Secrets from the World’s Most Beautiful Skin Doctors

Face cream woman

Hello from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Annual Meeting in San Diego! The ASDS meeting is the most comprehensive educational meeting for procedural dermatologists; those that are experts in skin cancer surgery or aesthetic dermatology. And although the meeting was jammed with new technology and procedures to help improve the health and beauty of the skin, what struck me most was the health and beauty of the skin of the doctors at the meeting. Many of my female colleagues, whose age range from 45 to 65, continue to look luminous and youthful. Clearly these are women that know a thing or two about skin care! Their skin has a glow that radiates health and vitality. So why do they look so good? I asked my friends and colleagues about their own personal skin tips and tricks. Here are some common themes I heard over and over again: Read more  »

Easy Tips to Treat Yourself While Cutting Stress

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During crunch times in our lives, we often long to find ways to make ourselves feel happier. One of the worst ways we can do this is by turning to comfort foods, which are often very unhealthy and can lead to weight gain and contribute to disease down the road. But depending on what you do, treating yourself can actually be great for your health while boosting your mood and cutting your stress. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Stressful Relationships, Occupations and Mastectomies

Stressful relationships related to cognitive decline. Stressful relationships can take an enormous toll on the mental health and well-being of both members of a couple. But new research has found that those relationships may be affecting your brain’s ability to function as well. “Participants who reported more negative aspects of close relationships also tended to have more rapid cognitive aging, based on the periodic testing. Negative aspects of close relationships refer to unpleasant social exchanges when the recipient finds the relationship ineffective, intrusive or over-controlling.” The testing looked at both how well participants remembered words and how easily they could use the language they knew. “For people in the top-third of reported negative relationship aspects, compared to those in the bottom third, the extra decline was equivalent to an added year of aging, the researchers found. People who reported the most negative aspects of close relationships were also more likely to have symptoms of depression and diabetes than others.” The researchers say that while the effect is small, it still provides insight into how the circumstances of our lives affect the decline of our brain as we age. (Reuters)

Using your brain at work keeps it working into old age. The old adage “use it or lose it” has long been known to apply to muscles, but it seems like it might also apply to your brain, too. “In a large group study of 70-year-old Scots, people who worked intellectually demanding jobs–which required flexibility, focus, problem-solving and lots of interaction with others–were smarter and had better memories than those whose jobs were less cognitively demanding. That finding held up even after researchers accounted for early differences in intelligence, education and childhood circumstances.” The benefits applied not only to intelligence, but the speed at which a person’s brain worked as well. The individuals were followed over time since childhood. “The new research suggests that when a child with modest cognitive abilities grows up and is drawn into complex work, he or she is more likely to become an older adult with better-than-usual mental function. To the extent that bright children are funneled into menial occupations, they’re also likely to lose some of the mental horsepower they start out with.” (LA Times)

Women continue to choose mastectomy over equally effective conserving surgery. Breast cancer is a terrifying diagnosis that deserves rapid and aggressive treatment. But many studies have found that surgery that includes radiation and removal of the tumor while leaving the breast in place is just as good at getting rid of cancer as surgery that removes the entire breast. “However, a new study shows that a rising number of early stage breast cancer patients eligible for lumpectomy are undergoing mastectomy. The percentage of early stage breast cancer patients eligible for breast conservation surgery who underwent mastectomy rose from 34 percent in 1998 to 38 percent in 2011. The largest increases were among patients with lymph-node-negative, contained cancers–tumors that did not show evidence of spreading.” According to one author, “while we’ve known for a long time that survival from breast cancer is equivalent comparing lumpectomy with mastectomy, there are clearly other forces–such as aesthetics, genetics and anxiety related to future screening–that are also driving surgical decision-making, especially for younger women with breast cancer.” Others surmise more women may be opting for the procedures now that reconstruction options have become so advanced. (CBS)

It’s Time to Get the Smoke Out of Your Life

woman quit smoking

I know you’ve heard me talk a lot about the evils of smoking on my show, and I want to assure you that I’m not trying to nag. I’ve watched many of my patients struggle with smoking even when they know about the horrible health effects. Nicotine is one of the most addictive compounds we know about, and quitting cigarettes is extremely hard.

