Archive for the 'Medical News Bits' Category

Calcium Supplements May Not Be That Safe After All….

April 25, 2011

It has always been my practice to make sure women take their daily calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis.  It is my contention that by building bone the right way and preventing a fracture is very important health issue.  It is recommended by diffirent medical societies that calcium supplements be given between 1000- 1200 mg per day. 

Now comes a new study showing proofs that calcium supplements may not be that safe after all.  A study published in BMJ in JUly 2010 with a reanalysis done in 2011 showed that calcium supplementation should be reviewed due to inherent harm.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate whether calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

DESIGN:

Patient level and trial level meta-analyses.

DATA SOURCES:

Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1966-March 2010), reference lists of meta-analyses of calcium supplements, and two clinical trial registries. Initial searches were carried out in November 2007, with electronic database searches repeated in March 2010.

STUDY SELECTION:

Eligible studies were randomised, placebo controlled trials of calcium supplements (>or=500 mg/day), with 100 or more participants of mean age more than 40 years and study duration more than one year. The lead authors of eligible trials supplied data. Cardiovascular outcomes were obtained from self reports, hospital admissions, and death certificates.

RESULTS:

15 trials were eligible for inclusion, five with patient level data (8151 participants, median follow-up 3.6 years, interquartile range 2.7-4.3 years) and 11 with trial level data (11 921 participants, mean duration 4.0 years). In the five studies contributing patient level data, 143 people allocated to calcium had a myocardial infarction compared with 111 allocated to placebo (hazard ratio 1.31, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.67, P=0.035). Non-significant increases occurred in the incidence of stroke (1.20, 0.96 to 1.50, P=0.11), the composite end point of myocardial infarction, stroke, or sudden death (1.18, 1.00 to 1.39, P=0.057), and death (1.09, 0.96 to 1.23, P=0.18). The meta-analysis of trial level data showed similar results: 296 people had a myocardial infarction (166 allocated to calcium, 130 to placebo), with an increased incidence of myocardial infarction in those allocated to calcium (pooled relative risk 1.27, 95% confidence interval 1.01 to 1.59, P=0.038).

CONCLUSIONS:

Calcium supplements (without coadministered vitamin D) are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. As calcium supplements are widely used these modest increases in risk of cardiovascular disease might translate into a large burden of disease in the population. A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the management of osteoporosis is warranted.

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The reanalysis of this study done recently and published in the same journal showed that the risk of MI is actualy MODEST at best around 20% for MI and 30% for stroke BUT… considering the huge number of women doctors have been recommending to take calcium supplements… justify a further close look at this practice as this will have enormous impact on health care risk.

For the past year…I have not been recommending calcium supplements to my patients especially my diabetic hypertensive patients.  I make sure that my dietitian supplements their diet with enough calcium sources from food and milk.  If need be, those patients who cant take enough from food are the ones given the supplements but this number is becoming less each day.

If you are taking calcium supplements on your own , my recommendation is to stop.  If you are taking the supplements as part of your osteoporosis program then talk to your doctor first before stopping.

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The Health Issue of Cell Phone Use

April 13, 2011

Ive long been cautious of letting my kids use cell phones even for a short period of time.  Their brains are still developing and need the best nurturing they can get and if we can limit inflicting harm to avoid long term defects would be ideal.

A novel study recently published in JAMA tells us that cell phone use was shown to affect brain activity:

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Context The dramatic increase in use of cellular telephones has generated concern about possible negative effects of radiofrequency signals delivered to the brain. However, whether acute cell phone exposure affects the human brain is unclear.

Objective To evaluate if acute cell phone exposure affects brain glucose metabolism, a marker of brain activity.

Design, Setting, and Participants Randomized crossover study conducted between January 1 and December 31, 2009, at a single US laboratory among 47 healthy participants recruited from the community. Cell phones were placed on the left and right ears and positron emission tomography with (18F)fluorodeoxyglucose injection was used to measure brain glucose metabolism twice, once with the right cell phone activated (sound muted) for 50 minutes (“on” condition) and once with both cell phones deactivated (“off” condition). Statistical parametric mapping was used to compare metabolism between on and off conditions using paired t tests, and Pearson linear correlations were used to verify the association of metabolism and estimated amplitude of radiofrequency-modulated electromagnetic waves emitted by the cell phone. Clusters with at least 1000 voxels (volume >8 cm3) and P < .05 (corrected for multiple comparisons) were considered significant.

Main Outcome Measure Brain glucose metabolism computed as absolute metabolism (μmol/100 g per minute) and as normalized metabolism (region/whole brain).

Results Whole-brain metabolism did not differ between on and off conditions. In contrast, metabolism in the region closest to the antenna (orbitofrontal cortex and temporal pole) was significantly higher for on than off conditions (35.7 vs 33.3 μmol/100 g per minute; mean difference, 2.4 [95% confidence interval, 0.67-4.2]; P = .004). The increases were significantly correlated with the estimated electromagnetic field amplitudes both for absolute metabolism (R = 0.95, P < .001) and normalized metabolism (R = 0.89; P < .001).

Conclusions In healthy participants and compared with no exposure, 50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna. This finding is of unknown clinical significance.

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Analysis of the data showed that the human brain is indeed sensitive to the effects of radiofrequency from acute cell phone use.  And that the area closest to the antennae revealed the highest brain activity.  Whether this disruption in brain activity has long term consequences is still unknown.

Take Home message?

Use the phone for texting…and use it sparingly for calling.

Restricting use of cell phones in kids will continue to be my recommendation until better studies will show that indeed its use is safe for kids until age 18.  Too late? well better be safe than sorry….

But hopefully soon before my son reaches tha age where cell phones are a must..we have better studies showing its safety…Cross my fingers!!!

Tylenol and Hypertension: Is There A Link?

