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Archive for February, 2009

2nd-hand smoke, cognitive impairment linked

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Exposure to second-hand smoke may increase the risk of developing dementia, according to a study by British and American researchers. While scientists have long suspected a link between smoking and cognitive impairment, the study is the first large-scale attempt to link second-hand smoke to increased risk for cognitive impairment. In a study in Thursday's online British Medical Journal, researchers with the universities of Cambridge and Michigan tested saliva samples of nearly 5,000 non-smokers over age 50. They were looking for cotinine — a product of nicotine that can be found in saliva for about a day after exposure to smoke. Participants were also assessed for brain function and cognitive impairment. The study found people with the highest cotinine levels had a 44 per cent increased risk of cognitive impairment, compared to people with the lowest cotinine levels. The researchers argue the link between second-hand smoke and cognitive impairment could be explained, given that heart disease increases the risk of developing dementia and second-hand smoke exposure is known to cause heart disease. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Mark Eisner from the University of California said while the serious negative health effects of second-hand smoke like cancer and premature death have been established beyond doubt, there is still a lot to learn about the scale of illness caused by second-hand smoke. "Emerging evidence suggests that parental smoking may impair childhood cognitive development," he writes. "Later in life, second-hand smoke may cause cardiovascular disease and stroke, which are themselves linked to cognitive decline."

Morning Sickness

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Whether it is called morning sickness, nausea gravidarum, vomiting or pregnancy, emesis gravidarum, NVP, pregnancy sickness or simply nausea; it is an unpleasant condition which affects more than fifty percent of all pregnant women as well as some of those who are taking hormonal contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy. The more extreme cases of morning sickness are known as hyperemesis gravidarum and may require hospitalization to treat the dehydration which may have resulted from the severe and frequent vomiting. Often, symptoms of morning sickness are the first symptoms of pregnancy as they usually begin on the 6th week and end around the 12th week of pregnancy. Although they are called morning sickness and occur most commonly in the mornings, its symptoms can appear at any time of the day or night.

In spite of the fact that morning sickness is so common, there is still no conclusive evidence which points to a specific single or multiple cause. However, there are a number of theories such as the ones listed below: · Lowered blood sugar (hypoglycemia) caused by the placenta drawing glucose energy from the mother. · Elevated levels of progesterone relax the muscles of the uterus to avoid early childbirth. However, the abundance of progesterone can also relax the muscles of the stomach and the intestines and result in an overload of stomach acids and the gastroesophageal reflux disease. · Levels of the hormone estrogen are one hundred times more prolific during pregnancy which may, in some women, result in the upset stomach, the nausea and the vomiting of morning sickness. · The production of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a glycoprotein hormone, begins soon after conception and its function is to ensure the continued release of the hormone progesterone. · As the sensitivity to scents increases with pregnancy it stimulates and sets off nausea triggers. · Increased bowel movements during pregnancy are evidence of the heightened activity of the intestines which may also explain the nausea and vomiting aspects of morning sickness. · In an effort to create a healthful environment for the fetus, the body goes through the process of detoxifying itself as the kidneys and liver become more active during pregnancy. The nausea which then results in vomiting may be part of the same detoxification process as well as serving as a means by which to discourage certain foods or groups of food from being ingested. Statistics show that processed and unhealthy foods such as refined sugars, animal fats and alcoholic beverages result in more nauseous pregnant women than diets consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans and legumes, lean meat and fish and non-alcoholic drinks. · Some researchers allude to the fact that morning sickness and its symptoms are intended to discourage sexual activity and, therefore, to prevent sexual urine cramping which can bring about a spontaneous abortion. · The final theory which is harshly rejected by modern science comes from Sigmund Freud who hypothesizes that morning sickness is the result of the mother’s loathing of her husband and her subconscious desire to abort the fetus through vomiting. Treating and Relieving Morning Sickness Treatments of morning sickness are directed at the symptoms rather than at its cause or causes: · Avoiding an empty or an overstuffed stomach by eating five or six small meals rather than three large ones. · Inhaling the aroma of a freshly cut lemon. · Eating raw cabbage. · Following the BRATT diet which is often prescribed to patients with gastrointestinal problems and consists of low fiber foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea. · Ingesting ginger; fresh from the garden, in capsules, in tea, ginger ale or in ginger snaps. · Beginning the day with dry crackers. · Refraining from drinking during meals but drinking plenty of fresh water between them. · Socking on ice cubes made of fresh water or fruit juices. · Listening to the body’s cravings and aversions and giving in to them. · Ingesting vitamin B6 (pyridoxine or pyridoxamine).

Pregnancy Tips For A Happy And Fit Pregnancy

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
These pregnancy tips are for those women who consider every second of their pregnancy. You have to be healthy to get pleasure from this phase. Pregnancy health is likely if you take care of certain things.
7 Pregnancy Tips • Observe your pregnancy diet – Eat a diversity of food. Stay away from overeating, but don’t miss meals. Make sure you’re getting all the requisite nutrients in ample amount. • Follow an exercise regime – This keeps your muscles and joints flexible and clam. You need to keep yourself actually active at this occasion. This will help you at the moment of labor. • Get your beauty nap – Catch 7-8 hours of nap every night. Do not strain yourself. Take a break during the day. In the third trimester, you must lie on your side and not on your back. • Maintain private cleanliness – During pregnancy, you’re prone to too much sweating. As a result, take regular baths to stay clean. Warm (not hot) water is best for bathing. You’re also helpless to mouth problems like congestive gums, pain, bleeding, and puffiness. Keep good oral cleanliness. Utilize soft haired toothbrush. Increased genital secretions are also common in this stage. Maintain your vagina area hygienic and dry to reduce the risk of vaginitis. Also to this, your skin may feel changes. In some women, it may turn into more oily or dry, while in some, it may attain a pink glow! • Dress in comfortable attire – Stack away your tight jeans and other body hugging outfit for now. Also, keep away from high heels. Invest in some comfortable maternity outfit. Nowadays, there’s a huge variety of fashionable outfit available for pregnant women. You don’t need to wear loose and baggy clothes, or your partner’s shirt. Keep your fashion quotient high, but with a different wardrobe. • Go for regular prenatal health checks – This will help you keep a tab on what’s happening inside your body. You can know the status of fetus development. Besides, your doctor can rule out the option of any complications. In general, you must go for a checkup once a month from the starting of pregnancy. After 28 weeks, you must visit your doctor once in fifteen days. In the last weeks, it’s good to go weekly. Your doctor may even give you some more pregnancy tips. • You must remain joyful – Pregnancy is the occasion when you get the most mood swings. On the other hand, a disheartened mother gives birth to an unhealthy baby. Your mental health plays an important role in providing a positive growth surroundings to your fetus. If you’re down hearted, speak to your spouse or friends. Go out. Go out for a walk. Study books or include in your hobbies. Do things that make you contented. (Well, this doesn’t mean you gorge on pizzas and chocolate cakes!) Regarding sex, it’s good to discuss with your doctor. Generally, it’s ok to have sex in the second trimester. You should keep away from it in the first trimester and weeks earlier than due date. Pregnancy is one of the most magnificent phases in a woman’s life. Follow the above pregnancy tips and make it even more cheerful. provides your various helpful tips related to pregnancy, labor and childbirth Check out the website for more information. Article Source: Pregnancy Tips For A Happy And Fit Pregnancy

Watching R-Rated Movies Boosts Kids’ Smoking Risk

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Children who are allowed to watch R-rated movies are more likely to smoke, say researchers who analyzed data from a four-year study of more than 1,200 Massachusetts youngsters. "We don't know why this is so. It may have to do with a parenting style that is permissive of activities that are not age-appropriate. Or it may be an outcome of all the smoking scenes in R-rated movies," lead author Chyke Doubeni and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School said in a news release. The participants were in the sixth grade when the study started in 2002 and were interviewed 11 times between then and 2006. The students were asked a number of questions about their access to cigarettes, whether smoking was allowed in their home and whether they were allowed to watch R-rated movies and videos. Among those who were allowed to watch R-rated movies, smokers were nearly three times as likely and nonsmokers were almost twice as likely to say it would be easy for them to get cigarettes, compared to youngsters who weren't allowed to watch R-rated movies. The findings are published in the Feb. 21 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. According to Doubeni, the study shows that parental permission to watch R-rated movies is one of the strongest predictors of children's belief that cigarettes are easily available, about as strong as having friends that smoke. "We do know that kids who believe it is easy to get a cigarette are at risk of smoking," Doubeni said. "Our prior research has already shown that kids who perceive cigarettes as readily accessible are more likely to end up as regular smokers." "Parents need to be mindful about the movies their children watch for a variety of obvious reasons," added co-author Dr. Joseph DiFranza. "This study points out one more reason for not allowing children to watch movies that are not appropriate for their age.

