Sunday, August 10, 2008

Every minute you walk can exten d your life by 2 minutes

Keep walking!

Every minute you walk can exten d your life by 2 minutes.

Most of us can walk - from the end of the parking lot, around the mall through the building at work, on the local high school track – but we don't. The average American
walks 1.4 miles a week. That's barely 1,000 feet a day.

Walking is a perfect exercise. It doesn't require special talent or equipment, it can be done at any age and doesn't require a particular pace.

The risk of injury is almost nonexistent. But few of us walk. Urban folk are thinner and walk more than rural residents. Odd? Not really.

Post-World War 11 suburban sprawl provided wonderful new places to live, but few con]munities included sidewalks, bike paths, public transportation or shopping centers that could be reached on foot.

Today, you can eat. bank and pick up medicine at drive-though windows. Our lack of exercise and extra weight may be a by-product of the suburbs we've built. In many parts of the country, community planners are trying to reverse this fiend.

Brisk walking at 3 to 4 miles per hour or 15 to 20 minutes a mile. Is a moderate-intensity activity that burns up to 100 calories a mile. Walking just 20 minutes a day can
help you lose 7 pounds in a year.

- Burns calories
- Build muscles
- Builds bones
- Prevents colds
- Reduces the effects of aging
- Increases mental sharpness
- Lengthens your life
Start with a daily 10-minute walk. Begin by walking leisurely for 2 minutes to help your heart rate adjust to the activity. Pick up your pace for 6 minutes, and slow down for the last two. As you become more fit. add more time and distance, beginning and ending the walk with a moderate pace.

Walking Tip:
Walking on a treadmill is slightly different from walking outside, where there are natural ups and downs and wind resistance. Adding a 1% incline to your treadmill walk
brings you close to an outdoorwalk.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The 'brain fitness' programme market is booming, but does it work?

Chester Santos has been training his brain for seven years. At 32, he's not worried about losing his memory. He's taking advantage of a growing market in "brain fitness" spurred by ageing baby boomers.

Teenagers cramming for tests and people worried about "senior moments" can now turn to an explosion of brain-assisting video games such as Nintendo's Brain Age, puzzles that are said to ward off dementia such as Sudoku and crosswords, as well as online tips that claim to train the brain.

Santos, the 2008 United States Memory Championship winner, can memorise a shuffled deck of cards in three minutes and learn 100 random words and 100 new names and faces in 15.

"People are capable of doing so much more with their brains than they think is possible," says Santos, who recently quit his software job to teach his memory techniques full-fime.

The brain fitness boom might seem counter-intuitive in an age when technology has eased memory stress: cell phones store numbers, GPS systems give directions, websites store passwords and e-mail
programmes automatically recall used addresses.

Many boomers in the United States have watched their parents struggle with Alzheimers, and an estimated 10 million of them are now expected to develop the disease, according to a recent report from the Alzheimer's Association.

"People are worried," says Dr John Hart Jr, medical science director of the Centre for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas. "You have a large group of the population getting to the age where they are sort of vulnerable to degenerative neurological diseases that seem to be prevalent."

Hart says tbere is "reasonable evidence" that challenging your brain by learning new things can stave off the cognitive decline that comes with ageing. But brain fitness programmes differ from traditional learning by focusing on drills for specific cognitive abilities, such as concentration and retaining information.

Hart says there is no one brain "exercise" that is guaranteed to work for everyone.

That hasn't stopped brain fitness pmgrammes from making claims. Posit Science says its computer- based programmes will "help you think faster, focus better and remember more."

While some include a disclaimer, such as Cogmed Working Memory Training for kids and adults with attention deficits, many of the games do not.

Some users say they feel the benefits. Sarah Schultz, 67, of Knoxville, Maryland, says she can think faster because of Lumosity, an online brain fitness programme that claims to "improve cognitive performance and maximise brain health through fun and engaging games." She has been doing the programme once a day for the past four months.