April 13, 2011

It has always been my notion that tylenol is the safest of all pain relievers.  Most patinets of mine are advised to take acetaminophen instead of NSAIDS especially if they have arthritis  and have concomitant heart disease or kidney problem.  We all know about the Viox controversy when it was pulled out due to cardiovascular safety.

Now comes a recent report from the Harvard Health Beat regarding a Swiss study that showed taking acetaminophen better known for the brand Tylenol, can actually cause an elevation of Blood pressure.

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The researchers asked 33 men and women with one or more of these problems to take either 1,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen or an identical placebo three times a day for two weeks. Then, after a two-week break, each volunteer took the other treatment. The amount of acetaminophen used in the study is a standard daily dose for pain.

When the participants took acetaminophen, average systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) increased from 122.4 to 125.3, while the average diastolic pressure (the bottom number) increased from 73.2 to 75.4. Blood pressure stayed steady when participants took the placebo. These increases aren’t large. But they indicate that acetaminophen, like NSAIDs, somehow affects the cardiovascular system.

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Acetaminophen indeed is a safe alternative to the pain killers known as NSAIDs becuase it is safe to the stomach and avoid gastric irritation. 

It is also a better alternative especially to patients taking anticoagulants or drugs to prevent blood clots because it does not interfere with their actions nor further increase bleeding tendencies.

However… people should be extra careful with this new information and therefore should not take acetaminophen lightly.  Meaning, one should also be cautious in taking acetaminophen with a slight onset of headache especially among patients with concomitant cardiovascular disease. 

No matter how safe a drug is perceived to be… along the way comes an alternative that will always be safer… or the other way around.  It is best that we be kept informed because we may be taking drugs that may instead cause harm than good. It is therefore always worth having a periodic visits to your family doctor.

Precautions To Be Taken During a Nuclear Mealtdown

March 18, 2011

I am reposting this article from the American  Thyroid Association for all of us to be aware of certain precautions we can take in the event of a nuclear meltdown to avoid radiation induced injuries….

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American Thyroid Association
Dedicated to Scientific Inquiry, Clinical Excellence, Public Service, Education, and Collaboration


American Thyroid Association
ATA underscores importance of KI distribution prior to nuclear emergencies 

 

ATA underscores importance of KI distribution prior to nuclear emergencies The tragic events in Japan over the last several days underscore the importance of distribution of potassium iodide (KI) in regions surrounding nuclear power plants. Radioactive iodine can be released in nuclear accidents. Infants and children are particularly at risk for thyroid cancer following exposures to high levels of radioactive iodine. If taken soon after exposure to the radioactive iodine released during a nuclear emergency, potassium iodide can help to provide protection against thyroid cancer. Distribution of potassium iodide in the area around a nuclear reactor prior to an accident can ensure that it is available in a timely fashion, even in the setting of major disruptions to transportation and other infrastructure, as have occurred in Japan.

Since 1984, the American Thyroid Association has advocated that:

  • Potassium iodide should be part of an emergency plan that includes evacuation, sheltering, and avoiding contaminated food, milk, and water.
  • Potassium iodide should be made available to populations living within 200 miles of a nuclear power plant.
  • Potassium iodide should be “predistributed” to households within 50 miles of a plant.
  • Potassium iodide should be used only under regulatory guidance.

Additional information about potassium iodide distribution can be found at: http://www.thyroid.org/professionals/publications/statements/ki/02_04_09_ki_qa.html

ATA Brochures and FAQS:

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For now it is safe to keep a close eye on the events unfolding in Japan.  Whats important is that precautionary measures are available for all of us to avoid harm.

Why Daily Video and Internet Gaming Can Be Harmful….

January 20, 2011

I am planning to publish this article for my son to read in FB ( which he is allowed to do in my room only during weekends) and for the other parents to reconsider the practice of allowing kids to play video and internet games at their leisure. It is easy to use these gadgets as surrogate nannies because they make our kids stay put and have their own world.  Part of the compromise for busy parents is to buy their kids the best gadgets because kids wont complain their absence as long as they have the gadgets to enjoy.

Now comes a study published in Pediatrics regarding the long term dangers of allowing our kids to enjoy these gadgets on a daily basis:

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 Objectives : We aimed to measure the prevalence and length of the problem of pathological video gaming or Internet use, to identify risk and protective factors, to determine whether pathological gaming is a primary or secondary problem, and to identify outcomes for individuals who become or stop being pathological gamers.

Methods : A 2-year, longitudinal, panel study was performed with a general elementary and secondary school population in Singapore, including 3034 children in grades 3 (N = 743), 4 (N = 711), 7 (N = 916), and 8 (N = 664). Several hypothesized risk and protective factors for developing or overcoming pathological gaming were measured, including weekly amount of game play, impulsivity, social competence, depression, social phobia, anxiety, and school performance.

Results:  The prevalence of pathological gaming was similar to that in other countries (9%). Greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity seemed to act as risk factors for becoming pathological gamers, whereas depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming.

Conclusion:  This study adds important information to the discussion about whether video game “addiction” is similar to other addictive behaviors, demonstrating that it can last for years and is not solely a symptom of comorbid disorders.

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According to the opinion of Medpage Today… two important things that we learned from the study: 

  • That spending hours with a PlayStation or an Xbox including Internet Games every day can lead to serious psychiatric problems in children.
  • That increases in pathological gaming symptoms were predictive of depression, anxiety, social phobia, and school performance at follow-up.

That’s a WAKE-UP call…

Why I Dont Recommend Supplements…

January 5, 2011

I have always been against supplements.  As a physician where safety to patients is of utmost importance, giving drugs that are marketed as natural, herbal and safe without any research background and no published studies in REPUTABLE journals is not acceptable.  This also holds true to Chinese medications. Anybody can just print out a magazine touting the benefits and health effects of certain hebral prepartations and present these to clients as proofs that these natural supplements work!  Not only are they unsafe, they may also have interactions with the drugs we give that really can help our patients.

