Its National Relaxation Day. Here Are 7 Science-Backed Ways to Chill Out

Struggling with work-life balance? This is a good read for you.
— Dr. Dale

From Its National Relaxation Day. Here Are 7 Science-Backed Ways to Chill Out

BY MARKHAM HEID

August 15, 2017

America is uptight. Whether it’s a headache, problems sleeping, or feeling down or depressed, a full 80 percent of us are dealing with at least one stress-related health symptom, according to a 2017 study from the American Psychological Association (APA).

While the APA highlights the current political climate as a major source of anxiety for many of us, the truth is Americans have long had a problem chilling out. We work crazier hours and vacation less than almost any other nation on Earth. We also suffer from higher rates of burnout.

Jack Nicholson may have put it best in a 1986 interview: “Life used to be work until five o'clock and then you were meant to have some fun, some nourishment, some leisure. Americans don't understand leisure. They don't have a clue. They understand work; they understand play . . . they do not understand leisure.” (If you ever want to kill a few hours in the most entertaining, wisdom-infused way possible, read some old Jack interviews.)

“People develop a habit of carrying around more tension than they need to, and the more tense you are, the more easily you become anxious,” says Michelle Newman, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Anxiety and Mood Pathology at Penn State University.

Relaxation, Newman says, is the release of physical tension—and therefore a great way to keep your anxiety under control. How can you relax? Here are seven proven techniques

 

BREATHE THIS WAY

“People think ‘take a deep breath,’ but that’s the worst thing you can do,” Newman says. Sucking in a big breath of air is basically hyperventilating your lungs, and can make your anxiousness worse, she says.

Do this instead: “Put one hand on your chest and another on your abdomen just above your belly button,” Newman advises. Your goal is to breathe “diaphragmatically,” which means you’re sucking air down toward your stomach as opposed to into your chest.

“If your lower hand is moving while you breathe, you’re doing it right,” she says. “Try to take slow, shallow breaths,” and you’ll quickly calm yourself down, she adds.

 

LAUGH

Whether a person is suffering from back pain, cancer, or the after-effects of a traumatic experience, “laughter therapy” seems to be an effective way to feel better and combat stress-related anxiety, research shows.

Identifying exactly how laughter does this has proved tricky. But research from Lee Berk, Dr.PH., of California’s Loma Linda University, suggests a good laugh can unwrap or counteract all the tension-increasing, anxiety-driving processes that go on in your brain and body when you’re frazzled.

So fire up a funny video or podcast. You’ll feel more relaxed in no time.

 

TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR DEVICES

Checking email and sports scores, posting on social, texting your family, listening to music . . . you probably do many (or all) of these things every time you pick up your phone—often in rapid succession.

Bad news: That kind of "media multitasking" may shrink a part of your brain linked with emotional control and anxiety regulation, finds a 2014 study from University College London.

If you can manage to pry yourself away from your phone, ditching it for an hour or two—or at least restricting yourself to one activity, like replying to texts or listening to music—should help you mellow out.

 

CLENCH, THEN RELEASE

Newman says "progressive muscle relaxation" is a proven way to decrease tension and anxiety. "Your goal is to systematically tense and then release different muscle groups," she says.

Tensing your muscles first is important. "When you first tense the muscle group and then release, it's like a pendulum that, when it swings to one side, will then swing farther to the other side," she explains.

She says there are lots of online sites or apps that can walk you through this practice. Here's one 10-minute guided program from Brigham Young University.

 

GET TOGETHER WITH A BUDDY

For decades, psychologists have recognized that hanging with friends is an effective shield against stress and anxiety.

One 2015 study found spending a lot of time on your own can lower your brain’s levels of feel-good chemicals in ways that promote anxiety and hamper “fear extinction”—or your mind’s ability to calm itself down.

Getting together with friends has just the opposite effect, says Robin Dunbar, Ph.D., a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford in the U.K. Some quality time with your buds triggers the release of endorphins in your brain. “Since these endorphins are opiates, they give us a bit of an opiate-like high, and that just makes us feel good,” he says.

 

EXERCISE

Newman says almost any form of exercise—from weight training to yoga—can be a great way to unwind and combat anxiety. Mounds of research show exercise triggers the release of endorphins and other feel-good brain chemicals that combat tension.

But it’s important to step away from work and other stressors while you’re sweating out your anxiety. If you’re checking email or conducting business calls while you work out, you’re not going to get any of the relaxation benefits. In fact, those activities, coupled with the physical stress training places on your body, could actually promote anxiousness.

 

SPEND TIME IN NATURE

Going back to the early 1990s, research has linked time spent in nature with lower rates of anxiety and stress. Especially if you live in a city or urban environment, escaping to the woods or mountains for an hour or two seems to help your brain and body mellow out, shows research from Australia.

Why? For most of human history, people lived among plants and trees and water like any other animal. It’s possible we haven’t “fully adapted” to living in nature-bereft city environments, the Aussie researchers write.

How to spot and treat colorectal cancer

Let’s be proactive about preventing colorectal cancer from even starting!
— Dr. Dale

From How to spot and treat colorectal cancer

By Dr. Manny Alvarez Published August 12, 2017

After a twenty-year period in which the development of colorectal cancer among white Americans under the age of 55 was reported as declining, new evidence shows an increase in the disease. A recent study conducted by the American Cancer Society, using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, uncovered this worrying development and experts are urging an increase in awareness of the disease to help combat the rise.

Colorectal cancer describes colon cancer and bowel cancer. They typically occur in the lower part of the large intestine and are accompanied by a range of symptoms. If caught early, there’s a 50 percent chance that treatment will be a complete success. Late diagnosis often results in a less positive outcome.

When decorating a shelf, consider your design tastes as well as your storage needs in order to create a look that’s beautiful a...