"i feel more alert," she says. "It helps me to remember things, lists, names, faces. It really helps with recall."

Even teenagers cramming for tests are turning to brain exercises. Raemon Matthews, a history teacher in New York City, uses some of the techniques in his curriculum and says he's seen a difference in his students' performance.

Tony Dortino, who founded the USA Memory Championships more than a decade ago and teaches memory techniques, says people have the misperception that the drills are "some awful thing, where you have to sit there and stuff information into your head."

"It's not a matter of stuffing it into their heads," he says. "It's a matter of helping them organise it in a way that their brains will be able to retain."

For now, the brain fitness market is poised to grow. Hart's goals are more modest: he suggests people find something that is mentally challenging and fun and do it on a regular basis.

"I am hoping that in the future, you will be able to go a health care provider or other expert who will be able to give folks a brain physical" and prescribe the proper exercises, he says.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Programme uses acupuncture to treat addiction - Needle that addiction

Needle that addiction
Programme uses acupuncture to treat addiction

As New Age music fills the room, 19 men and women settle into four rows of plastic chairs. They swab their ears with alcohol towelettes and sit quietly.

Slowly, another man and a woman move among the rows. With quiet precision, they insert five sharp needles into each oftbe people's ears. Nobody flinches when the needles hit the flesh. In fact, some of the men and women have tiny grins on their

This is addiction treatment, Montgomery County, Maryland, style. These people are participating in a pilot programme that uses acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medical practice, to help treat addiction.

More than a dozen people a day are volunteering to be stuck with needles as part of the county's acudetux programme, which began in February.

Karlys Wright, 37, was one of the first to arrive for the early morning acudetox session. She said she almost didn't give acupuncture a try because she doesn't like needles. But in a brief time, she has become a fan of the New Age treatment.

"I feel rejuvenated," the former administrative assistant from Rockville said. "1 don't know how to explain it."

In the fall, Montgomery County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg persuaded her colleagues to spend US$20,000 (RM66,000) on a pilot programme that would incorporate acupuncture into treatments for drug addiction. Acupuncture is used as a strategy to
calm and relax patients before they take part in other treatments, such as group therapy.

"It's cutting edge," she said, "there's no question about that."

The Chinese have used acupunctore for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including chronic plan and infertility. Its use as a strategy for treating addiction is gaining popularity in communities across the country, Trachtenberg said. Prngrammes are in place from California to Virginia to Florida.

The hard science behind acupuncture remains elusive. But those who run treatment programs say that, anecdotally, they see a marked change in the attitude of patients, who are calmer and more receptive to therapy.

The Fairfax County, Virginia, programme has been in place since the late 1990s. Although the county has not done official research on the method, Larry Peacock, director of the Faiffax Detoxification Center, said patients say acupuncture has helped reduce their alcohol and drag cravings and made it easier for them to sleep.

"Qne of the things that we did and have seen is a reduction of incidents with clients arguing; the anxiousness and agitation levels are lowered," Peacock said.

Larry Gamble, manager of outpatient addiction services, behavioural health and crisis services for the Montgomery Department of Health and Human Services, says he initially had doubts but they evaporated after taking part in a session.

"We've been amazed at how some of the dients have been able to slow themselves down and be more focused and be more open when they go into individual group therapy," he said. "Clients say they sleep better and feel less stressed."

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine are conducting more than 100 studies examining the effect of acupuncture on a range of problems, including autism, hot flashes and obesity.

But there is still debate in the scientific community over acupunclure's 6ffectiveness as a treatment for some medical conditions, including drug addiction.

Acupuncture isn't-the only alternative therapy officials have used to help people in Montgomery's drug treatment programme. About four years ago, Gamble said, they also began offering meditation and yoga.

Linda Washington, a psychiatric nurse and licensed psychotherapist, said patients who did acupuncture seemed to make quicker progress through therapy than those who did not.