Here’s one reason why I refuse to recommend supplements to my patients…this is a recent experience published in Medpage Today, January issue  on an over the counter ” natural” supplements to help patients lose weight….

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The marketer of two dietary weight-loss supplements sold as “100% all natural” issued a voluntary recall of the products after FDA testing confirmed they contained the banned weight-loss drug sibutramine.

The FDA has received a number of adverse event reports related to Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta, including multiple cardiac events and one death.

Sibutramine, withdrawn from the U.S. market in October 2010 due to an increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction, may also cause patients to experience elevated blood pressure or pulse rate; may increase risk to patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke; and may have negative and life-threatening interactions with some drugs.

The agency recommended consumers stop using the product and throw any remaining samples away in a sealed container or return the product to the marketer, PRock Marketing of Kissimmee, Fla. Patients who experience any negative side effects from the product should consult a healthcare professional immediately.

The product was sold online in 30-capsule boxes.

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The risk is enormous because these products may contain true drugs that are already banned but are not included in the product label.  As a result these supplements will really work because they contain active drug ingredients. The risk involves doctors not knowing what to expect in terms of side effects. The patients also take them lightly without regard to the effects on their body becuase they are “Herbal”, ” Natural” and apparently without side effects!

So please take note.  The above story is just one of the many horror stories we have encountered as medical practitioners.

Healthy Cereals for Breakfast

December 14, 2010

Its always difficult to wake kids up during school days…more difficult to let them eat.  I usually alternate oatmeal, cereals and rice on my kids breakfast meal.  Oats with fruits and milk, low sugar Cherrios cereals and in between days they get rice and eggs with ham.  It is always good to start the kids young and learn the importance of a healthy breakfast.

The mistake that parents always have with regard to kids food choices is that we always allow our kids to dictate what they like to eat.  Or rely our kids meals on their yayas.  It is easier for us to fry chicken with french fries because for sure the kids will eat them BUT are they healthy?  Likewise yayas find it easier to feed fried chicken than veggies.  As the saying goes..at least they eat rather than no breakfast!  This is the reason why in the long run, parents will find it difficult to introduce healthy food choices for the kids.

Now comes a new study published in Pediatrics that these Cherrios low sugar cereals are really acceptable options for a healthy breakfast.  Likewise surprisingly kids love them!

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Objectives To test (1) whether children will consume low-sugar ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals and (2) the effects of serving high- versus low-sugar cereals on the consumption of cereal, refined sugar, fresh fruit, and milk.

Participants and Methods Using an experimental design, we randomly assigned children (n = 91) who were attending summer day camp to receive a breakfast that included either the choice of 1 of 3 high-sugar cereals (high-sugar condition) or low-sugar cereals (low-sugar condition), as well as low-fat milk, orange juice, bananas, strawberries, and sugar packets. Participants served themselves and completed a background questionnaire after eating. Researchers measured the amount and calories consumed of each food.

Results In both conditions, children reported “liking” or “loving” the cereal they chose. Children in the low-sugar cereal condition consumed, on average, slightly more than 1 serving of cereal (35 g), whereas children in the high-sugar condition consumed significantly more (61 g) and almost twice the amount of refined sugar in total (24.4 vs 12.5 g). Milk and total calories consumed did not differ significantly between conditions, but children in the low-sugar condition were more likely to put fruit on their cereal (54% vs 8%) and consumed a greater portion of total calories from fresh fruit (20% vs 13%).

Conclusions Compared with serving low-sugar cereals, high-sugar cereals increase children’s total sugar consumption and reduce the overall nutritional quality of their breakfast. Children will consume low-sugar cereals when offered, and they provide a superior breakfast option.

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This clinical study is true based on my experience.  My kids love these Cherrios low sugar low fat whole grain cereals more than the sugary chocolate laden corn flakes.   The good news with these data is that those children in the study who were offered low-sugar cereals enjoyed their breakfast with good satisfaction but only consumed half the amount of refined sugar at breakfast compared with those who ate high-sugar cereals (12.5 g versus 24.4 g, P<0.001).  Not only are the parents happy but the kids are satisfied too!

It is really best to start our kids day with a healthy meal that can provide them with calories that matter…

Choose wisely and Be Involved!

The Dangers of Sugary Drinks

November 16, 2010

Consumption of sugary drinks not only make you gain weight BUT now has been proven to strongly increase your risk to develop Diabetes and other obesity related diseases. 

A new study has shown us there is a  link regarding the risk of developing diabetes to intake of sugary drinks and this link is high enough to approximate the risk that one gets from smoking!!!!

This new study is published in the recent publication of Diabetes Care in 2010:

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OBJECTIVE: Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks has risen across the globe. Regular consumption of SSBs has been associated with weight gain and risk of overweight and obesity, but the role of SSBs in the development of related chronic metabolic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, has not been quantitatively reviewed.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We searched the MEDLINE database up to May 2010 for prospective cohort studies of SSB intake and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. We identified 11 studies (three for metabolic syndrome and eight for type 2 diabetes) for inclusion in a random-effects meta-analysis comparing SSB intake in the highest to lowest quantiles in relation to risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

RESULTS: Based on data from these studies, including 310,819 participants and 15,043 cases of type 2 diabetes, individuals in the highest quantile of SSB intake (most often 1-2 servings/day) had a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those in the lowest quantile (none or <1 serving/month) (relative risk [RR] 1.26 [95% CI 1.12-1.41]). Among studies evaluating metabolic syndrome, including 19,431 participants and 5,803 cases, the pooled RR was 1.20 [1.02-1.42].

CONCLUSIONS: In addition to weight gain, higher consumption of SSBs is associated with development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. These data provide empirical evidence that intake of SSBs should be limited to reduce obesity-related risk of chronic metabolic diseases.

