Hookah bar workers at risk from secondhand smoke

The Truth About Marijuana Health Risks Trivialized

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is an attending cardiologist and the director of Women’s Heart Health of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and has been featured on The Early Show,” “The Doctors,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and other TV programs. She recently released her book, “Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book: Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart Healthy Life” (Avery, 2014) and is the host of “Focus on Health,” a weekly magazine news show spotlighting health topics, seen on WLNY-TV. Steinbaum contributed this article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

A marijuana leaf, and a joint

In this new era of marijuana legalization, the information delivered to the public often extols the benefits of cannabis, with its seemingly magical properties. Much of the literature implies, or blatantly states, that this substance has been withheld, wrongly, from the public and that people have been missing out on its many amazing benefits. But the public isn’t getting the full story, and as states continue to consider marijuana legalization, lawmakers and the public should have all the facts.

First, marijuana can be damaging to your heart. In fact, a study released

Hidden Risks of Chronic Stress

According to a recent American Psychological Association poll, nearly a quarter of Americans confessed to currently feeling under “extreme stress.” Respondents especially blamed money, work, and the economy—a feeling 50-year-old Sue Wasserman knows all too well. In February, the public relations manager left Atlanta after her job was eliminated by a corporate restructuring and took a new post in Asheville, N.C. When that proved a bad fit, she struck out on her own as a freelance writer and publicist. Though Wasserman is thrilled some days to be living near the Blue Ridge Mountains, the uncertainty of her income overwhelms her. “There’s a sense of foreboding—of ‘What did I just do?’ ” she says.

A frustrated woman stares at her computer.

Short periods of tension can actually be beneficial to people, sharpening thinking and heightening physical response in situations where performance counts, such as business meetings or athletic competitions. But experts are clear that when individuals are routinely under assault—over money, health woes, a daily freeway commute, whatever—a biological system that was designed to occasionally fight or flee a predator gets markedly out of balance.

6 Tricks To Combat Hunger And Lose Weight

Most of us know where our next meal is coming from. Yet our reaction to hunger has not evolved with our convenience-centered world. This is why even the thought of being hungry may send you running to the mini-mart for sustenance. It’s also why some people get so “hangry” when they’re hungry.

The problem: A lot of different factors influence how hungry you feel—many of which have nothing to do with your body’s energy requirements. Your eating habits and schedule, the types of food you swallow, and even how tired or stressed you feel can drive hunger.

These six tips help you control hunger and feel satisfied when you eat. (Lose up to 15 pounds WITHOUT dieting with Eat Clean to Get Lean, our 21-day clean-eating meal plan.)1. Silence your gutWhile fatigue or stress can trick your belly into believing it craves unhealthy junk foods, there are a few proven ways to help chill out its “feed me!” pleas. It may sound counterintuitive, but expending a little energy can help. A yoga practice, gym workout, or even a 10-minute stroll can help quell those fictitious hunger pangs. Keeping food out of sight can help,

Health Issue Brewing? ‘Kefir Beer’ May Someday Help

A craft beer made with ingredients from kefir — a fermented milk drink that resembles yogurt— may sound a little gross. But drinking it could bring health benefits, a new study done in rats suggests.

Moreover, the researchers in Brazil found that the “kefir beer” seemed to reduce inflammation and stomach ulcers that had been induced in the rats for the study.

Although the concept of kefir beer is interesting, it is too early to determine whether these health benefits would apply to humans, considering the study was done in an animal model, said Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study. “It is a very preliminary study,” Swaminath told Live Science.

To make the kefir beer, the researchers added kefir grains — white or yellowish gelatinous clumps that contain bacteria and yeast — to a barley malt. The bacteria and yeast fermented the malt. For a control group, they also brewed another, regular kind of beer, where, instead of adding kefir grains, they added yeast to ferment the malt.

