FDA approves obesity pill

By Brooke Strickland

Individuals who chronically struggle with weight gain or obesity will soon be able to start taking a pill to help lose weight.  The FDA approved the pill and says that when used in conjunction with lower-calorie meals and regular exercise can help maintain a healthier body weight.  The drug works by activating a receptor in the brain that helps the person eat less but still feel full. People that participated in studies while taking the drug showed overall, a 5% weight loss.[1]  While that might not seem like a lot, it really has a positive impact on other health issues related to obesity, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The FDA will require the drug manufacturer to complete six studies, including some that evaluate the risk of heart attack and stroke.

This drug shouldn’t be the first thing you turn to for losing weight, however.  Before you start reaching for pills, try every other possible natural method there is! Combating obesity is hard, no doubt. But including regular exercise and eating well is good not only for your weight but for your overall longevity. 

Not sure how to get yourself motivated to get exercising?  Baby steps are good.  Literally.  Start by walking a little bit at a time a day.  Try walking for 10 minutes at your lunch break, and then gradually increase the length of time every day.  At the same time, cut out the high fat snacks during the day.  Ditch the donuts at breakfast and reach for some yogurt instead.  Instead of a brownie at lunch for dessert, munch on some fresh fruit.  There are lots of ways to cut back on the munching and starting working out more.  Need some motivation?  Get your friends involved.  Walking or running with a friend makes the time go faster and helps keep you accountable on a daily and weekly basis!

You only get one heart. You only get one body.  Taking care of it is of the utmost importance. 

[1] Caruso, Georgiann.  “FDA approves drug to treat some obese, overweight adults.” CNN.com.  June 27, 2012.  http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/27/fda-approves-drug-to-treat-some-obese-overweight-adults/?hpt=he_c1  Accessed June 27, 2012.

Proper Nutrition and Cancer

By Jillian Mckee

Getting the proper nutrition is essential to good health. Nutrition is what fuels the body, makes it strong and helps it grow and heal. People who have been diagnosed with cancer need proper nutrition to help them prepare for treatment, succeed during treatment and stay healthy during remission.

Eating a healthy diet can be difficult for patients because of side effects that accompany treatments, such as those that occur as a result of mesothelioma treatments. Some patients may experience vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, sore throat, mouth sores or loss of appetite. These side effects may make it difficult to eat a proper diet, but a nutritionist or doctor can help patients create a healthy eating plan that is right for them.

Carbohydrates are an important component of good health for cancer patients. Carbs can help battle fatigue, give patients more energy and increase organ functioning. Patients should focus on consuming whole grains instead of obtaining carbohydrates from processed foods or those containing white flour. Great options include whole grain or whole wheat breads, brown rice, cereals, brown flour and whole grain crackers. Quinoa, barley and brown rice are also good options that are loaded with healthy carbs.

Protein helps the body repair tissues, grow and helps boost the immune system. Cancer patients often need more protein than others because the nutrient helps the body fight off infections and heal tissues that have been damaged by cancer. While many people think of meat as a prime source of protein, there are healthier ways to get this essential nutrient. Lentils, nuts, low-fat dairy products, beans, soy foods and eggs are all loaded with protein.

Contrary to popular belief, a healthy diet does indeed include fats. The healthy fats in avocados, nuts, oils, fish and seeds provide energy for the body, insulate the body's tissues and move vitamins through the bloodstream.

Water is another important component of a healthy diet. All of the body's cells require water to function, but the side effects of certain types of cancer and treatments can produce dehydration. Patients who experience vomiting or diarrhea should consume extra water each day to provide the body with the fluids it needs to function properly.

In addition to getting the proper amounts of these nutrients each day, the American Cancer Society recommends that patients limit their consumption of alcohol and red meats, decrease the amount of fat consumed and eat at least five to seven servings of vegetables and fruits each day.

These recommendations can help patients prepare for treatment and enjoy a healthier life during remission.


What is an anaphylactic reaction?

By Brooke Strickland

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that happens rapidly and takes over the body, causing a life threatening situation such as shock and difficulty breathing. If not stopped in time, death can occur.  For this type of reaction to happen, the person must have been exposed to the substance causing the reaction at an earlier date (the antigen).  For example, the first time you’re stung by a bee may cause no allergic reaction, but the second time you’re stung, you may have a sudden, severe allergic reaction – anaphylactic shock.  

What is anaphylactic shock? 

This type of allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overacts to the antigen.  It will happen within seconds or minutes within exposure to the antigen.  White blood cells in the body produce antibodies for circulation into the bloodstream.  When a foreign substance enters the body, these antibodies come into contact with it, and signal other cells to produce mediators, such as histamine. 

What triggers it? 

