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Mar
16
2007

Having a Sense of Humor May Mean a Longer Life

Adults who can laugh at life's ups and downs may live longer than those who have trouble cracking a smile, concludes a Norwegian study of about 54,000 people tracked for seven years.

At the start of the study, participants filled out questionnaires on how easily they found humor in everyday life and how important they felt it was to have a humorous perspective, USA Today reported.

People who scored in the highest 25% of humor appreciation were 35% more likely to be alive at the end of seven years than those in the bottom quarter, the study found.

The survival advantage of having a humorous outlook was especially noticeable in a subgroup of 2,015 cancer patients. Those with a healthy sense of humor were about 70%less likely to die than those with a weak sense of humor, USA Today reported.

The study was presented at a meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

Mar
07
2007

Spa Radiance Debuts Eco-friendly Mani/Pedi Bar

Spa Radiance in San Francisco is opening a manicure/pedicure bar called PURE that’s eco-friendly just in time for Earth Day 2007. An array of nail treatments will be done with natural products. 451-346-6281

Mar
02
2007

Spring Clean

By Abby Penning

Discover the hot new hues in makeup for this season, mingling shades from the earth with a touch of shimmer.

Mar
02
2007

The Amazing Avocado

By Cathy Christensen

This jade-colored treat is packed with vitamins, flavor and moisturizing benefits.

Feb
27
2007

Poorly Executed Cosmetic Procedures Can Leave Lasting Damage

A visit to a skin treatment clinic in a Florida suburban mall in late 2004 changed 52-year-old Jordan Miles' life forever.

She had responded to an ad from the clinic that promised help for her teenage son's acne. He didn't get the treatment, but Miles made an appointment for herself for laser treatments to remove sunspots on her arms, back and chest.

Two women ended up performing the procedure -- neither, Miles later found out, had the necessary training.

"They started with the laser on my chest, and when they got to my back, they decided the sunspots were worse, and so they upped the laser, further intensifying the procedure," Miles recalled.

The outpatient procedure left Miles, a mental health counselor, in such excruciating pain that she vomited on her way home. Getting no helpful response from the clinic, she consulted a dermatologist, who confirmed that she was covered in red, stripe-like second- and third-degree burns that would leave lasting scars.

The redness subsided, but each burn drained the pigment from her skin, leaving Miles open to further skin problems should she ever expose the affected areas to the sun.

"I now have what looks like zebra stripes everywhere," Miles said. "I'm restricted from a lot of activities and types of clothing. It's terrible."

Miles' experience is hardly unique. In the past few years, reports of fraudulent or shoddy cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures have grabbed headlines:

  • In 2003, New York City financial analyst Maria Cruz died after a fatal reaction to lidocaine, delivered by Dean Faiello, a 46-year-old from Newark, N.J., who had been posing as a cosmetic surgeon. Faiello fled to Costa Rica but was apprehended by U.S. authorities in 2006 and is now in prison.
  • In 2004, four people in Florida became paralyzed after Bach McComb, an osteopath with a suspended license, administered lab-strength botulism toxin -- not the much weaker Botox -- to himself, his girlfriend and two others. McComb was later sent to prison for three years.
  • In 2005, a 46-year-old California woman died of multiple organ failure after receiving a buttock injection of what had been billed as a "French polymer" but was actually cooking oil. The beautician who delivered the shot, 39-year-old Martha Mata Vasquez, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January.

It's tough to tell how often these types of dangerous procedures are being performed in the United States, experts said.

"I think that, especially in big cities, it's more common than you think, because I see lots of patients with problems who have been treated in hotel rooms, for example," said Dr. Rhoda Narins, past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) and a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.

"Sometimes, when I ask patient what it is that they have had, they really have no idea," she said. In many cases, procedures are performed in non-medical settings -- hotel rooms, private homes, beauty clinics and spas, Narins said. "I've seen several patients who had spa treatments and got comfortable there, and then they were offered non-medical-grade silicone. They ended up having horrendous reactions."

Dr. John W. Canady, vice president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), said that the underground nature of these sub-par procedures makes them especially hard to track.

He and Narins said consumers should watch out for the following "red flags" when seeking out cosmetic injections or surgeries:

  • Check for credentials. It's not enough that your "doctor" is wearing a white lab coat and has a certificate on the wall. A number of organizations -- the ASDS, the ASPS, the American Board of Plastic Surgery and state medical boards -- have online resources that people can check to verify credentials and experience.
  • Be wary of cheap deals. "If a procedure has an unbelievable price that nobody else is offering, then you really have to slow down and examine why it's so cheap -- why is it so out of line with the rest of the market?" said Canady, who is also professor of plastic surgery at the University of Iowa.
  • Look for nearby medical support. Even procedures conducted by the best-qualified staff can go awry, so make sure your practitioner has equipment and qualified personnel on hand to deal with allergic reactions, clotting and other events. Most reputable clinics will have hospital affiliations. "As a patient, you want to know what things are available if things don't go right," Canady said.

Most of all, the experts said, ask questions.

"It's important to be a responsible consumer, to do your homework, to not be afraid to ask the tough questions," Canady said. "If you ask people legitimate questions in a non-offensive way, and they get angry or hostile with you, then you need to go find somebody else."

Narins agreed that an educated, proactive consumer is the best defense against fraud and abuse in her industry.

