Health Topics

Spring Safety Tips

posted Apr 6, 2010, 6:14 AM by David Wright

I saw this article here and thought it was appropriate:

Cycling Safety


The most common cycling accidents involve colliding with a car or another bicycle; loss of control; entangling hands, feet, or clothing in the bicycle, or feet slipping off the pedals. Bicycle riders of all age groups and levels of experience need to be concerned about safety.  Most cycling accidents are the result of falls, and occur close to home.

Studies have shown that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries by 95 percent. Wearing a properly fitting helmet is the single most important thing a cyclist can to do prevent injuries. Parents should not buy a helmet that is too large for a child, thinking he/she will “grow into it.” The correct fit for cycling is snug, but comfortable on the head.  It should have a chin strap and buckles that stay securely fastened.

To ensure injury-free cycling for everyone, please follow these bicycle safety tips:

  • Always wear an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved helmet. Make sure it fits snugly and does not obstruct your vision.
  • Make certain the bicycle is the proper size for the rider. Consider using training wheels for young and first-time riders.
  • Ensure your bicycle is properly adjusted and well maintained. Replace broken or missing parts.
  • Avoid plastic pedals that can be slippery when wet.
  • Wear bright fluorescent colors and avoid biking at night. If you have to ride your bike at night, make sure you have rear reflectors and a working headlight visible from 500 feet away.
  • Stay alert and watch for obstacles in your path.
  • Ride with traffic and be aware of traffic around you. Obey all rules of the road – bicycles are vehicles, too.
  • Don’t ride double, attempt stunts or go too fast.
  • Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Use pant leg clips to keep clothing grease free and out of the bicycle chain.
  • Wear knee, wrist and elbow pads to protect the bones and joints when falling.
  • Avoid riding on uneven or slippery surfaces. Handbrakes may not work as well when wheels are wet and require more distance to stop.

Off the Job Safety Tips


Gardening Safety Tips

Avoid overexposure to the sun.

  • Limit the time that you spend working in direct sunlight by gardening during the early morning or late afternoon hours.
  • Protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants instead of shorts, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat. When your skin is exposed, apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Heat stress can be a risk. Remember to drink plenty of water or electrolyte replenishment drinks (Gatorade, Power Aid, etc.).
  • Take frequent breaks by going indoors and relaxing in front of a fan.

Warm Up

  • Remember to stretch before heading out.

Be careful with power equipment

Consider the following safety tips when operating power tools:

  • Know how to operate the equipment. Read the manual and follow all of the instructions.
  • Wear long pants, close-fitting clothes, sturdy shoes, safety glasses and ear protection. Don’t wear anything that could get caught in moving parts, such as loose jewelry. Tie back long hair.
  • Clear your work area of rocks, twigs, toys and anything that could be thrown by mowing and weed-eating equipment.
  • Always keep children and pets away from the area until you’re finished. Never carry a child as a passenger on a riding mower.

Personal Lightning Safety Tips

1. Plan in advance your evacuation and safety measures. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan.  Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. Lightning often precedes rain, so don’t wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.

2. If outdoors, avoid water.  Avoid the high ground.  Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck, or a van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should:

  • Crouch down, put feet together, place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.
  • Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.

3. If indoors, avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Do not use the telephone. Take off head sets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, and TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks in inside equipment.

4. Suspend activities for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

5. Injured persons do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply first aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.

6. Know your emergency telephone numbers.

Gardasil Safety - in question??

posted Feb 8, 2010, 1:20 PM by David Wright

The vaccine Gardasil is making headlines -- but this time, it's about reported side effects and safety concerns.

The CDC and FDA have gotten 7,802 reports of adverse events in people who were vaccinated with Gardasil, the first cervical cancer vaccine, between June 8, 2006, and April 30, 2008. And two lawsuits have been filed, according to media reports, over Gardasil's safety.

Gardasil hasn't been proven responsible for any reported adverse events.

