Archive for the ‘Healthy Aging’ Category

Chickenpox All Grown Up: What’s Fascinating About Shingles

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

I think shingles is fascinating. I probably wouldn’t be so upbeat if I’d ever had it, but since I haven’t, here’s what’s I think is interesting: It’s the chickenpox virus that’s been hiding in a nerve root for decades. Right now, you might have it, sitting in your spinal cord.

Then, when it wakes up, the blisters only appear on the part of the skin that that nerve root supplies. Nerves wrap from the spine to the sternum, so you get a rash that wraps around a designated path on one side of your body.

This week’s featured article tells “How to Get Rid of Shingles (and Can You Spread It?).” What do you think? Fascinating?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Universal Health Care: Is Medicare really a single-payer success? One doctor’s opinion.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

“If you want an example of a successful single-payer system, just look at Medicare,” many say.

I say, not really.

A single-payer system is the form of universal health-care Canada and Great Britain use.  Several groups are advocating for it.  People on the right tend to view it as socialized medicine at its worst. Many on the left think it’s ideal. President Obama has tried to distance himself–and his plan–from it, frustrating some Democrats.

With Medicare, the government is the single payer.  And it’s worked so well, some say, why not just extend it to all?

The problem is, Medicare is not working well. The reason it’s been somewhat successful is it has been subsidized, in an indirect way, by private insurers.


Weekly Health Tip: Outdoor activities to do with your grandchildren (from our current issue)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

“Give the lifetime gift of nature to your grandchildren! Take them for walks, teach them gardening, talk with them under a tree, teach them how to respect and care for nature and to have fun in it.

“Nature nurtures, decreases stress, reduces depression and increases skills and joy just by being in it. It is a gift that lasts a lifetime and they can teach their children. Your grandchildren will love these times and you are creating wonderful memories for them.”

—Donna LaMar, Ph.D., Psy.D., clinical psychologist, The Farm: Where Living Things Grow Inc., using nature in therapy, Fremont, Mich.

What are your favorite active things to do with kids? Please share in the comments section.

Universal health care, Medicare and rationing

Monday, April 20th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Health-care rationing is coming, but what form will it take?  Limiting by age?  Predicted life expectancy?  And who will make these decisions?

Two recent medical review studies give us a glimpse into the future. (more…)

B vitamins prevent macular degeneration: Logic fails, then succeeds for leading cause of blindness

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

A new JAMA study is very interesting for two reasons.  It gives us hope for preventing a leading cause of blindness in the U.S.  But it’s also a great example of why, while the popular “association” studies give us valuable information, they never prove causation. You need more-focused studies for that.

First, the great news: (more…)

Multivitamins in postmenopausal women: One doctor’s view of the WHI study

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The conclusion from the Women’s Initiative Study that multivitamins don’t prevent cancer, heart disease or overall mortality troubles me for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Women’s Initiative Study. It involves a large group of women (161, 808) followed over a long period (eight years in this instance.)  Statisticians analyze the tons of data known about this group and report the findings.  The data doesn’t care what I or anyone else thinks.  It is what it is.

In the comment section of this report the author cites two other good, long-term women’s studies that showed an association between multivitamins and decreased colon cancer. It took 10 years in one group and 15 years in the other to start seeing a decrease.

But that’s not what bothers me.  It’s not the study itself, but that people might get the idea no one needs vitamins. I mean, the New York Times has an article entitled “Vitamins; A False Hope?” This was a study on multivitamins, in set doses.  It concluded nothing about set groups of individuals needing specific vitamins at other dosages.


Federal Trade Commission offers new Web site for seniors, but looks useful for all.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The Federal Trade Commission has a brand new Web site called Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services. As it suggests on their home page, you can:


Ginkgo biloba does not prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s, according to new study

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The older we get, the more we start to worry about dementia. … What was I saying?  Oh, yeah, dementia, a decline in our memory, thinking, figuring things out.  Declining cognition.  Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia.

Actually, it is nothing to laugh about. The increasing elderly population makes certain it will become a big and bigger public health hazard.  Our ignorance of how to prevent or treat it, or even knowing the causes for certain, makes it fair game for people to want to try anything they’ve heard might help.

Ginkgo biloba falls into that category of hope.


Nancy Reagan falls and fractures pelvis. How to decrease your elderly loved one’s risk.

Friday, October 17th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan fell and fractured her pelvis.  She is 87, recuperating at home and expected to recover in about eight weeks.  She had fallen a few months ago, also.  Unfortunately, falls resulting in fractures are all too common at ages 65 and older.  The risk of another fall after the first one is high.  Fractures are devastating, especially of the hip.  The brittle bones of osteoporosis play a role. (Experts debate whether most falls cause the fracture or vice versa.)

Dr. Mary E. Tinetti has studied falls in the elderly for a long time.  In her latest findings, published in the July 17, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine, she notes that previous studies have revealed that in people over 65, falls caused 10 percent of emergency room visits and 6 percent of hospitalizations. They were also a major cause of nursing home placement.

Do you know if you or an elderly family member is at risk? Several factors increase it.


The drug Dimebon shows promise for Alzheimer’s Disease

Monday, August 11th, 2008

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

A piece of rare, good news for Alzheimer patients. A recent study showed that the drug, Dimebon, significantly stabilized the decline of the major debilitation problems of Alzheimer’s, including memory, cognition (awareness, processing information), activities of daily living (grooming, hygiene, dressing and feeding oneself) and behavior. In fact, some patients actually improved. Published in the July 19, Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, the patients were studied for 1 year, with half taking placebo (no active ingredients) and the others taking the active drug.

Then, last month at an Alzheimer’s conference, the investigators reported that they had extended the study for 6 months for those who chose to continue.


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