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In practical terms, the association between intake of sugary drinks and Diabetes can be translated to something like this:

For every  12 oz sugar laden drink that you order in a restaurant today like the ever famous and popular sugary and tasty Ice Tea or canned OJ… a roughly 25% increase in risk  for you to develop Diabetes on top of your risk to gain more weight!

So if one actually drinks 2-3 bottles of Soda per day then the risk is further increased to 30% roughly similar to the risk one gets due to smoking!

Would it be better to take Diet Drinks then? It maybe safer BUT the associated increase in food intake is the culprit.  Likewise there are some concerns now that link Diet Sodas also to increased risk of Metabolic syndrome suggesting that artificial sweeteners may have a role in itself. 

So my recommendation to my patients is to limit one’s consumption to only 1 diet soda per day and if possible enjoy Water instead!

Heres A Simple Way To Lose Weight…

September 11, 2010

Go to fullsize imageJust being too busy or just plain lazy, we have many excuses why we cant exercise.  Too stressed out at work gives us the reason to indulge in  food that we feel comfortable and happy.  But outcomes do matter and weight gain spells disaster.

We have heard of fad diets that do work but temporarily.  It still boils down to strict discipline and watching carefully what we eat and following the right regimen to the right activity.  We all know that… we heard that advice in the news, in the magazine so what esle is new?  Something that is simple and so close within your grabs but never thought about it?

Well heres something interesting and novel study  that was presented at the 2010 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston:

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The study included 48 adults between age 55 and 75 who were divided into two groups.  The study participants drank about 1.5 cups of water per day prior to joining in the study.

One group drank two cups of water before meals and the other didn’t. All participants ate a low-calorie diet throughout the study.

After 12 weeks, water drinkers lost about 15.5 pounds, compared to non-water-drinking dieters, who lost only 11 pounds.

Not only were those who drank water before meals more successful after 12 weeks, but they also kept “the weight off for a full year after the weight loss study.”  Even better, most water drinkers, followed for an additional 12 months, not only kept weight off but “even lost another 1 to 2 pounds”.

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The study is really not novel in idea but for the first time, a scientific study has been done to substantiate what I have been recommending to my patients who are diabetics and overweight.  It is a smple formula of dirinking water before each meal to allow one to feel full and therefore less hungry.  By doing so, one tends to be more careful with what one eats and therefore has the best  chance of losing weight or maintaining it.

Water is still the best to fill you up…. its available 24 hours and free.  How much water do I recommend one to take daily?

I recommend at least 8- 10 glasses of water for women and up to 14 glasses for men!

But remember.. to be successful means the triad of discipline, low calorie healthy food and the right amount of exercise! Now ADD Plenty of WATER!!!!

Simple regimen to lose weight…TRY IT!

Coffee is GOOD for the HEART

August 27, 2010

Go to fullsize imageAnother good news for us coffee lovers. 

Coffee has been shown to have good effects on the vessels and has been shown to improve the vessels capacity to dilate.  This finding is another plus factor for us drinkers of coffee because it helps reduce the stress of the heart in pushing blood out of the vessels. 

And this plus effect is on top of previous studies showing coffee to be protective against developing diabetes.

The study will be presented during the European Society of Cardiology meeting as an abstract.  The abstract was discussed online in MedPage today.

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One to two cups a day correlated with greater aortic distensibility compared with rarely consuming coffee (P=0.45) in a cohort of men and women 65 and older on the Greek island of Ikaria

Likewise, Chrysohoou and colleagues found that, compared with rarely drinking coffee, moderate consumption of one or two cups a day was associated with:

  • Lower prevalence of diabetes (22% versus 34%, P=0.02)
  • Lower prevalence of high cholesterol (41% versus 55%, P=0.001)
  • Lower body mass index (28 versus 29 kg/m2, P=0.04)
  • Higher creatinine clearance levels (70.2 versus 65 mL/min, P=0.01)
  • Lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease (19% versus 26%, P=0.04)
  • Higher values of aortic distensibility (P<0.05)

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The coffee blend that was used according to the authors were of the traditional Greek blends, which apprently have higher levels of phenol compounds thought to be protective for the heart than coffee typically consumed in the U.S.

This study tells us to drink coffee in moderation and advises us to drink only 1-2 cups per day.

There you go guys…another toast to more days of fun with coffee……

Napping May Not Be Healthy After All….

August 23, 2010

Go to fullsize imageSiesta is still practiced by some of us up to now.  We take a break after lunch to take a nap to recharge and be back to work in the afternoon feeling fresh. But is this practice really healthy or can it cause harm instead?

A new study published in Sleep has this to say:

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Study Objective: Intentional napping is very common, particularly in China. However, there are limited data regarding its potential health effects. We therefore examined the possible relationship between napping and type 2 diabetes.
 

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.

Setting: Community-based elderly association in Guangzhou, China.

Participants: 19,567 Chinese men and women aged 50 years or older.

Measurements and Results: Self-reported frequency of napping was obtained by questionnaire and type 2 diabetes was assessed by fasting blood glucose and/or self-reports of physician diagnosis or treatment. Participants reporting frequent naps (4-6 days/week and daily) were 42% to 52% more likely to have diabetes. The relationships remained essentially unchanged after adjustments were made for demographics, lifestyle and sleep habits, health status, adiposity, and metabolic markers (odds ratio for diabetes 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.57] in 4-6 days/week, 1.28 [1.15–1.44] in daily nappers). Similar associations were found between napping and impaired fasting glucose. Removal of those with potential ill health and daytime sleepiness did not alter the observed associations.

Conclusions: Napping is associated with elevated prevalence of diabetes and impaired fasting glucose in this older Chinese sample. Our finding suggests that it is less likely that diabetes leads to daytime sleepiness. This raises the possibility that napping may increase the risk of diabetes. Confirmation by longitudinal studies is needed.