Causes of colorectal cancer

Over the years, medical research experts have discovered the causes of different types of cancers and other serious illnesses. Many causes are connected with diet and lifestyle, but there are some that are less obvious or easy to alter.

When it comes to colon cancer and bowel cancer, causes of the debilitating disease include:

  • A diet high in saturated fats and low in fiber
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive intake of alcohol
  • Old age
  • Family history of colon cancer or bowel cancer
  • Polyps in your rectum or the lowers parts of your large intestine
  • History of irritable bowel illness such as colitis and crohns disease

Common symptoms

To help raise awareness of the disease and give you a better understanding of when you should be concerned, here are the most common symptoms of colon and bowel cancer:

  • More frequent visits to the toilet, without any significant changes in your lifestyle
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stools (feces)
  • Feeling as though your bowel isn’t empty, even after going to the toilet
  • A bloated abdomen
  • Feeling full, even if you haven’t eaten for some time
  • Any regular, unexplained pain in the abdomen
  • Unexplained fatigue or tiredness
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • A lump in your tummy or back passage when your doctor examines you
  • Unexpected development of iron deficiency in men, or in women post-menopause

Of course, a number of these symptoms are associated with other, sometimes less serious, illnesses too. However, if you experience a combination of three or more and have no explanation as to why they’ve begun, you should book an appointment with your doctor.

Even if it turns out to be something else entirely, your doctor will be happy to examine you and rule the possibility of colorectal cancer out as quickly as possible.

How colorectal cancer is treated

We know that no one wants to be diagnosed with colon cancer or bowel cancer. But, if you are unfortunate enough to have the disease, the current treatment to beat it can be successful – particularly if you’re diagnosed early on.

The treatment you receive for colorectal cancer depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, the exact location of the disease and your age, too – among others. The main treatments are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Surgery

With colorectal cancer, surgery is the most common treatment. That’s because it is usually possible to remove the polyps that typically cause the caner and also remove the infected part of the bowel or colon. A colostomy bag is often required for a short period of time and between surgeries. But, once the bowel is repaired, the need for a bag is eliminated.

In cases where the diagnosis is early and the cancer hasn’t spread far, surgery is able to cure the sufferer completely. In other cases, further treatment may be required.

Radiotherapy

As in other types of cancer, radiotherapy is where high energy radiation beams are used to try and shrink the cancer cells. It can also be used in an attempt to stop the cancer cells from multiplying and spreading.

Radiotherapy tends to be used in conjunction with other treatments. It can be used to try and shrink the cells before surgery. Or it can be prescribed after surgery too, in an attempt to try and stop the cells from multiplying.

Chemotherapy

A common treatment for colon cancer, chemotherapy uses strong chemical medicines to destroy the cancer cells. It can also be used in combination with other treatments to facilitate a more successful outcome.

Indeed, studies have shown that when chemotherapy is used in patients with advanced colon cancer and familial history of colorectal cancer, they have a lower chance of a recurrence of the disease.

When in doubt, speak to your doctor

As with other forms of cancer, colorectal cancer is a potentially debilitating disease. But, if it’s diagnosed and treated early, the results are more likely to be successful.

If you feel there might be something sinister happening to you that could be related to colon cancer or bowel cancer, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. They will either put your mind at rest or follow up on your concerns and help ensure you get well again.

The discomfort and upset of having colorectal cancer won’t be pleasant. But removing those cells from your body and enjoying an active and healthy life afterwards is a much better outcome than what could happen if you don’t follow up on your concerns.

Colon cancer deaths rise among younger adults, and no one knows why

It’s never too early to have a colonoscopy.
— Dr. Dale

From Colon cancer deaths rise among younger adults, and no one knows why

Adults in the United States are dying from colon and rectal cancers at an increasing rate about age 50, when they should just be beginning screenings, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society.

Since routine screening is generally not recommended for most adults under 50, the cancers found in younger adults are often in advanced stages and more deadly, said Dr. James Church, a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Church, who was not involved in the new study, said he has seen this trend in death rates up close. Last year, on separate occasions, Church saw two 36-year-olds with stage IV colon cancer, he said.

    In both of those patients, who had no relation to each other, the cancer spread to their livers, making it so he couldn't operate. Both died, he said.

    "They both had young families, both little girls, and they lost their father in one case and their mother in the other, forever, because of this nasty disease when it's advanced," Church said.

    "It makes a big impact on me, and it makes me keenly interested in trying to solve this issue," he said. "Everybody in colorectal surgical circles is seeing increased incidence of colon cancer in the young, defined as younger than 50."

    The new study, published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, is a followup to one that found that incidence rates of colon and rectal cancers are rising in American adults under 50, the recommended screening age.

    According to the previous study, adults born in 1990 could have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer at the same age had they been born in 1950.

    The reason for the rise in both incidence and death rates remains unclear.

    "We've known that there's this increasing trend in people under 50 for incidence, but a lot of people were saying, 'Hey, this is good news. This means people are getting more colonoscopies, and cancer's being detected earlier,' " said Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the new study.

    Now, "what (the new study) indicates is that the increase in incidence is a true increase in disease occurrence and not an artifact of more colonoscopy use," she said. "If it was just colonoscopy use, you wouldn't expect to see an effect on death rates, or even you might see a decline in death rates."

    Colorectal cancer, which includes both colon and rectal cancers, is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men, and this year, it's expected to result in about 50,260 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

    Globally, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International.

    A 'surprising' racial divide

    The new study included data on colon and rectal cancer diagnoses and death reports for adults ages 20 to 54 in the United States from 1970 to 2014.

    The mortality data came from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, which tracks cause-specific mortality rates.

    After analyzing the data, the researchers found that colon and rectal cancer mortality rates among 20- to 54-year-olds declined overall from 1970 to 2004 but then increased by 1% annually from 2004 to 2014. In 2014, the total colorectal mortality rate in that age group was 4.3 people per 100,000.