Moss Tight-Lipped Over Pregnancy Rumors

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Supermodel Kate Moss is keeping mum over rumors she is pregnant by her rocker boyfriend Jamie Hince. The British catwalk queen was pictured on Wednesday with a suspiciously swollen stomach as she left The Ivy restaurant in London after a night out with a friend. (Photo) She desperately tried to pull her leopard print jacket over the bump, sparking fervent rumors she is expecting her first child with The Kills guitarist Hince. And the model has risked fueling the rumors by refusing to issue a denial of the reports, or even to comment directly. A spokesman for Moss says, "I am afraid it is a private matter," and declined to comment further. Moss, who lives in North London, has a 6-year-old daughter, Lila Grace, by magazine publisher Jefferson Hack. She has dated Hince since splitting from rocker Pete Doherty in 2007.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor survives pre-eclampsia scare again to have second child nine weeks early

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Sophie Ellis Bextor has given birth two months prematurely after she was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. It is the second pregnancy scare for the 29-year-old singer and daughter of former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. Her four-year-son Sonny was also born nine weeks early. Doctors had to perform an emergency caesarean to deliver her second son, named Kit Valentine Jones, who weighed 2lb 10z. He was immediately placed in an incubator. Sophie had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, which in severe cases can cause the death of the mother and unborn baby. 'He's a little belter': Proud father Chris Evans shows off his newborn son Noah to the world... on his blog Details of Kit's dramatic arrival were revealed on BBC Breakfast yesterday by his grandmother, who let the news slip as she was discussing the role of grandparents. Janet, 53, said: 'Sophie's just had her second little boy. He was early, nine weeks early, but he is doing fine. He is doing very well.' sophie Sophie, who is married to The Feeling's bass guitarist Richard Jones, was admitted to the private Portland Hospital in London last week on her doctor's advice. Kit was delivered on Saturday. Outside the couple's West London home yesterday, Richard, 29, said: 'I'd be lying if I said it wasn't stressful. 'It has been dramatic, but we are very happy. We are a lot calmer this time because we have been through it all before. I'm pretty tired, I've been all my time at the hospital and I've just come home to get some stuff. 'It has been hard, but it's been helped because Sonny has been amazing, even though it's been so tough.' Sophie revealed they were expecting their second child on November 5th last year and that it was due in April. Sonny spent five weeks in hospital before being allowed home. Their troubles weren't over as he Sonny developed meningitis at four months and had to be readmitted to hospital. Sonny went on to make a full recovery. Pre-eclampsia causes high blood pressure and can lead to stroke, blood clotting and kidney, liver and lung problems in pregnant mothers. Sophie's mother Janet Ellis spoke on the radio about Kit's dramatic arrival In an online blog about her second pregnancy Sophie said: 'Protecting myself and the baby is the most important thing at this time and being pregnant really does give you the chance to slow down, prepare for the birth and focus on the things you really want to do.' She added: 'The hardest part of the pregnancy so far has been before I could announce I was actually pregnant. I'm always a bit cautious of getting coughs and colds when I'm pregnant as they seem to take that bit longer to shake off so I'm dosing up on the vitamins as it's so cold outside. 'I suffered from pre-eclampsia in my first pregnancy so I am having regular scans at the moment.' She also revealed that her son could not wait for a younger sibling. 'We are all really excited about meeting the new addition to our family. Sonny has always loved babies and has been telling me for a while he would like a baby brother or sister so for him it's what he expected would happen at some point.'

New Pregnancy Test Also Tells You the Sex

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
A company in Silicon Valley, California has launched a new product that bundles a pregnancy test with a kit that can tell the mother whether she's carrying a boy or a girl. Consumer Genetics, based in Sunnyvale, has developed a direct-to-consumer genetic testing product that reveals a baby's gender early. It's called the "pink or blue" test. The super-sensitive test requires that no men be present while the pregnant woman pricks her finger to draw a blood sample for the lab card. Anna Vitebsky, Consumer Genetics: "The way the pink or blue test works is by detecting small amounts of male DNA in the woman's blood, so the only way she would have male DNA in her blood is if she's pregnant with a baby boy." Consumer Genetics claims an accuracy of 95% or greater. However, because the pink or blue test is classified as non-medical, it's not regulated by any federal medical guidelines.

Instructions For Using Self Hypnosis

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

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Exam Hypnosis

It was back when I was studying for my Bachelor of Science honors degree in IT & Computing that I started to notice the similarities between a computer and the subconscious mind. A computer will only function corectly if it is running a well coded program. Well, your subconscious mind is exactly the same! If it has damaging or negative programs, that come n the form of beliefs, emotions and thoughts, then it will not run effeciently. In fact, it will give you bad results just like a computer running bad software! For most people programs such as these are hard to see. For some reason human beings do not like looking at their negative qualities and bury their negative programs deep in the subconscious mind. The good news is that there is a way to find and eliminate these negative programs - self hypnosis. By using self hypnosis it is easy to gain access to the subconscious mind and remove negative programs. It is even possible to remove some programs, that have been festering in the subconscious mind and running on automatic for a lifetime, in one session - such is the power and speed of self hypnosis. Here is a quick simple guide to get you started using self hypnosis as a tool for inner, and ultimately outer, change. 1. First identify what you want. Although this may sound like an obvious thing to do many people can list all the things they don't want but are hard-pushed to list even 2 things they do want. Of those that can identify their desires many times they are nebulous in nature - "I would like more money", "I want happiness". In order to use the full power of self hypnosis and gain the most benefit from it you must know EXACTLY what you want. What will make you happy? How much money do you really want in dollars and cents? 2. Go somewhere where you will not be disturbed and find a comfortable position. Sitting or lying down are both acceptable. 3. Relax your body. Simple deep breathing often accomplishes this. You can take each part of your body in turn, from the feet to your scalp and tense then relax them. This will allow you to see where you are tense and relax that part of the body. It is important that you remember to relax your face, neck and scalp as many people overlook these areas! 4. Mentally count from ten to one. Breathe deeply throughout the countdown and in your head tell yourself you are going down deep into trance. 5. Imagine a long winding staircase and mentally take each step as you count from 10 to 1 again. This will deepen your trance and relax your body further. 6. Once at the bottom imagine that there is a doorway a little ahead of you and walk through it. This leads to a peaceful place where you feel totally comfortable and at ease. 7. Sit down in your scene and imagine yourself saying aloud any pre-made affirmations you have for change. These affirmations should focus on what you want not what you don't want and not on anything you are trying to get rid of! Just recite your affirmations for as long as it feels comfortable. Say them in your mind with meaning. Try to feel the feelings you will have when those statements are true. 8. Imagine the scene gently dissolving and you suddenly find yourself in your perfect scene (a scene that shows you already in possession of your desire or at a time when the affirmations you said are now true). Once you have immersed yourself in this visualization for a few minutes and you are feeling good simply imagine yourself back in your peaceful place. Then walk through the door and back to the staircase. You can do this quickly. Then count from 1 to 10 and open your eyes. Using this technique you will have experienced a self hypnosis state and used it to change yourself at a very deep level. ------ You can watch a free hypnosis video to get a feel for self hypnosis at Hypnosis and also get access to completely free reviews of the best self hypnosis products tested at Self Hypnosis. Article Source: About the Author:

