Relaxation tips

It’s nearly impossible to avoid all sources of stress in your life. While you can’t change the world around you, you can try to change your reactions. Learning the relaxation response — which is the opposite of the stress response — can help create a sense of peace and balance. The relaxation response is a physiologic shift that puts the brakes on stress before it becomes overwhelming. You can elicit this response by practicing techniques such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation, visualization, and meditation. (Locked) More »

Job strain and heart disease risk in women

Harvard researchers have uncovered strong links between women's job stress and cardiovascular disease. Findings from the Women's Health Study (WHS) — a landmark inquiry into disease prevention involving more than 17,000 female health professionals — show that women whose work is highly stressful have a 40% increased risk of heart disease (including heart attacks and the need for coronary artery surgery), compared with their less stressed colleagues. More »

Strange bedfellows: Polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder of the joints and connective tissues. It can severely limit your daily activities and take a heavy toll on your sleep and well-being. PMR can come on gradually over days or weeks or may appear suddenly. You may feel fine one day and terrible the next. Temporal arteritis is an inflammation of large blood vessels, such as in the head. A severe, constant headache is often one of the first signs. These conditions often occur together, though the reasons for this are unknown. Fortunately, both of these disorders are highly treatable. (Locked) More »

Diverticular disease prevention and treatment

By age 60, about 40% of people have diverticular disease, a condition characterized by protruding pouches on the colon. It's thought that a low-fiber diet, obesity, and lack of exercise contribute to the disease.  Of those with diverticulosis, 30% will develop more serious forms of the disease, including diverticulitis (infected and inflamed diverticula) and diverticular bleeding (bleeding from a blood vessel near a diverticulum). It's unclear why some people develop these problems and others do not. Most diverticulitis can be treated with medications and rest, but 25% of cases lead to complications requiring surgery, including perforation of the colon, peritonitis (infection of the abdominal cavity), bowel obstruction, abscess, and fistula (an abnormal connection between the colon and nearby tissue). (Locked) More »

What to do about dry skin in winter

Wintertime poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors, and the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Fortunately, there are many simple and inexpensive things you can do to relieve winter dry skin, also known as winter itch or winter xerosis. (Locked) More »

In the news: Report sets new dietary intake levels for vitamin D and calcium

Studies suggest that we take much more vitamin D than we do now — especially those of us living in northern climes who may get too little sunlight to produce adequate amounts in the skin. Many scientists have advocated vitamin D doses much higher than the present recommended dose to prevent a host of chronic conditions. But the report of an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that high doses of vitamin D aren't necessary and might even be harmful. Many people — including many clinicians and researchers — were taken by surprise. (Locked) More »