    Additionally, "when we looked at the trend by race, the increase in death rates is confined to whites, and in blacks, we see a slight decline over the entire 45-year study period in death rates," Siegel said.

    "That's very surprising, because whites and blacks have similar patterns in the major risk factors for colorectal cancer, like obesity," she said. "A lot of people want to look to the natural culprit, obesity, but that probably isn't what's completely driving this increase in colorectal cancer."

    It turns out that what's driving the increase in both colorectal cancer incidence and death rates remains a mystery, Siegel said.

    "It's important to mention that still the risk for colorectal cancer is low in people under 55. We don't want to be alarmists. The risk is low," Siegel said.

    "In whites, the increase over the past decade was a 14% increase in the rate. So it's not enormous, but it's concerning, because the trend has changed direction," she said. "It was declining, and now it's increasing."

    Some key factors that can impact mortality rates include the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis, treatments received by patients and the molecular subtype of the cancer, said Dr. Nancy You, a colorectal cancer surgeon and associate professor of surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

    Still, while such large population-level studies are excellent for showing large-scale trends, they often don't allow for deciphering the causes for those trends, said You, who was not involved in the new study.

    For instance, the data analysis in the study didn't reveal the proportion of advanced versus early-stage colorectal cancers over time or whether the proportion of patients who received stage-specific treatments changed over time, You said.

    "The study also did not compare the cancer-specific mortality rates of young versus older adults with colorectal cancer in the same time," You said.

    "Finally, young age-of-onset rectal cancer appears to differ from young age-of-onset colon cancer, because the rise in incidence rates of rectal cancer is much more dramatic," she said. "The mortality rate difference based on colon versus rectum would also be interesting for a future analysis."

    You added that, between 2004 and 2014, there were many advances in surgical and chemotherapy treatments for colorectal cancer.

    "So the findings reported here raise the concern that 'why are such treatment advances failing to deliver their promise of improving survival among young adults?' " she said.

    All in all, the study "tells us that we need to get messages out for people when they turn 50, they need to call and schedule their colorectal cancer screening, because increasing death rates for people who should be screened is very concerning," said Siegel, the study's lead author.

    The Affordable Care Act required coverage of colorectal cancer screening tests, but patients still should check with their health insurance providers to determine coverage for colorectal cancer screening, which can range in cost.

    Screenings can be performed using a fecal blood test, a stool DNA test, a sigmoidoscopy, a virtual colonoscopy or the standard colonoscopy, according to the National Cancer Institute, which also notes that other tests to screen for colorectal cancer are not generally recommended.

    Jim Risk, a 51-year-old patient at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in the new study, agreed that the study's findings are a reminder for more adults to get screened and to pay attention to potential colorectal cancer symptoms, which include diarrhea, blood in the stool, cramping or bloating.

    Risk was 40 when the Cleveland Clinic's Church diagnosed him with stage I rectal cancer.

    'Had I ignored it ... I probably wouldn't be alive today'

    About 10 years ago, Risk experienced rectal bleeding, and at first, he figured it was a result of a lingering hemorrhoid, he said.

    Yet after he casually mentioned the bleeding to his primary care physician in an annual physical exam, Risk's doctor recommended that he get a colonoscopy to make sure the bleeding was nothing more serious.

    So Risk visited the Cleveland Clinic's main campus, where "they pulled basically a golf-ball-sized polyp out of me," he said.

      Colon polyps are growths of tissue on the lining of the colon and rectum, and some polyps can become cancerous. Risk's polyp was tested for cancer, and a week later, Church called him with the test results.

      "He was sort of stumbling around with his words, and that's when I knew I had a problem," said Risk, who is now healthy after surgical treatment for the cancer.

      "I was unbelievably blessed. I caught it very early, and had I ignored it another year, I probably wouldn't be alive today," he said. "You have to be a good steward of your own body, and when you feel that there's something going on, you're probably better off getting it checked out as early as possible."

      Even in the new study, the researchers wrote that escalating mortality rates in young and middle-aged adults "highlight the need for earlier (colorectal cancer) detection" through age-appropriate screening and timely followups for symptoms.

      Risk said, "I think I've had 11 colonoscopies in my life, and the prep work is horrible, but just go in and just do it and get it over with."

      To reduce your risk of colon and rectal cancers, Siegel recommended maintaining a healthy body weight, staying physically active, avoiding drinking alcohol excessively and avoiding smoking.

      Meanwhile, regular screening tests may find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is likely to be more effective.

      Yet whether there should be changes in screening recommendations remains to be debated, Church said. Some colorectal cancer screening tests can come with risks or false positive results.

      For instance, the risk in colonoscopies includes a possible reaction to sedatives or anesthesia, bleeding, perforation of the colon, pain in the abdomen or even an extremely rare risk of fatal complications, according to the National Institutes of Health.

      "The big question that we're struggling with is, as a society of doctors, should we screen people earlier? Is it worth it? And part of the big issue is, we don't know why there is this increased incidence of colon cancer in young people," Church said.

      "We were taught in medical school that colon cancer is more common as you get older, and we didn't expect the rates going up," he said. "What we can do right now is pay attention to symptoms and pay attention to risk factors like family history, and by we, I mean largely primary health docs and patients."

      Probiotics: Healthy Gut and Healthy Body

      From Probiotics: Healthy Gut and Healthy Body

      How many of you know what probiotics are?

      I’m betting most of you do, am I right?

      How many of you think it’s for gut issues or to get/maintain a healthy gut?

      Again, most of you?

      What would you say if I said that there are now studies saying that these little guys help more than just your gut but rather also health factors in patients with autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis?

      There are increasingly more information suggesting that the status of our gut flora has overreaching impact on our overall health including health conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases.

