleepy after a large meal? Researchers at the University of Manchester think they've figured it out. Doing research on mice, they found that certain nerve cells in the brain work to keep us awake. When glucose levels rise, those same cells stop producing signals, making us want to sleep. Alternately, when we're hungry, those same nerve cel ls fire away -- keeping us alert to be on the look out for the next meal. (This may explain any late night trips to refrigerator, and why it's hard to sleep when you're hungry.)

Though this link is interesting, it seems more research is needed. We don't, for instance, feel tired after breakfast. And the afternoon slump many of us feel is more likely to be the cause of natural circadian rhythms than lunch. But researchers still think this finding may be helpful in treating obesity and eating disorders down the road. For the rest of us, it's just one more reason to take that brisk walk after dinner!

Faster healing for common injuries

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In today's fast paced world, getting hurt or injured can put a serious kink in your plans. Whether it's something major like a broken bone, or minor like a paper cut, I'm sure most of us would agree that the faster it heals the better.

So, what if you do break your arm? Believe it or not, there is something you can do to help that cast or sling come off faster than it would with usual methods: ask your doctor about ultrasound therapy. Ultrasonic waves stimulate cell growth in the broken bone, and can save you as much as one third the time, or 2 months, of invalid status.

Other remedies for speedy recovery? Put antiperspirant on a nick from shaving, have steak and cranberry juice for dinner to cure a urinary tract infection, and moisturize moisturize moisturize a skin scrape. Click here for other creative healing ideas for things like headaches, blisters, and side stitches.

I'm seriously curious now if any of these really work?

Can weight loss reduce the risk of cancer?

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Although I've mused on this subject a few times, weight loss has again sprang up as a possible reason that losing weight can have an impact on the potential for developing prostate cancer in men.

Yes, gentlemen -- a new study says that after tracking the weight of nearly 70,000 men between 1982 and 1992, researchers found that men who lost more than 11 pounds had a lower risk for aggressive prostate cancer than men whose weight remained the same over a decade.

Although weight loss can have many other positive impacts for health, the possible reduction of a deadly form of cancer in men -- by having an appropriate weight -- seems to be one of the better reasons to make and stick to that upcoming New Year's resolution.

Take heartburn drugs, break hip?

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In a rather interesting end to a recent study, research has shown that taking such popular heartburn drugs as Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec for a year or more can raise the risk of a broken hip. That's correct -- a broken hip. Explain, you say?

In people over 50, the researchers that published the study speculated that when the drugs reduce acid in the stomach, they also make it more difficult for the body to absorb bone-building calcium.

Ah-ha -- there's the ticket. A possible waterfall effect from lowered calcium absorption can lead to weaker bones , causing more fractures in the process. Broken hips can lead to more serious complications, so avoiding those when possible is probably a good thing, yes?

The risk of stroke in the U.S. drops

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Stroke as a cause of impairment seems to have lowered in recent years, as previous decades produced more strokes in the U.S. population.

When strokes come -- however -- they are just as bad as ever according to new findings. A new report from the famed Framingham Study, which looked at the risk of stroke across the time periods 1950-1977, 1978-1989, and 1990-2004.

The risk of death within 30 days of a stroke declined from 23% to 14% for men -- but it did not change for women, as the rate remained about 20%.

Circumcision could save African lives

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The AIDS epidemic could be severely impacted -- in a positive way -- by the practice of male circumcision according to a new study. The study stated that circumcision has been shown to decrease the chances of contracting HIV -- and it could save billions of dollars in AIDS-hit Africa.

Circumcision has shown that the chances of HIV infection can be cut by as much as 60%. Is circumcision a good AIDS-fighting strategy? "I would say we're making two points -- it's an effe ctive strategy and it's cost effective," said one of the lead researchers on the study.

I would have to agree.

Workplace Fitness: Computer Vision Syndrome

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Anyone who works on a computer for 2 hours or more per day is at risk of developing a disorder called computer vision syndrome (CVS), and with today's increasingly computer dependent society that applies to more people than ever before. Combine the time you spend at work on a computer with the time you spend at home surfing the net, playing around with photos, or paying bills and you've easily exceeded that 2 hours many times over.

Signs of CVS include many of the same symptoms as computer eye strain such as dry, itchy, watery eyes and difficulty focusing. But it also includes additional symptoms like fatigue, backache, headache, and muscle spasms. CVS is caused by the eyes having difficulty focusing on the many millions of pixels that make up a computer's screen and image -- the eye muscles literally get overworked trying to focus and refocus to keep the picture sharp and clear.