Is Gardasil safe? And what should parents do if they're concerned about letting their daughter get vaccinated with Gardasil?
WebMD contacted the CDC, Merck (the drug company that makes Gardasil), and an independent expert who's closely following Gardasil for their answers. But first, here's a quick recap of Gardasil's history.

(Have you considered giving your daughters the HPV vaccine? We're discussing it on WebMD's Parenting: Preteens and Teenagers board.)

About Gardasil

In June 2006, Gardasil hit the market as the first cervical cancer vaccine. Gardasil targets four strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) linked to many, but not all, cervical cancers and to genital warts.

Safety data reviewed by the FDA in approving Gardasil was based on about 11,000 people. Most side effects were mild or moderate reactions, such as pain or tenderness at the injection site.

In January 2007, the CDC added Gardasil to its routine childhood immunization schedule. The CDC recommended Gardasil, given in three doses, for all girls aged 11-12 and even for girls as young as 9, with catch-up doses for girls and women aged 13-26 who hadn't been vaccinated earlier.

More than 26 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed worldwide, including nearly 16 million in the U.S., according to Merck, which estimates that at least 8 million females in the U.S. have received their first dose of Gardasil.

Reported Adverse Events

The CDC and FDA monitor adverse events reported in people who get any vaccine, including Gardasil. All those reports go into the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).

The 7,802 adverse events reported to VAERS for Gardasil include 15 deaths and 31 reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a potentially paralyzing, life-threatening condition in which the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system.

But the VAERS data doesn't tell the whole story, notes John Iskander, MD, MPH, the CDC's acting director of immunization safety.

Vaccine Not to Blame?

"VAERS receives unconfirmed reports of possible side effects" that may require further study, Iskander tells WebMD. That is, the reports don't show whether Gardasil caused the reported problems. Publicity tends to increase VAERS reports, and Gardasil has gotten a lot of publicity, says Iskander.

The serious reported events are about half of what's average for vaccines overall, according to the CDC.

The CDC hasn't been able to establish Gardasil's role in 10 of the deaths reported to VAERS; patient information wasn't available for the other five reported deaths.

"Nonserious events" such as pain at the injection site and fainting made up 93% of the reported Gardasil adverse events in the VAERS database, says Iskander.

He notes that teens are particularly likely to faint after any vaccination, not just with Gardasil. The CDC recommends that health care providers observe patients for 15 minutes after vaccination with any vaccine. As for the pain reports, Gardasil "does seem to cause a bit more discomfort to some people, compared to some of the other vaccines given to teenagers," says Iskander.

Merck, which continues to monitor Gardasil's adverse events, stresses the fact that adverse event reports don't amount to proof of cause and effect.

Different Opinions

Karen Smith-McCune, MD, PhD, associate professor of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the University of California, San Francisco, agrees that the VAERS data don't amount to proof.

But Smith-McCune, who has daughters in the age range for Gardasil vaccination, says she's waiting to see the final, published results from Gardasil's phase III clinical trials before she decides whether to let her daughters get vaccinated.

Merck presented those results to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in February and plans to publish the findings later this year, Merck spokeswoman Amy Rose tells WebMD by email.

"That's great," says Smith-McCune. "Until we see the published, peer-reviewed final results from phase III trials, we don't have the gold standard of evidence for safety and efficacy."

Smith-McCune co-wrote an editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine in May 2008 recommending a cautious approach to the promising and apparently safe vaccine.

Iskander recommends that parents review the CDC's vaccine information statement on Gardasil and then make their decision about their daughters' vaccination.

"I think two years of post-licensure safety monitoring is really a good track record," says Iskander, who says he gives Gardasil in his clinical practice and abides by what patients decide about Gardasil vaccination. "Neither providers nor patients should be making decisions based on unfounded fears."