      In a study of 60 patients with rheumatoid arthritis ranging in age from 25 to 70, patients were assigned to two groups, either receiving placebo or probiotic. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the 30 patients who received a daily capsule of probiotic received Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. The placebo capsule was filled with cellulose. Fasting blood samples were taken at the beginning before the study began and also again at the end. The duration of the study was 8 weeks.

      During that time, the probiotic therapy group showed at the end of the study that their overall parameters were improved compared to placebo. The treatment group had significant improvement in their inflammatory marker (hs-CRP level), homeostatic model assessment B-cell function, serum insulin levels, and Disease Activity Score in the rheumatoid arthritis patients. The total cholesterol and LDL also were showing borderline significant improvement in the treatment group.

      So, what can you take away from this study?

      First, the species they used were simple common species found in most probiotics and they are generally safe enough for most patients to take.

      Second, even if you don’t have “gut issues,” having healthy gut flora support may in fact help with parameters associated with inflammation, autoimmune disease status, sugar metabolism and lipid metabolism.

      Based on this knowledge, would I recommend probiotics for autoimmune disease patients?

      I would.

      Both because a lot of autoimmune disease patients have gut issues and also because even if they don’t, it seems to help their disease-associated issues anyways.

      The only caveat is that autoimmune disease patients can be complicated and immunocompromised. So, autoimmune disease patients should always check with their doctors before starting any supplements because of their disease and potential medication complexity.

      There are a lot of species of probiotic strains so how do you know which ones are safe to take?

      If you’re not sure if it’s safe for you, check with your doctor first. There’s an overriding rule that if you are immunocompromised, certain species are not ideal and can overgrow. Therefore, please check with your doctor first.

      If you are otherwise healthy and have no immunodeficiency issues, a healthy mix of probiotic strains, such as the ones chosen for this study, should be viable options for your healthy gut goals...as well as a great way to target your overall health.

      References:

      Zamani B, et al. Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. Sept 2016. 19 (9):869-879

      5 Poop Problems You Should Actually Discuss With a Doctor

      From 5 Poop Problems You Should Actually Discuss With a Doctor

      You probably don’t call up your doctor after every bout of constipation and diarrhea, but it’s understandable that you’d be concerned if you start experiencing poop problems on the regular.

      While changes in your bowel movements could simply be due to switching up your diet or catching an intestinal bug, they can also be a sign of a more serious condition that needs treatment. “Any change in bowel habits needs to be addressed with a doctor, especially those that occur without changes in diet or in connection with other issues,” Bruce Yacyshyn, M.D., a professor in the Division of Digestive Diseases at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells SELF.

      You’re probably not crazy about the idea of talking poop with your doctor, but—trust us—they've heard it all before. Here are a few things those doctors want to hear about (though this is by no means an exhaustive list):

      1. You have diarrhea with pain.

      Sure, diarrhea is never going to feel good, but if you consistently have it with stomach cramping and abdominal pain, it could be a sign of IBS-D, a form of irritable bowel syndrome that causes chronic or recurrent diarrhea. That pain is a big indicator that you might have IBS, Kyle Staller, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General, tells SELF. “People tend to throw around the term ‘IBS’ casually, but pain associated with a change in bowel movements is the criteria,” he says. Naturally, diarrhea happens sometimes, but Dr. Staller says symptoms of IBS-D typically crop up at least one day a week over a series of three months.

      Consistent pain with diarrhea can also be indicative of an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Crohn's disease affects the lining of the digestive tract while ulcerative colitis impacts the innermost lining of your colon and rectum, causing ulcers to form in your digestive tract. These inflammatory bowel diseases share many of the same symptoms, some of which may also overlap with IBS. So rather than attempt to self diagnose, make an appointment with your doctor when you're experiencing symptoms like recurring painful diarrhea.

      2. You have constipation with pain and bloating.

      Again, this could be a sign of IBD or a specific type of IBS characterized by constipation, called IBS-C. IBS-C can be triggered by several factors, including hormonal changes, certain foods, or stress, Rudolph Bedford, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF. But regular constipation and pain are the key components that should send you to a specialist.

      3. You’re alternating between painful constipation and diarrhea.

      Having IBS doesn't necessarily mean you'll have diarrhea or constipation—some people can alternatively experience both in a form of the condition known as IBS-M (the M stands for “mixed”). Like IBS-D and IBS-C, patients with IBS-M have pain when they experience diarrhea or constipation, Dr. Staller says. And it happens more than once or twice. “Typically it’s long-term,” says Dr. Bedford. “This has been going on for weeks, if not months.”

      4. There’s blood or mucus in your poop.

      Blood in your stool or rectal bleeding are typically indicative of ulcerative colitis, while mucus in the stool could be a sign of IBS. However, these could also be a sign of other bowel conditions, like Crohn's disease. While some people can experience mild cases of the ulcerative colitis, it can be debilitating or even lead to life-threatening complications, according to the Mayo Clinic. Regardless, noting blood in your stool is always something to bring up to your doctor. And keep in mind that blood in the stool can present as red or black, depending on where it's coming from.

      5. You've been getting a fever and cramping with diarrhea.

      A fever with diarrhea that happens over a short period of time can be the sign of a viral condition, like gastroenteritis. But if it’s happening regularly, it could be indicative of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can overlap with irritable bowel syndrome, Dr. Yacyshyn says. “But Crohn’s disease patients tend to have fevers, chills, [and] abdominal pain that’s more associated with meals,” he says. Other common signs of Crohn's disease include fatigue, blood in the stool, and reduced appetite or weight loss, though the symptoms of gut disease can vary widely from person to person.

      If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Some of these conditions can get worse with time, making it especially important that you act sooner rather than later. While you may feel weird talking poop with your doctor, it’s important to remember that you can’t get help until you actually speak up about your symptoms.

      10 easy ways to manage your IBS symptoms

      Have IBS? Here are some great tips for how to deal!
      — Dr. Dale

      From 10 easy ways to manage your IBS symptoms

      Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 10-15% of the worldwide population, but it's not the kind of topic many people feel comfortable talking about openly over lunch with a friend. It's not exactly glamorous.

