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August 2012

Healthy Living | Nutrition & Diet | Men’s & Women’s Health | Social Factors

entary complim

e take on



living with

sickle cell disease the war against

cervical cancer dating violence

common among teens


of the heart congenital heart disease

letter from the publisher

Masthead publisher DAVID MILLER ceo NATALIE COLE production & art director JOSE TORRES layout artist MARTHA E. GOMEZ

Welcome to the July-August issue of Healthier You. This issue concerns itself with congenital heart defects. The word congenital refers to something that has existed from birth, and the defect has to do with the structure of the heart. These are the most common birth defects, and they can range from simple to complex. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, they can involve: > The interior walls of the heart > The valves inside the heart > The arteries and veins that carry blood to the heart or the body We’re talking about a disease that affects eight in every 1,000 newborns, so it is not surprising that there are about 1 million Americans living with this disease. The good news is there are plenty of people on the planet with congenital heart defects living long lives. The Institute says: “The diagnosis and treatment of complex heart defects has greatly improved over the past few decades. As a result, almost all children who have complex heart defects survive to adulthood and can live active, productive lives. "Most people who have complex heart defects continue to need special heart care throughout their lives. They may need to pay special attention to how their condition affects issues such as health insurance, employment, birth control and pregnancy, and other health issues.” Also in this issue are our regular columnists, plus: > Information on what men, especially smokers, need to know about oral cancer > Three myths about the flu > An article on dating violence among teens > For seniors, vital information on osteoarthritis Also featured are a number of complementary articles. In short, there’s something in this issue for everyone. Sincerely,

David G. Miller Publisher

2 | August 2012 |

graphic artist BRANDON NORWOOD editor STANLEY O. WILLIFORD managing editor CYNTHIA E. GRIFFIN staff writer JULIANA D. NORWOOD advertising sales LANCE WASHINGTON, STEVE WILLIS distribution director JACK ARNOLD accounting/human resources BONITA FINNEY


LOS ANGELES HEADQUARTERS 8732 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90047 contact: telephone (323) 905-1300 comments editorial production sales Editorial submissions and correspondence should be addressed to: Healthier You, 8732 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90047

VOL. 3 NO. 6 AUGUST 2012

Copyright 2012 by OurWeekly Los Angeles/Healthier You, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from OurWeekly Los Angeles/Healthier You, LLC. Submissions, art, and photos will become the property of OurWeekly Los Angeles/Healthier You, LLC and will not be returned. The opinions, commentaries and articles written and expressed by the individuals, contributors and authors do not necessarily represent the views of OurWeekly Los Angeles/Healthier You, LLC. Although the content of the articles published in this magazine have been checked for accuracy, OurWeekly Los Angeles/Healthier You, LLC takes no responsibility for the accuracy or currency of the information provided herein. Subscriptions $40 annually.

Contents // Healthier Living pg.4

cover story

Facing up to the fears Smoking launches a host of medical problems Learning to eat a heart-healthy diet Listening to the heart Study cites higher rates of large-joint osteoarthritis in Blacks Stay in the race Weak hair shafts, split ends and breakage… oh my! Author chronicles the struggles of living with sickle cell disease Myths about flu shots can make you ill How defects emerge from the gene pool A messenger of holistic healing

Congenital heart defects


Healthier Children pg.17

First 5 LA encourages outside activity for children Children: matters of the heart Breathe easier when you know more about asthma

Healthier Teens pg.19

Dating violence common among teens in new emergency-room study

Oral cancer pg.21

Healthier Women pg.20

The war against cervical cancer

Healthier Men pg.21

Are you at risk for oral cancer?