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In the study approxiametly 2/3 of the napper took a nap just like everyopne else i.e. around 1 hour after lunch and usually lasts around 60 minutes. 

So I guess the population is really well represented as this is the usual behaviour of a typical napper. 

 What is important is that the longer and more frequent one naps, the higher the risk of developing diabetes.

The study confirms previous studies from the US and Germany regarding the association of napping and diabetes as well as all cause mortality or death.  Imagine trying to take a break to feel better and instead cuts down on your life span.  Something to think about! 

In Short: Napping may not be safe or healthy after all!!!

Coffee or Tea To Prevent Diabetes…

July 27, 2010

I have posted studies on coffee and tea as a way to prevent diabetes based on single study results.  Now comes a metaanalysis which compiles all data from  different studies to see if there are trends toaward prevention.  This new metaanalysis was published in  Archives of Internal Medicine this year:

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Background  Coffee consumption has been reported to be inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Similar associations have also been reported for decaffeinated coffee and tea. We report herein the findings of meta-analyses for the association between coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption with risk of diabetes.

Methods  Relevant studies were identified through search engines using a combined text word and MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) search strategy. Prospective studies that reported an estimate of the association between coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or tea with incident diabetes between 1966 and July 2009.

Results  Data from 18 studies with information on 457 922 participants reported on the association between coffee consumption and diabetes. Six (N = 225 516) and 7 studies (N = 286 701) also reported estimates of the association between decaffeinated coffee and tea with diabetes, respectively. We found an inverse log-linear relationship between coffee consumption and subsequent risk of diabetes such that every additional cup of coffee consumed in a day was associated with a 7% reduction in the excess risk of diabetes relative risk, 0.93 [95% confidence interval, 0.91-0.95]) after adjustment for potential confounders.

 Conclusions  Owing to the presence of small-study bias, our results may represent an overestimate of the true magnitude of the association. Similar significant and inverse associations were observed with decaffeinated coffee and tea and risk of incident diabetes. High intakes of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea are associated with reduced risk of diabetes. The putative protective effects of these beverages warrant further investigation in randomized trials.

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 This study hypothesizes what we believe is a true association to the protective effect of coffee and tea in developing diabetes.

What is significant is the fact that so far no untoward problems have been encountered with drinking coffee except a benefit to preventing diabetes which may have a great implication to those at risk of the disease.

But dont forget…lifestyle change should continue to be the priority in the heirarchy of prevention.  Coffee is just an add on….

I will definitely continue to enjoy my cup of coffee every morning and another cup in the afternoon daily.  Decaf at night is tempting.

Another Reason To Exercise…

July 1, 2010

weight-loss.womendiary.net/pic/kids-exercise.jpgI really dont look at exercise as a way to lose weight. Definitiely it can help but the bottom line for weight loss is really restricting the amount of calories one takes in.  But the reality of exercise are the benefits one gets with it especially if done regularly.

I do exercise daily by jogging solely to maintain my weight to a normal level for my height because of my risk to develop diabetes due to a strong family history.

Recently in a report from the American Diabetes Association as reported in Medscape Endocrinology June 26, 2010 is a good study that looked at the effect of exercise in preventing diabetes:

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Obese boys who engaged in regular aerobic or resistance exercise — without dietary changes — had significant improvements over 3 months in their total body fat, visceral adipose tissue concentrations, and insulin sensitivity than their more sluggish counterparts.

The results were independent of the type of exercise assigned, and suggest that a moderate increase in activity (180 minutes per week) can help prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus in this high-risk population.

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In the study, whether aerobic or resistance training did not matter.  The insulin sensitivity analysis was the same in both groups although better with the resistance training group. 

Plus… this study only looked at the effect of exercise and risk for diabetes without restricting calorie intake.  Suggesting that exercise indeed can have tremendous benefical effects in preventing one from developing chronic medical metabolic conditions that can have long term complications.

There you go guys… another good reason to get going…grab your shoes and start running!

Cut Down on Sweetened Juice To Help Improve BP

June 14, 2010

Go to fullsize imageOne major aspect in controlling ones BP is to lower salt intake. Salt basically increases the reaction of the blood vessels to contrict or “close” – raise your BP then increase the pressure of the heart in pumping blood out of the circulation which in the long term cause heart failure or heart enlargement. As a precaution, we always warn patients from enjoying too much salt.

Now comes an interesting study published in Circulation in June 2010 looking at another aspect of food that we know should be avoided if one has high sugar…but now is known to affect and lower ones BP also.

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BACKGROUND: Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has been associated with an elevated risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes mellitus. However, the effects of SSB consumption on blood pressure (BP) are uncertain. The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between changes in SSB consumption and changes in BP among adults.

METHODS AND RESULTS: This was a prospective analysis of 810 adults who participated in the PREMIER Study (an 18-month behavioral intervention trial). BP and dietary intake (by two 24-hour recalls) were measured at baseline and at 6 and 18 months. Mixed-effects models were applied to estimate the changes in BP in responding to changes in SSB consumption. At baseline, mean SSB intake was 0.9+/-1.0 servings per day (10.5+/-11.9 fl oz/d), and mean systolic BP/diastolic BP was 134.9+/-9.6/84.8+/-4.2 mm Hg. After potential confounders were controlled for, a reduction in SSB of 1 serving per day was associated with a 1.8-mm Hg (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 2.4) reduction in systolic BP and 1.1-mm Hg (95% confidence interval, 0.7 to 1.4) reduction in diastolic BP over 18 months. After additional adjustment for weight change over the same period, a reduction in SSB intake was still significantly associated with reductions in systolic and diastolic BPs (P<0.05). Reduced intake of sugars was also significantly associated with reduced BP. No association was found for diet beverage consumption or caffeine intake and BP. These findings suggest that sugars may be the nutrients that contribute to the observed association between SSB and BP.