      Symptoms of IBS - which can include bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea and constipation - can rear at any time. They're unpredictable, and they can make you feel rubbish. One person who knows this is blogger Scarlett Dixon, who runs the Scarlett London blog.

      She's been suffering from IBS since the age of 8 (although it then took until she was 14 to be officially diagnosed with it), and she's spoken openly about having the condition in various blog posts and vlogs.

      For Scarlett, she's endured embarrassment, depression and anxiety as a result of having IBS, so she's shared some easy ways to manage having IBS - both in a physical and mental capacity.

      1. Go running

      "This is the key that, in my eyes, unlocks the door to wellness. Going for a run when you've got stomach cramps is probably the last thing you want to do, but I promise it helps. Exercise is particularly good for those who experience constipation as a result of their IBS - it gets things moving! Remember: find a type of exercise that suits your lifestyle and make the time each day, or every other day to enjoy it."

      2. Stress less

      "IBS is an extremely stressful condition to live with, so it’s ironic that a condition which causes stress is often triggered by stress. Invest in a book or multiple books that tackle the topic of stress and teach you how to change your frame of mind when faced with stressful situations. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your stress levels are affecting your everyday life and subsequently worsening your IBS, talk to your GP to find a solution that works for you."

      3. Understand fibre intake

      "It’s no secret that fibre is a bowel’s best friend - for people who don't suffer from IBS, that is. But the value of fibre for IBS sufferers is dependent on your symptoms. For someone who's suffering from constipation, more fibre is better; but for those with the opposite problem, fibre in moderation is best. Read up on what foods are full of roughage by investing in a good fibre-focussed cook book."

      4. Forget about everyone else

      "Stop thinking about what other people are thinking. Easier said than done, I know, but the moment you realise that other people’s opinions don’t matter, you'll feel a weight lifted from your shoulders and will be able to get on with living. Remember: you will never see the stranger in the cubicle next to you again, so just let it out."

      5. Relax

      "Feeling tense and on edge can provoke constipation, which can then lead to bloating, (and with IBS, who knows what else). Make time in your day for a small relaxation session, even if it is just for half an hour. Download an album of chilled out songs you like, take up yoga, master the art of meditation, paint – basically just do anything that relaxes your mind, body and soul. And remember: breathe!"

      6. Talk about it

      "Often a way to relieve pent-up stress is to talk through your feelings with someone, but if you're keeping the condition a secret, this can be hard to do. So be honest about what you're experiencing. If you're too embarrassed talking about it in person, then try writing it down. Any way to get talking about it is a step in the right direction. It might feel embarrassing, but your friends will still be your friends - no matter what the state of your bowels."

      7. Keep a diary

      "This is especially important at the beginning of your IBS diagnosis. There will be many troublesome foods out there just waiting to give you a flare up, so buy yourself a pretty diary (any excuse to purchase stationary) and take note of the foods and drinks that make you want to scream. Likewise, take note of the ones that make your tummy smile. If you notice that dairy, wheat or lactose products triggers a flare up, go to your GP; you may have an allergy."

      8. Turn up the heat

      "Bloating can be one of the worst parts of IBS. When mine reaches its worst, I can bloat to the size of a basketball. When this happens, I find great comfort in applying some heat to the stomach by curling up with a hot water bottle. The heat soothes the discomfort and helps you feel a little more normal again."

      9. Drink tea

      "I love a cuppa, but for me, gone are the days of cup after cup of builder’s tea because the creaminess of the milk is a no-go for my stomach. If this is the case for you, then try sipping on peppermint, ginger fennel, or chamomile tea. These are much less harsh on the stomach. Ginger tea is especially great for easing stomach cramps and pains and encouraging bowel movements. And take small sips, not gulps."

      10. It’s okay to have a bad day

      "Of course, all of the above tips are perfect for relieving symptoms, but IBS is sometimes unpredictable and some days may be worse than others. So accept that sometimes you're quite frankly going to feel awful. It’s okay to have a bad day with IBS; spend one day at home binge watching your favourite Netflix show in bed, but then make plans for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better. Remember: Everyone has bad days."

      How to Stay Fit and Healthy on Vacation

      From How to Stay Fit and Healthy on Vacation

      It’s the summer, and your calendar is packed with everything but a consistent routine. It’s easy to fall out of healthy habits like eating right and finding time to work out, especially when you got plans to hang out poolside or at the beach. But it’s also easy to keep up those healthy habits without interrupting your fun.

      Amanda Kloots, celebrity trainer at Bandier's StudioB in New York City, knows all about that. If she's not training clients or group classes in the concrete jungle, she's on the move, heading down to the Bahamas' posh One&Only Ocean Club where she runs weekend workouts for the active guests. From simple but effective workouts to easy swaps at the (tiki) bar, Kloots gave Men's Health a few easy-to-follow tips for staying healthy and fit this summer, no matter where you end up.

      The only piece of equipment you'll need

      If there's one thing Kloots swears by, it's her jump rope. When she's in New York City, she's teaching her jump rope, cross-training class, The Rope. When she's traveling, it's the first thing she packs in her suitcase. "Jump ropes are so light and easy to pack," she told Men's Health. "Jumping rope burns more calories than swimming or running. You can do it anywhere—a patio, by the pool, in your hotel room— and can get a good workout in as little as 10 minutes. It doesn't sound like much, but 10 minutes of jumping rope without a break is a long time," she said. But if you find yourself with anything more than 10 minutes, she recommends intervals. (We've got the perfect one— this intense jump-rope workout will leave your legs burning.) 

