Seniors: Improve your health by going to the dogs

By Laurie Edwards-Tate

Dogs Help Seniors HealthAmericans love their dogs. Four out of ten households in the U.S. own at least one dog, a total of 77.5 million dogs. Study after study finds that pets bring many benefits to people. They offer companionship, encourage exercise, foster social contact, and help people cope with stress.

Pets provide special enrichment to the lives of seniors. A study in the Journal of American Geriatrics demonstrated that “seniors living on their own who have pets tend to have better physical health and mental well-being than those who don’t. They are more active, cope better with stress and have better overall health. They also reported shorter hospital stays and less health care costs than non-pet owners.”

In another study by British psychologist Dr. Deborah Wells, she confirms through a review of numerous health studies that pet owners are in better general health than people who do not own pets.

Full story at The Washington Times

Study: Trauma, stress may contribute to bowel disorder

By Robert Preidt

Stress Contributes to Bowel DisorderMajor psychological and emotional events experienced over a lifetime may contribute to the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a new study.

Researchers looked at 2,623 people and found that psychological and emotional traumas — such as divorce, death of a loved one, house fire, car accident, and mental or physical abuse — were more common among adults with IBS than those without the condition.

Dr. Yuri Saito-Loftus, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., was scheduled to present the findings Monday at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Washington, D.C.

“While stress has been linked to IBS, and childhood abuse has been reported to be present in up to 50 percent of patients with IBS, at a prevalence twice that of patients without IBS, most studies of abuse have focused on sexual abuse with sparse detail and also have not looked at other forms of psychological trauma,” said Saito-Loftus in an ACG news release.

Full story at USA Today

Experts offer ‘lucky 13’ tips for safe and healthy Halloween

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Safe Trick or TreatingFrom decorative contact lenses to face paint, experts warn that Halloween costumes may result in a wide array of potentially serious health issues from falls to allergic reactions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and theU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provided the following “lucky 13” guidelines on how kids and their parents can enjoy a fun and safe Halloween:

• Choose flame-resistant costumes. Store-bought costumes should read “flame-resistant” on the label. Homemade costumes should be made out of flame-resistant fabrics, like polyester or nylon.

• Glow in the dark. Wear bright colors or costumes with reflectors to ensure being visible in the dark. Also, to avoid tripping, make sure costumes aren’t too long.

Full story at USA Today

Men Struggle With Binge Eating Too, Study Finds

By Stephanie Pappas

Man Binge EatingBinge-eating disorder, in which people compulsively and frequently consume large amounts of food, is as destructive for men as for women, a new study finds. Nonetheless, men are less likely than their female counterparts to seek treatment.

In part, this reluctance to get help may be because research on binge eating tends to focus on women, and eating disorders aren’t seen as “male” diseases, said study researcher Ruth Striegal of Wesleyan University.

“Binge eating is closely linked to obesity and excessive weight gain as well as the onset of hypertension, diabetes and psychiatric disorders such as depression,” Striegal said in a statement. “However, most of the evidence about the impact of binge eating is based on female samples, as the majority of studies into eating disorders recruit women.”

Full story at Live Science

What to Do When You ‘Just Can’t Quit’

By Dr. Daniel Seidman

Quit SmokingFirst, the good news: The 46 million people (20.6 percent of all adults) who smoke in the U.S. are now outnumbered by former smokers. Between 1965 and 2004, smoking rates dropped by more than half, from 42.4 percent to 20.9 percent. About a month ago, New York City announced that just 14 out of 100New Yorkers are still smoking. That’s a 35 percent decline, or approximately 450,000 fewer adult smokers since 2002. So obviously people want to and can quit smoking.

Yet while most people quit relatively easily and without smoking cessation therapies like nicotine replacement therapy or counseling, other smokers struggle for years, further compromising their health. Some former smokers say quitting is the hardest thing they have ever done. Clearly, when it comes to quitting, all smokers are not alike.

For those who struggle mightily with quitting smoking, the belief that “some people just can’t quit” resonates with their broken confidence in their ability to quit. Emotional beliefs and cognitions crop up around the physical realities of addiction such as: “I can learn to keep this under control,” or “I need this to cope with stress” or “I just can’t quit.” The biology of addiction and withdrawal and the psychological dynamics of smoking addiction conspire to undermine the smokers’ self-confidence, which is a central component of long-term quitting success (1). The addiction itself destroys smokers’ confidence that they can quit, good therapy rebuilds it so they can restore themselves to a smoke-free life.

Full story at Huffington Post