Feeling the heat?
In “Body Heat,” the steamy 1981 movie starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, an overheated murder plot proves, whether its love or greed that fuels the fire, it’s easy to get burned. A good lesson for dealing with this summer’s overheated conditions! If you love the beach and are greedy for outdoor adventures, you need to protect yourself from excess body heat.
Signs of distress: Heat exhaustion causes profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, lightheadedness and muscle cramps.
When it progresses to heat stroke, you often stop sweating and experience confusion and agitation, and can fall into a coma.
The three-step protection plan: Stay connected, stay hydrated and stay cool.
1. If you’re age 65 or older — or have friends and relatives who are — check in with each other to make sure there are no signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Also vulnerable to heat-related problems: infants and young children; people who are overweight or chronically ill; those taking medications for depression, insomnia or poor circulation; and anyone doing a lot of physical activity.
2. Stay well-hydrated by drinking water or electrolyte-infused water, without added sugar or stimulants. If you go outside, bring a water bottle to sip from as you sweat. If you feel you’re overheating or you stop sweating, call a friend and get into a cool place — even an air conditioned car can help.
3. Stay cool by using ice packs on your neck or wrist and drinking cool beverages. Lower indoor temperatures with shades on windows, fans and/or air conditioners.
Kid’s health news: weekly round-up
Almost half of all parents feel like they could use more help from family and friends, and 69 percent think it is harder to be a parent today than it was 20 years ago. Well, here’s some info we didn’t have 20 years ago (or last year) and some advice I hope will help you parent more effectively and happily.
1. It’s been 50 years since the Poisoning Prevention Packaging Act was passed, mandating that medicines and other hazardous household products be sold in child-resistant packaging. Since then, the number of kids dying from poisoning each year has dropped by 92 percent. So, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of more than 400,000 bottles of over-the-counter medicines because of problems with their child-resistant packaging, it was alarming. If you have any of these products in the house, transfer their contents into a labeled, child-proof container, pronto: Walgreens brand acetaminophen; Kroger brand arthritis pain acetaminophen; and Kroger brand aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
2. COVID-19 vaccines are now approved for children as young as 6 months old. The data show that vaccines prevent severe illness and death from the virus. Moderna has a two-dose regimen for kids 6 months to 5 years old; Pfizer’s is a three-shot regimen for kids 6 months to 4 years. Both are good choices.
3. University of Colorado researchers have found that giving your kids sweetened beverages can cause a heart-damaging rise in triglyceride levels from ages 10 to 16. Let kids stick with water, unsweetened fruit juice and milk.
Your foolish food choices may be caffeine’s fault
In a 1994 interview, David Letterman admitted that if it weren’t for the excessive amount of coffee he consumes, he’d have “no identifiable personality whatsoever.” Funny, but new research out of Europe shows he may be right. Turns out caffeine stimulates release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can cause increased impulsivity and lack of self-control.
Researchers set up a free coffee station at the entrance of a retail store and offered some incoming customers free decaf or water and others a free caffeinated brew. The result? Shoppers who drank the caffeinated coffee ended up spending about 50 percent more money and bought nearly 30 percent more items than shoppers who drank decaf or water. And when the researchers tested caffeine’s effect in a lab with online shopping, they found the same results: Caffeine drinkers bought self-indulgent items instead of practical ones.
Clearly, before you head to the grocery store, skip the caffeine, or you may end up with a shopping cart full of sweet treats instead of fresh produce. And I wonder: Is your morning cuppa Joe to blame for your order of syrupy pancakes?
Since we know coffee bestows health benefits (better heart health, increased longevity, reduced risk of dementia), I don’t want to discourage you from drinking it (paper-filtered and black). Instead, consciously redirect the impulsivity it can cause so you indulge in the good feelings that come from eating a plant-based diet that’s free of ultraprocessed food and the knowledge that you are doing what it takes to live younger longer.
Breakthrough in early and intermediate prostate cancer treatment
Robert De Niro, Warren Buffett and Ben Stiller had prostate cancer, detected at an early-enough stage to allow for recovery. Their treatments included surgery and radiation — which may sometimes cause undesirable side effects, including urinary and sexual problems. But these days for men with small tumors confined to the prostate there is a new form of treatment: high-intensity focused ultrasound that eliminates the need for radiation or surgery and reduces risks.
Results from a stage 2b clinical trial, published in Lancet Oncology, move the new HIFU-approach much closer to becoming a widespread treatment option. The MRI-guided focused ultrasound is a two-hour, outpatient procedure, with no incisions. An MRI takes an image of the patient’s prostate. Then focused ultrasound waves, guided by the MRI, are aimed at the tumor from different directions. They precisely intersect at the tumor, killing the cancer cells. Patients return to normal activities right away.
Catching prostate cancer early helps avoid complications. However, there’s some question about the value of a prostate-specific antigen test to screen for prostate cancer; the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises it only for men ages 55 to 69. But the American Society of Clinical Oncology says increased PSA screening can lower younger African Americans’ risk for advanced prostate cancer, and any man’s decision, based on understanding risks and benefits, should reflect personal preferences and values. In other words, get a PSA test if you want. To help you decide, you can use their online “Decision Aid Tool — Prostate Cancer Screening with PSA Testing.”
The added benefits of a healthy sex life
Married Americans report having sex 1.2 times a week or about 54 times a year. People with no steady partner have sex approximately 33 times per year. And unmarried people who live with their partner have sex an average of 86 times per year. Age also has a strong effect on sexual frequency: Americans in their 20s have sex an average of about 80 times per year, compared to about 20 times annually for those in their 60s.
If the relationship is respectful, enjoyable and loving, sex gives your health an important boost. According to the Cleveland Clinic, in addition to reducing men’s risk of prostate cancer and women’s future problems with urinary incontinence and heart woes, having sex regularly improves sleep and strengthens your immune system. The release of the bonding hormone oxytocin may explain some of those benefits.
Healthy sex also reduces inflammatory markers and cortisol levels that get pumped up by daily stress. And if you’re a migraine or cluster headache sufferer, there is a study that found having sex during an attack reduces pain. But with the rise in the transmission of gonorrhea and syphilis, you want to make sure you’re protected and that you know and trust your partner — not just with your heart, but your health.
FYI: I have written prescriptions for both men and women to have more sex. That’s because at age 55, if you go from 54 times a year to 365 times a year, your RealAge becomes eight years younger!
Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.