      Besides being light and compact and capable of giving you a killer cardio workout, jump ropes are affordable. "You can find a jump rope for anywhere from six to thirty dollars. You don't have to spend a lot," she said. "The most important thing is to find a jump rope that fits you right." The easiest way to get a jump rope that fits right? Buy an adjustable jump rope. Here's one on Amazon for under $10.

      Turn a beach walk into a sweat mesh

      Got a beach day planned? You've got a built-in workout, right there. "The sand is such a hard workout," Kloots said, "Just walking on the sand, depending how soft it is, can be challenging." Her advice for building in a mini-workout at the beach is simple, but will leave you with a guaranteed sweat. Best part, if you get too hot, you can just hop into the ocean to cool down.

      Try out sprint intervals on the beach, adding in some exercises along the way. "I like to use hotels or houses along the beach as markers. It adds variety," she said. Kloots recommends a jog, sprint, walk break, repeating as many times as you can and adding in planks and mountain climbers during the breaks. Try repeating it five times down the beach and five times back, using palm trees, hotels or umbrellas as markers. You'll be ready for a siesta by the time you get back.

      (Make the beach your gym with this ultimate beach workout.)

      Make simple switches at the bar

      Let's face it— the call of alcohol while on vacation is virtually impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, some of the most popular beach cocktails also pack some hefty caloric punches. But with a few simple switches, you can have your booze and drink it, too.

      "Clear alcohol is always a good way to go. You want to avoid sugary drinks. Clear alcohol is always a good way to go," Kloots said. She recommends a vodka and soda or tequila and soda if you're hanging out in the sun. You'll still get that buzzed feeling without the literally hundreds of calories hiding in that strawberry daiquiri. "Another is straight tequila with lime over ice. So good." (Here's how you should be drinking tequila.)

      Watch the snacks

      Bar snacks are usually anything but health foods— but you can usually always find something a little healthier than chicken wings. "Hummus with vegetables are always a great choice, same with guacamole," Kloots said, "You should avoid the fried stuff. But if hummus or guacamole only come with chips, grab a couple friends and share it." (Here are more easy food swaps that will help you lose weight.)

      Try a fitness vacation

      Kloots is taking on a new adventure this summer— vacations with health and fitness built in. She's leading the charge of Summer Friday Wellness Weekends, a fitness-oriented weekend escape from the summer city life. The luxury weekends—held at the One&Only in the Bahamas and Mexico—include daily workouts led by Kloots, spa treatments, paddle boarding, drinks and food. Looking for a quick escape with the health and luxury already built in? Here it is.

      Fat Freezing Helps Doctors Enhance Physiques, and Their Revenue

      Great read if you’re considering CoolSculpting!
      — Dr. Dale

      From Fat Freezing Helps Doctors Enhance Physiques, and Their Revenue

      FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Fat freezing, a treatment that can eliminate people’s fat cells, is becoming a hot new revenue opportunity for doctors’ offices and spas looking to capitalize on Americans’ willingness to open their wallets for a trimmer physique.

      Dermatology clinics and medical spas are increasingly offering a procedure called CoolSculpting to shrink love handles, flabby tummies and jiggly arms. Doctors’ offices are eager to offer the treatment because it represents a way to meet the fast-growing demand for fat-reduction services that don’t require surgery. It is also, they say, a way to get new types of customers in the door, including men.

      Revive Medical Spa, the cosmetic arm of a dermatology practice in Fayetteville, Ark., began offering CoolSculpting almost two years ago, after its owner, Dr. Lance Henry, decided it would meet his patients’ demand for nonsurgical fat reduction.

      Revive began with one CoolSculpting machine and added a second so clients could have two target areas treated at once. Anne Scott, Revive’s spa director, said it stays busy with fat-freezing clients. “CoolSculpting has allowed our business to grow both in reaching new clients and in revenue,” she said, although she would not give specifics.

      Suzanne Kilmer, founder of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of Northern California, which participated in early testing of the treatment, said her center has four CoolSculpting machines and does 300 to 400 treatments a month. “The four machines go all the time,” said Dr. Kilmer, who is on the advisory board of Zeltiq Aesthetics, the company that developed the treatment. (Zeltiq was acquired in April for $2.4 billion by the pharmaceutical behemoth Allergan.)

      CoolSculpting, promoted heavily on television, uses a technique known as cryolipolysis — fat freezing, or “controlled cooling” — to eliminate fat cells without the risk and time out of work required by surgery. During the treatment, clients recline while a clinician affixes a plastic suction cup — sort of like an upholstery attachment to a vacuum cleaner — to the targeted area. The cup — its size and shape vary, depending on the part of the body being treated — is attached by a hose to a machine that hums as it sucks the tissue into the cup and cools it.

      Treatment lasts 35 minutes to an hour, depending on the targeted area. The effects are seen over a period of weeks after treatment, as the body eliminates the dead fat cells. It can take two to four months to see full results.

      CoolSculpting was initially cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010, based on a 2007 study that found “clinically meaningful” changes in 60 patients after treatment for the reduction of love handles. Six months after treatment, ultrasound measurements found an average 19 percent reduction of the targeted fat layer. Zeltiq said in regulatory filings it has improved its systems since then.

      The procedure is not covered by insurance, and costs an average of $625 per treatment, according to Zeltiq. A course of procedures, typically treating different areas of the body, can run $2,000 to $4,000. An investor presentation in January estimated that a practice averaging two patients a week, with four treatments each, could expect “gross profit” of $200,000 a year.

      Anne Scott, Revive’s spa director, said it stays busy with fat-freezing clients. “CoolSculpting has allowed our business to grow both in reaching new clients and in revenue,” she said, although she would not give specifics.

      Zeltiq sells its machines and a set of attachments for about $150,000. Zeltiq says it performed nearly 4 million treatment cycles on about one million patients as of the end of last year, and had more than 5,600 machines installed worldwide.

