If last week’s article didn’t get you moving, then maybe this one will –
Physical inactivity found to raise the risk of dementia
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES
A five year Canadian study of over 1600 people age 65 and older found that a sedentary lifestyle raised the risk of dementia in people who did not have the genetic mutation associated with dementia to the level of risk of people who had the mutation. The results were recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

For a summary of the article: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163264.html

For the journal article abstract: http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad160424?resultNumber=0&totalResults=1&&q=heisz&resultsPageSize=10&rows=10

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The take away from this article is that a sedentary lifestyle negates the benefit of not having a genetic risk for dementia. And, according to the study authors, since most people don’t have a genetic risk, physical activity may be a good way to prevent dementia from developing.

Although the study did not attempt to explain why or how physical activity might decrease the risk of dementia, the National Institutes of Aging offers this explanation:

        In animal studies, exercise increased the number of small             blood vessels in the brain which in turn increased the                     amount of blood supplied to the brain. Exercise also                
        increased the number of connections between nerve cells             and increased the amount of a chemical needed for nerves to         grow in the area of the brain important for memory.

        Research on people shows that exercise can stimulate the             brain to maintain old nerve network connections and make         new ones that are needed for healthy thinking.

Unfortunately, there is nothing presently known that can prevent dementia. However, there are some things we can all do to lessen the risk of it developing, including being more physically active as the above study points out.  So, aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week or 30 minutes 5 days a week.  Brisk walking is a great way to get moving.

Other suggestions from the National Institute on Aging include:

1.    Moving more      
          Take an exercise class or do exercises at home
           Go dancing
           Do yard work or garden
           Play with your grandchildren
           Walk your dog

2. Controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type
     II  diabetes.

            These are all known to increase the risk of dementia and
             all are controllable.

3.   Eating a healthy diet
        Limit the amount of sugar, sodium and saturated fat in your         diet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,        
        beans, seeds, nuts, fish and poultry rather than red meat.        
        (See choosemyplate.gov)

4. Being socially active
       Play cards or other games with friends
       Join a senior center
       Go to the theater, a movie or sporting event
       Travel with a group
       Visit friends and family
       Try different restaurants
        Join or start a hobby group – knitting, hiking, painting

5. Keeping intellectually stimulated
        Listen to the radio
        Reading newspapers
        Playing puzzle games
        Form or join a book club
        Learn something new
        Take a cooking, art, or computer class
         Learn a new language or how to play a new instrument
        Try yoga, tai chi, or another new physical activity

6. Becoming more active in your community ·        
        Serve meals at a soup kitchen
        Organize clothing donations for a homeless shelter.
         Help an organization send care packages to soldiers
         stationed overseas ·        
        Care for dogs and cats at an animal shelter
         Volunteer to run errands for people with disabilities
         Join a committee or volunteer for an activity at your place of
        Volunteer at a school, library, or hospital
         Help with gardening at a community garden or park
         Organize a park clean-up through your local recreation
          center or community association
         Sing in a community choral group, or play in a local band or
          Take part in a local theater troupe
          Get a part-time job

For more information:

National Institute on Aging – Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Association

NHS – Can dementia be prevented


Sitting too much makes your cells older than you are. 
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology  found that the body cells of sedentary women, those who weren’t physically active and sat more than 10 hours a day, were biologically eight years older than the women’s chronological age. But, the negative effect of sitting was not found in women who got at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if they sat as much.

A summary of this article is at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163112.html

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Get up and move - that’s the message from this latest research showing the negative biological effects of our sedentary lifestyles. But, being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or running a marathon. It means moving more, sitting less.

Regardless of our age, there are things we can do to put more physical activity in our daily routines.  The National Institutes of Health offers the following tips:

Around the House.
    • Stand up from a chair and sit down again without using your hands.
    • Rise up and down on your toes while standing and holding onto a stable chair or countertop.
    • Stretch and move around during commercial breaks when watching TV.
    • Walk around the house when you talk on the phone.
Around Town.
    • Join a local walking group. Always walk in safe places such as the mall, museum, or a community center.
While Running Errands.
    • If it is safe, park the car farther away from stores or restaurants.
    • If you take the bus or train – and the area is safe – get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.

                      Take care of a garden or wash your car.

                       Enjoy a brisk walk with friends or family around the
                        block, in a park, museum, or zoo.

Other suggestions:

If possible, spread errands throughout the week to increase the opportunities for activity, like walking from the car to a store, the library or the bank.

Don’t use the drive-in at the bank or pharmacy. Park the car and walk inside.

While food shopping, purposely walk up and down all of the aisles. Doing this in a moderate sized food store is about a mile of walking!

Bring your mail to the post office rather than leaving it in your mailbox for the delivery person.

If you have more than one bathroom in your home, use the one that is farthest from where you are.

If you have steps in your house, go up and down an extra time or two. This is one time when forgetting something downstairs is a good thing!

If you can incorporate both physical activity (anything that gets your body moving) and exercise (activities that are structured and repetitive like weight training, tai chi, spin or aerobics class, swimming) into your daily routine, that’s even better!

