5 simple tricks to sharpen thinking and memory skills

Fuzzy thinking and memory loss is a normal part of aging. But behavioral strategies and memory-enhancing techniques can help improve the ability to learn new information and retain it over time. One strategy is repetition, such as taking notes and repeating a name after hearing it for the first time. Another strategy is jotting down conversations, thoughts, and activities to reinforce learning. Learning names by associating them with visual images is also helpful, as is remembering lists of information in chunks. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Is your cancer risk genetic?

If a first-degree relative—a parent, sibling, or child—has developed certain cancers, then one’s own risk of getting the cancer is greater than the average person’s. However, it does not mean that one would definitely get the cancer. (Locked) More »

Can we reduce vascular plaque buildup?

Making plaque disappear is not possible, but it is possible to shrink and stabilize it. Drugs called statins can help with this by lowering LDL cholesterol. They block the liver enzyme that promotes cholesterol production. Lifestyle changes can also help. These include eating a heart-healthy diet, which can reduce heart disease risk by 30%; smoking cessation, which can raise HDL levels; and exercising, which can lower LDL levels when combined with weight loss. More »

What's causing your lower back pain?

The lumbar or lower area of the spine can suffer from many different ailments that cause lower back pain. Common problems include back sprains and strains, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Some lower back conditions can heal on their own, such as sprains, strains, and disc problems. The pain from spinal stenosis is not likely to go away on its own. Relief may require prescription pain medication and surgery to decompress the nerve roots. (Locked) More »

How to know if a digital fitness monitor is worth the money

Digital fitness monitors (DFMs) are great tools to track exercise and diet progress. They come in wearable styles such as wristbands, watches, and pendants, as well as hand-held pieces that can be clipped on a sleeve or slip into a pocket. DFM features may be simple—tracking the amount of steps taken or calories burned—or they more sophisticated, with sensors that capture heart rate, perspiration, skin temperature, and sleep patterns. DFM prices increase with the amount of bells and whistles available. The majority are in the $50–$200 range. More »

Must-haves from the produce aisle

The summertime brings a bounty of fruits and vegetables that can boost health. Blackberries have only 60 calories per cup, and they are high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Zucchini are high in vitamin C and are a good source of B vitamins and potassium. Sweet red peppers are loaded with vitamins C and A, as well as plenty of fiber, vitamin B6, and folate. Swiss chard is rich in sulforaphane, isocyanate and indoles, which counteract the effects of carcinogens—cancer-causing chemicals.  (Locked) More »

What you should know about antidepressants

Using antidepressants can be tricky, since it can’t be predicted exactly how someone will respond to treatment. There are four categories of antidepressants plus a few “atypicals” that have unique properties. Each antidepressant works a little differently, but they all target chemical messaging systems in the brain that help regulate mood. Treatment is a trial-and-error process, so finding the right drug takes patience. It can take weeks to feel the positive effects and longer (six to eight weeks) to decide how one feels about the balance of good results and side effects. More »