Healthier Seniors pg.22

flu shot myths

Hurting joints


on the cover “heart”

Outside activity

Cover design by jose torres

pg.17 | August 2012 | 3

healthier living // Facing up to the fears Abraham McDonald

There’s no doubt, I come from a lineage of people strong in character, fortitude and courage. I come from pioneers, people unafraid of change and going the distance to see the desired change manifested. The one thing we’d never spoken about, however, is fear, and not because it hadn’t existed in our history. The fear of overcoming the shadows of depravity, uncertainty and, ultimately, failure, were very real. My mother’s family had a history of abandonment, and my father’s side is yet a mystery. Fear, I’ve learned, sets our boundaries and undoubtedly the progress of our futures. I was a captive of fear. I was struggling to find my selfworth, my power to believe. But most of all, I was depriving myself of getting to know the Abraham McDonald that exudes self-worth, but also challenges the walls of his fears daily. I remember the day I decided I would sing again. I was 31 years old. I’d worked for well-established, high-profile figures in the entertainment game and knew firsthand what it took to break past the glass ceiling. The only problem was, I’d never considered that I deserved to be on the other side of the ceiling. Deciding to sing was the hardest decision I’d made since I was 20. I knew it was real, and it was the most vulnerable place in my being. The thought of my gift not being wanted, heard, accepted was a deep fear I held from everyone. When it looked as if fear had won, I conquered by simply singing out as loud as I could at a little golf course in Gardena, Calif.

The thought of my gift not being wanted, heard, accepted was a deep fear… On the other side of fear, I’ve found a growing career in music— adventures I’d never considered while under the shadows of fear—and opportunities beyond my dreams. Serenading our first lady, Michelle Obama, hugging Oprah, singing around the world and now writing this column are all results of accepting my value in the universe. Overcoming your distances is a matter of decision and taking the steps, one foot in front of the other with your chin up. I decided at 31 that I would no longer lose to the shadow fear casts over my hopes and dreams. I would protect the good thoughts so sweetly whispered to me from my master love source. Most importantly, I owned the fact that courage didn’t mean that there are no fears to consider; fear ignites your courage and fuels you to push past the road blocks and mind blocks. Fear ignites and fuels your fight!

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Smoking launches a host of

medical problems PR Newswire

Smoking causes more preventable deaths (from lung cancer, heart and lung disease, other cancers, and chronic illness) than any other single behavioral factor—an estimated 443,000 deaths each year. Lung cancer can be treated, but rarely cured. For African Americans with lung cancer, the five-year survival rate is only 13 percent. Indeed, lung cancer kills more African Americans than any other cancer. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person’s overall health. Millions of Americans have health problems caused by smoking. Smoking causes many types of cancer including cancer of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm (a balloon-like bulge in an artery in the chest), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, hip fractures, and cataracts. Regardless of their age, people who quit smoking are less likely to die from illnesses caused by smoking than those who continue smoking. Studies show that smokers who quit at about age 30 reduce their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-caused diseases by more than 90 percent. The risk of dying is cut in half for those who stop smoking at age 50, and even people who quit at about age 60 or older live longer and have healthier lives than those who continue to smoke. The nicotine in tobacco is addictive and makes it very difficult to quit. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of addiction in the country. Seventy percent of the 45 million current U.S. smokers report they want to quit completely, and the vast majority of these have tried to quit smoking at least once. Research shows that menthol cigarettes have been especially targeted to youth and African Americans. Many more African American adult (83 percent) and youth (72 percent) smokers smoke menthol cigarettes than White smokers (20 percent). Menthol’s cooling and anesthetic properties reduce some of the irritation and harshness of tobacco smoke. Experts believe that menthol cigarettes may increase experimentation, progression to regular smoking, and addiction among youth, and decrease the likelihood of cessation among African American adults. Many menthol smokers, especially African Americans, believe that menthol cigarettes are less harmful than other cigarettes. But in fact menthol cigarettes are not less hazardous, despite what the tobacco industry implies in their marketing. see smoking page 5

healthier living

Learning to eat a

heart-healthy diet Bistro M.D.

