Out in the cold

Winter can be tough on the body, with increased rates of respiratory diseases and cardiac events, but cold weather also helps stimulate the body's calorie-burning fat. Dutch researchers reported findings in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 that showed that moderately cool temperatures of 61? F activated brown fat in 23 of 24 study volunteers. No one is suggesting that cold weather be used for dieting purposes (not yet anyway). But when we get chilled this winter, we may take some consolation that at least we're firing up those brown fat cells. More »

The aging mouth - and how to keep it younger

Age brings increased likelihood of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. While there's not much you can do to stem the natural attrition of the tooth surface, the pillars of cavity prevention — brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings at the dentist's office — remain the same at any age and can keep the mouth healthy longer. More »

The prep is worse than the procedure

Prepping for a colonoscopy is unpleasant, but the bowel needs to be clear for the procedure to be effective.  Split dosing and some new liquids may make the bowel cleansing needed for colonoscopy a bit easier and perhaps more palatable. A variety of flavorings (cherry, citrus-berry, lemon-lime, pineapple) are on today's bowel prep menu, as are solutions without sodium sulfate, which produces a rotten-egg flavor. There are also combination approaches that start with laxative pills and then finish the job with two liters of solution, instead of the usual four liters (a liquid liter is just a little more than a liquid quart). Meanwhile, colonoscopy guidelines were revised in 2008 to recommend a so-called split dosing strategy: about half of the liquid prep the day before the examination and the other half the day it's scheduled, instead of all of it the day before.  More »