With music playing in the background, Washington and Dave Wurzel, a certified trainer with the National Acupuncture Detoxffication Association, slowly made their way around the room, In this particular form of acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, five needles are inserted in each of the clients' ears. At first glance, the needles look like straight pins, but they are thinner and more flexible.

Once the two completed their rounds, they dimmed the lights. After a while, the only sound was of music mixed with deep rhythmic breathing, The tranquility was broken only briefly when someone began to snore loudly.

The clients, some of whom are in detoxiflcation treatment by court order or are referred by social workers, are a mix of races, sexes and ages. Some are homeless: others are mentally ill. Some are hard-core drug users addicted to hemin or cocaine, Gamble said.

Trachtenberg is optimistic that the one-year pilot will show positive results. She notes that larger counties, including Miami-Dade, Florida, have had success with the approach. In Miami-Dade, about 85% of the people in county treatment programmes do acupuncture.

"Medicine has really changed in this county, and many people really are much more comfortable with an integrated approach to care," she said, "More and more Americans are using alternative therapies,"

Wurzel, who trained the staff in Montgomery and is proprietor of the Chi Farm, said acupuncture is not a cure-all in itself but is designed to complement other types of addiction treatment,

Oliver Oree, 51, recently retomed for his second session under the needle. He doesn't quite get the science behind the needles, but that's just fine - he's willing to take it on faith.
Said Oree: "I don't know what it is or how it works, but I feel like a better person."

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chornic Pain is generally defined as persistent pain

Despite the pain.....

Ninety per cent of all pain is easily managed by simple means; it is the remaining 10%, which requires a special approach. Hence, the role of pain clinics in helping people manage pain.

PAIN-we all know what it is and we've all experienced it. Thankfully, for most of us, it is a temporary phenomenon, which fades away once the underlying cause is dealt with and treated, with relief offered by medication.

Ninety per cent of all pain is easily managed by simple means; it is the remaining 10%, which requires a special approach.

For the significant number of people who are sufferers of the latter, pain, unfortunately, is something that is not so transient.

The recently completed National Health and Morbidity Survey IlL conducted by the Public Health Institute, Ministry of Health, showed that 7% of the Malaysian population aged 18 years and above, suffer from chronic pain. Although only a small percentage of the population, this nevertheless translates to about a million people, out of whom 82% say it interferes with their daily lives.

Chronic pain, says anaesthesiologist Dr Mary Cardosa, is generally defined as persistent pain which lasts three months or more, or pain that persists after the injury has healed.

"This type of pain can be very debilitating, giving rise not only to physical, but also emotional and psychological stresses," she continues.

"It should be recognised as a disease in its own right and not merely as a symptom of an injury or illness. Pain associated with injury or tissue damage, also known as acute pain, usually goes away after the injury heals.

Chronic pain on the other hand, says Dr Cardosa, is a result of something gone awry at the cellular level in the brain and spinal cord. The underlying pathology in this kind of pain is, difficult to research and as such, even more difficult to treat.

"Ultimately, however, regardless of the source of the pain, these patients all have the same problem - the disruption of normal, everyday life."

The effects of chronic pain are far and wide reaching. Just imagine that you have a simple but absolutely splitting headache for 24 hours straight and you can envisage the effects chronic pain has on its victims who live it day after day after day...

Typically, patients with chronic pain, go from doctor to doctor, seeking relief. However a pill alone cannot work by itself, as although chronic pain is not a visible ailment, the entire person - physical, mental, and emotional - is affected.

Pain clinics
The problem is hence often not resolved and the patient either somehow learns to manage the situation by themselves or end up living in misery. For many,everyday life is thrown into chaos, depression can set in, the patient withdraws into himself,mood is low, selfesteem plunges, and work and relationships suffer.

This is where Dr Cardosa and her team of dedicated professionals play a significant role for these patients.

Dr Cardosa helped set up the country's first Pain Clinic with the Ministry of Health in the year 2000. To date there are five such clinics-Selayang, lpoh, Kota Barn, Johor Baru and Malacca.