In the United States today, some of the leading causes of death are heart disease and obesity-related diseases. The cholesterol vs. fat battle In order to help you live a healthier life, here are a few important things to consider when it comes to embracing a heart-healthy diet. You don’t want to build lists where you put certain items above others. When it comes to cholesterol versus saturated fat, cholesterol is better for you than unsaturated fat because your body needs cholesterol. Overall, though, it’s more important to know the origins of these substances than it is to simply avoid them. Limiting the fats you take in It is a commonly held belief that as long as a particular kind of fat is unsaturated, than you can eat all you want, which isn’t necessarily true. Unsaturated fat is still a big source of calories. You can eat carbs or proteins or other types of foods and get calories in a far more efficient way. Even though unsaturated is better than saturated, you still don’t want the bulk of your calories coming from that area. It’s even believed that there could be a link between the total amount of fat you take in and your chances of developing certain diseases, so you should always look to limiting the amount of fat you take in, even if it is unsaturated.

ingredients, taking a fish oil supplement may be a better option for you. Fiber is essential Fiber can be broken up into two categories: soluble and insoluble. The soluble kind is good for your liver and for lowering your cholesterol. The insoluble kind is good because it helps regulate your blood sugar levels, and it is great for your digestive system. This is why you want a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, and not in refined carbs. This is why most healthy diets recommend switching from refined white flour to whole wheat flour or from white rice to brown. It is simply that much better for you. Not only will you feel fuller, longer, but you will also keep your blood sugar stable, helping your body run more efficiently. It’s a win-win across the board. Many people, though, still wonder how much fiber they should intake daily. This is the million-dollar question, of which there is no easy answer. Every metabolism takes on fiber at a different rate, so you are going to have to experiment to see how much you need daily in order to gain the maximum benefit. The important thing to remember is that if you are changing your diet to lower your cholesterol, you can’t just eat soluble fiber. It takes a multifaceted approach to the problem. Increasing your intake of soluble fiber is a huge part of that, but not the only part.

Fish and fatty acids The recent “fat” revolution has been led by the discovery of Omega-3 fatty acids and how you simply can’t get enough of this wonderful ingredient. The problem is that many of the carriers of Omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, also contain a far less beneficial ingredient known as Omega-6 fatty acids, which can harm you. When you add in the fact that some fish can contain too much mercury and other harmful

Smoking from healthier living page 4

Earlier this year, a government advisory committee conducted a comprehensive review of menthol cigarettes and concluded that “menthol cigarettes have an adverse impact on public health in the United States.” Talk with a National Cancer Institute smoking cessation counselor for help quitting and to get answers to smoking-related questions in English or Spanish. Call 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) toll free within the United States, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Information and assistance to help with quitting are also available at | August 2012 | 5

healthier living

Listen to the heart Norma T. Hollis

Over the last several decades, a lot of research has been uncovered about intelligence. Previous ideas that intelligence was strictly a brain activity have been tempered with new perspectives. Rather than intelligence lying solely within our head, it has recently been found that there is an important intelligence that lies within our heart. And some circles believe that heart intelligence is more impactful than head intelligence. You have probably heard the statement, “follow your heart and the rest will follow” or “follow your passion and the money will come.” The statement may use other words but the meaning is the same. The heart will lead you to where you want to go in life. When you follow the passion that lives within your heart you have greater joy and generally things just work out for you. You have put your heart intelligence to work. Don’t you find this to be true? If not, maybe you just haven’t connected with your heart intelligence yet. Making that connection is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Here are some ways to connect with your heart intelligence: 1. Listen Your heart speaks through your inner voice. Set aside time to be silent and listen to yourself. This can be done by just sitting still and listening to yourself breathe. As you focus on your breathing and get more relaxed you will be able to ‘hear’ your heart speak through thoughts, feelings, memories and visions. Different people receive their intelligence in different ways. Learn to ‘listen’ to how your heart speaks to you. 2. Respect your passion Your passion is reflected in your gifts and talents. What do you really love to do? Are you doing it? How often? Whatever you are passionate about is what you will be happy doing on a day-to-day basis. When you do this, you enable your heart to create its own language. The peace and freedom that your heart will feel when it is connected to passion is the energy that drives you to success. Listen so you can find and then respect your passion. 3. Trust the process Once you learn to receive the message from your heart and give it respect, it will be time for you to learn to trust it. I also call it your inner or intuitive voice. Most of us have times when our voice is trying to tell us to do or not to do something and we don’t trust it. Therefore, we find ourselves frequently saying “I know I should have . . . .” How often do you say that? When you learn to accept that your heart has intelligence, maybe you will accept that it communicates with you, just like your brain does. But the see listen to the heart page 9