In one experiment in the study,

Healthy Joints, Happy Joints

Just like motor oil keeps your car running smoothly, there’s an important fluid that lubricates and nourishes your joints. This substance is called synovial (syn ö vi àl) fluid, and joints that contain it — like your shoulders and hips — are called synovial joints.
As you move, sacks of this fluid cushion your knees and elbows against friction, and these sacks are known as bursae (bûr`s∂). When you hear people talk about tennis elbow — outer elbow pain often caused by repetitive motion — they actually have inflamed bursae, which physicians refer to as bursitis.
Joint pain can interfere with your physical activity and daily life. The flip side, however, is that as your fitness level increases, joint pain may decrease. Here are some things you can do to encourage both of these desired results:
  • Warm up before any activity. Try this for your knees: Sit in a chair, and slowly raise your left foot until your leg is straight. Hold for a second, and slowly lower it. Repeat this motion 10 to 15 times with each leg.
  • To warm up your hips and get a great back massage

Brain damage seen in potent-marijuana smokers

People who smoke high-potency pot show signs of damage in a key part of their brain. The results of the new study, however, are limited. The brain scanning study was small. And it doesn’t show that marijuana caused the brain abnormality — only that the two go hand-in-hand.

But the finding suggests that potency matters, says Tiago Reis Marques. This coauthor of the study is a psychiatrist at King’s College London, in England. His team published its findings online November 27 in Psychological Medicine.

Just as vodka packs more of a punch than beer, a high-potency toke of cannabis — the name for the marijuana plant — delivers much more of the brain-active substance THC. That’s an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol (TEH-trah-hy-drow-ka-NAB-ih-nol). It’s possible, Reis Marques says, that a bigger dose of THC simply may have stronger effects on the brain.

That’s important because as breeders have been improving their marijuana plants, THC levels have soared. Samples sold in Colorado, for instance, now have about three times as much THC as plants grown 30 years ago, a recent survey found.

The new study asked 43 healthy

Quitting Smoking May Bring Mental Health Benefits

Quitting smoking is known to have benefits for physical health, including a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, but a new study suggests that giving up the habit may improve mental health as well.

In the study, researchers reviewed information from 26 previous studies, and found that people who quit smoking had a reduction in feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, and an increase in positive mood and quality of life, after they quit, compared with those who continued smoking. This finding was true for people in the general population as well as those with mental health disorders, the researchers said.

The findings contradict the widely held assumption that smoking is good for mental health: many smokers continue smoking because they feel that the habit alleviates feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, and helps them relax, the researchers said.

But the cigarettes may actually be alleviating withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety and depression, which smokers misperceive as improving mood, the researchers said. Some studies suggest that these withdrawal symptoms abate a few weeks after quitting.

“Smokers can be reassured that stopping smoking is associated with mental health benefits,” the researchers wrote in today’s

Twin Cities Take Top Ranking for Healthy Living

Exercising more and smoking less are two of the main reasons why residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul find their city is now the top-ranked in the United States for healthy living.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Although kicking the habit was a big part of why the Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. from the No. 1 spot in 2011, moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes also factored into the city’s high score (77.2 out of 100 possible points).

Moreover, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s percentage of park land is above average, as is its share of recreational facilities. More farmers markets also popped up in the city this past year. These trends tend to indicate residents there are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the ACSM noted.

Trailing behind Minneapolis-St. Paul to round out the AFI’s top five slots are the following cities:

  • Washington D.C., with a score of 76.8
  • Boston, with a score of 69.1
  • Portland, Ore., with a score of 67.7
  • Denver, with a score of 67.6

From Birth to Death, Diet Affects the Brain’s Health

Sound body, sound mind, the saying goes. Now, scientists have found support for this adage in researching showing that poor diets may adversely affect mental health in all stages of life, from fetal development through old age.

Studies presented here today at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting find that the typical, modern Western diet, when consumed by the mother, may hinder the development of a baby’s brain while still in the womb. That same diet can lead to depression among adolescents, and contribute to dementia and Parkinson’s disease in older adults.

One study examined a high-fat diet in pregnant monkeys. Researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton, Oregon, found that baby monkeys exposed to a high-fat diet in the womb were born with fewer dopamine fibers and receptors in a brain region called the prefrontal cortex.

Because dopamine helps regulate the brain’s food-reward pathway, these monkeys grew up craving more flavorful, high-fat, high-calorie foods to satiate their appetites, said lead author Dr. Heidi Rivera, a researcher at the center. As a result of this behavior change, the monkeys built up excess fat tissue early on, and such fat is hard to

Healthy Options Not Plentiful in Hospital Cafeterias

Hospital cafeterias have long been an object of jokes about unappetizing food, and results from a recent survey of children’s hospitals in California may add “unhealthy” to the stereotype.

