Setting the Table for an Open Dialogue

White plate and cutlery on wood

Written by The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Talking to teenagers is difficult to begin with. Talking to them about drugs and alcohol is even harder. As a parent you are often met with resistance. The good news is that there are ways to engage your teen that promote open and positive communication.

As you prepare for the National Night of Conversation on November 19th, here are some effective tools to set the stage for a conversation about substances: Read more  »

Kicking the Habit Is Closer than You Think

woman quit smoking

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how much I worry about my patients with diabetes, but there’s another group I often fret about: smokers. As a society, we’ve made huge leaps in helping people quit and in preventing people from starting in the first place. In spite of that, there are still a lot of people out there who smoke. As I’ve mentioned in the past, living a healthy life is impossible if you smoke cigarettes. The damage this habit wreaks on almost every organ of your body contributes to the early death of the equivalent of two 747 planes of Americans every day. But if you’re a smoker, you’ve probably heard all of this before and chances are good you’re ready to quit. The Great American Smokeout is this week, and I want to get into what you can do to get off of cigarettes and the sorts of changes you can hope to see once you kick the habit. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Get Your Flu Shot From Uber, How to Make Healthy Foods Taste Good, and a Vaccine to Help Cholesterol

If you still need to get your flu shot, call an Uber on Thursday, November 19th, to help you out. After last year’s huge success, Uber is once again offering $10 flu shots to certain major cities in the U.S. “Organizers plan to have more than 10,000 flu shots available. Hundreds of nurses will be at the ready in Uber vehicles across the country, with the specific number varying by city, Maxwell said. The $10 fee will cover a portion of the total cost; the remainder is being donated by Uber, Passport Health, and Epidemico, a public health data mining company owned by Booz Allen Hamilton.” All you will need to do on Thursday is log into the Uber app and order a car like you normally would. However, this time around the car comes equipped with a nurse to give you the shot at your home or office. (Washington Post)

Scientists are trying to manipulate the brain into thinking healthier foods are more delicious to aid in issues such as obesity and improper nutrition. Neurogastronomy is the ability to change neuron signals in order to trick the brain via taste or smell that something is delicious, whether a person likes the food or not. “They could help make nutritious food more appealing to people whose taste and smell receptors are greatly altered because of chemotherapy. In the case of patients struggling with compulsive eating or obesity, the techniques could make nutritious foods at least as enticing as foods they crave.” While researchers are not making broccoli taste like chocolate just yet, those are the hopes for the future—to make physically flavoring foods obsolete and instead have foods mentally “flavored” to help a series of health issues. (WSJ)

A vaccine could help lower cholesterol. The vaccine has only been tested on mice and monkeys so far, but researchers are hopeful that it will have positive effects on the human body. “The vaccine targets a protein called PCSK9 that’s involved the management of cholesterol levels in the blood. By interfering with PCSK9, the researchers are able to lower cholesterol in the blood, and have shown that just one vaccination has significantly cut down on LDL cholesterol (considered the bad type of cholesterol) levels in lab animals.” The vaccine appears to be more effective than using a statin to control cholesterol and risk of heart disease. (Time)

Mindfulness Meditation May Help Ease Pain

woman meditating relaxing

Pain is part of our daily lives, from the occasional ache of sitting too long to the burning pain from touching a hot plate by accident. Pain can come and go, but how intense it is when it arrives and how quickly it goes away comes down to a complex interplay between the sensation of damage to the body and the way the brain chooses to interpret that information. New research has now found that mindfulness meditation may be the next big player in pain prevention by shifting the balance in how the brain perceives and interprets pain. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: Talking to Your Kids About Drugs and Alcohol, 6 Down-There Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore, The Skinny on 5 Popular Diet Plans, and More


This week on Sharecare we’re helping you compare different diet programs, sharing expert advice on how to talk with your kids about drug and alcohol use, and letting you know which “down-there” symptoms you should never ignore.

1. Join the National Night of Conversation on Thursday, November 19 and learn ways to tackle the tough topic of drugs and alcohol with your kids. It may not be an easy conversation, but it’ll be one you’ll be glad you had.

2. Herbal “Viagra” isn’t as natural as you may think. Learn why you shouldn’t trust these kinds of supplements and discover what you can do to avoid a trip to the ER.

3. Do you have icky “down-there” symptoms you’re too embarrassed to discuss with your OB/GYN? Constant bloating, vaginal discharge and abnormal bleeding are a few of the symptoms you won’t want to keep to yourself. Here’s why.

4. You’re ready to start exercising, eat right and finally get your weight under control. But with all those diet programs out there, it can be hard to know which ones are actually worth your time. Flip through these diet plans to see which may work best for you.

5. Tapeworms have crawled their way into the health headlines recently – but it’s not anything to panic (or be too grossed out!) about. Discover why tiny tapeworms are making big news lately, as well as six must-know facts about the parasites.

Bacteria Thrive on Unwashed Knives, Greater on Graters


Reusing knives, graters, and other cutting tools in the kitchen is pretty common practice. Most get a quick rinse to remove anything seemingly left on the surface and are thrown back in the drawer. But that practice may not be so good for your health. A new study out this week had a look at how poor cleaning practices affect the bacterial contamination left on them after use. Their findings demonstrate why it’s so important to give cutting tools a thorough wash before they find their way back into the cupboard. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Pain Alleviation From Meditation, Exercise to Help the Flu Shot, and How Change in Humor Could be a Red Flag for Dementia

Meditation might be able to alleviate certain physical and emotional pain. A study began due to the questioning of whether or not meditation really is effective for pain management, or if it acted as more of a placebo—people believing it helps simply because the idea of meditation is currently popular. Researchers “recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains using an MRI while they experienced painful heat with a 120-degree thermal probe. Then, the researchers sorted them into four groups and gave them four days of training. Everyone thought they were getting the real intervention, but most of them were getting a sham treatment… mindfulness meditation outperformed them all. In this group, pain intensity was cut by 27% and emotional pain reduced by 44%.” These numbers were pretty significant considering morphine has been tested to reduce pain by 22 percent, the researchers believe the increased number had something to do with the act of being mindful and therefore activating certain parts in the brain to help manage pain. (Time)

Frequent exercise for men may help the effectiveness of the flu shot. Exercise helps improve the body’s immune system, therefore protecting it from viruses such as the flu as well as increasing the level in which the flu shot helps aid the body. “Men who were consistently active for up to two decades or longer had significantly greater seroprotection, or antibody levels capable of fighting an influenza infection, to three common influenza strains compared with inactive men.” The study only looked at men and only seemed to show effectiveness in men who engaged in moderate to intense exercise on a regular basis. (WSJ)

Drastic change in humor and personality can be a sign for developing dementia. Researchers found that changes such as inappropriate humor–like laughing at a funeral–could be tell-tale signs of a certain type of dementia developing within the brain.  “There are many different types of dementia and frontotemporal dementia is one of the rarer ones. The area of the brain it affects is involved with personality and behaviour, and people who develop this form of dementia can lose their inhibition, become more impulsive and struggle with social situations.” The researchers are not yet sure how the change is caused as well as signs that could develop years before that should be a red flag but are not. (BBC)

What You’re Not Told About Mammograms

Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogram

Last month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released a new set of guidelines for breast cancer screening. This left many of us with more questions – now six different groups recommend three different ages to start screening. The choice of when to start is further encouraged to be a woman’s personal decision with her doctor. However, the current guidelines are confusing at best (as a physician myself, I was certainly confused), and occasionally misleading. Read more  »