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healthier living

ADVERTORIAL Hi, I am Adrianne Moore, and I want to share with you the challenges that I have been noting affecting American women of color. Here’s the question: Can years of slavery explain the negative aspects of black behavior seen today? Maybe not, but it is one approach to understanding trauma, loss, fear, trepidation, shame, hurt and sorrow – psychological dynamics that consistently place all women of color in harmful and hurtful spaces. My research on Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome proposes that today's African American women are psychologically scarred by the oppression of their ancestors, leading to the inherently Afrocentric behaviors that blacks presently display. The scarring includes feelings of sadness, loneliness, fear, isolation, discrimination and marginalization in such measure that one is hard-pressed to discern if “psychological slavery and emotional oppression” are two sides of the same coin. African American women continually exhibit behaviors that would be seen by traditional therapists as signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yet, my research and work with African American women over the past 20 years suggests something different. True, trauma and historical oppression have created significant challenges for these women surrounding trust, safety and security. However, the years of ingrained behaviors, often displayed by enslaved ancestors, affect their lives through issues of skin color, choices of men, debates regarding their hair and their

own sense of empowerment in the world traditionally seen as white. Years of racism have taken a toll on the black psyche through health, relationships, aesthetical issues, poor dietary choices, family dysfunction, and the notion that fair-skinned individuals have a higher likelihood of success. However, waiting for others to solve the problem will not relieve this mental onus. Healing must start from within. I am careful not to make excuses for common black stereotypes. Being aware that just as an abusive spouse is not absolved of his/her acts due to an abusive family history, having a sense of clarity behind perceived innate behaviors will not suddenly change our mindsets for the better. It is therefore up to all to use this emergent new theory to create a positive impact on our lives and others. So let's not go from blaming it on alcohol or on PTSS. Moore is a license clinician with more than 20 years working with issues of substance abuse, domestic violence, prison systems and schools throughout the California Catchment Systems. Moore is a license marriage and family therapist, a licensed substance abuse counselor and a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. She works for the “A Home for Us Counseling Centers,” a full-service clinical facility with providers in psychology, social work, marriage and family counseling and psychiatry. She can be reached at 213-401-5633 or | August 2012 | 7

healthier living

Stay in the race Cynthia Gibson

It was February and I’d already run a half marathon. I usually run at least two or three half marathons a year, but last year, I didn’t run any. But I was determined to get back on track in this year, so in December I registered myself, my sister and my dad to participate in the Kaiser Half Marathon in San Francisco. Ever since I can remember, my dad has always been an avid golfer and physically fit. At 76, he still weighs the same as he did 30 years ago. But a half marathon—13.1 miles—that’s a bit much even for someone half his age. Sure, he walks around the golf course and doesn’t ride in a cart, but that’s a far cry from walking 13 straight miles around San Francisco and Golden Gate Park. He assured me he was up to the challenge, he was even a little cocky about it. But I still had my doubts.

He became winded and frequently had to stop and rest and soon became frustrated. He didn’t want to hold… Just to test his endurance, about a month before the marathon, I took him and my sister for a hike in Temescal Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s a moderate, but challenging four-mile hike with an elevation of about 1,000 feet. It has beautiful panoramic views of the Santa Monica mountain range, the Pacific Ocean and Pacific Palisades. I thought if he could handle this hike, even though it’s roughly only a third of the distance, he would probably be able to complete the half marathon. Everything was cool at first. We were on level ground and the three of us were talking and laughing as we recounted stories of our childhood and family vacations. Soon the elevation started to pick up. I’ve hiked this trail many, many times and am familiar with the terrain, where it gets steep and levels off, where the scenic overlooks are and where there are areas to stop and rest. But my father, unfamiliar with the trail, didn’t know how to pace himself. He became winded and frequently had to stop and rest and soon became frustrated. He didn’t want to hold me and my sister back, so he told us told us to go ahead and he would go back to the car and wait for us. I knew the trail was steep, but I also knew that once we reached the top, the last mile and a half was mostly downhill with beautiful ocean views. I thought that if we just slowed our pace, and stopped every once in a while to rest, he could make it. And that’s exactly what we did. My dad also went on to complete his first half marathon. As he slowly trudged across the finish line in just under four hours, his name, see stay in the race page 11

8 | August 2012 |

Weak hair shafts, split ends and breakage… oh my! Kari Williams, Ph.D.

