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Karen Miller

Stories by Karen

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BMI does not tell the whole story

Fat may be a better predictor of breast cancer

Postmenopausal women who carry too much body fat may be at risk for invasive breast cancer, even if their BMI is within normal limits.

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A new vaccine for shingles

Longer lasting and more effective

The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox as well as shingles. There are vaccines to prevent both conditions. The vaccine for shingles has been recently updated, and provides protection for a longer period of time.

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The decline in cervical cancer

Largely due to prevention

With the advent of Pap smears and immunization against certain types of HPV, the incidence of cervical cancer in this country has plummeted in the past 50 years.

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Prevalence of obesity: An upward curve

Difference by gender and race

Obesity is a major risk factor for the incidence of many illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, the two leading causes of death in this country.

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Life expectancy takes another dip

A two-year decline

Life expectancy in the U.S. population had a decrease of 0.1 year between 2015 and 2016, according to a data brief by the National Center for Health Statistics. You might say that’s not significant and too minor to even mention. But this is the second year in a row that it has dropped in this country. That’s not a good sign.

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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

The #3 killer in African Americans

Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in this country. Many cases are largely preventable by following a healthy lifestyle and properly managing high blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes.

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Prostate cancer screening now recommended

A change in guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its guidelines for prostate cancer screening. They now take the position that screening offers a small potential benefit of reducing the chance of dying of prostate cancer.

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Pesticides in produce

Strawberries and spinach top the list

Twelve products have made the annual list of “dirty dozen” produce. These fruits and veggies in particular contain high contents of residues from pesticides, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group.

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Sodium: an essential mineral

But there can be too much of a good thing

The body cannot survive without sodium, but the typical American diet contains more sodium than the body can handle. High amounts of the mineral can lead to heart and kidney disease.

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The report card on cancer screening

Still below desired national goals

Although screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancer are covered at no cost by the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of adults in this country that comply with the guidelines are lower than desired.

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Nutrition on a budget

Some helpful tips

Some helpful tips to keep your spending down and your nutrition up.

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Public programs available for good nutrition

A helping hand for those in need

Several programs are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist low income consumers purchase healthy foods. The City of Boston also developed a program to enable SNAP recipients to purchase produce at local farmers’ markets.

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Store brand groceries in demand

Good value at a lower cost

Store brands are fast becoming the choice of many consumers. Store brands are typically less expensive than national brands and offer similar quality.

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The psychology of supermarkets

Keep your grocery list handy

Supermarkets are designed to pique your interest into purchasing more items than originally intended. The ideal way to prevent overspending is to make a list and stick to it.

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Good health on a budget

Tips on how to stretch that dollar

Although food is one of the highest costs for consumers, it is possible to eat healthy while keeping an eye on one’s budget.

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Prevention of low back pain

Get up and walk

Although low back pain is very common, it may be possible to prevent it by practicing healthy lifestyles.

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Exercise for low back pain

It’s all about the core

If low back pain does not go away within a week or so, often physical therapy and exercise are recommended. The goal is to strengthen the core and improve function.

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An alternative treatment for low back pain

Mindfulness: You control the pain

There is a link between low back pain and depression, but the exact causes of the link are unclear.

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Acupuncture: A common remedy for low back pain

A 2,000-year-old treatment in modern times

Acupuncture, an age-old form of traditional Chinese medicine, is growing in popularity in this country. Although originally used for pain reduction, the World Health Organization has determined that it can be effective in the treatment of several illnesses.

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Sciatica – a real pain in the butt

A simple move can set it off

Herniated discs are one of the most common causes of low back pain. The pain starts in the back, but radiates to the buttocks and down the leg.

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Surgery for low back pain … not so fast!

Often only as a last resort

Only about 5 percent of cases of low back pain require surgery. The majority of cases can be treated with more conservative measures, such as physical therapy and exercise.

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Low back pain

No one is exempt

Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in this country. It is estimated that 80 percent of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their lives.

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Winter squash and sage

A healthy combination

This recipe that pairs butternut (winter) squash with shiitake mushrooms and sage is not only tasty it’s packed with vitamins and minerals, but low in sodium and fat.

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Flu season is here

Fall brings the foliage … and the flu

The 2016-2017 flu season is upon us. There’s no escaping that pesky virus. Like clockwork, it makes its appearance every fall. Generally, flu season starts in October and peaks between December and March, but can last as long as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Avocados: Not just guacamole

Now considered a power food

Avocados are considered a power food because of its high nutritional value. Each contains nearly 20 minerals and vitamins that the body needs to perform sufficiently.