There are several things that can trigger this type of reaction and it may only take a small amount to cause a strong and severe reaction.  Some of these may include:

  • Venom: Stinging insects such as yellow jackets, wasps, or fire ants produce venom that can signal anaphylaxis.
  • Foods:  Food allergies are common and such reactions can be triggered by milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, shellfish, or certain fruits
  • Food additives:  Food often has things added to it and sulfite additives are commonly the cause of anaphylaxis
  • Latex, dyes, over the counter medicines, or prescription medications

What are the symptoms?

There are varying symptoms of anaphylaxis.  The most severe symptom is breathing difficulty or loss of consciousness.   Other common symptoms include hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or eyes, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or nasal congestion.  In addition, a person may experience an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, or a tingling/sensation of warmth.

If you think you have allergies, consult a physician to see if you need to carry medication in case of an emergency allergic reaction.  Most importantly, if you or someone you know begins experiencing the symptoms of anaphylactic reaction, you must seek immediate medical treatment.  Calling 911 and watching the person closely may save a life.

Healthcare: The Naked Truth

By Brooke Strickland

Health care.  It’s the never-ending debate.  This topic is a hot discussion topic and gets people fired up quickly.  And when it comes to paying medical bills, families are going into debt to pay for them.  They’re struggling to get healthcare, and when they do, they have a hard time paying for it.  When my daughter had surgery, I was thankful for our insurance paying for it, because when I got the bill, I saw it was nearly $70,000.  Without insurance, there would have been absolutely no way that we could pay for that.  How could an average, working family come up with that kind of money?

Sadly, many American families can’t pay for health care.  They spend an average of $19,393 every year for health care coverage.  And 60% of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical bills.  Americans pay twice as much in healthcare as Japanese citizens. And numbers indicate that by 2030, health care costs will exceed the average family household income. [1] Disturbing, isn’t it?


Hospitals overcharge.
Hospitals in the United States charge 200% more for medication compared to other countries.  Hospital visits are an average of $3,181 versus $1,050 for the rest of the world.  Having a baby in the U.S. costs an average of $7,473 versus $3,400 for other parts of the world.  Hospitals also offer incentives for outpatient services so they can treat more customers and in turn, make more money.  Statistics show that 90% of health care price increases are because of outpatient care services.

Overpaid doctors.
14 out of 15 of the highest paid occupations in the United States are those in the medical and dental field. Doctors are simply being paid more for doing the same job that other doctors in other parts of the world are doing.

The U.S. spends nearly $2.6 trillion on health care, and nearly $1.2 trillion of this is wasteful spending.  Hospitals in the U.S. spend charge up to $1,000 for a toothbrush, up to $140 for a single Tylenol pill, or up to $100 for Saline solution (salt water). t

Insurance companies overcharge.
In the last decade, insurance companies have increased premiums by more than 131% and in 2011, the average annual family premium was $15,073.

These numbers are staggering and pretty disheartening.  Finding a way to pay to keep our families healthy is becoming more and more of a challenge.  We may not be able to change some of these numbers, but we can change how we live.  Eat well, exercise, and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.  The healthier you are, hopefully the less you’ll need to visit the hospital emergency room.  This will be your part in creating change. 


[1] “Decoding Medical Bills.”  http://medicalbillingandcodingcertification.net/decoding-medical-bills/.  Information obtained and created by Medicalbillingandcodingcertification.net

Chatting online linked to depression

by Brooke Strickland

Chatting online seems harmless. You can talk to friends that you don’t normally talk to via phone and it’s a quick way to catch up.  But recently, a study conducted by Missouri University of Science and Technology polled 216 college students and showed that the students who scored high on surveys for depressive symptoms followed similar patterns of Internet use: excessive chatting, frequent email checking, or frequent switching between applications.  [1]  Other studies have showed that excessive Internet use has been linked to depression, especially in teens and young adults, so this study’s results line up with these findings.  While the study shows correlations between depression and Internet use, it does not prove that one causes the other.

It makes sense, though.  Think about those who sit in front of a computer all day.  It’s isolating.  It’s often lonely.  So, trying to reach out and connect to the outside world through online chatting can be a way to try to minimize the lonely or depressed feelings that one is dealing with internally.  

So, how can we minimize depression in these young adults and get them back on track to a healthy, happier lifetime?  If you think the amount of time you spend on the Internet is excessive, consider how you can cut back your time spent and spend it with real-life people and situations.  Absorbing yourself in online games, chatting with people you don’t know in chat rooms, or surfing the web for hours on end are all recipes for seclusion and isolation from friends and family that really love you.  If you can’t break these Internet habits, contact a counselor to talk through your feelings of why you may be immersing yourself in the Web rather than real life.  If you think you are living with depression, talk to your doctor and find out options to remedy it.

Internet addiction and excessive Internet use is a very real problem.  For more information, visit www.hooked-on-games.com


[1] Gates, Sara.  “Excessive Chatting Online Linked to Depression: Study.” The Huffington Post.  May 21, 2012.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/internet-usage-and-depression_n_1528489.html  Accessed June 2, 2012.