I often hear women complaining that their hair is not growing. Let me put these fears at ease by lovingly confirming that as long as you are living and breathing, your hair is growing. If you genuinely feel like you are not seeing growth in your hair, that the length of your hair has remained the same for years and you are following every regimen you can find on Youtube, researched on Google and concocted yourself; then I have the answer to your problem. Your hair is growing, but there is something happening to the ends that is causing them to break. Consequently, you are not retaining length. There are a number of culprits that could be responsible for the breakage you’re experiencing, so let us explore a couple of them. Hot combing the hair can cause various kinds of damage. Hot combs can get as hot as 400 degrees and when used improperly, can significantly weaken the hair shaft. It is a misconception that only chemical relaxers can permanently straighten the hair. I’m sure some of you readers have experienced permanent straight ends after prolonged use of the hot comb. This is because the heat from the comb can completely denature the proteins in your hair shaft like a chemical relaxer. More importantly, there are water molecules in each hair shaft. If the comb is too hot when it passes through the hair, the water in each hair strand will expand, turn into steam, rise through the cortex of the hair and break through the protective cuticle. When this happens holes are left in the cuticle causing the hair shaft to become very weak and making it susceptible to breakage. To avoid this type of damage to your hair shaft with the use of a hot comb: > Stop using the hot comb! > If you must use the hot comb, insist on a professional performing the service for you. > Do not use the hot comb more than once a week > Make sure the hot comb is used on clean, dry hair > Excessive heat or pressure should never be used when using a hot comb *Important note: Some blow dryers can cause this type of heat damage when the hair is blow-dried at high temperatures. Ever see those little white specks located toward the end of your hair shaft? Well, your cuticle has erupted, exposing your cortex, just like someone who has improperly used a hot comb. Weak hair shafts will develop split ends. Split ends can be repaired temporarily but to get rid of them permanently they must be cut off. When they are not cut off, the split ends will tangle with healthy hair, causing more tangling, which will lead to more breakage and more split ends. Women who wear their hair naturally (heat-free and chemical free) see weak hair page 14

healthier living

Author chronicles the struggles of

living with sickle cell disease

The pain struck when Judy was only 4. Later, Judy noticed she was tired a lot—so tired that on some mornings she could not get up to go to school. However, Judy’s mother Janie was unsympathetic. In Janie’s eyes, Judy had to be punished for skipping school. Later, some folk in the small Black community began whispering about that “strange illness of little Judy Gray.” The disorder remained a mystery until Judy was 16, when a doctor diagnosed her with an ailment called sickle cell anemia. The doctor only shared the news only with Judy’s aunt, who said nothing to Judy about the diagnosis. Therefore, Judy’s frequent pain and fatigue would remain a mystery for most of her life. In “Living With Sickle Cell Disease: The Struggle to Survive,” Judy see sickle cell page 11

Listen to the heart from healthier living page 6

language of the heart is feelings, thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams. Trust the language and allow it to lead and direct you. Sometimes the only defect within ourselves is our unwillingness to be our self. When we are connected to our heart intelligence we have the greatest opportunity to know and be our authentic self. Norma T. Hollis, America’s leading authentic voice doctor®, helps people find, live and share their authentic voice. Hollis offers various authenticity products, programs and seminars across the country focused on personal development, leadership, youth, women and professional speaking. Take Hollis’ Authenticity Assessment and participate in the free Authentic Tuesday calls to live more abundantly with authenticity. These gifts are available at www.GiftsFromNorma. com. | August 2012 | 9