Hypnosis - The Secret To Fast Weight Loss

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Anyone beginning a weight loss program wants fast weight loss. No body likes to count calories, measure portions, crave, binge, feel deprived, and eat foods that they dislike or suffer a starvation diet that has them feeling hungry and miserable. It is widely known that one must work on the mental and emotional aspects in order to lose weight. While hypnosis targets what is happening above the neck and in your head, the current popular weight loss methods only work on what is going on below the neck. Using hypnosis, fast weight loss can be programmed into the subconscious mind. For instance, you can be given a suggestion that every day activities such as sitting at a desk or that every time you pick up your phone, your body will respond by losing weight and continuing to lose weight until you reach your set goal. The American Medical Association approved hypnosis in 1958. Since that time, it is being used effectively for numerous applications including pain management, smoking cessation, self-improvement, and sports training. Numerous studies regarding the efficiency of hypnosis on weight loss has been studied in prestigious publications such as the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. For instance, a study of fifty females demonstrated fast weight loss with hypnosis in comparison to the control group, that experienced much lower weight loss. It is documented that with the proper suggestions; people can experience fast weight loss. Hypnosis creates a state of awareness to help people learn to look at food differently, to change eating habits and reduce cravings. More and more people are starting to see hypnosis as a solution because it makes losing weight fun and easy. Now if you want to know the true secret to fast weight loss, are you ready for this? Stop eating junk food. That is correct. Fast food is full of chemicals that cause weight gain and makes it impossible to lose weight. The biggest problem is high fructose corn syrup. If you want to start losing weight, stop eating junk food. Hypnosis is a scientific preferred method of losing weight because it is safe, natural and effective. Weight loss is simple because your mind is programmed to think differently about food. Most people don’t have the discipline or self-control to stay committed to a weight loss plan that is hard and difficult. You can experience fast weight loss with hypnosis. This process creates a mind and body connection that will allow you to gain control of your eating habits and lose weight. The real secret to weight loss success is properly programming the subconscious mind. While in hypnosis a person can be given a suggestion that food is less important to them. Suggestions can also be given so that you can experience fast weight loss. Just like magic, weight loss can be fast, easy and exciting. When food is less important, it is also less controlling. Hypnosis can help you stop thinking about food, therefore you eat less and lose weight. Hypnosis can correct your eating habits and cause you to shut the door on bad foods. Not only can you stop eating when you are full, but it also helps you gain control of unnecessary emotional eating. Furthermore a person can be programmed to really enjoy exercising, look forward to it and be extremely disappointed if they miss a workout. Programming like this is the path to fast weight loss. An added benefit to the experience is that it will reduce your stress and make you feel better, allowing you to have a peaceful sleep. Welcome the thinner, healthier, calmer, happier you by getting off the weight loss roller coaster and trying hypnosis. You will be happier with your slimmer waistline.

Ellen Degeneres being hypnotized to quit smoking

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

From Gwyneth Paltrow to Ashton Kutcher - how the stars gave up smoking

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
From: It’s Day Four of Stub it Out Week and, to finish with fags for good, take inspiration from stars who have succeeded. They prove you can be cool without lighting up. Here are some of the ways they kicked the habit.. As President Obama prepares for the political battles that lie ahead he is also waging a personal battle – to quit smoking. The new world leader – now officially non-smoking – has publicly admitted falling off the wagon during the race for the presidency. Often spotted chewing nicorette gum, he claims to have made himself “much healthier” but has struggled to kick the habit for good. And the President is far from alone. There’s an army of high-profile smokers who can’t or don’t want to kick the habit. Party girls Kate Moss, Britney Spears and Sienna Miller are always being snapped fag in hand. But for every celeb puffing away on a ciggie there’s another who has successfully quit. Here we reveal how a few famous faces have beaten the urge for a nicotine fix – and how you can follow in their footsteps. Charlotte Church Songbird Charlotte ditched the fags on New Year’s Day 2006, soon after getting together with partner Gavin Henson.
Gavin Henson and Charlotte Church (Pic:PA)
The squeaky-clean rugby star, a strict non-smoker, enrolled as an ambassador for helping people in Wales to give up cigarettes  after the introduction of the smoking ban. With her man’s encouragement, and feeling motivated by her first pregnancy, the opera singer-turned pop star was able to give fags the boot. And despite falling off the wagon last year after Wales triumphed in the Six Nations, she has stuck to her promise – urging others to do the same by  - saying smoking “looks disgusting”. “I smoked about 20 or 25 a day and I’d tried to give up a couple of times before but only lasted half a day,” says Charlotte. “The first two weeks were tough and the first month I still really missed it, but I feel so much healthier now and can really feel the difference in my voice.” Quit tips: Most women stop smoking when they discover they’re pregnant – the trick is sticking to it after the baby is born. The first few months after childbirth are stressful and it’s crucial you get support from family, friends and even your GP, to help you stick to your resolution. Dr Andy McEwen, Cancer Research UK deputy director of tobacco studies, says: “Up to 60 per cent of women who stop smoking at some point during pregnancy relapse within six months of the birth, while up to 80 per cent return to smoking within 12 months. “Partner support is very important. This needs to be maintained to ensure you don’t return to smoking.” Gwyneth Paltrow Super-healthy Gwyneth stubbed out her last ciggie when she was 24, and now she will only light up for her movie roles.
Gwyneth Paltrow (Pic: AP/PA)
She is among just 10 per cent of quitters who succeed through will-power alone. And while Gwyneth admits to still wanting the odd fag, she says she takes pleasure from knowing she can control her cravings. If you’re planning to use Gwynnie’s iron-will method, the trick is to really want to give up – otherwise you’ll soon be back on the ciggies. Quit tips A good trick is to make an effort to change your routine to avoid the times you usually light up. This might be when you’re waiting for the bus, out with friends, or like Gwyneth, relaxing after work. By finding other things to do at these times, you’ll make it easier to resist the urge to smoke. Dr McEwen said: “Motivation to stop smoking is crucial in any quit attempt, but on its own it is often not enough. “At times when people are feeling weak they can find it very difficult to resist the urge to smoke. “There is medicine and help available that significantly increase your chances of giving up, so if willpower alone isn’t working, talk to your GP.” Charlize Theron Oscar-winner Charlize was a three-packets-a-day girl until she jacked it in favour of more healthy habits such as yoga and pilates.
Charlize Theron as seen in the Ausgust issue of Elle Magazine
The glamorous star, who admits she was once a “bad, bad smoker”, used regular exercise to beat the stress that often causes ex-smokers to relapse. This method works because the natural high after working out combats any anxiety felt by smokers worried about missing their fix. Research has shown that most smokers don’t crave cigarettes after exercise, and so are less likely to fall off the wagon. Quit tips: Combined with a change in routine to avoid smoking danger points, exercise is a real winner for smokers struggling to quit. Dr McEwen says: “Short bursts of moderate physical activity can help reduce urges to smoke. “So if you’re taking brisk walks at lunch time or walking up some stairs every time you want to have a cigarette, then this will definitely help. “Again, this should be in addition to getting professional support or using effective medications. Ashton Kutcher Chain-smoker Ashton used to puff on an incredible 40 cigarettes a day, but was pushed to quit by health-conscious wife Demi Moore.
Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (Pic:Getty)
The Hollywood actor managed to kick his addiction by reading self-help books examining why people smoke. A favourite was The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr. After quitting, Ashton told a magazine: “I read the book. It gives you guidance and lets you smoke as you read – and on the final page it says ‘And now, quit’, and I closed the book, and I did!” Quit tips: Self-help books suit those who are worried about asking for help or therapy costs. Research authors first online to check their credentials. Hypnosis DVDs and CDs can also be effective and will help you relax, too. It’s not big and it’s not clever Here are a few of the die-hard smokers who just can’t resist another puff.. Kate Moss Supermodel Kate is famous for her four-pack-a-day habit, which some would say is taking its toll on her skin. Lily Allen Often dubbed fag-ash Lil, serial puffer Lily quit in 2008 after hypnosis, but soon fell back into her old ways. Colin Farrell The Irish actor makes no bones about his fondness for chain-smoking. And while the self-confessed bad boy seems to have calmed down, this is one habit he can’t kick. Sienna Miller Man-eater Sienna loves a drag on a fag. Despite the efforts of old flame Jude Law to get her to quit, her nicotine habit has never wavered. Britney Spears Not known for her self-restraint, Britney’s smoking habit has won her the nickname Puff Mama in the US. She sparked outrage last year when photos were leaked of her two-year-old son playing with her Marlboro Lights.