The pain clinic offers a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to chmnk pain management, incorporating medication, medical procedures, exercise, relaxation techniques, physiotherapy and psychological counselling.

"This can only be done in a specialised setring. pulling on the expertise of three major disciplines, namely anaesthesia, clinical psychology and physiothelapy, with the assistance of occupational therapy and social workers as well."

Although in the West, orthopaedics, rheumatology and neurology are included in the pain clinics teams, in Malaysia, they are a source of reference at present.

With the tagline - "Despite the Pain" - the objective of these pain clinks is to help patients live as normal a life as possible while coping with and managing their pain.

During the very first visit to the pain clinic, the patient will spend one hour each with the pain specialist, the physiotherapist and the clinical psychologist, who will then get together to assess the case and formulate a management plan.

Management is always multi-pronged, and includes the rational use of medication, nerve blocks when indicated, exercise, applied relaxation techniques and psychological approaches.

"It is important for us to reinforce patient's understanding of the problem as self management is one of the key success factors,"
explains Dr Cardosa, adding that the patients would be strongly encouraged to accept the management plan in its entirety.

They would then follow the plan specially mapped out for them, guided by a team of healthcare personnel who work as one, offering personalised and individualised warmthand care.

Dr Cardosa stresses that the pain clinic measures its success from a more functional point of view. While the first and foremost goal, of course, is pain relief, this is not always possible. The objective then becomes to help the patient cope with the pain while living a satisfactory life.

Personal experiences
The success stories of many grateful patients say it all.

One patient suffering from spinal spondylosis for 11 years finally found relief after countless treatment methods in a management technique called "pacing" which helped him to control and manage his own pain - all in just within one month.

Another who lived with continuous pain after an operation for a slipped disc is grateful for the help of the pain clinic while her husband has lived a migraine-free life after acupuncture treatment.

Yet another success is the stow of a young man who was housebound with pain after a bad road accident, hut who now has found freedom and has set up a small business of his own.

From accident victims, to "painfully overworked arms, from rheumatism to migraines, from the young and the not-so-young, the pain clinics have given people back their lives and this was very evident in the smiles on the faces of former and current patients who gathered at the Ipoh Hospital's first Pain Clinic gathering in November 2007.

Organised for the first time since the inception of the Ipoh Pain Clinic in 2003, the gathering was to rally the patients together, providing them a platform to share their experiences while also functioning like a support group.

As seen during the gathering, there is also strong camaraderie and genuine warmth and caring between staff and patients. However, the pain clinics in Malaysia have only just begun their task with only a small number of patients being treated in view of certain limitations.

Spreading awareness
"Pain clinics are held only once or twice a week, as all theprofessionals involved have responsibilities and duties in their respective departments. Additionally, we do not have enough anaesthesiologists or pain specialists who have to handle so many other areas including anaesthesia work, palliative care and pain management as well.

Additionally, the awareness level is insufficient, even among healthcare professionals and doctors themselves.

"Doctors should be encouraged to refer patients to the pain clinics and they need to understand that a patient can have pain despite normal scans and an apparently healthy countenance.

"They also need to play a role in preventing the ramifications of chronic pain problems, such as the psychological and emotional stresses of continually seeking treatments which fail," says Dr Cardosa, who also encourages her peers to spend that little bit of extra time talking to their patients.

Globally, there is also the drive of the International Association for the Study of Pain CLASP) to make pain more visible and to create a better understanding of pain in the general public right up to the policy makers.

Global Year for Pain campaigns are carried out with specific themes each year, with last year's being "Pain in Women - Real Women Real Pain".

The themes each year look into the vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women and children, it is interesting to note that there is a higher prevalence of chronic pain in women as compared to men, and also among the lower socio-economic strata.