"People shouldn't take chances with their health. When you inject something into your body, this is not the same as getting a massage," she said. "This is something that can seriously affect you, and for a long time."

That's a lesson Miles said she learned the hard way, but she's hopeful that her story can at least help others. The clinic she received her laser treatment from has since closed down, and Florida state law was recently toughened to mandate that all laser procedures be done under a doctor's supervision.

But Miles said her scars are a daily reminder that patients remain vulnerable.

"Make no assumptions, and don't be afraid to ask questions," she advised. "The mistake I made was that I never asked these women if they were a nurse practitioner, or if they had any experience doing this before, or how many times they had done it before. All of those were major mistakes."

HealthDay News, 2/26/2007, By E.J. Mundell

Feb
22
2007

Spearmint Tea May Help Women With Hirsuitism

Drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day might help treat women with an unsightly condition that causes them to grow excess hair on their face, breasts and stomach, Turkish researchers report.

The tea works by lowering the levels of circulating male hormones in these women, the scientists claim in the current online issue of Phytotherapy Research.

The authors called the findings preliminary.

"There are no recommendations for patients and physicians yet," said Mehmet Numan Tamer, co-author of the study and a professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Suleyman Demirel University in Isparta, Turkey. "This is the first clinical study about the spearmint tea, but further studies are needed to give the practical recommendations to patients."

But other experts feel the findings are far-fetched.

"This is absurd," said Khursheed Navder, an associate professor of nutrition and food science at Hunter College in New York City. "I completely think it is very preliminary, and you need major randomized trials. It's nothing to get thrilled about."

Hirsutism is a condition that can occur in both men and women, but, for obvious reasons, it is more of a cosmetic concern in women. The hair growth is a result of unnaturally high levels of androgens such as testoserone.

According to Tamer, standard therapy includes oral contraceptives to suppress androgens or drugs such as spironolactone, which prevents the body responding to androgens.

Spearmint, which grows naturally near Isparta, has been widely used for indigestion, nausea and vomiting, as well as for the common cold, cough, sinusitis, fever and bronchitis.

"Spearmint has been used as an herb for a long time now," confirmed Navder. "These are all folk remedies."

The Turkish researchers thought that spearmint might be linked with reports of diminished libido in townsmen (presumably because of its effects on androgen levels). In one previous rat study, spearmint reduced testosterone levels.

"Previously, we investigated the effects of [peppermint] and [spearmint] herbal teas on testicular function in an experimental rat model and found that testosterone levels were decreased," Tamer said. "Because we found the anti-androgenic effects of spearmint, we decided to observe the effect of this herbal tea on the androgen levels in hirsute women."

For this study, 21 women with hirsutism drank two cups of herbal spearmint tea for five days at a certain time in their menstrual cycle.

All women showed a decrease in free testosterone (circulating hormone not bound to other molecules) and an increase in several different "female" hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone and estrogen.

There was no significant decrease in total testosterone levels; it was unclear if there was any change in amount of excess hair growth.

"The next step is to show the effect of spearmint tea on hirsutism scores of the women in a treatment period," Tamer said.

Although the amounts of spearmint used in this study are not generally toxic, the herb can be harmful if taken in larger amounts

Feb
19
2007

FDA Approves Laser Treatment for Hair Loss

A handheld laser device designed to treat hair loss has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Florida company that makes the Hairmax Lasercomb said 26-week trials found that the device does increase the numbers of thick hairs on the scalp, the Associated Press reported.

Lexington International LLC said its device combines a low-level laser with a comb. When it's drawn through the hair, the laser affects the scalp in way that promotes hair growth.

According to the company, the Hairmax Lasercomb is the only FDA-approved drug-free product for home use in fighting hair loss. The device sells for $54 on the Web, the AP reported.

HealthDay News, February 16, 2007

Feb
12
2007

Albuquerque Named Fittest U.S. City

Albuquerque, N.M. moved from 13th place last year to be named American's fittest city this year in the March issue of Men's Fitness magazine.

The other top 10 in the nonscientific survey of 50 cities are: Seattle; Colorado Springs; Minneapolis; Tucson, Ariz.; Denver; San Francisco; Baltimore; Portland, Ore.; and Honolulu, the Associated Press reported.

The magazine said this year's top 10 fattest cities are: Las Vegas, Nev.; San Antonio, Texas; Miami; Mesa. Ariz.; Los Angeles; Houston; Dallas; El Paso, Texas; Detroit; and San Jose, Calif.

The survey results are based on various lifestyle factors in each city, including the availability of bikes paths or gyms, commute times, fast food restaurants per capita, amount of television watching, along with federal statistics on obesity-related illnesses and injuries.

Magazine editor Neal Boulton told the AP that the list is published each year "to motivate folks to look at the simple things in their lives they can do to be healthy."

HealthDay News, February 9, 2007

Jan
31
2007
Jan
31
2007

FDA Approves YAZ Birth Control Pill Can to Treat Acne

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled that the oral contraceptive YAZ can also be used by women to control moderate acne, the Associated Press reported..

The decision means that YAZ, made by Bayer Schering Pharma AG, is the first oral contraceptive to be approved by the FDA for three distinct uses, the drug maker said in a statement released Monday.

Along with birth control and acne treatment, YAZ is also approved in the United States to treat the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, the AP reported.

HealthDay News, January 30, 2007