CONCLUSIONS: Reduced consumption of SSB and sugars was significantly associated with reduced BP. Reducing SSB and sugar consumption may be an important dietary strategy to lower BP.

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What does this study tell us:

 That of the >800 adults in the study: that drinking one less sugar-sweetened beverage a day resulted in the lowering of both systolic and diastolic BP by about 1.2 mm Hg and 1.1 mm Hg  over 18 months period of observation.

I am actually not surprised by this relationship.  We all know, anytime a patient has high BP, I always make sure he is not at risk to become diabetic with high cholesterol since the three always come in groups and are always partners in crime. So controlling for one may result in the improvement of the other.  So any dietary intevention that I do for my patients incorporate for the control of the three conditions.

Remember: For every 3-mm-Hg reduction in systolic BP : the risk of dying from stroke is reduced by 8% and the risk of dying for heart disease is redcued by 5%.  So any small amount of decrement is worth it!

There you go guys: another reason to cut down on SUGAR!

Coffee or Tea Keeps Diabetes Away….

May 11, 2010

Anothe rgood news for coffee lovers like me… Now comes a new study agina showing the reduction in ones risk to develop diabetes.  The study was recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine December issue

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Background  Coffee consumption has been reported to be inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Similar associations have also been reported for decaffeinated coffee and tea. We report herein the findings of meta-analyses for the association between coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption with risk of diabetes. Methods  Relevant studies were identified through search engines using a combined text word and MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) search strategy. Prospective studies that reported an estimate of the association between coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or tea with incident diabetes between 1966 and July 2009.

Results  Data from 18 studies with information on 457 922 participants reported on the association between coffee consumption and diabetes. Six (N = 225 516) and 7 studies (N = 286 701) also reported estimates of the association between decaffeinated coffee and tea with diabetes, respectively. We found an inverse log-linear relationship between coffee consumption and subsequent risk of diabetes such that every additional cup of coffee consumed in a day was associated with a 7% reduction in the excess risk of diabetes relative risk, 0.93 [95% confidence interval, 0.91-0.95]) after adjustment for potential confounders.

Conclusions  Owing to the presence of small-study bias, our results may represent an overestimate of the true magnitude of the association. Similar significant and inverse associations were observed with decaffeinated coffee and tea and risk of incident diabetes. High intakes of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea are associated with reduced risk of diabetes. The putative protective effects of these beverages warrant further investigation in randomized trials.

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This study again shows same conclusion as in the past that a mere 4 cups of coffee per day whether regular or decaf has been shown to reduce ones risk to develop diabetes by 27%.  And what is interesting is that for every extra cup of coffee, an additional 7 % further reduction is risk to develop diabetes was noted.

The study therefore points out to one thing…that caffeine may not be the factor as decaf can result in similar reduction in risk.  Other chemicals present in coffee therefore need to be explored…. 

However…one should not resort to just relying on coffee to reduce our risk to develop diabetes.  We have to remember that lifestyle and proper food intake has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by a whoooping 50%….

There you go guys…enjoy our coffee!!!!

Is Running A Marathon Healthy?

March 26, 2010

I run leisurely… the most I have run is 5K and am happy to get the target below 30 minutes. I love the feeling of rush when you reach your goal target and I guess that’s what keeps marathoners going for more.  A lot of my friends are convincing me to run a marathon…I doubt if Ill ever do that.  A 42 K marathon…running for that long will probably take me 6 hours…hehe.  Anyway, the question that has always come to my mind is this: is running too long healthy or can it do harm long term? 

In the recent American College of Cardiology meeting, the question of distance running and its effect on health was discussed.  Ill quote the article published recently in Heartwire online:

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Presenting the results of the study at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2010 Scientific Sessions, Schwartz, along with senior investigator Dr Robert Schwartz (Minneapolis Heart Institute, MN), his father, said that at least three runners have died this year during marathons, and three runners died during the 2009 Detroit Marathon, a race that included nearly 4000 finishers. Runners are typically considered a healthy subgroup of the general population, so these deaths are usually high profile and attract a great deal of media attention. One recent estimate suggests the rate of sudden cardiac death among marathoners is rare, roughly 0.8 per 100 000 participants.

In this study, the father-and-son team, both runners, wanted to assess coronary artery plaque in an elite group of marathon runners and compare their arteries with a control group. They identified 25 runners who completed the Minneapolis-St Paul Twin Cities Marathon every year for 25 consecutive years, thus completing a minimum of 25 marathons.

All subjects underwent coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) using a 64-slice machine. Compared with controls, marathoners had significantly more calcified plaque volume—274 mm3 for the marathoners and 169 mm3 for the controls—and higher calcium scores and noncalcified plaque volumes, although the latter two measures did not reach statistical significance.

patient age, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were similar between the marathoners and controls, but heart rate, weight, and body-mass index were lower in the runners. Also, HDL-cholesterol levels were significantly higher in the runners than in the controls. The average total- and LDL-cholesterol levels were 190 mg/dL and 115 mg/dL, respectively, in the marathon runners, suggesting that diet is not the reason for the increased calcification.

Jonathan Schwartz said they don’t know why the runners had more plaque in the arteries than the controls and that the findings are “counterintuitive.” However, he pointed out that metabolic and mechanical stresses might be a contributing factor. For example, long-distance runners train at increased heart rates and blood pressures, as well as spend increased time in an anaerobic state, possibly leading to antioxidant damage. Also, damage to the bones might lead to calcium leaking into the bloodstream. They stressed, however, such possible explanations need to be explored further.

Another study, also presented during the ACC meeting, suggested that marathon runners had increased aortic stiffness compared with individuals who exercised recreationally. The researchers, led by Dr Despina Kardara (Athens Medical School, Greece), evaluated blood pressure and aortic elasticity in 42 males and seven females who trained for and ran marathons and 46 men who did not participate in endurance exercise training. On average, the runners trained between two to nine hours per week and had been doing so for periods of 30 months to 21 years.