With an estimated 10% to 20% of the world's population suffering from pain without a definite cause, education is the forerunner in bringing this problem to brighter light and better awareness, leading to effective assistance and service.

For as one wise man once said, no one is free till all of us are free.., for we are all connected to each other by the silvery fine threads of inter-dependence and relationshins.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Radicals that cause disease

THERE is a "paradox" about oxygen in that we cannot live without oxygen, yet it is dangerous to our existence. A war is being waged within every cell of your body. It is called oxidative stress (refers to a condition where antioxidants in the body cannot cope with free radicals generated) and is believed to be the root cause of more than 60 degenerative diseases, from arthritis to cancer, heart disease, premature ageing and even the breakdown of your immune system.

The same process that causes iron to rust and cut apples to turn brown is going on in every living cell in your body. We
are essentially rusting inside and are not even aware it is happening. We must gain an understanding of this process and learn how to protect ourselves against its destruction.

Free radicals In the process of using oxygen for the production of energy in the cell, free radicals are created. Free radicals are also formed in the body when you inhale smog, house cleaning chemicals and cigarette smoke, consume polluted drinking water and drugs. Exercise, exposure to sunlight, illnesses, high blood sugar - also contribute to production of free radicals.

Bruce Ames, a research scientist at University of California-Berkeley estimates that each cell in the human body suffers
about 10,000 "hits" per day from free radicals, The extent of the damage is impressive: free radicals destroy enzymes, pro-
teins, fat compounds, DNA molecules, and cell membranes and structures - altering the way cells code genetic material.

"In fact," says biochemist and antioxidant researcher Richard A. Passwater, "free radicals can also activate the socalled cancer genes, also known as oncogenes, and suppress the immune system."

Free radical damage has a cumulative effect that interferes with cellular function, bogs down chemical reactions and neurological communications between cells, and speeds the growth of mutant cells and degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. The highly reactive free radicals are also implicated in other diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer's, cataracts and macular degeneration.

The good thing is that we are not completely powerless. Antioxidant supplements can help protect us from the damage of free radical "bombardment".

We have our own army of defence against free radicals and they are called antioxidants. Antioxidants have the ability to
render the free radicals harmless. As long as there are adequate amounts of antioxidants within our bodies to handle the free
radicals produced within the cell there is no damage to surrounding tissues.

The body has the ability to make some of its own antioxidants, five of which are superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase,alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and glutathione peroxidase, but the body may not be able to produce enough antioxidants on its own to neutralise all the free radicals that are produced.

Although many antioxidants can be obtained from food sources, it is difficult to get enough of them to hold back free radicals constantly generated in our polluted environment. That is why we need to get the rest of the antioxidants from

* Primary antioxidants

Beta carotene - is a powerful free radical scavenger that attacks and neutralises the singlet oxygen, a dangerous free radical that affects our eyes, skin and lungs.

Vitamin C - is a powerful antioxidant that helps minimise free radical damage in the watery regions of the body, such as
blood plasma, lung fluid, eye fluid, as well as in between cells. It also helps protect the nervous system from free radical
attacks. Another amazing function of vitamin C is that it helps to recycle vitamin E to keep it actively fighting free radicals.

Vitamin E - is a potent antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of lipids (fats) in cell membranes, which strengthens the
outer cell layers against free radical attacks. Vitamin E works best in the presence of selenium, and helps protect vita-
min A. Research shows that vitamin E stimulates the immune system, improves the circulatory system and oxygen absorption, fights cancer, and has a role in preventing cataracts. It also helps keep low density lipoprotein (LDL) from the oxidation that creates arterial plaque.

* Antioxidant support nutrients

These nutrients are not antioxidants themselves but are essential components of glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD) which are antioxidant enzymes made by the body.

Selenium - is a trace mineral that synergises well with vitamin E and is the key component in the powerful glutathione-based antioxidant enzymes that convert hydrogen peroxide free radical into water.