A large majority of the 16 hospital eating places surveyed (81%) had high-calorie impulse buying options such as ice cream, cookies, or candy at or near the checkout lines, Lenard Lesser, MD, from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues found.

Half of the venues offered combinations that added a side and a drink for a lesser price, giving a discount for more items. And 38% of the venues priced their healthy entrees at a premium to the unhealthy ones, they reported in the October issue of Academic Pediatrics.

On the other hand, a majority of eating venues in children’s hospitals did have low-fat or skimmed milk, diet sodas, baked chips, salad bars, fruits without sugars, and non-fried vegetables outside of the salad bar.

In addition, about half made nutrition information available on the menu or had designated some items as being healthy. Less than half had signage that encouraged healthy eating choices.

CDC Updates Its Ebola Guidelines for Health Care Workers

To better protect health care workers against the risk of contracting Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that workers undergo rigorous training in putting on and taking off personal protection equipment, according to new guidelines announced this evening (Oct. 20).

The CDC also recommended that workers not leave any of their skin exposed when caring for an Ebola patient, and that they put on and take off equipment under the close supervision of a trained supervisor, said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, speaking at a news conference this evening.

Previous guidelines were established in 2008 and were updated in August, Frieden said.

Those guidelines had been used successfully before, but the Dallas hospital where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was treated was relying on those guidelines, and still two nurses became infected with Ebola after caring for Duncan. “This is unacceptable,” Frieden said. [2014 Ebola Outbreak: Full Coverage of the Viral Epidemic]

The new guidelines provide “an increased margin of safety” for workers, he said. They were developed with input from workers at the three specialized care units — Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and

Watch for Fake Ebola Cures Online, FDA Warns

There is no approved treatment for patients infected with the Ebola virus, but that hasn’t stopped online dealers from offering products they claim will prevent the virus or treat people who have the infection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers today (Aug. 14) that products claiming to prevent or treat Ebola virus infections are fraudulent. The FDA has received complaints about a number of such products since the Ebola virus outbreak began in West Africa, according to a statement from the agency.

There are experimental Ebola vaccines and treatments in the early stages of development, and researchers are testing the safety and effectiveness of these medicines. However, the supply of such treatments is limited, the FDA said.

But dietary supplements, by U.S. law, cannot purport to treat or cure disease. People who promote unapproved products should correct their advertisements and remove any claims that they have a drug or device that can prevent or treat Ebola, the FDA said. Those who don’t do so will face FDA action, the administration said.

People who see fraudulent claims about the virus can notify the FDA.

The Ebola virus doesn’t pose a significant

Drinking Alcohol Health Boost or Health Risk

A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Moderate drinking means one drink per day for women and one to two for men, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “The difference in amounts is because of how men and women metabolize alcohol,” Dr. Novey explains.

“When you say one drink, the size of that drink matters,” Novey adds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one drink is equal to:

  • 12 ounces of beer or
  • 5 ounces of wine or
  • 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof)

The Dangers of Drinking Too Much

Unfortunately, some people can’t stop at just one or two drinks. Too much alcohol can result in serious health consequences. Heavy alcohol intake can damage the liver, causing cirrhosis, a fatal disease. Excessive drinking also can raise blood pressure and damage the heart, and is linked to many different cancers, including mouth, esophagus, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. The health risks are even greater for those who not only drink but smoke as

Not So Harmless Pot Linked to Heart Problems

Pot may not have a chilling-out, calming effect on everyone — evidence is emerging that for some people, smoking marijuana could increase the risk of heart problems, doctors say.

In a new study, researchers used data from a database called the French Addictovigilance Network, gathered from 2006 to 2010. Of the nearly 2,000 reported complications related to marijuana, the researchers found that 2 percent, or 35 cases, involved heart problems. These cases included 20 people who suffered a heart attack, and nine who died.

Researchers found most patients were men, with an average age of about 34. Regular marijuana users with a family history of heart disease had an increased risk of heart disease, according to the study, published today (April 23) in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Many of the patients also had other risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, the researchers noted. Nevertheless, nearly half of the patients were regular users of only marijuana.

Researchers also found a small increase in heart problems over time. In 2006, only 1.1 percent of the reported complications were heart related, but that rate increased to 3.6 percent

Chronic liver damage worsened by alcohol-fueled gut bacteria

Around half of end-stage liver disease cases, also known as liver cirrhosis, are caused by alcohol.