Teaching students how to take exams

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
n my experience, few students have been given insight to how they should approach writing an exam, or on the importance of understanding the exam's scoring scheme, in terms of the time allowed. Taking an exam, or pacing yourself correctly when completing something that is bound by time constraints, is a very important and useful skill, not only in academia, but also in the real world. With this in mind, I take time to instruct students how to be a more competent exam-taker, and with the exams I give, I help them to put this theory into practice. Read first It is surprising how many students do not read an exam before they start and simply begin with the first question and work their way through. This is not a good idea, especially if the first question is difficult and hurts their confidence. Needless to say, my first question is always very difficult and invariably worth one or two points. Read through the questions, I recommend, then make a list with three columns. In the first column, list the questions in order of difficulty, starting with the easiest. In the second column, record the maximum points awarded for each question. Third, estimate the score you believe you can achieve. Finally, add up the figures in the third column, and, hopefully, the total will be sufficient for a passing grade. On many exams, I provided them with this chart and note, and the students knew why the aid was there and used it. When students know they can pass an exam, particularly a difficult one, they should be able to relax. And while they still need to write it, this reduction in tension should help them work on the exam more efficiently. In addition, as they work on easier questions, they may find that the initially difficult questions have become easier. It is not a perfect solution and is not always applicable, for example with listening tests. With reading and writing tests, however, I encourage students to answer the questions in any order they choose based on the above guide. Time-score ratio When taking an exam, divide the time allowed by the number of questions and points being awarded. I find it heartbreaking when strong students spend an inordinate amount of time answering a question worth four points, and then lack enough time to complete the last question worth 20. In a two-hour exam, I recommend taking 10 minutes at the start to read the exam and to complete the calculations mentioned above, and trying to spare 10 more minutes at the end to review the answers, or to have enough time in case a question takes longer to answer than planned. With a 120-minute exam, this will leave 100 minutes to work on the exam itself. Then return to the table and add two more columns. In the fourth column, record how many minutes it should take to complete each answer. In the last column, record the time the first question starts and create a schedule as to when you should start answering the rest of the questions. I like to proctor my own exams so that I can write the start, finish and remaining times on the board. While I do not want to disturb the students, I will write how much time is left every 10 minutes, and I find many students realising that they are behind schedule and picking up the pace. Taking exams is not easy for many students, but it remains an integral part of their education. Hopefully, by providing tips and demonstrating the benefit that comes from organising, they will be able to handle future exams with increased confidence and levels of success.

Hypnosis in Childbirth

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Yul Brynner - Anti-Smoking Commercial

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Pregnancy gender test sparks debate

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

A Silicon Valley company has launched a new product that bundles a pregnancy test with a kit that can tell the mother whether she's carrying a boy or a girl. It tests fetal DNA from the woman's dried blood sample and has sparked a new ethical debate.

Pink or blue, girl or boy -- find out early -- as early as seven weeks into the pregnancy. "This is about the joy of knowing," said Terry Carmichael, Consumer Genetics. And so a Sunnyvale-based company, Consumer Genetics, is capitalizing on that desire with the development of a direct-to-consumer genetic testing product that reveals a baby's gender early - it's called the 'Pink or Blue' test. "The way the 'Pink or Blue' test works is by detecting small amounts of male DNA in the woman's blood. So the only way she would have male DNA in her blood is if she's pregnant with a baby boy," said Anna Vitebsky, Consumer Genetics. To avoid any possible contamination of male DNA giving an in-accurate result, this super-sensitive test requires no men be present while the pregnant woman pricks her finger to draw a blood sample for the lab card. Consumer Genetics claims an accuracy of 95 percent, or greater. Dr. David Magnus, a biomedical ethicist at Stanford University, says accuracy rate is not his only concern. "One of the questions that this technology raises is why? What's the market? What's the value?" said Dr. Magnus. He believes consumer tests like these could lend to gender disappointment, upsetting a woman who isn't carrying the gender she desired. But ethically even worse, it opens the door for gender selection -- leading to abortions, which is a cultural issue in some countries and can skew sex ratios. "We know that in China or India that actually more men are born than women and that could have very serious social consequences," said Dr. Magnus. "We do not sell our products to China for example. We do not sell our product to India," said Carmichael. "Our consent forms and policies clearly state you should not be using this for gender selection, or even for medical reasons," said Vitebsky. Consumer Genetics insists its product was never designed for gender selection purposes. Since first launching in 2006, its lab has processed results for more than 6,000 women worldwide. Because the pink or blue test is classified as non-medical, it's not regulated by any federal medical guidelines, but ethicists will be watching. "If we see some of the technology like this taking off, and we start to see it having an impact on sex ratios, that might be the point where it makes sense to start to think about putting stricter regulations or even a ban in place," said Dr. Magnus.

Pregnancy risks for obese women

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

pregnant woman on weighing scales
Obese women should try not to put on too much weight in pregnancy

A new study has underlined the high risks faced by obese women in their first pregnancy.

Scientists at Kings College in London analysed data from the pregnancies of 385 first-time obese mothers. They found that obese women had higher rates of eclampsia and premature births compared to women inside recommended weight guidelines. Obese women were nearly twice as likely to give birth to a low-weight baby, weighing less than 5lbs 8oz (2.5kg). Experts say it is a huge issue for all maternity units in the UK. The researchers, who report their findings of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology study, also took blood samples taken from 208 of the women for further analysis. High risks At birth, 18.8% of their babies were classified as having a low birth weight - they weighed less than 2.5kg. This compares with 10% of babies born to women of prescribed weight - known as the "healthy population". Babies who were deemed to be of a particularly large weight made up 13.4% of those born to the women studied, compared to 10% in a healthy population. Rates of pre-eclampsia were higher, with 11.7% of obese first-time mothers developing the condition compared to 6% of obese women with one or more previous pregnancies and 2% of the healthy population. The risk of pre-eclampsia increased according to how much weight the women put on in pregnancy. Premature births were almost twice the national average at 11.9%.
Small babies
Large babies
Premature births
Instrumental deliveries
Postpartum haemorrhage
The lead researcher, Professor Lucilla Poston of Kings College Hospital and St Thomas's Hospital, said: "The large proportion of small babies was particularly unexpected as obesity is more often associated with the birth of overweight babies. "The high number of cases of pre-eclampsia found in this group was very concerning as this is a serious pregnancy complication which, in extreme cases, can result in maternal and/or foetal death. "We must now start to consider first-time pregnancy as an additional problem in obese pregnant women, who we know are already more likely than thinner women to have a complicated pregnancy." The risks associated with prematurity and low birth weight include brain damage, difficulty with breathing, learning problems and greater susceptibility to infection. Professor Postin said the reason why obesity causes these problems is not known but it's believed that insulin resistance may be the problem. Insulin resistance is when normal amounts of insulin can't completely breakdown sugar in the diet. "Normal pregnancy induces a mild form of insulin resistance and we know that obese people become more insulin resistant and that promotes diabetes, pre-eclampsia and macrosomia or bigger babies." Increasing burden The researchers say the women in the study had a high rate of Caesarean sections and warn that increasing numbers of obese pregnancies could make a major contribution to the rise in the number of caesareans in the UK. They also point out that the women stayed longer in hospital, 4.6 days compared to a national average of three days or fewer. Professor Jane Norman, professor of maternal and foetal health at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This study underlines and emphasises the pregnancy risks for obese women. "It shows that women in their first pregnancy run a particularly high risk and that the issue about obese women is not just their weight before pregnancy but how much weight they gain during it. "Obstetricians are just starting to wake up to this. "Previously their concerns were twin pregnancies, diabetic mums and older women."
We need to ensure that women get early access to a midwife so that they can get lifestyle and weight management advice as soon as possible
Mervi Jokinen, Royal College of Midwives
Professor Norman has set up a clinic for obese pregnant women at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. There are only two such clinics in the UK. They try to encourage obese women not to gain too much weight during pregnancy. Professor Norman said the extra costs of treating them were not just down to a longer stay in hospital: "We've had to buy in lots of new equipment in order to treat obese people properly. "New operating tables and even new blood pressure cuffs because the ordinary ones give wrong readings on an obese person. "This is a huge issue for all maternity units including our own." Mervi Jokinen, from the Royal College of Midwives, said: "Obesity is an issue that is becoming increasingly prominent in maternity care and midwives are aware of the complexities and potential problems that obesity brings into pregnancy. "We need to ensure that women get early access to a midwife so that she can get lifestyle and weight management advice as soon as possible, and that this continues throughout the pregnancy and after the birth of the baby. "This survey also reinforces the need to tackle obesity not just as an issue for maternity services but as a much wider public health issue, because this is a health problem that affects men as well as women and children as well as adults."