For more information:

National Institute on Aging
            Benefits of exercise

National Health Service (UK)
            Importance of exercise

USDHHS - Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
How to get older adults more physically active? Remove barriers


Planning to go scuba diving this summer?
See your dentist – NOW!

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A study published recently in the British Dental Journal  found that of the 100 recreational divers surveyed, 41% had dental symptoms during dives and of these, 42% had barodontalgia. This intensely painful squeezing sensation in the center of a tooth is caused by the expansion of air trapped in the tooth during ascent.

Article summary: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163072.html

Article Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27811894

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Whether you are a certified diver, planning to become one or know someone who is, paying attending to dental health before the diving season begins is paramount to preventing  “Diver’s Mouth Syndrome” – a group of symptoms that include jaw joint pain, gum problems or squeezing tooth pain. Diver’s Mouth Syndrome highlights the close relationship between diving and the mouth and teeth, so says Dr. Eric Curtis, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.

For starters, Dr. Curtis reminds us that the scuba regulator mouthpiece is an essential piece of equipment that is one size fits all, but it fits no one. And because it’s held in place by biting down on it with the teeth in the front of the mouth, it puts stress on the jaw joint and leads to inflammation. Add to this the stress from luging the regulator through the water by the teeth and the conditions are perfect for TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome  — which includes headache, face or jaw pain, trouble chewing and ringing in the ears.

To decrease chances or prevent jaw, gum or tooth problems:

  • If you dive frequently or are planning too, get a custom mouthpiece. If you already have a mouthpiece, try to adjust it for a better fit. If nothing works and you have symptoms of TMJ after a dive – moist heat and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for example, ibuprofen or naproxen.

  •  If you are a new diver or are renting equipment for the day, try different mouth pieces for fit.

  •  Practice holding the regulator in the mouth while biting down with the least amount of pressure possible.

  •  Minimize chances of “tooth squeeze” by having any cavities, cracks, crevices, holes or defective edges of crowns, addressed before hand. These problems can allow air to get trapped which expands during ascent and causes intense squeezing pain, bleeding, or a broken tooth.

For more information:

Different types of scuba regular mouthpieces:


Diving dentistry : A review of the dental implications of scuba diving. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1834-7819.2011.01340.x/pdf

Dive training tips: The diver’s mouth

TMJ Disorders and Diving

Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ears!
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head  and Neck Surgery published its newly revised  practice guidelines for cerumen impaction (earwax blockage) in the January issue of its journal Otolaryngology– Head and Neck Surgery.  Among the many recommendations is patient education on proper ear hygiene.

The guidelines are at:

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Ear wax, technically cerumen, is a very useful substance that our ears make.  It protects, cleans and lubricates the canal.  It’s removed by a self-cleaning mechanism that moves it out with the aid of our jaw action.   Although we normally don’t have to help this process along, many (I dare say probably most) of us think our ears do need help getting the wax out. So, we use cotton swabs, car keys, paper clips, hair pins, pens, and anything else we can stick into our ears, to try to clean the wax out. This is a problem because we run the risk of tearing the skin in the ear canal ( which can lead top infection), puncturing the ear drum, and dislocating the little hearing bones deep in our ears all of which can damage our ears or cause hearing loss.

Proper ear hygiene from the revised Guidelines include:

1.       Leaving ear wax alone if it’s not causing symptoms or blocking the ear canal.

2.       Seeking medical attention if you have symptoms of hearing loss, ear fullness,
           or ear pain if you are not certain they are from cerumen.

3.      Asking your health care provider about ways to treat your wax buildup at
         home, if you have a history of wax buildup.

4.      Seeking medical attention of you have ear pain, drainage or bleeding.

       Things to avoid:

1.       Putting anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.

2.       Over-cleaning your ears. Excessive cleaning may irritate the ear canal, cause
           infection, and may even increase the chances of wax blockage.

3.      Using ear candles. There is no evidence that they remove impacted cerumen,
          and candling can cause serious damage to the ear canal and drum.

4.    Ignoring symptoms if home remedies are unsuccessful. Seek medical attention if
        attempts at home have not resolved the problem.

5.    Irrigating or try cerumen-removing/softening drops if you’ve had previous ear
       surgery or a perforated eardrum unless specifically cleared to do so by your
       ear, nose, and throat surgeon.

6.    Forgetting to clean your hearing aids as the manufacturer and your hearing
        health care provider recommend.

For general ear care, the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head   and Neck Surgery recommends:

  • using a wash cloth to clean the external ear.

Once in a while, despite our best efforts, our self-cleaning feature does fail and wax does builds up, causing a blockage in the ear canal. This is one of the most common ear related problems for which people see a medical professional.

Symptoms of ear wax build up include:

·         Decreased hearing
·         Itching in the ear
·         Feeling of fullness in the ear
·         Tinnitus (ringing)
·         Distortion/changes to hearing aid function

If you have any of these symptoms, see an otolaryngologist (ears, nose and throat specialist). Do not attempt to remove the wax from your ears by yourself.