      The procedure is marketed to doctors and spas as a “gateway” treatment that can help grow a clientele of people who might otherwise not get cosmetic treatments. The idea is that when people arrive to get their fat iced, they can also hear about Botox (another Allergan product) and other aesthetic options.

      CoolSculpting isn’t alone in marketing noninvasive fat reduction machines to doctors, and some practices offer multiple products to clients. Other options include radio-frequency and laser-based treatments. Fat freezing, however, is the market leader, according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, which found CoolSculpting made up almost half of all body-sculpting treatments in 2016.

      On a recent weekday morning, Ms. Scott, Revive’s spa director, showed a visitor the room where CoolSculpting clients pose for “before” and “after” photographs. Calming music played in the halls, as clients arrived for massages and other treatments.

      Clients often read, work or even nap during a treatment, Ms. Scott said. Once the treatment is started, the doctors or clinicians administering it don’t have to remain in the room, freeing them to tend to other clients — another way to enhance revenue.

      Patients like Krystal Willhite, 40, of Stillwater, Okla., say they are pleased with the treatment. At 5 feet 9 inches and 135 pounds, she said, she isn’t concerned about her weight. “I’m already pretty skinny,” Ms. Willhite, the general manager of a car dealership, said in a telephone interview. But she felt self-conscious about a double chin. She considered a treatment that involved injections, but opted for CoolSculpting instead, and visited Revive a year ago for her first treatment. “There’s no pain to it,” she said. Her chin was red afterward, she said, but she was able to return to work.

      She said she noticed a slight difference a few weeks after her first treatment, but saw a bigger change after a second treatment. “It’s gone,” she said of her double chin. She said the results justified the cost of about $1,300.

      Others say there can be some discomfort. Steve Kizzar, 49, who said he keeps in shape and teaches fitness classes, said that after his first treatments at Revive, on his abdomen and flanks, he found it difficult to button his pants for a week or so because of swelling. And his skin had some numbness and tingling, which subsided over a couple of weeks. During a subsequent treatment, he said, he felt the suction cup didn’t attach properly, so he had the procedure repeated at no charge.

      “It’s not immediate,” Mr. Kizzar said. “It’s kind of a slow process.”

      Still, Mr. Kizzar said he is satisfied with the end result. “I think it made a lot of difference,” he said.

      W. Grant Stevens, a clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of Southern California’s medical school and an early tester of fat freezing, said he maintains more than two dozen machines at his network of clinics near Los Angeles. The procedure may be especially appealing to men, he said, as a discreet nonsurgical treatment.

      Beyond The Nasty Needle: Trying To Make Vaccines More Comfy And Convenient

      Microneedles and jet injectors... Alternatives to the common shot seem promising!
      — Dr. Dale

      From Beyond The Nasty Needle: Trying To Make Vaccines More Comfy And Convenient

      News this summer of a flu vaccine patch sparked a lot of chatter. Could getting vaccinated be as easy as putting on a bandage? Could there be fewer, or at least smaller, needles in our future?

      Some companies and academic labs are working to make those things happen.

      They're refining technologies that involve tiny needles, less than a millimeter long, and needle-free injectors that can send a dose of vaccine through your skin in a fraction of a second.

      Some of these technologies are already available on the market, while others are still being tested.

      One hundred very tiny needles

      A flu vaccine patch is not yet available to the public. But one version developed by Georgia Tech's Laboratory for Drug Delivery showed promising results in its first human clinical trial, according to a study published in The Lancet in June.

      The patch, about the size of a small square bandage, has tiny, dissolvable needles filled with a dose of flu vaccine. It's placed on the arm and activated through pressure. The microneedles dissolve into the skin, releasing the vaccine.

      In the study, 100 participants received either the flu vaccine patch, a standard flu shot or a placebo via a patch.

      Six months later, no one involved in the study had gotten the flu. People in the microneedle patch groups reported some redness, itching and tenderness but no serious side effects.

      People who received the flu patch had comparable immune responses to people who had gotten the flu shot.

      About 70 percent of the patients in the study preferred the patch to the regular shot, says Yasmine Gomaa, the lab's associate director.

      Now, Gomaa's lab is looking beyond the flu vaccine. She says the microneedle patch could be particularly helpful in developing countries because it uses a form of vaccines that doesn't need to be kept as cold as regular vaccines. It can be stored at temperatures as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit for up to a year, she says.

      The microneedles attached to this patch dissolve after being pressed into skin, releasing a dose of vaccine. Each microneedle is less than a millimeter in length.

      And the patch can be administered by people who aren't trained health professionals. A number of the people in the flu patch study applied it to themselves.

      In 2015, Georgia Tech and the pharmaceutical company Micron Biomedical won $2.5 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a patch for polio immunization.

      Gomaa's hope is that vaccine patches will cost less than vaccinations do now.

      A 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the use of vaccine patches could save on cooling costs and could cut down on waste. Its analysis concluded that a dose of measles vaccine with the patch would cost just under $1, while a typical shot would cost $1.65. But that didn't take into account the costs of getting the patch to market.

      The potential cost savings wouldn't happen until the patches were in "routine use," the CDC noted.

      A twist on Star Trek technology

      Others in the vaccine-delivery business are taking a different approach, using a new twist on a needle-free device called a jet injector that has been around for more than half a century.

      Star Trek featured such a device, calling it a "hypospray."

      Portal Instruments, a company that is developing jet injectors, uses technology based on work done by Ian Hunter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      "Initially, we worked on microneedles," says the company's CEO Patrick Anquetil. "And then Ian realized that why don't we just remove the needle altogether? And that's how this project came to be."

      Needle-free jet injectors were actually used in the 1960s in mass smallpox vaccination campaigns. As described by the CDC, these devices use a high-pressure, narrow stream of fluid to penetrate the skin. The diameter of the stream is comparable to a mosquito bite.

      The devices were used to quickly vaccinate large numbers of people, including members of the armed forces.