Ex-cigarette model awaits court date

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
LAUDERHILL, Fla., Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A former pitchman for a cigarette company who is stricken with cancer vows to be around when his case finally reaches a Florida court.
Alan Landers told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he was encouraged by last week's verdict in which a jury found that nicotine addiction caused the death of a Broward County man. Landers says he is anxious for his April court date to arrive. "The tobacco companies have been waiting for me to die for years and I haven't," the 68-year-old Lauderhill, Fla., resident told the newspaper. "I am not going to give them the satisfaction of beating me." The Sun-Sentinel said Monday that Landers is among around 9,000 Floridians with pending tobacco cases; however he was for a while a public face of smoking when he appeared in numerous print and billboard ads for Winston cigarettes in the 1960s and 1970s. Landers used to smoke more than two packs a day and has since lost parts of both lungs and is still in chemotherapy, the newspaper said. © 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Menthol cigarettes may be tougher for some to quit

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Menthol cigarettes may be harder to quit than the standard variety, particularly for lower-income smokers, a new study suggests.
The findings add to evidence that mentholated cigarettes may be especially addictive, but highlight a role for socioeconomics as well, researchers say. They found that black and Hispanic smokers who favored menthol cigarettes had lower long-term quit rates than their counterparts who smoked standard cigarettes. There was no such difference among white smokers overall, but there was a pattern among unemployed whites: those who smoked menthol cigarettes had lower quit rates at one month. Previous research has found that menthol-cigarette smokers tend to have higher blood levels of nicotine than other smokers do. "This study suggests that people who smoke mentholated cigarettes -- particularly those with a low disposable income -- may inhale more nicotine and toxins per cigarette," lead researcher Kunal K. Gandhi told Reuters Health. This, in turn, may spur a stronger addiction, explained Gandhi, a researcher at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Income may enter the picture, Gandhi and his colleagues say, by altering the way in which people smoke. Low-income smokers may try to get more out of each smoke break by taking more puffs per cigarette or inhaling more deeply. Menthol makes this an easier task because its cooling effect helps mask the harshness of nicotine and other tobacco toxins. The findings, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, are based on 1,688 smokers who sought cessation therapy over four years. One-third of white patients smoked menthol cigarettes, compared with two-thirds of Latino patients and 81 percent of African Americans. Among black patients, Gandhi's team found, menthol-cigarette smokers were only one-third as likely to have quit smoking after one month as those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes. The findings were nearly identical among Latinos. Menthol smokers were still less likely to have quit at the six-month mark as well. People who smoke mentholated cigarettes may find themselves highly addicted even if their daily number of cigarettes is relatively low, Gandhi noted. Signs of strong addiction, he added, include waking up at night to smoke and needing a cigarette within a half-hour of getting up in the morning. For any smoker, Gandhi said, the chances of quitting are much greater with counseling and with prescription medications for conquering nicotine addiction. SOURCE: International Journal of Clinical Practice, February 2009.

Loss for cigarette maker in Florida smoker trial

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
By Jim Loney
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida jury ruled on Thursday that a smoker's death was caused by his addiction to cigarettes, a legal setback for cigarette giant Philip Morris in the first of potentially thousands of cases to go to trial. The jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, decided in favor of Elaine Hess, the widow of longtime smoker Stuart Hess, who died of lung cancer in 1997 at age 55. He had smoked for 40 years. The Hess trial was the first of about 8,000 cases filed following the Florida Supreme Court's landmark decision in 2006 to throw out a $145 billion jury award in a class-action lawsuit filed in the early 1990s by Miami Beach pediatrician Howard Engle on behalf of thousands of sick smokers. "The message here is that justice is slow sometimes, but it comes," said Alex Alvarez, an attorney for Elaine Hess. The ruling came in the first phase of what could be a three-phase trial. Lawyers for Hess were initially required to show that Hess' death was caused by addiction to cigarettes. "We showed that. The next phase is to decide (compensatory) damages and our entitlement to punitive damages," Alvarez said, adding that the jury can assign a percentage of liability to the tobacco company and to the smoker. Lawyers for Elaine Hess argued that Stuart Hess tried but failed to quit smoking because he was addicted to nicotine. Philip Morris lawyers argued that he could have quit. "The Hess trial is not over," Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group, said in a statement. "The jury has decided only the threshold question of whether the plaintiff can proceed in this case as a former member of the Engle class."

Bribes help workers kick the habit

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
BOSTON (Reuters) - Not only does it pay to stop smoking because your health improves, you're more likely to quit if you get paid well to do it. A study of 878 General Electric workers at 85 different facilities around the United States found that people were three times more likely to stay off cigarettes for at least six months if they were rewarded with up to $750. Earlier studies had suggested that cash incentives did not work, but those tests had been smaller and the rewards had been as little as $10, said Dr. Kevin Volpp of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who led the research reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. "Incentive programs work if they're well designed and adequately funded. If you do a low-budget incentive program, it may have little effect," Volpp said in a telephone interview. Although 70 percent of smokers in the United States say they want to quit, smoking-cessation programs do not have a high success rate. "Only about two or three percent per year actually do quit," said Volpp. Tobacco kills about 438,000 Americans annually. "Our study shows that if you're able to get people smoke-free and keep them smoke-free for six months or more, there's a fighting chance they can stay smoke-free on their own," he said. But a key question is how much an insurance company or employer should be willing to pay to get someone off cigarettes. A 2002 estimate said that having a worker quit is worth $3,400 in increased productivity and reduced illness. But those savings are not always obvious on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the study was done with highly educated white volunteers. It is not known if the findings would apply to other groups, or whether the size of the payment would affect the success rate. All of the workers in the study received information about smoking-cessation programs. Half were paid $100 for completing one, $250 for actually quitting smoking, and $400 for staying off cigarettes for at least six months, as measured by a saliva or urine test. Because of the promise of money, three times as many people participated in a stop-smoking program as did those who were just told about the program. Among those who initially quit, 14.7 percent who got the cash were still off cigarettes six months later, compared to 5 percent who got no reward. (Editing by Maggie Fox and Philip Barbara)