Zinc - has antioxidant properties that protects the body. Zinc is required to maintain effective levels of vitamin E and
A. It is also the key ingredient in the very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Copper and manganese - are both essential components of superoxide dismutase (SOD) that neutralises the most dangerous free radical in the body - superoxide.

* Targeted antioxidants

Alpha lipoic acid (ideal antioxidant) - Dr Lester Packer, professor of the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, is among the world's leading antioxidant researchers, and perhaps the foremost researcher on
alpha lipoic acid. He has described alpha lipoic acid as very close to an ideal antioxidant.

Alpha lipoic acid works in both the watery as well as fatty regions of the cells. It also has the ability to regenerate oxidised vitamin E and C, CoQ10, glutathione and even alpha lipoic acid itself. It raises " blood levels of glutathione - nature's most powerfulantioxidant - better than any other substance known. It improves insulin sensitivity and improves glucose metabolism. Alpha lipoic acid has been used widely in Germany for over 30 years for treatment of symptoms associated
with diabetes such as neuropathy and retinopathy.

Grape seed standardised extract (super antioxidant) - The active ingredients found here are oligomeric proanthocyanidines (OPCs). Research indicates that OPCs may be 20-50 times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin C and E. Because they bond to collagen, protecting against free radicals, OPCs keep joints and skin supple, promoting a youthful appearance. They also strengthen capillaries, improve circulation, reduce joint pain, and protect nerve tissue. OPCs can also help convert oxidised vitamin C back to its active form.

The body produces many species of flee radicals - singlet oxygen, superoxides, hydroxyl, hydrogen peroxide, peroxyl and
so on, and almost all are damaging to the body. Different antioxidants neutralise different species of free radicals. Hence when it comes to antioxidant supplementation, it makes sense to take a supplement that contains a variety of antioxidants.

Make sure that the ingredients listed are in adequate amounts thus providing a wider daily protection against degenerative diseases.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Improving vision, naturally - The Bates Method is the mainstay of the natural vision improvement. Though it's not accepted by the mainstream

The Bates Method is the mainstay of the natural vision improvement. Though it's not accepted by the mainstream, it has many followers.

THE Bates Method is a system that is claimed by some to improve sight and restore the "natural habits" of seeing. It is the mainstay of the natural vision improvement movement.

First described by ophthalmologist William Horatio Bates in 1920 in a book entitled Perfect Sight Without Glasses, the Bates Method is rejected by mainstream opthalmology. However, many people claim to have been helped by the method.

In essence, the method is based on Bates' theory of accommodation of the eye, and his recommended practices for improving wsion. Accommodation is the process by which the eye maintains focus on the retina. So when the eyes change from viewing a distant object to a near object, accommodation is taking place.

Bates felt that the eye focuses by elongating the eyeball through use of the extraocular oblique muscles. This is contradicted by mainstream ophthalmology. The orthodox view is that accommodation of the eye is brought about by the action of the ciliary muscle on the eye's crystalline lens. Supporters believe that even if his theory is wrong, his methods do work.

The thrust of the Bates Method is that to have better vision, relaxing the eyes is vital. Strain or effort makes vision worse, so relaxing the eyes can help improve vision. The way to better eyesight is through relaxation of both mind and body.

To do this, there are several exercises that he recommends. We'll look at a few of these techniques:


This essentially requires you to close your eyes with the cups of your palms. The rationale behind it is that it calms the visual system. Make sure your palms are cupped to avoid exerting pressure on the eyeballs, and cup your palms in such a manner that as little light as possible is allowed through. The most important thing is to relax.


While you are palming, you can also visualise anything. In your mind's eye, try to remember as much detail as possible of the scene or image you're visualising. Bates felt that the perfect memory can be produced if only one is free of strain.


This is aimed at promoting the correct use of the eyes. The centre of the retina, the fovea, is densely populated with retinal receptors. Hence, vision is at its best here. So, instead of staring at the entire image, focusing at the centre reduces the strain of trying to get the entire image in detail.

