New Mothers – 10 Health Tips for Women After Delivery

December 29, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

This video features 10 health tips for new mothers. These recommendations are based on expert clinical guidelines published in UpToDate online version 19.3, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. This video was produced by Nicholas Cohen, MD in 2011.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Beat Back Pain In Your Sleep (Health Guru Tip)

May 17, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

Bothered by back pain? The RX may be as simple as adjusting your sleeping patterns! The best health videos on the web are at

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Grooming Essentials For Women / Educational Video

May 7, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

Excerpt from the public domain video, “Good Grooming For Girls (1956)”, courtesy of Prelinger Archives.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Sleep Disorders Decoded (Sex Health Guru Health Tip)

January 1, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

Can’t sleep? Neither can 70 million Americans. Here are some clues as to why. Is one of the other 70 million insomnicas in bed with you? BONUS TIP:

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Eat, sleep and walk to prevent cancer

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

There is no silver bullet to stop cancer but there are some ways of lowering our cancer risk. And experts believe the formula for prevention is eat, sleep, and walk the right way. How much easier can it get?


When it comes to disease prevention, what goes into our mouths is tops. There is no magic recipe for a cancer-free life. There is, however, a big difference between a health and an unhealthy diet. Lots of fruit and vegetables, less fat, sugar and calories work not only against cancer but against other diseases as well. There are, however, certain food stuffs that contain more anti-cancer compounds than others. Check out the the cancer killers in your kitchen.


Nobody ever gets bad results from a good night’s sleep. Aside from giving your body and brain a much needed break, research shows that enough sleep benefits hormone balance, immune function and weight. And yes – it also lowers cancer risk. According to James McClain of the National Cancer Institute who conducted a study based on 10 years of data of about 6,000 women:

“Among the most active women in our study – these younger, more active women – if they slept more than 7 hours, they were protected relative to those that slept less than 7 hours.”


What would you say to the headline ‘Brisk walking’ could prevent 10,000 cancers a year?

According to health experts at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking could actually prevent about 5,500 cases of breast cancer and 4,600 cases of bowel cancer. That makes a total of 10,000 cases of prevented cancer each year. And you could be one of those 10,000 cases!

WCRF further explains that physical activity does not necessarily mean sweating in a gym or fitness center.

Other than walking, performing routine household chores also count as physical activity. These tasks include gardening, vacuuming the house or cycling to the supermarket.

According to Dr Rachel Thompson, deputy head of science for WCRF:

“There is now very strong evidence that being physically active is important for cancer prevention. Even relatively modest increases in activity levels could prevent thousands of cancer cases in the UK every year.

These figures also show you do not have to go to the gym every day to benefit. You can reduce your cancer risk just by making small changes and this is highlighted by the fact that so many cancer cases could be prevented through something as simple as brisk walking.

By taking up walking as a hobby or even walking to the shops instead of taking the bus or car, people can make a real difference to their health.”

Eat, sleep and walk right and you’ll lower your risk for cancer. It sounds so easy. But for many people, it means a whole change of lifestyle.

Hangover: drink color does matter

January 19, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Alcoholic drinks weren’t created equal. They come in different sizes, strengths, tastes, and yes – colors. You’d think that the last one is the least important when it comes to the after effects. But actually color does matter, according to researchers at Brown University.

The study looked at 95 young adults aged 21 to 33 who were healthy and were partial to alcoholic drinks. The participant were given caffeine-free cola mixed with bourbon, vodka or tonic water to drink until the alcohol drinkers reached the level of being “legally drunk”, i.e. their breath alcohol concentrations were on average 0.11. The intoxicated participants were then allowed to sleep it off. During sleep, the participants were hooked up to sleep monitors which also recorded brain activity. The following day, the participants were awakened and were asked to report on the severity of their hangovers without the aid of coffee or aspirin. Here are some of the findings:

  • Dark drinks such as bourbon resulted in more severe hangovers compared to those reported by the vodka drinkers. Hangover symptoms reported include headache, nausea, loss of appetite and thirst.
  • The alcohol drinkers’ sleep quality was greatly diminished regardless of the color of the drink.
  • The alcohol drinker’s capacity to perform safety-sensitive tasks was also diminished, even up to the following morning. The type of alcohol has not type in their performance.
  • Expectedly, those who imbibed tonic water fare better in terms of sleep and task performance the next day. It was also no surprise that they didn’t report any hangover symptoms.