      Anquetil notes that the older devices sometimes made patients feel as if they had been punched.

      "To create the jet, you have to instantaneously create 100 times more pressure than you've got in the tire of a car," he says. "Patients actually hated them because they were more painful than a needle and syringe."

      Others echo that sentiment.

      "My 85-year-old neighbor still remembers how painful it was," says Ron Lowy, CEO of PharmaJet, a company that makes an FDA-approved jet injector that administers a flu vaccine.

      The older devices had another problem. They used the same nozzle for multiple injections, leading to concerns about the transmission of bloodborne pathogens between patients.

      Needle-free jet injectors push a narrow stream of liquid into the skin.

      Today's devices have made a lot of progress, Lowy says. Now, the syringe is changed for each patient and the injections are gentler.

      "It feels like somebody snapped me with a rubber band," he says, adding that the injection happens too fast for some patients to register any sensation at all. It lasts about one-tenth of a second.

      He says hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have already received the flu vaccine via one of PharmaJet's injectors.

      "If you have your choice, you want to get poked with a needle or you want to try this? Most of the people say, 'Yeah, I'll try that,' " he says.

      Cost remains an issue for some jet injectors. Portal is aiming to get its cost down to $3 or $4 per injection.

      "In vaccines, what's really hard is that there's a very, very high volume, and you're competing with a needle and syringe, which is tremendously low cost," Anquetil says.

      PharmaJet says the ability to give precise doses helps to save money. The company says its flu vaccine "starter kit," which can vaccinate 500 people, costs $900.

      Nasal spray hits a roadblock

      FluMist, an FDA-approved flu vaccine delivered through a nasal spray, was widely used in the U.S. and, at one point, was even the preferred method of vaccination for children.

      Then last year, in a sharp turnaround, the CDC recommended that it not be used during the 2016-17 flu season after a study found it had not been very effective in the previous year, particularly among kids.

      The vaccine's effectiveness was just 3 percent, so low that "no protective benefit could be measured" for children ages 2 to 17, the CDC said in a statement.

      In contrast, the effectiveness of the flu shot was about 63 percent for kids in that age group.

      AstraZeneca, the parent company behind FluMist, says the CDC's data contradicts data from several other studies, which show the vaccine was about 48 percent effective during the same flu season. And the same vaccine continues to be recommended and used in European Union markets, AstraZeneca says.

      In the U.S., the CDC continues to recommend against the nasal spray vaccine for the upcoming flu season. AstraZeneca hopes to reverse that decision before flu season begins.

      "We continue to pursue a broad-based investigation to identify potential causes of lower effectiveness" in recent years, the company said in a statement, adding that one of the four flu virus strains it used in the vaccine during the past two flu seasons may have been the problem.

      The company has chosen a new strain of live virus that is similar to other strains that have proven effective in studies and clinical trials.

       

      Obesity in Teen Years Tied to Colon Cancer Risk in Adulthood

      Maintain healthy eating and exercising habits to decrease the risk of colon cancer. Questions? Book an appointment today.
      — Dr. Dale

      From Obesity in Teen Years Tied to Colon Cancer Risk in Adulthood

      MONDAY, July 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity even in adolescence may raise the odds for colon cancer in adulthood, a large new study finds.

      Overweight and obese teens in Israel had about a 53 percent higher risk for colon cancer as adults, researchers found.

      And for rectal cancer, obesity -- but not overweight --was tied to more than double the risk for girls, and 71 percent higher odds for boys, compared to normal-weight teens.

      "This study is additional evidence that risk factors for colon cancer operate through the life course," said Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

      The findings "highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight even in childhood," added Chan, who wasn't involved in the study.

      According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in U.S. men and women, excluding skin cancer.

      About 95,500 new cases of colon cancer, and nearly 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, the society says.

      With so many young Americans overweight or obese, concerns have been growing about the effect of excess weight on chronic disease, including cancer, later in life.

      "When you are young, obesity is a disease that puts you at risk for many medical problems," said Dr. David Bernstein, chief of hepatology at Northwell Health's Center for Liver Diseases in Manhasset, N.Y.

      "We know about diabetes, we know about arthritis, and now we know about colon cancer," said Bernstein, who had no role in the research.

      "There is a well-documented link between obesity and colon cancer in adults," said Bernstein. "It makes sense that if you are obese when you are young, then you are going to have more problems when you are older."

      Bernstein said it takes years to develop cancers, so it's not surprising that the effects of obesity in adolescents are seen in adulthood.

      The new study was led by Dr. Zohar Levi, of Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel. Levi's team collected data on nearly 1.1 million Israeli men and more than 707,000 Israeli women. They had weight assessments at ages 16 to 19 between 1967 and 2002. Follow-up continued until 2012.

      The final sample included almost 1.8 million participants, according to the study. The results were published online July 24 in the journal Cancer.

      Over an average follow-up of 23 years, nearly 3,000 participants developed colon cancer, the researchers found.

      Among men, about 1,400 had colon cancer, and nearly 600 had cancer of the rectum. Among women, more than 760 had colon cancer, and more than 220 had rectal cancer.

      "This is a huge cohort with a minimum follow-up of 10 years, and all individuals had measured BMI [body mass index], not just reported or recalled," Levi said in a journal news release.

      One limitation of the study is that participants were only an average age of 49 when their cancer was diagnosed, well before most colon cancer develops, the researchers said.

      Also, while the study found a link between teenage obesity and adult colon cancer, it doesn't show a direct causal relationship.

      In addition, the researchers had no data on diet, physical activity and smoking, which might have affected risk estimates. Nor did they have family medical histories, which might have shown a predisposition to colon cancer.

      Bernstein said it hasn't been shown scientifically that losing weight can help reduce the risk. Still, "one should treat obesity," he said. "If obesity is a risk, then the only way to modify that risk is to lose weight. I don't know if it will help; it certainly can't hurt."