January 2018
In this issue

Here are 5 podcast programs, all focused on science and health topics, to enjoy as you exercise, drive, or do chores.

Rather than take expensive dietary supplements to foster a healthy gut, choose more foods that help your digestive system and fewer that work against it.

Which screening tests should you get and which are a waste of money (or worse)?

If a loved one with dementia has been prescribed the drug Nuedexta, this article is must-reading.

As a hospital patient, there are measures you can take to lower your odds of becoming infected with Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a bacterial cause of diarrhea that can be hard to treat.

What is the most effective treatment for severe obesity - dieting, exercising, or surgery? 

Blood Pressure
Preventing High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure has been creeping up, you may be able to bring it down to a healthier level by changing some of your daily habits. This page has lots of information on making wise choices for your cardiovascular health.

How High Is Too High?
You may have heard about a new guideline released by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) in November. It sets a lower threshold for diagnosing high blood pressure (hypertension) - a systolic pressure of 130 or more, or a diastolic pressure of 80 or more. Using the new guideline, nearly half of American adults are hypertensive.
However, since it did not make the news, you are probably unaware that the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) released a statement saying they do not endorse the new guideline. Partially because family doctors focus on a broad array of health issues rather than just heart health, the AAFP supports the older, higher threshold of 140/90. A blog post about the media's failure to cover the controversy does a good job of explaining the AAFP's position.
Getting a Valid Blood Pressure Reading
No matter which hypertension definition you and your doctor prefer, high blood pressure should be diagnosed only after it has been correctly measured on at least two occasions. Unfortunately, harried medical personnel rarely ensure that all steps necessary to obtain a valid reading have been taken. Some of these steps are ones you can easily take on your own; others you may need to discuss with the person taking your pressure.  
Choosing Your Toothpaste
This article initially discusses the safety of triclosan, a chemical present in Colgate Total toothpastes, then concludes with lots of helpful information about selecting toothpastes for various purposes - whitening, making teeth less sensitive, fighting bacteria, or avoiding canker sores. 

Alcohol & Cancer Risk
The American Society of Clinical Oncology recently warned that even light alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. Most reports about the advisory sounded alarming, but typically failed to discuss important details: How substantial is the increased absolute risk? When you look at mortality from all causes - not just cancer - how do light and moderate drinking affect life expectancy? Here is information to put the warning in context and help you evaluate how concerned you should be. 
Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in using scents and oils derived from aromatic plants for medicinal purposes. Articles in the popular media about essential oils often include glowing testimonials from users and confident quotations from sellers, but fail to mention what research has - or has not - discovered about these products' health effects.
An exception is this excellent article, which examined the safety and efficacy of aromatherapy and other uses of essential oils. You may also want to explore these additional details, which include information about using oils for specific health issues (especially, but not only, cancer), and a few safety concerns users should be aware of.
Restless Leg Syndrome
People with restless leg syndrome have an uncontrollable urge to move their legs when awake and lying or sitting still. Although its cause is poorly understood, self-care measures can help, and medications are available for more severe cases.

Lab Tests
If you have questions about a laboratory test - what it may reveal, how you should prepare, the procedure itself, or the significance of your results - here are two excellent sources of information.  
  • MedlinePlus.gov has easy-to-understand information in English and Spanish for over 50 common tests.
  • LabTestsOnline.org has more detailed information, including reference values, and covers a larger number of tests.
If you need to access these resources at a later date, you can always find them listed among the"General Health & Medical" recommended Health Links of our website.  

All events are open to the public. Some require pre-registration.
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Mountain View - Saturdays
Palo Alto - various dates
San Jose - Saturdays in January
San Jose - Tues., 1/9
San Jose - Tues., 1/9
Palo Alto - Tues., 1/9
Santa Clara - Tues., 1/9
Mountain View - Tues., 1/9
Weight-loss surgery
Los Gatos - Thurs., 1/11
Mountain View - Tues., 1/16
San Jose - 5-session class begins Fri., 1/12
Mountain View - Sat., 1/13
Mountain View - Tues., 1/16
Mountain View - Wed., 1/17
Mountain View -Thursdays, 1/18-2/8
Palo Alto - Thurs., 1/18
Palo Alto - Thurs., 1/18
Palo Alto - 6-month program begins Thurs., 1/18
San Jose - 6-week program begins Sat., 1/20
In Mandarin: Mountain View - Sun., 1/21
In English: Mountain View - Tues., 1/23
Santa Clara - Mon., 1/22
Los Gatos - Tues., 1/23
Gilroy - Tues., 1/23
Palo Alto - Sat., 1/27
Suicide prevention
San Jose - Sat., 1/27 or Mon., 2/5
San Jose - Sat., 1/27
Santa Clara - Mon., 1/29
Sunnyvale - Tues., 1/30
San Jose - Tues., 1/30
Mountain View - Wed., 1/31
San Jose - Sat., 2/3
Santa Clara - Mon., 2/5
Campbell - Mon., 2/5
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