According to Brown researcher Damaris Rohsenow

“People did feel sicker the morning after bourbon than after vodka, but they still feel plenty sick after drinking all that vodka.”

The differences in the severity of hangovers may be due to natural chemicals generated during the distillation process. According to Rohsenow, bourbon contains 37 times more toxic compounds than vodka does, including nasty organic molecules such as acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins and furfural. Thus, the clearer the liquor, the less of these substances it contains, and the less severe are the hangover symptoms.

However, the lack of hangover symptoms does not mean the drinker is fit enough to perform certain tasks. All alcoholic drinks are created equal when it comes to postdrinking impairment.

Short sleep increases diabetes risk

March 24, 2009 by  
Filed under DIABETES

sleep-and-strokeDaylight savings time has started in the US. In Europe, we are only springing forward come end of March. In a previous post, I’ve discussed about the adverse effects of sleep disturbances on TMs-the-connection/”>cardiovascular health. Women’s hearts seem to be especially susceptible. Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased risk for breast cancer and weight problems in women. This study presented at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention gives us one more reason to watch our sleeping habits.

“Short sleepers” seemed to have a 4.56 higher risk for diabetes than those who sleep longer. Short sleepers were people who sleep less than 6 hours a night during a working week. Their shorter than normal sleep duration seem to affect their blood sugar, leading to impaired fasting glucose. This abnormality in fasting glucose levels can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, appears most often in middle-aged adults. Adolescents and young adults, however, are developing type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. It develops when the body makes relatively too much insulin and doesn’t efficiently use the insulin it makes (insulin resistance).

The study looked at more than 300 participants, monitored their sleeping habits and blood glucose levels, and followed them up for six years.

The participants were categorized by their daily sleep duration in a work week (Sunday to Thursday) as follows:

  • short-sleepers (less than six hours, 25 participants),
  • long-sleepers (more than eight hours, 24 participants) and
  • mid-sleepers (six-to-eight-hour sleepers, 314 participants).

After adjusting for age, body mass index, glucose and insulin concentrations, heart rate, high blood pressure, family history of diabetes and symptoms of depression, the researchers found a significantly increased risk of developing impaired fasting glucose among short-sleepers compared to the mid-sleepers. Compared to the mid-sleepers, long-sleepers showed no association with impaired fasting glucose, the researchers report.

The mechanism behind the link between short sleep and abnormal fasting glucose is not clear, just as the importance of sleep on our health is poorly understood. The researchers, however, speculate that there might be a genetic basis for their findings but much bigger studies are warranted to confirm these results.

Resource post for November: time change, sleep and your heart

November 3, 2008 by  

Have you reset your clocks? Ready for the time transition? Depending on the season, we are moving back and forth in time. We “spring forward” in the spring and “fall backwards” in the autumn. The North Americans call it Daylight Saving Time or DST for short and Standard time, respectively. In Europe, we can it “summer time” and “winter time.”

How does time transition affect our health?

According to this latest study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, these transitions in time are linked to higher incidence of acute heart attacks. The Swedish study shows that the number of heart attacks increases significantly during the first 3 weekdays after the transition to daylight saving time (DST) in springtime. The effects of turning back the time in autumn is not so strong but still evident during the first weekday. Furthermore, there are some differences observed in the time transition effects which are dependent on gender and age.

The effect of the spring transition to daylight saving time on the incidence of acute myocardial infarction was somewhat more pronounced in women than in men, and the autumn effect was more pronounced in men than in women… The effects of transitions were consistently more pronounced for people under 65 years of age than for those 65 years of age or older.

Time change interferes with our biological rhythm and our daily routine especially our sleep. The most plausible explanation for the increase in heart attacks is sleep deprivation, which can badly affect cardiovascular health.

Because of its dependence of daylight hours, DST has also an effect on health conditions such as depression, vitamin D insufficiency, and night blindness.

 Who are most likely to be affected?

As the abovementioned study above suggests, those with heart problems and but also adults below 65 are more likely to feel the adverse effects of time change. Babies and little children will also feel it and get restless, adding to the woes of the poor parents.

Depending on each individual, the effects can last between 1 day and two weeks!

In addition, the severity and the duration of the effect vary from person to person. In general, however, “owl types” tend to suffer more at springtime.

Night owls” or “evening types” are people who have a natural tendency to stay up later at night. This puts them at risk for delayed sleep phase disorder, which occurs when their usual bedtime and wake time are much later than the social norms.