healthier living

How defects emerge from the

gene pool Stacy Kelley

The term congenital simply means that a condition was present at the time a child was born. When this word comes to mind, many people associate the term with a genetic blueprint that is predestined to manifest itself within that child, an inherited trait that has the potential to express itself, in utero [in the uterus, or before birth], based on two major influences: genes and cellular environment. These two sources can be equally powerful, and at any given time one is often dominant over the other. The phenotypic [visible or detectable] characteristic of the cell results from the source that had the greatest cellular control at the time of development. The first influence is the DNA lineage that has been passed down from parent to offspring. The DNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that resides in the cells central core called the nucleus. Information carried on family genes is

10 | August 2012 |

coded in the cellular DNA. From this pre-programmed template, the cell has the potential to develop into a healthy or defective cell. Each cell in the body is created with identical DNA. The cellular DNA consists of characteristics from the generation immediately preceding the offspring. It also includes the complex combination of historical cellular material from the genetic lineage. If a mutated gene is found anywhere in the family tree, it can manifest at any time. If a cell is defective, it is very possible that the gene that caused the malformation was passed down to the offspring. If an abnormal gene is present, does that necessarily mean that the cell will ultimately become unhealthy? The answer is no. The internal milieu that surrounds the cell is equally capable of altering cellular expression. This extracellular fluid consists of the liquid “soil� that the cells live in. This liquid environment maintains cellular survival and it is also a major contributor to cellular function. When it comes to congenital conditions, the gene pool is something that we cannot change. What we can control is the environment that cells are bathing in. Here are a few things that can optimize the internal milieu and help the cells to thrive. see gene pool page 20

healthier living

Sickle cell from healthier living page 9

Gray Johnson describes how she attended college, taught elementary school, endured a troubled marriage, raised a daughter alone, and even presided over a major teachers’ union while enduring severe periods of pain that usually required emergency room visits, blood transfusions, and copious dosages of painkillers such as morphine. All the while, exhaustion was her constant companion. Along with veteran journalist Leroy Williams Jr., Judy wrote and self-published “Living With Sickle Cell Disease” to tell her story of sickle cell disease, which affects between 70,000 and 100,000 Americans and is present in one of every 500 African American births. The memoir also recounts how she evolved from victim to a staunch advocate for herself and other “sicklers” in the face of an insensitive medical profession and ignorance of sickle cell disease among the public. Judy hopes the book will create greater awareness of sickle cell disease and reassure its sufferers that they too can accomplish great things despite their illnesses. “Living With Sickle Cell Disease” is available in hardcover, paperback and ebook versions through Readers also may visit Judy’s website at

Stay in the race from healthier living page 8

age, and city were announced over the public address system, and he received applause from the race organizers and the few people still left on the side lines. My dad finished last that day, but more importantly he showed me, once again, that what really counts is staying in the race. Since my mother passed away a few months ago, my siblings and I are spending more time with Dad. Without Mom, we’re getting to know him, and he’s getting to know us in a whole new way. One of the biggest lessons I’m learning from my father is that even when life changes in unexpected and devastating ways, you still have to stay in the race. This year has been another interesting and challenging time. Whether your goals are to get a new job, finally break that bad habit, lose that last 10 pounds, lower that blood pressure, or run/walk a half marathon— (which, by the way, I highly recommend)—stay focused, pace yourself, and stop to check out the view occasionally. You’ll eventually get there. You might be last, but even last place beats never having started. Cynthia Gibson, is a runner, rower, hiker and all-around outdoor adventurer. She is a consultant with CKG Communications, a boutique marketing and public relations firm based in Culver City, Calif. | August 2012 | 11

cover story


heart defects More than 1 million Americans suffer from them Brittney M. Walker

In an online forum about baby heart health with a high volume of female participation, an expecting mother at 23 weeks reaches out to her colleagues’ postings: “I found out last night that my son is going to be born with [several heart problems]. I was wondering what parent has had children with these defects and what the outcome was. This is my first child.” Obviously devastating news for any new parent to receive, let alone the complexity of her unborn child’s issues, which included hypoplastic left heart syndrome, pulmonary atresia and a single ventricle