Cigarettes’ effects reach far beyond cloud of smoke

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

As a hospital teaching-physician I hear lots of medical histories of children admitted for breathing problems like asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis. When the question of whether either of the parents smoke comes up, many respond defensively, "Yes, but I only smoke outside." Parental smoking is a serious health problem for millions of children, regardless of where it's done. Each year more than 126 million people are exposed to secondhand smoke and 50,000 people lose their lives from it. The fact is that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke exposure. As a result, smoking bans in many public places have been put into effect, much to the dismay of many smokers. Anyone with an intact sense of smell knows when someone else has smoked in an enclosed space. It's one reason some hotel rooms are designated as non-smoking, and some rental cars reek of cigarette smoke long after anyone lit up inside them. It's just as easy to tell when a person has been smoking, as they carry the telltale odor on their person after they leave the designated smoking area. Although cigarette smoke may appear to be only a gas, in reality it's also composed of millions of pieces of fine particulate matter. In other words, it's more like dust. And these tiny smoke particles eventually come to rest on surfaces within whatever area they're blown into (not to mention your lungs). This could be a car, sofa, floor, dinner table, or bed. It also includes hair, shoes, skin, and clothing. Just smoking for one day leaves those toxins deposited there well into the future. These particles don't simply evaporate or blow away. The term coined for this toxic blanket is "thirdhand" smoke. Many smokers and nonsmokers have presumed it is relatively harmless, but that's not so. In fact, its danger has been proven well. There are 250 poisonous gases, chemicals, and heavy metals within tobacco smoke. Eleven of these smoke toxins are designated group 1 carcinogens, the highest cancer causing potential known. Also, some recent data in rats suggests that tobacco toxins are the leading cause of sudden infant death syndrome and act by suppressing the respiratory drive. Just take a closer look at a few of these poisons: carbon monoxide (like in car exhaust), cyanide (like in chemical weapons), toluene (found in paint thinners), cadmium (used to make batteries), chromium (used to make steel), lead (which can cause brain damage), ammonia (found in household cleaners) and even polonium-210 (a highly radioactive carcinogen). Thirdhand smoke is more dangerous to infants and small children. Children take in twice the amount of dust that adults do because they breathe faster and they're usually closer to dusty surfaces. When the difference in body size between adults and children is factored in, children get about 20 times the tobacco toxin exposure of adults. Just holding or hugging an infant or child after smoking outside will expose the child to these substances. My point is that any smoking threatens the health (and maybe the very life) of your children, no matter where you do it. Stop smoking for their sake, and your own.

Tips for losing weight after pregnancy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Pregnancy news: Obesity, smoking bad, and how to lose the weight after

Obese mom tied to higher infant mortality

Babies born to obese mothers are more likely to die, particularly in their first week of life, than are babies born to moms of normal weight. A study from Creighton University School of Medicine looked at medical records from more than 4,000 babies who died and 7,000 surviving babies. Of the babies who died, 8.8 percent had obese mothers, compared to 5.9 percent of the surviving babies. Researchers found that babies of obese women were at higher risk of death no matter how much weight they gained during pregnancy, but moms who gained a pound or more a week were nearly three times more likely to have a baby who died in the first year of life. The second-highest risk group was obese women who gained the least amount of weight during pregnancy, who had a 1.75 times great risk of infant death than normal weight women. The same pattern was also seen in overweight women, with those who gained the most weight having the highest risk followed by those who gained the least.

Obesity a problem for teen moms, too

Teenage mothers who are obese when pregnant have a similar risk of pregnancy complications as do obese adult women, a report in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology says. Researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, looked at 458 births to teen mothers, many of whom were African American. The girls who were obese before getting pregnant were four times more likely than thinner girls to develop gestational diabetes and were about four times more likely to require a Caesarean section, about the same rate as older women who are obese during pregnancy.

Smoking while pregnant cuts baby’s blood flow

Most people know that smoking while pregnant isn’t a great idea, and new research shows that doing so limits blood flow to the baby, which could slow his or her growth. It’s been known for half a century that smoking while pregnant often leads to lower birth weights, but it wasn’t known why. Researchers at Gentoffe University Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, studied 266 pregnant women and found that the smokers had babies who were shorter, had smaller heads and weighed less than the non-smokers’ babies. Smoking was associated with a 47 percent reduction in a protein that helps blood flood and blood vessel relaxation, as well as an 18 percent reduction in levels of HDL or good cholesterol in the blood of the fetus.

Whether you were of normal weight or overweight before getting pregnant, most new moms are interested in losing some weight after delivery. But it’s important when trying to lose weight after having a baby to be patient with yourself and not compare yourself to celebrities who seem to lose their baby weight in a flash (who’s taking care of their kids when they’re spending six hours a day in the gym, anyway?). Instead, don’t diet, because it will make you more stressed than you already are caring for a new human; eat foods full of nutrition; breastfeed if you can (definitely don’t try to cut calories if you’re breastfeeding, by the way); drink a lot of water; get some exercise; and try to get some sleep, OK?

Top 5 Most Noticable Pregnancy Skin Changes

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
  • Additional blood flow during pregnancy can cause spider veins to develop below the skin
  • That so-called pregnancy glow is not a myth – women do “glow” thanks to a combination of factors
  • Heat rash and acne breakouts are not unusual for pregnant women
  • Discolored skin patches on the face – known as the pregnancy mask – can develop in the middle of the pregnancy
When a woman is going to have a baby, her body is obviously going to go through a lot of changes. She’ll put on weight, go through morning sickness and constipation, have cravings and mood swings. But mothers-to-be also notice changes in their skin during pregnancy. Below are five of the most noticeable pregnancy skin changes. 1. Heat Rash While not necessarily visible to other people, a heat rash is one of many skin changes during pregnancy. Because of the other body changes, pregnant women are going to produce a lot more heat and perspiration. These factors combined with skin rubbing against clothes can cause an irritating skin rash to develop, especially under the breasts, under the lower abdomen, and on the inner thigh. 2. Spider Veins When you’re pregnant, you actually are pumping a higher volume of blood through your body and that can put a stress of your capillaries. As a result, you might end up developing unsightly spider veins on your skin. These look like reddish or purple lines just under the skin. As the pressure builds, they can get longer or branch out like a river. Unfortunately, spider veins don’t always disappear after pregnancy so you may need to have them removed by a dermatologist using a process known as sclerotherapy. With this treatment, a small needle is injected into the spider vein causing it to collapse. 3. Acne Breakouts One of the main reasons acne is so common during adolescence is the increase in hormone activity which causes your oil glands to start working over time. And guess what? When you become pregnant and your hormones go back into overdrive, the same phenomenon is going to lead to breakouts. The good news is that once your hormones go back to normal so will your oil glands. Until then, you’ll want to maintain a good skin care routine including daily cleansing with a mild, non-drying soap (drying too much will make the problem worse). Don’t squeeze, scratch, or mess with the pimples either or you could end up with scars that will last long after the pregnancy skin changes. 4. Pregnancy Mask Of all the possible skin changes during pregnancy, women tend to worry about the pregnancy mask the most. During the second trimester, some women develop discolored patches on their faces, usually around their forehead, cheeks, and chin. These patches are caused by an increase in melanin production in the skin thanks to the overworking hormones. There’s nothing you can do to stop the dreaded pregnancy mask from developing. If you do develop these patches, your physician may be able to recommend some safe bleaching products that can help. You can also minimize the problem by reducing your exposure to ultraviolet light which causes more melanin to be produced. 5. Pregnancy Glow If you’re pregnant now, you’ve probably already had at least one person remark on that pregnancy glow which is usually attributed to the happiness of the expectant mother about her soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. Although most moms are probably very happy about their pregnancy, the glow has a more physiological cause. The extra blood flow being pumped through the body and the increase in oil secretions combine to form that glow which, interestingly enough, you’ll also notice on women’s faces after any period of high emotion. So maybe linking the glow to happiness isn’t such a stretch after all.