Overall, liver cirrhosis is the 10th biggest killer in the US.

Science already has an understanding of how alcohol can directly impact the liver’s health; the metabolic products of the breakdown of alcohol are toxic to the liver.

Additionally, the inflammation that these secondary compounds produce can be harmful to the organ’s functioning.

New research published this week in Cell Host & Microbe shows how a secondary mechanism, involving bacteria in the gut, also plays a significant role in the liver’s downfall.

Dr. Bernd Schnabl and his team at the University of California found that alcohol can suppress antibacterial defense systems within the intestines, causing further damage to the liver.

Mouse guts, lectins and bacteria

REG3B and REG3G lectins are produced by specific cells of the intestinal wall and act as natural antibiotics. Chronic alcohol intake has been found to hinder the production of these proteins.

Reduction in REG3B and REG3G allows bacteria to replicate freely; they are also able to move through the intestinal wall with greater ease. Once on the other side

Marijuana Effects of Weed on Brain and Body

Marijuana is a combination of shredded leaves, stems and flower buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana can be smoked, eaten, vaporized, brewed and even taken topically, but most people smoke it.

The intoxicating chemical in marijuana is tetrahydracannabinol, or THC. According to research from the Potency Monitoring Project, the average THC content of marijuana has soared from less than 1 percent in 1972, to 3 to 4 percent in the 1990s, to nearly 13 percent today. The increased potency makes it difficult to determine the short- and long-term effects of marijuana

How cannabis is consumed

In a 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 17.4 million people in the United States said they had used marijuana in the past month. According to the survey, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug. About 4 in 10 Americans have used marijuana at least once in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Marijuana is usually smoked, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The cannabis (called “pot,” “weed,” “grass,” etc.) is typically spread on rolling papers and formed into a cigarette, often referred to as a joint, or a cigar-like blunt.

8 Ways Stress Is More Dangerous Than You Think

While some people believe that they perform better under stress, that’s rarely the case. In fact, research has shown that stress makes a person more likely to make mistakes.

Besides making you forget where you put your keys, stress can also have a dramatic impact on your health.

1. Stress Makes It Difficult to Control Your Emotions

It’s no secret that stressed people can fly off the handle. But new research tells us that how little stress is actually required for you to lose your cool.

A recent study by neuroscientists at New York University found that even mild levels of stress can impair our ability to keep a grip on our emotions. In their study, researchers taught subjects stress-control techniques. But after participants were put under mild stress by having their hands dunked in icy water, they couldn’t easily calm themselves down when shown pictures of snakes or spiders.

“Our results suggest that even mild stress, such as that encountered in daily life, may impair the ability to use cognitive techniques known to control fear and anxiety,” lead author Candace Raio said in a press release.

2. Stress Can

Shock Therapy’s Mystery Closer to Being Solved

While “shock therapy” has been used in psychiatry for more than 70 years, researchers had little idea how the controversial treatment worked to treat depression. Now, scientists say they may have solved the mystery.

The therapy, which provides electrical stimulation to the brain and is extremely effective in treating severe depression, appears to affect how brain areas communicate with each other. It relieves “over-communication” in the brain that may make it difficult for people with depression to think and concentrate, said study researcher Jennifer Perrin, a mental health researcher at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

“We believe we’ve solved a 70-year-old therapeutic riddle,” said study researcher Ian Reid, a psychiatrist at the university.

By understanding how the treatment, properly known today as electroconvulsive therapy(ECT), works, researchers may one day be able to replace it with something that has a lower risk of side effects, but is just as effective, Perrin said. However, such a replacement treatment is a long way off, she said.

How ECT works

Electroconvulsive therapy, first used in the 1930s, involves placing electrodes on the forehead and passing electrical currents through the brain in order to induce a seizure

How do you tell the difference between good stress and bad

Feeling stressed can feel perfectly normal, especially during exam time. You might notice that sometimes being stressed-out motivates you to focus on your work, yet at other times, you feel incredibly overwhelmed and can’t concentrate on anything. While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress — and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems — bad stress. Here’s more on the benefits and side effects of stress and how to tell if you’re experiencing too much stress.

Benefit of Stress

According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. For instance, stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory.

Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This creates a variety of reactions such as an increase in blood pressure