With that said, thousands of Americans kick the habit for good every year, often after several attempts. In honor of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, I wanted to go through a few recent medical findings that might help push you to kick the habit for good. Read more  »

Bigger Than the Ice Bucket Challenge

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It popped into our lives 90 days ago and grew like nothing I’d ever seen. Bigger than Shake Weight, and with more power than Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge pulled eyeballs to digital devices worldwide and plucked bucks from our pockets to help others in need. More than $100 million has been donated to the ALS Association in the months following the flash, and many have learned more about this little-understood disease in those three months than in the past three decades.

Why hadn’t more been done for ALS in the past decades? Why did it take so long to grab a headline beyond one tied to Lou Gehrig, the baseball legend who died from the disease? The reasons just might surprise you and it’s most definitely bigger than the ice bucket. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Happy Walking, Gut Bacteria and Texting Pain

Walking like a happy person can make you happy. The way you walk may not seem to reflect how you’re feeling, but it turns out your strike says a lot about your mood. “When people are happy, they tend to walk faster and more upright, swing their arms and move up and down more, and sway less side to side than sad or depressed people.” Researchers wanted to see if changing the way you walk could help boost your mood. “A recent study found that deliberately walking like a happy person can lift one’s spirits. And adopting the gait of a depressed person can bring on sadness.” The authors of the study point out that this is just one more easy way people can improve how they feel every day. They also hope that it might help those with depression. As one member of the team put it, “There is a mutual influence between mood and body and movement. There might be specific types of movements that are specific to depression and feeds the lower mood in a vicious cycle.” (Fox)

The bacteria in body may influence your weight. There’s been a lot of talk about what the bacteria in your body might be doing, but it looks like your weight might also be affected. “Researchers at Cornell University have identified a family of microbes called Christensenellaceae that appear to help people stay lean–and having an abundance of them, or not, is strongly genetic. Someday, it may be possible to have the Christensenellaceae clan adopt you, however. Mice that received transplants of the bacteria gained less weight than untreated mice eating the same diet.” The researchers wondered whether the increased use of antibiotics that kill gut bacteria indiscriminately might be contributing to obesity through this bacterial slaughter. To investigate, they looked at the bacteria in 416 pairs of fraternal versus identical twins and found that lean twins had a lot more Christensenellaceae than the obese twins. “As of now, scientists don’t know how Christensenellaceae affects human metabolism or even how it is inherited. The speculation is that human genes affect which bacteria flourish and which dwindle–much like seeds fare better or worse in different soil.” (WSJ)

Cell phones may be causing your neck and back pain. The human head is heavy, which means the neck bears a lot of weight as we move around during the day. But researchers are realizing the angle of your neck can affect how heavy the head feels, which can lead to neck pain down the line. “People spend an average of 2 to 4 hours each day with their neck bent at an unnatural angle while shooting off emails or texts. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours a year. The average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds when it’s in the upright or neutral position. However, because of that pesky thing called physics–gravitational pull–the cranium becomes heavier the more you bend your neck.” To get a better sense of the weight felt by the neck, the researchers tested the force put through the neck at different head tilts. “His study found that bending your head at a 60 degree angle is putting 60 pounds of pressure on your cervical spine, the portion of the spine above the shoulders. Tilting your head a mere 15 degrees puts 27 pounds of pressure on your spine; a 30 degree neck tilt could equal 40 pounds of pressure; a 45 degree tilt adds the force of 49 pounds.” The authors of the study recommend that users of tablets and cell phones try to look at their screens from a neutral angle whenever possible to avoid soreness and long-term neck and back issues. (CBS)

Aspirin May Not Help If You Haven’t Had a Heart Attack

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After starting its life as a painkiller, aspirin has quickly become a go-to drug for those with symptomatic heart disease. It works by blocking the activity of certain proteins that are key to starting the inflammatory process, which is how it blocks pain after a variety of insults to the body. Within that family of proteins is one used by platelets, the clotting cells of your blood. When aspirin enters the bloodstream, it makes it harder for platelets to stick together and clot, thereby “thinning” the blood. Read more  »