The marathon runners had significantly higher systolic blood pressure compared with the control group (126 mm Hg vs 115 mm Hg) and higher diastolic blood pressures. Pulse-wave velocity, used to assess aortic stiffness, was significantly higher in the marathon group.

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The findings however need further studies.  But suffice it to say that too much mechanical stress to any part of the body can do harm than good.   

I guess the take home message on this particular study is this:

Try not to push too hard in achieving your goal especially if it entails putting too much pressure on ones body especially the heart… Running is healthy as a form of exercise but anything we do and if we push ourselves to the limit may cause more harm than good.

If you run a marathon…dont stop.  Continue to enjoy it but again dont push yourself too hard….

Take Life In A Stride…!

Soft Drinks and Health….

March 1, 2010

More and more studies are linking the consumption of soft drinks to health hazards… a recent article published in Cancer, Epidimeology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that consumption of thses sugary drinks can increase ones risk to develop pancreatic cnacer.

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Background: Sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages (called soft drinks) and juices, which have a high glycemic load relative to other foods and beverages, have been hypothesized as pancreatic cancer risk factors. However, data thus far are scarce, especially from non-European descent populations. We investigated whether higher consumption of soft drinks and juice increases the risk of pancreatic cancer in Chinese men and women.

Methods: A prospective cohort analysis was done to examine the association between soft drink and juice consumption and the risk of pancreatic cancer in 60,524 participants of the Singapore Chinese Health Study with up to 14 years of follow-up. Information on consumption of soft drinks, juice, and other dietary items, as well as lifestyle and environmental exposures, was collected through in-person interviews at recruitment. Pancreatic cancer cases and deaths were ascertained by record linkage of the cohort database with records of population-based Singapore Cancer Registry and the Singapore Registry of Births and Deaths.

Results: The first 14 years for the cohort resulted in cumulative 648,387 person-years and 140 incident pancreatic cancer cases. Individuals consuming ≥2 soft drinks/wk experienced a statistically significant increased risk of pancreatic cancer (hazard ratio, 1.87; 95% confidence interval, 1.10-3.15) compared with individuals who did not consume soft drinks after adjustment for potential confounders. There was no statistically significant association between juice consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer.

Conclusion: Regular consumption of soft drinks may play an independent role in the development of pancreatic cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 19(2); 447–55

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The study highlights the consumption of sugar laden soft drinks as a culprit but not other sugary fruit juices.  Other findings that I need to highlight include:

  • Smokers in the study  had a 49% increased risk for pancreatic cancer.  Another reason for one to consider stopping smoking.
  • A history of diabetes was not associated with an increased risk for pancreatic cancer.  But I would say…any diabetic should be screend for pancreatic cancer and this disease manifests a high blood suagr.
  • Drinking 2 or more soft drinks per week was associated with more than 80% increase in risk for pancreatic cancer after adjustment for other risks.  Now …. I know of some who drink soft drinks daily 2-3 x. Scary thought indeed!!!!  In short LIMIT!

Heres a confusing thought from the study though: after adjustment, juice intake of 2 or more drinks per week overall was not associated with increased risk, but when smokers were excluded, there was an association between juice intake and pancreatic cancer risk increasing a persons risk by 60%.  More studies need to be done to examine this relationship. 

So friends…just like my reminder all the time… Limit and limit and not totally eliminate!

We still dont know what is really in the soft drinks that make us unwell.  For now… enjoy it but limit the consumption to sugar free Diet soft drinks. 

Better still enjoy the water!  its FREE!

Avandia or Rosiglitazone is In The News Again!

February 24, 2010

I have to write this special post on avandia as many of my patients at present are on it.   Unfortunatelty people responsible for this controversy will not lay to rest the issue that has long been addressed.  In short this is plain OLD issue that has been repackaged and made again into a media hype!  The problem is the laymen – our patients who read the news and interpret the news as they are written. 

Here is the response of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists: the Voice of Endocrinology on this particular issue.  The same sentiments as I have.  It is just unfortunate that this drug is involved in  the midst of a controversy inside the FDA.

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AACE Patient Safety – Editorials
 
Commentary on February 19 New York Times article on Avandia
2010-02-22 15:41:32
By: Alan Garber, MD, PhD
Editor, AACE Patient Safety Exchange

 

A rash of headlines appeared this weekend as a Senate report on Avandia was leaked to the New York Times. It contained the usual accusations and concerns of certain FDA staffers such as Dr Graham who spoke 1-2 years ago at prior Avandia Advisory Boards and whose comments were largely based upon the meta-analysis of Nissen and Wolski using post hoc data derived from short term studies with Avandia. Those studies were largely conducted to obtain glycemic control data. Since that time considerable republication of similar meta-analyses, using the same or similar data have appeared. These have spread the concerns regarding Avandia further. Of course since that original meta-analysis was published in 2007, a number of subsequent studies have appeared to alleviate or to directly address the concerns raised by Drs Nissen and Wolski. In 2007, two prior large scale randomized prospective clinical trials had also contained data regarding CHD events with Avandia, namely DREAM and ADOPT. Both studies failed to show increased risk with Avandia, contrary to the conclusions attributed to them in the current New York Times article by Gardiner Harris. But these were post hoc analyses and therefore not definitive. Of course the meta-analysis was as well. Subsequent studies were also analyzed for potential adverse consequences of Avandia, including ACCORD and VADT. Neither trial showed adverse effects and VADT may have suggested benefit instead. A direct test of cardiovascular safety – the RECORD was completed and published in Lancet in June 2009 (373:2125-35) by Philip Home and colleagues. This five year study of nearly 4500 patients with diabetes randomized to treatments containing or not containing Avandia showed no increased risk of death or hospitalization for cardiovascular disease in patients taking Avandia as compared to those not taking Avandia. Since this was the prespecified primary endpoint, it seems proven that the suggestions provided by the meta-analysis have no validity. This conclusion is support by the recently published Perspective by Charles Hennekens and David DeMets in JAMA (302:2361-2, 2009). Here the authors decry overreliance upon meta-analyses of small scale short term studies in favor of data provided by large scale randomized long term trials. Dr Hennekens, a former Professor of Preventive Medicine at Harvard, and a colleague on the NCEP, concludes that the findings of RECORD lay to rest the concerns raised by the meta-analysis.
 