Since night owls have a hard time falling asleep when they go to bed early, they may be unable to compensate for the time change. As a result they may go to bed even later than normal, depriving themselves of needed sleep.

Those who are “morning types” among us however, will experience more problems this autumn (November 2) when we go back to Standard Time

How can we minimize the effect of time change?

The American Academy on Sleep Medicine (AASM) gives us the following tips to counteract the effects of time change:

 Why change time at all?

If it is bad for our health, then why do it?

Switching to DST is something we have to put up with because we are living in higher altitudes and have therefore varying day lengths depending on the season. People living close to the equator don’t need to bother with this.

Adjustment for DST in spring aims to optimally use the daylight hours, with the following results:

  • It makes us start work earlier in the morning when the sun rises early, and then leave us enough daylight hours in the evening for outdoor leisure activities.
  • It reduces energy consumption because we tend to use less indoor lighting.
  • Business benefits from DST because it encourages people to shop longer in the evenings.
  • It also aims to reduce traffic accidents and crime that usually tend to happen in the dark hours.

However, it does not benefit everybody, e.g. people who work in shifts (hospital staff, for example), those who frequently have to cross time zones (airline personnel, for example). The shift in time can create havoc with time-dependent machines and computer systems. International businesses get disrupted. For years, the time change on the two sides of the Atlantic happened on the same weekend – the last Sunday of March for DST and the last Sunday of October for going back to standard time. This has changed since 2007. In the US and Canada, it now happens on the second Sunday of March and the first Sunday of November. This asynchrony even complicates things and brings confusion to people working on intercontinental projects.

Slumbering Away Your Diabetes

September 16, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

The September Diabetes Forecast discusses 10 Ways to Get Healthy Right Now; a really informative article by Tracey Neithercott that also discusses the sleep and diabetes connection.

Big Idea #2 Get More Sleep

…in a 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes who reported shortened periods of sleep or poor sleep quality had higher A1C’s than those who had long, restful slumber.

U.S News & World Report article, January 3, 2008. Lack of Deep Sleep Raises Diabetes Risk

According to the researchers, three nights of interrupted sleep effectively gave people in their 20s the glucose and insulin metabolisms of people three times their age.

Sleep–Here’s The Big Picture

The sleep cycle consists of four stages, going from light to deep sleep and finally REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. Per SleepDex, “infants spend almost 50% of their time in REM sleep. Adults spend nearly half of sleep time in stage 2, about 20% in REM and the other 30% is divided between the other three stages . ”

So what do you think? Are you sleep deprived? sheep.jpg

Find out.

Test your reaction time at Sheep Dash.

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Sleep and stroke – where’s the connection?

August 12, 2008 by  

In a previous post, I’ve discussed about how lack of sleep can adversely affect women’s hearts much more than men’s.

In another study on sleep, too much or too little sleep seems to increase the risk of ischemic stroke among postmenopausal women.

The researchers conducted this prospective study involving 93,175 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years in order to examine link between risk of ischemic stroke and self-reported sleep duration. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and it occurs when an artery supplying blood to the brain is blocked. The participants were followed up for an average time of 7.5 years, during which 1,166 cases of ischemic stroke were reported among the study participants. 8.3% of the women reported getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night while 4.6% get more than 9 hours of nightly sleep.

Analysis of the data showed that women who slept seven hours a night had lowest risk for stroke. In comparison,

women who slept nine hours or more had a 70% higher risk of stroke. Those who slept less than six hours per night had a 14% higher risk of stroke. These findings took into account age, race, socioeconomic status, depression, smoking, exercise, use of hormone therapy, and cardiovascular risk factors such as past history or stroke or heart attack, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

The health risks of lack of sleep are quite well-known but very little is known about the effects of getting too much sleep. This study showed surprising results wherein too much sleep in linked to higher risk of stroke than too little sleep. However, more women reported getting too little sleep than getting too much sleep (8.3 vs. 4.6%). Therefore, the health risks of lack of sleep should not be underestimated.

It is not clear why longer sleep duration increases the risk for stroke and this should be addressed by in future studies. For example, such link should also be investigated among younger women and men.

In another study, midlife stroke has been found to be more common among women aged 45 to 54 years old than men of the same age group. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and weight problems were all identified as possible risk factors. Sleeping pattern would probably be added to this list.

Poor sleep among women seems to be very common and has been linked to physiological and psychological causes. Recent studies have shown that sleeping problems especially increase during the menopausal transition. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is a good source of information about sleep.