right aorta, all of which are congenital heart defects. Parents across color and economic lines experience similar diagnoses, although they vary in severity. The child is already considered at-risk due to life-threatening heart development issues, which even causes some 2-hour-olds to have to undergo open-heart surgery. Congenital heart defects are present at birth and are the result of improper development of the heart. These birth defects are the No. 1 cause of death among infants before the age of 1. While recent studies have not directly determined if congenital heart defects are the culprit of the astronomically high Black infant mortality rates, one study suggests that African American babies are more likely than their White or Hispanic counterparts to die from certain types of heart defects like pulmonary valve atresia. But Black babies appear to have lower rates of aortic valve atresia and ventricular septal defect. According to the March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to infant health research, infant mortality rates in 2007 were led by birth defects. States that were affected the most by high infant mortality rates are mostly within the American Bible Belt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these heart defects affect nearly 1 percent, or 40,000

births per year. That is eight out of every 1,000 newborns, says the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Some result in death, while most infants grow up to lead healthy productive lives. More than 1 million adults in the U.S. today are living with a congenital heart defect. Where does it come from? While science is still trying to understand these types of defects, researchers are unsure how they develop, but over the years studies have revealed that they may be genetic. Dr. Woodrow Benson says in “The Parent’s Guide to Children’s Congenital Heart Defects,” that from what science has revealed, a genetic mutation may be the cause of a faulty heart at birth. He explains, however, that genetics do not mean inherited, but don’t exclude inheritance. In other words, some offspring could inherit a genetic mutation and develop a congenital heart defect, while others could develop a genetic or chromosomal defect sporadically. “Some genetic causes or risks of congenital heart defect occur on a sporadic basis and some occur on a familial basis,” Benson explained. “For example, infants with Down syndrome have a high risk of congentital heart defect, and the genetic cause usually is sporadic. On the other hand, children who have a chromosome 22q11 deletion also have high risk of congenital heart defect. This genetic cause of congenital heart defect is sporadic in 80 to 85 percent of cases, but 15 to 20 percent of the time the deletion has a familial basis.” Although researchers aren’t sure of the cause, some preventative measures can be

Facts about congenital heart defects Illness and Disability > About 20% to 30% of people with a congenital heart defect have other physical problems or developmental or cognitive disorders.

> Congenital heart defects are common > In the United States, about 40,000 infants are born with a heart defect each year > Some heart defects can be found before birth, some at birth, or some after a baby leaves the hospital

practiced to reduce the risk of developing these defects. However, many doctors agree that at this point in research they are not completely preventable. Healthy and consistent prenatal care can help prevent developmental mishaps, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A study conducted by the governmental organization found that obesity, diabetes, and smoking increase the risk of congenital heart defects. Also often, the heart of the fetus is developed before a woman learns she is pregnant, and therefore prevention should begin before conception. Other sources say some developmental issues may occur if a mother is dealing with disease and/or taking certain medications while pregnant. What are the symptoms? Cardiologist and full-time faculty member at the UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Karol Watson, says typically congenital heart defects are detected during pregnancy. Immediately after birth, she says any heart issues are obvious and diagnosed right away, especially with today’s technology. Because the heart is among the first organs to form, by six or eight weeks, doctors can detect a problem. “High-tech ultrasounds can be used to detect [congenital heart defects],” said Watson. “While it’s (the heart) formed, it does a rotating act and sometimes the rotation goes wrong.” She explained that last stage of heart placement while in the womb is critical, and this is where many things can go wrong. Most heart issues are diagnosed in the early stages of a baby’s life before or after birth, but sometimes they go undetected until a traumatic medical episode or later in adulthood. “I’ve seen adult women who have a hole in their heart, but it’s not detected until they become pregnant because the heart is working extra hard for the baby,” Watson said. According to Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, symptoms may include a heart murmur, symptoms of heart failure such as increased breathing rate, difficulty breathing or a rapid heartbeat. Babies who may have an undetected heart defect before birth may also look discolored and their skin could turn blue from lack of oxygen after birth. Other abnormalities may include clubfoot or enlarged fingers or toes, as well as cold hands and feet. A doctor can detect most other symptoms using ultrasound and other advanced technological tests. But the clubfeet and enlarged finger and toes are detected after the child is born. Defects can range from holes in the heart and underdeveloped vessels to blockages of a chamber and a displaced aorta, the largest artery in the body, which carries blood away from the heart. How do you treat it? Congenital heart defects range from simple to severe and each