Does a mum who smokes make a naughty child?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
5/2/2009 Cardiff researchers have for the first time studied whether smoking during pregnancy can directly make children more likely to behave anti-socially. The unique study by scientists at the University Schools of Medicine and Psychology examined the records of 779 children born by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) whose prenatal environment was provided by either a related mother or an unrelated mother. They found a link between anti-social behaviour in children whose mothers smoked in pregnancy – but only when the mother was genetically linked to the child. When the child came from a donated egg and donated embryo – egg or embryo donation or surrogacy - there was no link, suggesting factors other than smoking during pregnancy influence anti-social behaviour. The results of the study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is well-established that smoking during pregnancy, whether the mother is genetically related to the baby or not has an adverse effect on birth weight. But links between what mothers do in pregnancy and how it may affect the mental health and behaviour of children are less researched. While mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have anti-social children, it has not been clear if this is a direct result of the smoking. The researchers were able to study IVF children, with differing degrees of genetic relation to their parents, to disentangle the effects of genetic influences and the prenatal environment. The study is the first of its kind in the world to allow these effects to be separated. In the published paper, the researchers looked at effects of mother’s smoking in pregnancy on the child’s birth weight and the child’s behaviour, paying particular attention to mothers not genetically related to their unborn baby. Professor Anita Thapar, clinical child psychiatrist and Principal Investigator on the study said: “What we have been able to confirm is that cigarette smoke in pregnancy does lower birth weight regardless of whether the mother and child are genetically related or not, but the link with children’s behaviour is different. “It is now clear that offspring anti-social behaviour is more dependent on inherited factors passed from mother to child, as our group of children with mothers who smoked during pregnancy with no direct genetic link showed no increased signs of anti-social behaviour. “This suggests that other influencing factors such as the mother’s personality traits and other inherited characteristics are at play during the development of a baby.” Professor Thapar believes this unique approach opens the way to tease apart the effect of genes and environment on a variety of other conditions in the future and has significant policy implications. She said: “This type of research is able to tell us what sorts of interventions in pregnancy are the right ones to focus on in order to improve the physical and mental health of children.” The paper’s other authors include Dr Frances Rice, formerly of School of Medicine, and Professor Gordon Harold, formerly School of Psychology, Dr Jacky Boivin and Professor Dale Hay, School of Psychology and Dr Marianne van den Bree, School of Medicine. The Study received £125,000 from a Wellcome Trust Showcase Award for novel research, and a further £385,000 Project Grant to conduct the study.

Secondhand smoke a major killer

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Secondhand smoke is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Every year, secondhand smoke kills 53,000 Americans, more than three times as many people as drunk drivers. The U.S. Surgeon General concluded in 2006, "There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke." No longer is there a debate regarding the dangers of secondhand smoke. Big Tobacco would like everyone to believe two things. First, the overwhelming body of scientific evidence linking secondhand smoke to heart attack and cancer deaths is "junk science." Second, the right to smoke is an individual liberty second to none. The science is not in doubt. Big Tobacco would have you believe it is, but consider the source. In 1994, tobacco executives testified under oath before Congress and stated that "nicotine is not addictive." Now consider this. There have been nine comprehensive studies on the effects of secondhand smoke and the positive effects of comprehensive smoke-free laws. Every study conclusively linked these laws to significant reductions in heart attack deaths. These studies were conducted by well-respected institutions such as the Harvard School of Public Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Surgeon General, and they were published in peer-reviewed medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association. Some opponents invoke the cause of liberty. They are correct to do so, but wrong in to whom the liberty belongs. All deserve to breathe smoke-free air, and no one should have to choose between their job and their health. All we are asking is that smokers respect the rights and health of  workers. The debate is truly over. Secondhand smoke kills. As Lance Armstrong recently stated, in 10 years we will look back at this debate and wonder, "What were we debating, and why did it take us so long?"

Star Wars Anti-Smoking Ad

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Monday, February 16th, 2009
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Retro Weight Loss Advertisments"]Retro Weight Loss Advertisments[/caption]

Monday, February 16th, 2009
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Retro Cigarette Advertising"]Retro Cigarette Advertising[/caption]

Obese Women More Likely to Have Babies With Birth Defects, Study Shows

Saturday, February 14th, 2009
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Feb. 10, 2009 -- Women who are obese during pregnancy have a higher risk than normal-weight women of having babies with certain birth defects, including neural tube defects such as spina bifida, heart problems, and cleft palate and lip, according to a new review. "It is important to note that birth defects are a rare event and occur in 2%-4% of pregnancies, so the risk remains very low," says Judith Rankin, PhD, a study co-author and a reader in material and perinatal epidemiology at the University of Newcastle in England. "The last thing we want to do is scare women.” Rather, the goal is to inform them, she says, and to encourage women who are obese to get preconception counseling about weight loss. The new report, published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, is a review of previously published work. Rankin and her colleagues culled the medical literature, pooled the results of 18 studies, and reviewed the findings of 39 other studies to determine if the association between obesity and birth defects still held up. It did. Obesity & Birth Defects: The Study Rankin's team undertook the study because of the growing problem of obesity in women of childbearing age. In the U.S., one-third of women 15 and older are obese, the authors note, and those numbers are expected to rise. "This is a very important public health issue given the growing numbers of women who are obese at the start of pregnancy," says Rankin, who notes that obesity is also increasing in the U.K. Obesity & Birth Defects: Results In the new analysis, women who were obese before pregnancy or in early pregnancy had a significantly increased risk of having a baby with birth defects. The risks differed for specific problems. * The risk of spina bifida was more than two times as high for obese pregnant women, and the overall risk of neural tube defects was nearly twice as high. * The risk of cardiovascular defects was 30% higher. * The risk of cleft lip and cleft palate, either singly or together, was about 20% higher. * The risk of hydrocephaly (an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain) was 60% higher. * Limb reduction abnormalities were 30% higher. The definitions of overweight and obese differed somewhat from study to study, but many studies used those set by the World Health Organization -- a body mass index or BMI of 25 and above for overweight and 30 and above for obese. More research is needed to determine if the link between excess weight and birth defects holds for overweight women. "There isn't the same amount of research evidence for overweight as there is for obesity,'' Rankin says. Obesity & Birth Defects: Explaining the Link Exactly how obesity increases birth defect risk isn't known, but the researchers offer possible explanations. * Because maternal diabetes is known to increase the risk of birth defects, and obese women are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, the mother-to-be may have undiagnosed diabetes. * Obese women have been shown to have nutritional deficiencies, especially reduced levels of folate, which is important to prevent neural tube defects. Obese women may need more than the amount routinely recommended to prevent birth defects. The new review further confirms what physicians have known for a long time, says Sina Haeri, MD, a clinical instructor of maternal-fetal medicine and a fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. The problem with some of the previous studies, he tells WebMD, is that they had some methodological weaknesses. "So we took it all with a grain of salt," says Haeri, who recently reported that teen moms who are obese are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes during the pregnancy (gestational diabetes) and to have cesarean deliveries. In the new analysis, he says, the U.K. researchers took all the smaller studies and looked at them together and still found the obesity and birth defects link. The new analysis confirms in a convincing way what physicians have been observing and studies have been suggesting for a few years, says Peter Bernstein, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Obesity & Birth Defects: Preconception Counseling Women who are obese should have preconception counseling to minimize the risks of their excess weight to the newborns, Rankin says. That is also the opinion of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization's committee on obstetric practice issued its committee opinion on "Obesity in Pregnancy" in September 2005, recommending preconception counseling. Obese women should be informed of the risks associated with maternal obesity, be screened for gestational diabetes, and be assessed for the need for supplements of vitamins and minerals, including folate. Obese women should be advised to gain less weight than other women -- 15 pounds compared to 25 to 35 for women who were normal weight before pregnancy -- the opinion says. "The most important prenatal visit is probably the one that happens before the woman gets pregnant," says Bernstein, who serves on the CDC's Select Panel on Preconception Care. "It is not advisable to try to lose weight while pregnant," Rankin says. "The important thing is to have a sensible diet and try to eat healthfully."

Use Subliminal Audio To Make Changes In Your Mind

Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Are subliminal messages a real phenomenon? or just something that we are led to believe exists? Well, regardless of your view on it, there are many people out there who are absolutely convinced that subliminal messaging does have a tangible effect on our minds. So what actually is a subliminal message? Subliminal messaging is quite similar in that you are stimulating the subconscious mind, so that it can try and affect the conscious mind.