Photo credit

In Praise of Naps

June 26, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

naps.jpgI knew it all along, but now the Boston Globe has verified it. Naps are good for you.

And it seems with our recent article here on Battling Cancer about sleep that tells us insomnia is considered one of the most serious side effects of cancer–

45% to 50% of all cancer patients deal with disturbances of sleep–that naps are a great idea for cancer patients.

A study released by the Harvard School of Public Health and in Athens reported that Greeks who took regular 30-minute siestas were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease over a six-year period than those who never napped. The scientists tracked more than 23,000 adults, finding that the benefits of napping were most pronounced for working men. Source: Boston Globe

The National Sleep Foundation lists three types of naps:

  • Planned napping-preparatory napping-taking a nap before an event or when you know you must stay up late
  • Emergency napping-when you are suddenly very tired and cannot keep your eyes open
  • Habitual napping-occurs at the same time every day (my cat or your toddler)

How To Nap?

Check out this graphic by Josua Schwimmer MD:

The chart explains how to nap for the napping challenged.


Since Da Vinci, Einstein and Edison all were known nappers it might be a good idea to take this seriously.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends napping at:

  • The right length: A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
  • The right environment: Your surroundings can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep. Make sure that you have a restful place to lie down and that the temperature in the room is comfortable. Try to limit the amount of noise heard and the extent of the light filtering in. While some studies have shown that just spending time in bed can be beneficial, it is better to try to catch some zzz’s.
  • The right time: If you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. If you try to take it too early in the day, your body may not be ready for more sleep.”

So what are we waiting for? Got your blanket? Ipod?

Let’s zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sleepless nights are hard on women’s hearts

June 24, 2008 by  

Poor sleep is associated with increased risk for having type 2 diabetes and heart disease. And when it comes to lack of sleep, women’s cardiovascular health suffer the most. A recent study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center shows that women’s hearts and vascular systems are more sensitive to sleep deprivation than men’s.

The results of the study were based on data gathered from 210 healthy middle-aged women and men. All participants had no history of diagnosed sleep disorders. They were all non-smokers, and were not on daily medications.

The participants were categorized as good sleepers and poor sleepers. Poor sleepers are those having problems falling asleep and having frequent disruptions in sleep. 40% of the participants were poor sleepers and these have a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease than the good sleepers. However, poor sleepers who are females exhibited higher levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 and higher levels of insulin then male poor sleepers. C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are biomarkers for inflammation which are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Insulin levels are biomarkers for type 2 diabetes.

The time it takes to fall asleep seems to be a big factor. Female participants who take a half hour or more to fall asleep had the highest risk.

In a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 % of the female respondents report that they only get a good night’s sleep a few nights a week. 43 % report sleepiness during daytime and this can interfere with their normal daily activities.

There are many reasons why people have sleep shortage. For many women, having children is the main reason for sleep deprivation. As mom of twins, I knew how sleep deprivation sapped me of energy and pushed me into a prolonged postpartum depression. Although that was 5 years ago and my sleeping patterns have since improved, I still suffer from sleep disruptions each time my children awake at night to go to the bathroom. I guess it’s one of the hazards of motherhood.

“We found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress, and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger. In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men.”

according to head researcher Edward Suarez.

Other causes of sleeplessness in women may be also biological and mainly hormonal in nature. They may include menstrual cramps, hot flashes and irregular menstrual cycles.

In another post, I will be tackling the topic of “sleep hygiene habits.” So if you can’t sleep, stay tuned!

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Sleep and the Cancer Patient

May 20, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

sleep.jpgInsomnia is considered one of the most serious side effects of cancer.

45% to 50% of all cancer patients deal with disturbances of sleep.

The sleep cycle consists of four stages, going from light to deep sleep and finally REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. Per SleepDex, “infants spend almost 50% of their time in REM sleep. Adults spend nearly half of sleep time in stage 2, about 20% in REM and the other 30% is divided between the other three stages . ”

Are you getting enough sleep? A typical adult needs about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Many people say they only need five hours of sleep a night, but researchers have found that this is true of only about 10% of the adult population.

The typical cancer patient has many valid reasons why their sleep is being disturbed.

Causes of sleep disturbances in cancer patients:

  • Chemotherapy and other medication side effects
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Lower GI problems such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Interruptions of sleep in the hospital
  • General fatigue
  • Stress

Are you sleep deprived? sheep.jpgFind out. Test your reaction time at Sheep Dash.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.