These are but some of the exercises recom- mended by Bates.

In addition to the exercise, there's also an aid to help improve vision. In essence, it's pinhole glasses, which gives the wearer smaller but sharper images via the pinhole effect, and may help train the eye.

It is recommended for use indoors, to be worn as a substitute for normal prescription glasses. Obviously, it should not to be worn during driving!

The holes in pinhole glasses (also known as stenopeic glasses) have the effect of reducing the width of the rays coming from the object you're viewing.

Pinholes can bring about clearer vision by blocking peripheral rays that "bend" improperly, and only letting into the eye those rays that pass through the central portion of the pupil. Hence, any refractive error is not noticed as much.

In effect, your eyes are wide open, but only the central portion is receiving light, and the improvement in visual acuity can be striking for some people. Using such glasses instead of prescription glasses for periods of time, along with the exercises recommended in the Bates Method, may help improve vision.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coming to terms with size and self

For more than six decades, Michael Berman has lived as a fat person. At 5 feet 9 inches, he has weighed as much as 207.5kg. He has been known to eat three racks of ribs at one sitting, or a 40-ounce steak, or a whole box of saltines. In 1986, after dropping a few pounds, he spent US$2,100(RM7,770) on three custom-made, pinstripe suits. By the time the suits were ready, 10 weeks later, they no longer fit. Eleven years after that he gave them away, having never worn them.

A highly successful political campaigner and Washington lobbyist, Berman, 66, doesn't deny the dangers of fatness or the urgency of encouraging people to exercise and eat healthier. He acknowledges that with 60% of the US population overweight or obese, being fat has serious consequences for the health of individuals and the economy. He'd like to see resources used for a public education campaign similar to that for smoking and seatbelt use.

But forget the notion that fat people can become slim, he says in a new book that is part memoir, part self-help book. They can and should, manage their weight. They can, and should, find an exercise programme they can stick with. But fat adults will always be fat. They are in the grips of a disease over which, in the end, they do not have complete control.

“The idea that you can slim doen by willpower is a bunch of horse manure,” he says. If “nonfat” people could be convinced of this, perhaps they'd start relating better to fat people.”

He is comfortable with being different, now. But he has suffered through countless weight swings, 20 diet programmes, a kidney infection and knee surgery. It has taken eight years of counselling, the careful attention of a personal trainer/nutritionist, and his wife's sustained support to get to that place.

Berman first realised he was not just husky but really fat when, at 13 about 170 pounds, he was in the shower of the boy's locker room after gym. A boy grabbed his chest, saying he wanted to know what it felt like to touch a girl's breast, Berman recalls in Living Large:A Big Man's ideas on Weight, Success and Acceptance, written with Laurence Shams. That was just one of thousands of indignities he would encounter or bring upon himself.

One afternoon in law school, reading in a wooden armchair, he started to get up only to realise he was stuck. “My hips were captured; my bottom stayed glued to the chair and the whole thing lifted up with me as i tried to stand,” he writes. “ I felt all eyes on me,” and decided to play the clown. “Still crouched over, taking small, constricted steps, I carried (the chair) across the room, somewhat like a turtle with its shell, and sat down once again.

Today he winces at all the times he played the jolly fat man: leading college cheerleaders onto the football field by pedalling a miniature girl's bike, playing Santa Claus at White House Christmas parties. Perhaps such experiences were why he could ignore the advice of a friend who tried to steer him away from writing a book about his fatness, saying it would be “undignified”.

As a teen, Berman realised that to be taken seriously and make something of his life, he would have to develop talents. His parents taught him ballroom dancing-the first thing, he writes, that his rotund body was good at. He managed his first political campaign in junior high for a girl running for student council president. She lost, but he learned he could succeed in politics behind the scenes. He didn't need to be cute, just hardworking, shrewd and resourceful.