None of these newer studies are addressed or even considered in the article now appearing in the New York Times and the concerns it raises appear to have been adequately addressed and laid to rest by these newer studies. In short, this is old news, quite old indeed.

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So to my patients: no need to worry.  Again this is an old issue repackaged by the New York Times made big in the headlines due to Senate inquiry.

Unless the US FDA will succumb to the pressures by the media and the senate…. there is no reason for this drug not to be available to our patients who need it!

Subsequent proscpective- meaning better made studies like the RECORD, ACCORD and the BARI2D that looked at patient safety on avandia have consistently shown that those taking avandia had in fact lesser risk for cardiovascular  mortality than the comparator drugs including a recent publication in UK  that compared avandia to the commonly used sulfonylurea and metformin.

A Diabetes Care metaanalysis in 2008 likewise showed that Sulfonylurea -metfomin combination in fact also increases risk of heart attack but this study was never caught by the media.  Again since this is only a metaanalysis- exactly the same kind of study that started the Avandia contorversy…it is a hypothesis driven article and therefore cant be trusted but worth proving by making prospective randomized trials.

I hope this article will clear some issues hounding the patients on avandia.  Remember…one reason why we need to control a patient’s blood sugar together with cholesterol and blood pressure is to reduce a patient’s risk for heart attack and stroke!

In medical field…. Analysis of data is of paramount importance.  Dont believe what you read in the news!

Parents: WE Still RULE

February 13, 2010

 Go to fullsize imageWhile coming back from San Francisco after attending the postgrad course of the American Diabetes Association, I happened to read a very nice article in USA today on: Teenagers do Listen.  I will be having a teenager son soon, so I was intrigued about the article.

 The article discussed a recent media survey by Kaiser Family Foundation that showed typical kids spend as much as 7 hours and 38 minutes a day consuming entertainment media like TV, computer and game consoles.  Not surprisingly why obesity is now a main global concern with our kids high tech lifestyle.

 But what was astounding about the survey was that the kids whose parents set the rule plugged in to the media for only 3 hours suggesting parents have a big influence on our kids in terms of what they do and think.

 Other studies likewise have shown that activities and behavior of kids are mainly influence by their parents:

 1. Teens who had a bedtime at 10PM or earlier set by parents got more sleep and were less likely to be depressed published in Sleep in January.

2. Teen drivers whose parents set and enforced rules were more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to suffer road accidents including the use of cellphones while driving published in Pediatrics in September.

3.Teens whose parent also set the rules also smoke less, delay sex and do better in school.

 The reality is… Teenagers care deeply about what their parents say… the challenge is getting across the rules and boundaries that don’t seem controlling!

 There you go guys.  It’s not too late. 

Let’s GIVE MORE  time to communicate with our kids…be it while eating dinner together or while driving our kids to school or while bringing them back home. The notion that fewer rules mean lesser fights may not be right after all.  The welfare of our kids continue to be a priority because for me…

What they will become is a reflection of how good we are AS  parents!!!

Ways To A Healthier Heart

February 3, 2010

See full size imageJust came across this wonderful wonderful article in Harvard HealthBeat News Letter that I want to share.  They are practical steps yet very true to every word.  Worth meditating and taken seriously… and true to its mission…A Healthy Heart!

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10 small steps for better heart health

Change is an important part of living with heart disease or trying to prevent it. A jump in blood pressure or cholesterol earns you a lecture on healthy lifestyle changes. Heart attack and stroke survivors are often told to alter a lifetime of habits.

Some people manage to overhaul their exercise pattern, diet, and unhealthy habits with ease. The rest of us try to make changes, but don’t always succeed. Instead of undertaking a huge makeover, you might be able to improve your heart’s health with a series of small changes. Once you get going, you may find that change isn’t so hard. This approach may take longer, but it could also motivate you to make some big changes.

Here are 10 small steps to get you on the road to better health in 2010.

1. Take a 10-minute walk. If you don’t exercise at all, a brief walk is a great way to start. If you do, it’s a good way to add more exercise to your day.

2. Give yourself a lift. Lifting a hardcover book or a two-pound weight a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles. When that becomes a breeze, move on to heavier items or join a gym.

3. Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, taste good, and are good for everything from your brain to your bowels.

4. Make breakfast count. Start the day with some fruit and a serving of whole grains, like oatmeal, bran flakes, or whole-wheat toast.

5. Stop drinking your calories. Cutting out just one sugar-sweetened soda or calorie-laden latte can easily save you 100 or more calories a day. Over a year, that can translate into a 10-pound weight loss.

6. Have a handful of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts are good for your heart. Try grabbing some instead of chips or cookies when you need a snack, adding them to salads for a healthful and tasty crunch, or using them in place of meat in pasta and other dishes.

7. Sample the fruits of the sea. Eat fish or other types of seafood instead of red meat once a week. It’s good for the heart, the brain, and the waistline.

8. Breathe deeply. Try breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes a day. It can help you relax. Slow, deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure.

9. Wash your hands often. Scrubbing up with soap and water often during the day is a great way to protect your heart and health. The flu, pneumonia, and other infections can be very hard on the heart.

10. Count your blessings. Taking a moment each day to acknowledge the blessings in your life is one way to start tapping into other positive emotions. These have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, just as their opposites — chronic anger, worry, and hostility — contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.

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As the saying goes…

Dont Worry…Be Healthy and Be Happy!