For more information:

Cleveland Clinic

Cerumen Impaction

Ear Care tips

Mayo Clinic
Ear Wax Blockage


Melanoma skin cancer is on the rise: We need to protect ourselves - even in winter.
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A report published in JAMA Dermatology shows that the rates of melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, is on the rise despite the 2014 Surgeon General’s call for prevention.

According to the report, one out of every 58 of us during our lifetime will be diagnosed with melanoma in situ (an early stage before it spreads) up from 1 in 78 in 2009, and one out of every 54 of us will be diagnosed with it after it begins to spreads (invasive ) up from 1 in 58 in 2009. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with either invasive melanoma or in situ melanoma is estimated to be 1 in 28. Deaths from melanoma have also risen about 1.5% since 2009.

For a summary of this report see: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_162673.html

For the complete report see: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/2593033

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Yes, it’s January, and even though it’s not beach weather, we still need to protect ourselves from skin cancer, especially melanoma.

Of all the cancers, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Over 5 million people are diagnosed with one or more of three types, squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma, each year. Combined, these three skin cancers cause about 13,600 deaths a year out of the millions of people diagnosed. But of these, more than 10,000 deaths are from melanoma even though it accounts for less than 1% of all skin cancers.

Melanoma develops in the melanocytes, the cells in our skin that produce melanin, the stuff that gives our its color.
Basal cell cancer develops in the cells in the bottom layer of the skin, squamous cell cancer forms in the upper or outer layers of the skin.

Basal and squamous cell cancers rarely metastasize or spread to other parts of the body. Rather, they stay in one spot and get bigger. Melanoma, on the other hand, spreads quickly to other parts of the body, which is why finding it early is so important.

Given that skin cancer is related to ultraviolet radiation (UV), the key to prevention is avoiding tanning beds and minimizing sun exposure. While we’re all aware of the need for sun protection in the summer, we need it in winter, too.

Winter sports put us in higher altitudes which increases the levels of UV we’re exposed to from the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, for every 1000 feet above sea level, our UV exposure increases 4 to 5 percent. At an altitude of about 9, 500 feet, UV radiation can be 35 to 45 percent more intense than at sea level. To put this in perspective, Denver is 5160 feet above sea level, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is 9300, Mt Everest is 29,000 feet above sea level. The highest point in New Jersey, High Point, is 1800 feet above sea level.

In addition, there is the issue of snow. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, which means the same rays hit us twice, increasing our UV exposure and risk of skin damage.

Besides sun exposure, other risk factors for melanoma include:

Family history
Age (usually occurs in older people)
Having numerous moles – more than 50.
Tendency toward sunburns
Difficulty tanning
Naturally light hair (blonde or red)
Light eyes (blue or green)
History of sunburns (UV exposure is cumulative, so our lifetime exposure adds up)
Weak immune system (from organ transplant, medical treatments or disease such as HIV/AIDS)

To reduce your UV radiation exposure when outdoors during the winter months:

Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30

o   Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before engaging in outdoor activities (skiing, snow boarding, etc.)

o   Remember that about 80% of UV rays penetrate clouds, so sunscreen protection is needed even on cloudy days.

o   Apply enough sunscreen – about a teaspoon to your face, making sure to apply it to your ears, under your chin, neck, around your eyes.

o   Apply SPF 15 or higher lip balm and bring it with you.

o   Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours as wind, snow and sweat wear it away, just as water does in the summer.

Cover up as much skin as possible

o   Wear a hat. It will protect your scalp and keep you warm.

o   Wear a ski mask to cover as much facial skin as possible

o   Wear wrap around sunglasses with a UV rating of 99% to protect your eyes, eyelids and the skin around your eyes.

  Be mindful of the time

o   If possible, avoid being outdoors between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

o    Take periodic activity breaks to go indoors. Reapply sunscreen at this time. (Skin Cancer Foundation, 2010)

Even when we do everything we can to reduce the chances of melanoma, there is no guarantee that it won’t develop. A mole that meets any of the following ABCDE characteristics needs to be evaluated by a health care provider, preferably a dermatologist, ASAP!

  • Asymmetry: Both halves of the mole don’t look the same.
  • Border: The edges are jagged, irregular, not smooth, or       blurry.
  • Color: The color is not the same throughout. It may have shades of brown or black, or pink, red, white, or blue patches.
  • Diameter: The mole is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser, although sometime melanomas are smaller than this.
  • Evolving: The mole is in the process of changing size, shape, or color.(American Cancer Society, 2016)
Other things to check your moles for are:

- Changes in the surface of a mole - Itchiness, scaling, bleeding, 
   oozing, or a lump
-  Pain or tenderness.
-  Redness or swelling near the mole.
-  Pigment/coloration near the mole, but not attached to it.

Keep in mind that while most skin cancers occur in areas exposed to the sun, sometimes they develop in areas that are rarely in the sun, like the soles of the feet, palms of the hands or under the nail bed.

For more information:

American Cancer Society

Melanoma Skin Cancer

2016 Cancer Facts and Figures- http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf

Basal and squamous cell cancer

Skin Cancer Picture Gallery

National Cancer Institute
Tool to recognize ABCDE https://analysistools.nci.nih.gov/nevustool/