Life together with his wife Carol has been good, although Carol had to make a couple of what she Calls”accommodations”. The hardest for her was being unable to have children. A fertility specialist told the couple that his sperm count might be a factor; fat men tend to haver a lower number.

In 1998, he started jotting down thoughts and memories about being fat with the idea of writing a book someday. The exercise became an obsession. He read scientific reports and researched cultures of the past in which fatness was considered a symbol of wisdom, serenity and wealth.
He read that for some people, fatness is genetic. But that wasn't true for him, so he began to develop his own theory.

The easy answer, of course, is that fat people take in more calories than they burn. Then it gets more complicated, he writes. Each person's metabolism is different. He , his sister and his parents all ate a lot of his mother's delicious cooking and none exercised much. But he was the only one who got fat.

Emotions play a role, too. From age four, he sneaked food into his bedroom. “Something was driving me,” he writes, “something that was beyond the reach of willpower, outside the realm of reason.”

he and his psychologist came to believe his compulsion started partly as a reaction to his mother. She showed her affection by cooking rich meals and he showed his affection by eating lots of it. As he got heftier in early adolescence, she started withholding food and he ate as a way of asserting his emerging will.

Eventually he had to admit that he was an addict. But unlike alcoholics or drug users, he couldn't go cold turkey: “The most difficult thing about a food addiction is that you can't give up food.”

he pulls out a tiny notebook in which he records his daily food intake and exercise. On one day, suddenly: 4,465 calories.

What happened that day? He couldn't resist the chocolate cake at a dinner party. “I ate probably eight ounces of chocolate,” he admitted. “But i don't beat myself up anymore. I knew I'd be heavier the next morning so the next couple of days I'd be careful.”

a couple of years ago, he wouldn't have been so sanguine. But if there was one thing he had learned in writing his book, it was this : “Managing fatness means accepting ourselves as who we short, learning to live a full and satisfying life at whatever weight and size we happen to be.”

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Friday, March 9, 2007

Stopped having periods.

Whos's at risk?

What causes abnormal vaginal bleeding and who is at risk? Abnormal vaginal bleeding may occur between the normal menstrual bleeds (intermenstrual bleeding)or it may take the form of unusually heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). In postmenopausal women, it may develop after a number of years without any vaginal bleeding.

It's inportant to understand exactly what is causing the bleeding and where it's coming from (uterus, vagina, or some other organ or tissue) and to make decisions about how to control or stop the bleeding.

A wide range of "normal" menstrual periods Periods differ from woman to woman and from month to month. A period can last from three to 10 days, and occur every three to six weeks. This pattern can vary with age, stress, diet, exercise and inherited factors. The flow can also vary. Around 40ml (two tablespoons) of fluid is lost, which the body quickly replaces.
It is common for women to suffer some cramping pain with their period. This is felt just below the navel and may spread ito the legs or lower back. It can be felt as a dull ache or sharp twinge. During a period, it is also common to feel bloated and heavy, get more pimples, feel tense and emotional, and have sore breasts and greasier hair.

What gynaecologic conditions are associated with irregular vaginal bleeding?Irregular vaginal bleeding is a possible sign or symptom of a range of causes. For others, the cause depends on their age and the site of bleeding. Once pregnancy has been ruled out, some of the known causes include:

  • Dysfunctional uterine bleeding

  • Contraception-such as the pill, injection or IUD (intrauterine device)

  • Vaginal infections

  • Tumours, polyps or fibroids of the vagina, cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes

  • Cervical disorders-such as cervical ectropion, a condition common among younger women, especially young women taking birth control pills-in which the cervical tissue becomes more susceptible to abrasion, often associated with bleeding after sexual intercourse

  • Cancer of the uterus, cervix, vagina or vulva

  • Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or genital warts

  • Vaginal injury from trauma or sexual abuse

  • Some medications such as anticoagulants or anti-epilepsy drugs

  • Underlying health problems such as bleeding or thyroid disorders.Dysfunctional uterine bleedingIn more than half the women with

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