February 2018
In this issue

Have you ever wondered why there are so many studies of the "health benefits" of chocolate? Or if you should believe them?  
If you are offered a free carotid artery screening at a health fair, you might want to say "No, thanks!" 
Here's a guide to the most effective ways to manage cold and flu symptoms. You may also be curious about various complementary approaches.
This simply written information may help with decision-making if you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
If you are a woman who has frequent urinary tract infections, check that you know all the tips listed under "How Can I Prevent UTIs?" in an article from WomensHealth.gov.
Should you use iodized salt?

In a recent, large-scale study, people who reported eating tree nuts and peanuts had a lower incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. The research did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but its results add to the growing body of evidence that nuts are not only good, but also good for us.

Food Allergies
Having an accurate food allergy diagnosis is really important since avoiding suspect foods takes a toll - socially, emotionally, and financially - on both the patient and his or her family.
Unfortunately, many people who believe they have food allergies don't really. There are several reasons for this: Kids who had allergic reactions when young often outgrow them after a few years. Skin prick and blood tests that indicated a food sensitivity may have been misinterpreted. Or another health condition could have been mistakenly diagnosed as a food allergy.
The most reliable test is the oral food challenge - eating the possible allergen while under direct medical supervision. An allergist may recommend a challenge if a patient's medical history and recent sensitivity tests suggest that a given food may be safe. If you have not had a serious bad reaction in adulthood, or your child has not had a bad reaction in several years, you could ask your allergist to evaluate whether a challenge would be appropriate.

Purposely eating a possible allergen may seem scary after years of avoiding it. Here are two reassuring articles: a detailed explanation of how the tests are done, and a report on research which found a low incidence of allergic reactions when properly selected patients underwent challenges.   
Hormonal Contraceptives & Cancer
It has been hoped that modern birth control pills and hormone-releasing IUDs would not elevate breast cancer risk. However, a well-regarded study indicates they do raise the risk of cancer slightly, much like their older, higher-dose counterparts.

In light of this research, some experts recommend women limit the length of time they use hormonal forms of birth control.  

Prevent Sports Injuries Now to Avoid Arthritis Later
When a joint has been seriously injured, it is far more likely to develop arthritis later. Knee injuries, especially anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, are common in sports such as basketball, soccer, tennis, handball, gymnastics, and skiing because they require abrupt changes in direction or velocity. After an ACL repair, people - even teens - commonly develop osteoarthritis within 10 to 20 years.

Because injury is so unpleasant in both the near and long-term, prevention is critical. Strengthening muscles that support vulnerable joints can significantly lower the risk of injury. This is especially important for girls and women, who are far more susceptible to ACL tears.

Individuals can protect their knees by regularly doing the exercises shown in this PDF or this video. Coaches can reduce player injuries by adding a proven program of conditioning to team practices.
Caregiving Focus for Silicon Valley Reads
Every year since 2003, the Silicon Valley Reads program (SVR) has chosen books to catalyze discussion and thought on a specific topic of interest to South Bay community members. This year's selections "spotlight the challenges of caregiving and the importance of community support during tough times." In a memoir, the author copes with his wife's mental illness; in a novel, a daughter helps her father who has Alzheimer's. SVR also suggests three titles for kids and teens.

A wide variety of related events and activities - including readings and talks with the featured authors; mindfulness programs for kids, teens, and adults; care-mapping workshops; documentaries about caregiving; and presentations on new research - are slated for February, March and early April.

Hosted by a variety of organizations and agencies, these events are open to the public. Some require pre-registration.
.....* Fee for participation
.....^ Scroll down the linked page

Los Gatos - Thursdays
San Jose - Thursdays; Fridays; Saturdays
San Jose - Multiple dates
Meditation/mindfulness/stress relief 
Milpitas - Thursdays
Gilroy - Mon., 2/12
Gilroy - Tues., 2/20
Family caregiving across generations (listing is not in chronological order)
Multiple films, dates, & locations in San Jose
Campbell - Mon., 2/5
Saratoga - Tues., 2/6
Gilroy - Tues., 2/6
Mountain View - Tues., 2/6
Santa Clara - Tues., 2/6
Palo Alto - Tues., 2/6
Palo Alto - Tues., 2/6
Palo Alto - Wed., 2/7
San Jose - Wed., 2/7
Mountain View - Thurs., 2/8
San Jose - Thurs., 2/8
Healthy habits for brain & body (in English & Mandarin)
Saratoga - Fri., 2/9
Milpitas - Sat., 2/10
Palo Alto - Tues., 2/13
San Jose - Tues., 2/13
Caregiver's workshop (the first link below has details about the workshops) 
San Jose - Mon., 2/12
Morgan Hill - Tues., 2/13
Campbell - Thurs., 2/22
Saratoga - Fri., 3/2
Gilroy - Mon., 3/5
San Jose - Tues., 2/13
Los Altos - Tues., 2/13
Sunnyvale - Thurs., 2/15
Mountain View - Sat., 2/17
Mountain View - Tues., 2/20
San Jose - Thurs., 2/22
Palo Alto - Thurs., 2/22
San Jose - Thurs., 2/22
Mountain View - Mon., 2/26
Los Altos - Mon., 2/26
Mountain View - Sun., 3/4
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