Computers are wonderful time-saving tools, but like most things some attention is needed to use them safely and prevent any negative side-effects. Try following these tips to help prevent CVS:

  • Position your computer monitor 20-24 inches from your face, and about 20 degrees below eye level.
  • Keep any items like a document holder as close to the screen as possible.
  • Avoid very bright overhead lights, and make sure any lamps or other light sources aren't glaring off the screen or pointed directly at your face (indirect lighting is best).
  • Consider investing in an anti-reflective filter for the computer screen.
  • Focus on an object in the distance about every 15 minutes to give your eyes a break.
  • Make a conscious effort to blink more frequently.

Other things to consider that can contribute to computer-related fatigue and strain are setting up a healthy workstation and regular stretching to stay relaxed and limber throughout the day.

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Computer Vision Syndrome

How many calories ... in a slice of Pecan Pie?

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I've never been a huge pie fan, except for one particular type of pie -- pecan pie. It's perfectly sweetened and gloriously rich, and it's difficult for me to turn down when offered. Pumpkin, apple, huckleberry -- those pies I can pass up. But not pecan. It's too delicious. But I realized that while I know approximate calorie counts for many things, I had no idea what a slice of pecan pie would set me back. I figured it must be somewhat healthy because, well, it has nuts and nuts are good for you, right? Anyway, let's see what's in a (small) slice of pecan pie. Is it:

A) 250 cal, 28 g of fat
B) 503 cal, 27 g of fat
C) 188 cal, 36 g of fat
D) 650 cal, 18 g of fat

Continue reading How many calories ... in a slice of Pecan Pie?

Boxing is all the rave with fitness buffs

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Just like Sly in the latest Rocky installment, fitness buffs are turning to boxing as a fun way to shed pounds and stay active.

"White-collar," or "executive boxing" isn't about competition, but instead about burning calories, and improving core muscle strength. For Mike Camp, a mortgage broker in Indianapolis, it helps him relax after a day behind the desk. "I found it's a tremendous stress reliever," he says.

Camp has lost 110lbs since he started boxing and changed his diet.

Thinking about trying it out yourself? Remember, especially for beginners, safety is important. According to trainers, injuries don't happen often, but bloody noses and pulled muscles happen from time to time.

Can allergy sufferers ever overcome the madness?

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Like millions of Americans, I too have allergies to certain things on this grand old planet. Things like cat dander, mold and high pollen amounts, and cottonwood trees make me go into a dizzying array of sneezes and watery eyes.

Can we ever overcome out allergies and try to live a life free of these nuisances? A new study suggests that tiny amounts of substances known to cause allergic reactions may indeed train the body to deal with the allergens -- over time. Maybe like that first flu shot, yes?

This new study suggests that training the body may allow it to overcome severe allergic r eactions over time. This is great news -- now I need to find some cat hairballs to test with.

Are soft drinks keeping your teenager up?

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If you have a teenager in your home, he or she is probably sleeping right now. Teenagers have unique sleep habits -- staying awake until their parents are just thinking of rousing, and then sleeping much of the day away. Research points to a new surge of growth hormone that causes this shift in the sleep/wake cycle.

Sleep is especially important to teens as they go through this secondary growth spurt. But early morning high school hours conflict with teen agers natural biorhythms. To cope, your child may be tempted to drink a high caffeine cola to stay alert.

This article points to a link between caffeine intake in teenagers and subsequent sleep disruption. Children who drank soda during the day tossed and turned more at night and were more fatigued during the day than their peers. Many schools have eliminated their soft drink machines as part of the battle on obesity, but it seems there's another reason for teenagers to avoid sugary sodas.

What about you? Do you have a teenager? If so, leave a comment and share some tips on helping young adults get enough sleep.

The best way to floss effectively

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If you brush your teeth twice a day -- like what is recommended -- do you floss twice a day as well? If so, are you doing it correctly?

Rarely do I see tips for effective flossing, so this list was very helpful and reminded me just how important it is to floss correctly -- just like brushing correctly. Although I rarely eat processed, fried or sugary foods, flossing to get the "gunk out" is wise regardless of diet I think.

Here are a few of the tips: Gently slide the dental floss around each tooth, pulling the floss tight. Use a back and forth motion, and be sure to guide the floss around each tooth. Never force the floss between tw o teeth as you may damage gums -- gently ease the floss between teeth.

Ischemic stroke: some women are at an inherited risk

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A British study has recently concluded that women are more likely to inherit the risk of the most common type of stroke. Ischemic strokes account for 83% of all strokes, and occur when there is an artery blockage in the brain.

The study found that women who suffered this type of stroke were 40% more likely to have a close relative who had also had a stroke when compared to men. Most of the time, this close relative was female. In fact, in women who had a stroke, having a mother who also suffered a stroke was 80% more common than in men.

What all these statistics mean is that family history of ischemic strokes is particularly important to women, especially when a female relative is involved. Doctors caution that men also need to be aware of their family histories, but the genetic link seems to be stronger between female relatives.

Continue reading Ischemic stroke: some women are at an inherited risk