This may all sound quite complicated? Perhaps then I should give you an example. If you have just finished a goal setting course which required you to set targets for the future. You can work towards them at your own pace. Alternatively, you could use the technique of subliminal messaging to do this reassurance work for you. By programming your subconscious mind to believe that you are able to meet these goals, this is said to have a measurable effect on the conscious mind. In fact, you are tricking your conscious mind to believe what what the message is portraying. How does it work? Well, that is a complex question. But, I can certainly answer a different question for you. You may ask: “How do I communicate in this way with my subconscious mind?”, or “Is there something I can use to train my subconscious?” Indeed, there is. A number of websites are now offering subliminal audio cds, which are directly authored using known techniques to access the layer of the brain below the consciousness barrier. This barrier is heavily guarded by the "voice inside our head". That's why, if you try to make a subliminal message yourself, you will see a lesser result than you would by using a professionally scripted program. Are these audio courses cost efficient? Yes, they are. Going in to see a hypnotist will generally set you back by three to four hundred dollars. Hence, why not do exactly the same thing, from the comfort of your own home, in a known, friendly, and safe environment, for a fraction of the cost? The great thing about the websites which offer this type of service is that you can find a file on most topics. If you are having problems giving up smoking for example, the applicable download will be different to a file for say: success at work. This file will be different again from one on achieving those things from your goal setting program. Regardless of your needs, you should try taking a look at this new online concept. Don’t be fooled however. Just because it is new, doesn’t mean that it is not tried and tested. Pre-recorded audio cds have been used for years, and have a lot of unviersity trials and research to back up their effectiveness.

What Methods Actually Work for Quitting Smoking

Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Source: For many smokers the thought of becoming a non-smoker is alluring and for those who are truly committed to quitting they can simply stop cold turkey. Unfortunately for most smokers, quitting is a much more complicated matter and the thought of the physical and physiological withdrawal symptoms can frighten many into not even trying. Thankfully, products such as nicotine gums and patches, hypnosis, natural herbal products, and devices to simulate the act of smoking are all available to help one quit. This article will talk about these types of programs, how each works, and try to determine how well each may work. The nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges are one of the most popular techniques used and nicotine replacement therapy is just what the name implies. A smoker receives an infusion of nicotine to fight withdrawal cravings from a source separate from tobacco. This method can indeed help to fight cravings and is safer then tobacco because the body is not receiving the tar and thousands of other deadly chemicals it would get from tobacco. A problem with this method is that nicotine in itself is a poison and can cause problems such as high blood pressure, increased pulse rate, and heart disease. Another problem related to this method is that in order to quit smoking, the body must be purged of nicotine to completely remove the addition and if a smoker continues to consume nicotine, even from an alternate source, the body is not going through the necessary stage of purging itself clean of the drug and the process of quitting is extended and many times unsuccessful. This method can work, however, if the smoker is committed enough to stick to a schedule where their nicotine consumption is gradually decreased to the point where it is completely removed. Because many smokers experience psychological withdrawal symptoms as well as the physical cravings for nicotine, the method of hypnosis is often used with better results. Hypnosis works by putting the smoker into a highly relaxed state where they are extremely open to positive, healthy suggestions. The suggestions work to remove the psychological behavior that often reinforces a smokers thought patterns and once the state of a smokers mind is changed, it is said to be easier to avoid the physical cravings. Two popular programs that use this technique are the Freshstart quit smoking method www, and the QuitSmokingRightNow program and both claim to be the best available with extremely high success rates. For many people, hypnotism represents a stage show joke and is not to be taken seriously. This could not be further from the truth with the science of hypnotism being a legitimate practice that is now being used to help people quit many types of bad, health destroying habits. The practice of using all natural herbal remedies as home cures for many medical conditions has been around for thousands of years and, like hypnosis, it seems to be gaining more respect in the modern world. For whatever ailment that you may have, it is said that there is a herbal remedy to fix it and this seems to be true for quitting smoking as well. Most herbal remedies act on the nicotine receptors of a smokers body making it appear to the smoker that their nicotine requirement are being fulfilled by creating the pleasant feelings that one would normally receive from nicotine. One such product is the NicoCure quit smoking patch that not only claims to alleviate the nicotine withdrawal symptoms but is said to contain a herbal compound that actually makes tobacco taste bad to the smoker who relapses and lights up. Another product that makes some awesome claims of success is the Zero Nicotine Anti-Smoking patch. While all of the above products claim to defeat the dreaded nicotine withdrawal symptoms, there are still the psychological symptoms to deal with such as the act of smoking. While the programs that rely on hypnosis claim to remove the psychological symptoms as well as the physical, most other quit smoking programs seem to come up short in this area. Products such as the EzQuit artificial cigarette are said to help in this area. The EzQuit artificial cigarette is used as an alternative to an actual cigarette. It is held in the hand, put in the mouth, and sucked on just like a cigarette but it is not lit nor does it contain any tobacco or nicotine. The manufacture states that it contains all natural compounds that not only help to ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal but it also duplicates the actions of smoking that so many smokers miss when quitting. There are as many quit smoking programs and products available as reasons to quit and Ive only covered a few of the more popular ones currently available. What product a smoker wishing to quit uses is highly personal and unique and not every method will work for every smoker. The important thing is that you do quit and that the program that you decide to use is based on an informative and educated decision. It is my sincere hope that this article has helped to supply some useful information that can help you come to the correct decision and that you take the most important step of deciding it is time to put the health destroying habit of smoking behind you today.

Concerns over scrapping exams

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
Schools will be encouraged to explore the use of other forms of assessment that emphasise learning rather than grades alone, says Senior Minister of State for Education Grace Fu.
THE mixed reaction by parents to the recent recommendation to do away with exams in the first two years of primary education has got some MPs worried. They are particularly concerned that the introduction of regular tests on topics learnt will be more stressful than having the traditional two major exams in a year. But Senior Minister of State for Education Grace Fu stuck to her guns, reiterating the need to move away from an overly strong emphasis on exams at the lower primary level. Ms Fu, who heads the committee that did the review on primary education, also said that exams can be eased in at Primary 2 for schools that are ready. Dr Amy Khor (Hong Kah GRC) was one of several MPs yesterday who said parents were worried that the topical tests for each subject would create even more stress for children. 'The worry is that teachers who have been accustomed to an emphasis on academic achievements and school ranking may make these tests as gruelling as semestral examinations.' She cited her daughter, who is in Secondary 3 and in an integrated programme in which students skip the O levels and go on to take the A levels after six years. She felt that taking mini-tests as opposed to major year-end exams was even more demanding and stressful for her daughter. Dr Ong Seh Hong (Marine Parade GRC) also said the recommendation would not achieve its purpose if pupils still had to sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in Primary 6. 'If the end product of primary education is examination-based and result-oriented, parents would continue to steer their children towards doing well in the PSLE,' he added. Mr Michael Palmer (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) said parents felt that without exams, there would be no objective way of assessing whether their children had learnt everything needed at those levels. 'The concern centred on wanting to know whether their child was learning and progressing, and would be prepared for major examinations like the PSLE in Primary 6,' he said. Assessment by the teacher would be subjective and might not give an accurate gauge of the child's progress, he added. Ms Fu said schools would be encouraged to explore the use of other forms of assessment that put more emphasis on learning than on grades alone. 'Different modes of assessment are also useful in providing richer information on the learning of pupils, as a key purpose of school-based assessment should be to provide timely and holistic feedback to our pupils and parents,' she said. Education Minister Ng Eng Hen also touched on the issue, citing the experiences of Denmark and South Korea. These countries are now thinking of introducing exams. However, Dr Ng said exams should not be the only measure of success. 'Our students should be developed holistically if they are to be better able to excel in life and their careers,' he said. 'An over-emphasis on exam grades as the only outcome of education can be detrimental. This is especially so for lower primary students, who can be discouraged from forming good habits of learning or lose confidence because of unrealistic expectations.' He also reassured parents that the Education Ministry will ensure that there is no drop in standards of performance for PSLE subjects if the recommendation goes through.
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