After contracting with a publisher to write “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Victor Hugo procrastinated writing it for more than a year. Finally, six months before the manuscript was due, he locked all of his clothes away, save one shawl, so that he was forced to stay inside and finish the book. The strategy worked. He turned the book in two weeks ahead of schedule on Jan. 31, 1831.
Here’s one deadline you shouldn’t push back: getting a colonoscopy after a positive fecal test.
A fecal test is an annual screening tool that checks for blood in your stool, an early sign of colon cancer. But it seems many folks who get a positive result don’t follow it up soon enough (or ever) with a colonoscopy to check for precancerous or cancerous polyps.
New research published in JAMA shows that the smart timing for a follow-up colonoscopy is now. People who waited 10 months after a positive fecal test had a 50 percent higher risk of cancer. A year out, their risk of cancer doubled, and their risk of advanced cancer tripled.
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However, if you have a positive fecal test, don’t panic. About 3 percent of people with a positive test have colon cancer. But do schedule your colonoscopy ASAP and certainly within nine months of the test. Removing polyps can prevent cancer development; if you have the beginnings of cancer, early treatment is almost always highly effective.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine who died in Greece in 370 B.C., often is quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” That certainly fits in with his philosophy that disease is a result of environmental factors, diet and living habits. And we’re sure he didn’t mean that you should eat sweet, fatty foods to ease distress or discomfort. Unfortunately, that’s what tends to happen these days, and not just when you are feeling bad. Many parents’ go-to solution to calm a fussy, crying, grumpy child is to offer sugary, fatty snacks.
That’s how kids get programmed to associate eating bad-for-you foods with feeling better. In short, according to a new joint Norwegian-British study published in the journal Child Development, parents who are emotional feeders create kids who are emotional eaters.
Another study found that up to 63 percent of kids exhibit emotional overeating – usually choosing snacks that are calorie-dense. That leads to weight gain and the cascade of problems associated with youthful overweight, including earlier onset of “adult” diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, other cardiovascular problems and joint pain.
The solution? Well, unfortunately, offering a carrot to a crying child rarely works. It’s actually dealing with the emotional upset – letting the child know you are interested in finding out what’s wrong and helping him or her solve the problem – that’s most beneficial. That teaches self-regulation and self-soothing, two qualities that build a healthy weight and a solid foundation for an emotionally happy lifetime.
Sleeping pills for the elderly
If you’re 65 or older and are going to start using prescription sleeping pills or “Z-drugs” (zolpidem, zaleplon and zopiclone), watch your step. Your odds of falling and fracturing a hip are more than doubled in the first two weeks of your new prescription, and that’s a serious risk. According to a study in BioMed Central, 20 percent of women and 30 percent of men over 65 die within 12 months of a hip fracture.
▪ Check to make sure a medication, such as an antidepressant, corticosteroid, diuretic or antihypertensive, isn’t the cause of your insomnia.
▪ Ramp up daily walking (get sun exposure) and other exercise. It’ll dispel stress, reset your body clock and ease joint and muscle pain.
▪ Before bedtime, mindful meditation will quiet your mind.
▪ Join a club or volunteer. Increasing social interaction eases stress, making sleep easier.
▪ Then, if your doc thinks an insomnia medication is still needed, make sure you’re steady on your feet when getting out of bed, and exercise caution when walking.
Another reason not to smoke
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” is a phrase that’s been around for a long time; it means that if it looks like there’s something wrong, then there probably is. So picture a pregnant woman smoking. What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe more than you think: She’s putting her daughter’s daughter at risk for autism spectrum disorder.
A recent study from the University of Bristol has shown some pretty conclusive epidemiological evidence that grandmothers who smoked while they were pregnant saw greatly increased rates of ASD in their granddaughters.
As strange as that sounds, listen to this: The university researchers looked at 14,500 participants of the Children of the 90s Study and found that if a girl’s maternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy, she was 67 percent more likely to display behaviors linked to autism, such as poor communication skills and repetitive behaviors, and she had a 53 percent increased risk of landing squarely on the spectrum. Paternal grandmothers smoking during pregnancy showed no associations.
How could this happen? The researchers offered two possible explanations. DNA damage caused by smoking is transmitted to the grandchildren, or it alters the grandchildren’s gene-moderated response to an environmental pollutant that they happen to encounter. Something like a hormone disruptor in plastics (BPA), a pesticide (glyphosate used on GMO crops) or a combination of environmental pollutants. And that cascade leads to ASD problems.
Bottom line: Male, female, young, old – don’t smoke. Anything. Once researchers go back another generation, they might find that the original problem was great-grandpa smoking.
Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chairman of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.