Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tips for staying healthy - inside and out

Women. We are strong as iron, courageous, intuitive, resilient, independent, delicate as a sunflower, ambitious and complex.  As women we are also at higher risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in women, claiming the lives of almost 300,000 women in 2009, an estimated 1 out of 4 deaths.  We are also susceptible to other diseases, such as: diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.  

How do we stay healthy inside and out, while juggling life, career, motherhood and relationships? 
Here are a few tips for women:

Live life with a purpose.  People who express happiness are less likely to develop Alzheimer; in fact, in a recent study, people who scored 4.2 out of 5 on the purpose-in-life measure were about 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who scored 3.0.

Eat smart. Eat nutritious meals and from time to time, add an essential ‘super’ ingredient to your recipe such as garlic, an antioxidant known for fighting inflammation, staving off cancer, boosting heart health and a defense for everyday illnesses. Increase your calcium intake, which helps prevent osteoporosis.  Women between 19-50 years old should consume 1,000 milligrams or eat 3-4 servings of food that are high in calcium. So go on, enjoy a healthy cheese platter, in moderation.

Be good to yourself, you’re a Queen.  You are your best advocate or adversary; so treat yourself like a queen.  Stay connected with a good network of people, this is associated with greater longevity.  Studies show that the risk of solitude is comparable to having high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. Staying positive is also associated with a stronger immune system. People with a brighter, more optimistic attitude produce a greater amount of antibodies.  Ladies, smile and be merry.

Exercise…and NO you don’t have to be a gym junkie! Most of us probably drool at the site of perfect abs and toned features, but remember, this is not contingent to staying healthy.  Build a realistic schedule that works for YOU, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished, even if they are baby steps or milestones. In addition to having a host of health benefits, i.e. lowers your risk of arthritis, diabetes and heart disease, exercise is also proven to improve your mood.  In fact, it is proven to be an effective tool for people who are depressed, e.g. anti-depressant medication.

Overwhelmed? Go on, treat yourself.  We are not referring to the Memorial Day shopping spree, all shoes ½ off; try a more profound treat for stress.  Try getting a massage, and don’t feel guilty if you’re surrounded by burning candles and pleasant aromas! Massages are shown to reduce anxiety, blood pressure and builds immunity. Nibble on some chocolate, eating as little as a quarter of an ounce lowers your risk of experiencing a heart attack and stroke.  Dance, dance, dance; weight bearing exercise, like dancing, keeps your bones healthy, while relieving lots of stress.  Finally, pop the cork, in moderation; enjoy a glass of wine or champagne with your favorite person.  According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who consumed between 1.5 and 3 drinks daily had a 27% and 61% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese, respectively, than women who didn’t drink at all.

Remember, health is holistic, encompassing our physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual well-being. It is precious; women let’s treat it as such.
Lidyvez Mejia, MPH




Monday, May 16, 2016

Could there be racial bias in your prescription for pain?

False beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites lead to disparities in medical assessment and treatment according to a study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   The study examined racial bias in perception of others’ pain among white laypeople (group 1) and white medical students/residents (group 2) as well as the extent to an number of false beliefs were endorsed, including:

  • “blacks age more slowly than whites”
  • “blacks’ nerve endings are less sensitive than whites’”
  • “blacks’ skin is thicker than whites’”
  • “blacks are more fertile than whites”

In both groups, participants who held false beliefs rated black (vs. white) patients’ pain as lower.  Among medical students and residents, although percentages holding these beliefs were lower than among laypeople (50% vs. 75%), they were still quite high, and this perception led to bias in treatment recommendations.

Historically, these beliefs were used to justify slavery and the mistreatment of blacks in medical research such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.  Today, they more likely stem from unconscious bias rather than overt racism.  Perhaps they reflect greater empathy toward white patients (ingroup favoritism) or perception of whites’ frailty.  Whether similar beliefs are held by practicing physicians of both races is unknown.  However, the findings in this study underscore the importance of examining, exposing and rectifying racial disparities in healthcare at all levels.

Read the original publication:


                                                                                                                                Judith Wolf, MD

                                                                                                                                Associate Director, WHEP