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Blacks closing the gap in life expectancy

Living longer and healthier

Life expectancy in blacks has increased over the years largely due to lower death rates in cancer, heart disease and HIV. In addition, access to medical care has improved with the advent and expansion of Medicaid.

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Exercise and high cholesterol

The first line of attack

Regular exercise can not only prevent high cholesterol, it can often lower it. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day for five days a week is recommended.

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South of the border beans and rice

A healthy vegetarian entree

This recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research is a good source of fiber, protein and potassium. It contains no saturated fat and is low in sodium.

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Buttons and bows pasta

This recipe from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides healthy nutrients but is low in fats, cholesterol and sodium. Each serving contains only 329 calories.

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Prevention of high cholesterol

It’s possible to eat your way to good health

Many cases of high cholesterol can be prevented just by following a healthy lifestyle. If the cholesterol is too high or it does not respond to healthy lifestyle alone, medication — in conjunction with behavioral changes — is warranted.

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Metabolic syndrome

A combination of disorders

Metabolic syndrome occurs if three or more medical conditions coexist at the same time. The conditions are high blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, low HDL and large waist.

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Peripheral arterial disease

Common, but often undetected

Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is a common, but often undetected, condition that can result from excessive buildup of plaque in the arteries, particularly in the legs.

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Stress and heart disease

A possible link to high cholesterol

Melissa Blount, 46, put her treatment for high cholesterol on hold. She was trying to have another child, but her efforts several years ago almost cost her her life.

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Heart attack and stroke

Major complications from cholesterol

Heart attack and stroke are two of the most common complications from high cholesterol. In both conditions, cholesterol in the arteries blocks energy and nutrients to the organs.

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High cholesterol: Common and silent

Cholesterol not really a villain

Although cholesterol has a bad reputation, it is actually essential to the body and a part of every cell. If it accumulates in the arteries, however, it can block access to energy and nutrients the organs need to survive.

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Screening tests for cholesterol

It is recommended that screening for cholesterol begin at age 20 and be repeated every three to five years. Those of higher risk, such as those with diabetes, heart disease, stroke or a family history of high cholesterol, may get screened more frequently.

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Healthy lifestyles not high on most people’s list

Fewer than 3 percent adhere to recommendations

Only 2.7 percent of adults in the U.S. follow the four behaviors of a healthy lifestyle. While not smoking is the most common behavior observed, maintaining a healthy weight is the least.

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How old is your heart?

Your heart might be older than you

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks a strange question on their website — “how old is your heart”? That doesn’t seem to make much sense. Surely if you’re 40, your heart is 40 as well. But, according to the CDC, that’s not always the case.

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Universal screening recommended for depression

An update by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. Yet, it often goes undiagnosed or untreated. It is a leading cause of suicide.

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A step closer to ovarian cancer screening

More studies are necessary - Special advertorial health section

Although ovarian cancer is rare, it is the fifth deadliest form of cancer in women. To date, a reliable screening test for ovarian cancer has not been developed.

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Glaucoma: The silent thief of sight

Many people lack awareness

Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness in this country. There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be treated with medicine and surgery.

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The flu: Will antibiotics work?

The difference between bacteria and viruses

Antibiotics are often prescribed for people suffering from the flu. However, antibiotics are designed to treat infections from bacteria. The flu, on the other hand, is a virus and does not respond to antibiotics.

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January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical cancer largely preventable

With the advent of Pap smears and immunization against certain types of HPV, the incidence of cervical cancer in this country has plummeted in the past 50 years.

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Diabetes and Cancer

An unexpected link

Current data indicate that the incidence of diabetes may be on the decline. Since research suggests that there is a link between type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer, a drop in diabetes rates may result in lower cancer rates.

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The Food and Drug Administration: Attack on added sugars

Limit to 12½ teaspoons a day

The Food and Drug Administration is at it again. Now the target is sugar, but it’s not just any sugar. It’s the added sugar the administration is going after.

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Exercise and high blood pressure

An alternative method to keep your pressure low

Regular exercise can increase the efficiency of the heart, which can help prevent or control high blood pressure.

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Edamame stew

This recipe is high in potassium and fiber and low in unhealthy fats and sodium. This combination will help lower blood pressure and decrease its risk.

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Quinoa-stuffed tomatoes

This side dish pairs quinoa, a whole grain, with vegetables for a healthy recipe that is low in unhealthy fats, sodium and calories and high in fiber, protein and potassium

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Kidney failure: A silent complication

Dialysis and transplant the only treatments

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. Once diagnosed, the only treatments available are dialysis and kidney transplant.

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Heart failure: A weakened and enlarged heart

An inefficient pump

Heart failure, one of the leading causes of death, is often caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure. Because of increased resistance, the heart has to pump harder in order to supply blood to the body.