You can find the actual article here:

Foods that Boost your Mood!

posted Dec 14, 2009, 11:01 AM by David Wright   [ updated Jan 14, 2010, 10:42 AM ]

My daughter found an article in a "teen" magazine and I thought that it was worth a blog posting.  The article alleges that the foods below will boost your mood:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Cashews
  • Chocolate
  • Fish
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Spinach (and other dark, leafy green veggies)
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts

Additionally, I found this information regarding other foods (click here to read more):

More foods that make you feel...


Eggs, milk, liver, beef - According to research studies, these foods contain choline. Adults performed better in memory tests after eating foods containing choline. If you have a presentation or exam in the morning, make yourself an omelet for breakfast.

Prunes - Prunes contain twice the antioxidant of most other fruits. Antioxidant-rich diets disable reactive oxygen molecules linked to memory loss and mental deterioration.

Oatmeal - Foods that are low in fat and contain whole-grain carbohydrates give your brain memory-enhancing glucose.


Apples, grape juice, avocadoes and broccoli - These foods contain Boron, which is responsible for hand-eye co-ordination, attention and short-term memory. Boron-rich foods also maintain healthy bone and blood-sugar levels.

Lemons - The smell of lemons can induce the feeling of alertness.


Oranges, apples, soy milk and yogurt - These foods are slow digesting carbohydrates and can supply a steady source of fuel for your body.

Sunflower seeds - Sunflower seeds contain magnesium which helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, and keeps heart rhythm steady and bones strong. It is also involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Just a handful of sunflower seeds will give you half of your daily magnesium needs.

Tuna - Tuna makes a great lunch or after-workout meal. Tuna contains the protein needed to repair muscles and it supplies tyrosine which your body can then use to create the two alertness neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine.


Salmon - Salmon or any other cold-water fish contains the mood-elevating vitamin B12 as well as omega-3 fatty acids that may assist in preventing depression. Omega-3 raises serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin regulates mood and reduces irritability. Eating fish to regulate your mood isn't instantaneous, it is a long-term process and therefore it would be beneficial to regularly incorporate fish into your diet.

Bananas - Bananas contain vitamin B6, which is known to build serotonin levels. If you regularly drink alcohol or if you are taking birth control pills, you could be depleting your body of vitamin B6.

Chicken livers - Chicken livers are high in folic acid, which promotes the brain's production of feel-good neurotransmitters.


Nuts - An amino acid called L-arginine found in nuts and sesame seeds enhances blood flow throughout your body, including the genital area. Eggs and meat also contain small amounts of L-arginine. There are studies that have focused on this amino acid and its role in treating erectile dysfunction.

Chocolate - Yes! Everyone's favorite! This treat releases pleasure-enhancing endorphins into the brain and also contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant associated with love and sexual attraction. 

5 Ways to Beat Depression

posted Dec 10, 2009, 10:53 AM by David Wright   [ updated Jan 14, 2010, 10:39 AM ]

    According to the National Institute for Mental Health the number 1 cause of disability in the world is depression. Depression affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans and can greatly reduce your pleasure, motivation, and energy level. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to help boost your mood.

  1. Start Talking. Psychotherapy with a licensed, experience mental health professional can help. How do you find one? Ask a trusted friend or contact your health plan, employee assistance program (EAP) or health care provider. Approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (a short term, goal oriented treatment) are well supported by research.
  2. Consider Medication. Antidepressant medication can bring relief from the blues within a few weeks. Your health care professional can help you choose the one that’s best for you.
  3. Get Moving. Studies show 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three or more times a week can lift your spirits. Swimming, biking, jogging, dancing, or may sports can all do the trick.
  4. Join the Crowd. If you push yourself to socialize and resume your usual activities, the sense of pleasure may gradually return.
  5. Think Positive. If you catch yourself having a lot of negative thoughts, “Talk BACK” to them by writing down balanced, realistic responses. Practice saying these to yourself instead.

    These changes could be just the ticket you need to feeling better soon.

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