> Congenital heart defects can greatly affect the finances not only of the families involved, but of everyone > People with congenital heart defects are living longer > Some congenital heart defects can be prevented

case is treated differently. While some youth may “grow out” of some of the simpler heart problems, others may have to deal with frequent checkups, medications, or may even require immediate surgery. Once a doctor has determined a child has a defect, the baby may undergo a heart catheterization. This procedure requires inserting a tube through the groin into the heart to see how the blood is flowing. If surgery is necessary and depending on the severity of the case, it could take place anytime between birth and 3 months, or before the child’s second birthday. For other defects, the best time for surgery may be between ages 2 and 4. Other children with heart defects may only need medication to help speed up the heart’s maturation. Benson said most of these children grow up to be normal functioning adults, but occasionally along the way, other issues may become apparent. “The great majority of infants and children born with congenital heart problems develop normally,” he said. “However, some may have motor, perceptual, or intellectual developmental delays. Most of these children were obvious explanations for the developmental delay, which tends to be apparent early in life …. Chronic congestive heart failure, or cyanosis in infants, may delay weight or height maturation as well as motor or cognitive skills.” Benson assured, however, that a “stimulating and loving environment” along with a healthy, normal childhood could help maximize a child’s development. Watson explained that with new advances in technology, treating heart defects has become easier. “We’ve gotten really good at treating, whereas when I was in medical school some procedures would be considered a death sentence to an infant,” Watson recalled. “Now we are seeing babies growing up to be adults, but the issues they may have are not related to [a congenial heart defect].” Dealing with a congenital heart defect can be emotionally and financially draining, but most heart centers provide ample resources and support for all parents and children. Some of the nation’s top-ranked heart research hospitals include Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio; Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas; University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif. To find out more about congenital heart defects, visit

Do you have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol?

healthier living

National Research Institute We offer no cost research studies to the Community with health problems. Must be 18 years of age or older. You could receive compensation for travel. • No medical insurance required • Only picture ID needed • Consultations are free • Study-related X-rays, blood tests, electrocardiograms, physical exams and investigational drug are provided at no cost

Myths about flu shots can make you ill

“Oh no, not me. I never get sick.” “I’ve heard from someone who knows a doctor that it (flu vaccine) can make you really sick.” “It’s only for kids and old people, not for me.” Not surprisingly, you’ve probably heard one or more of these answers when you ask someone if they got a flu shot. These are the myths about flu shots and the flu that have been passed around for years. T.H.E. see flu myths page 16

Weak hair from healthier living page 8

Dr. Andrew Lewin

25 years of services to the community


(213) 483-1800 Monday through Friday 6:30 AM – 3:00 PM

National Research Institute 2010 Wilshire Blvd. #302

(McArthur Metro Station – Red Line – on Alvarado)

Los Angeles, CA 90057 14 | August 2012 |

can still develop split ends. Oftentimes split ends are caused because the hair is excessively dry from a lack of properly lubricating the ends. When this dry hair is manipulated in styling, these dry ends will break and cause split ends. The overuse of leave-in conditioners is the culprit of many people who suffer with dry hair as well. Conditioners have protein and too much protein on the hair will cause hair to become dry and brittle. Make sure you are using a daily moisturizer, balanced with a lubricant (oil). This will protect your natural curls from dryness. So, if you feel like that hair is not growing, make sure you check your hair routine and the products you are using. If you like what you read here, make sure you attend my upcoming seminar in Los Angeles. To get more detailed information, visit: http:// Dr. Kari Williams is a trichologist and owner of Mahogany Hair Revolution Salon and Trichology Clinic. For more information, visit or

healthier living

A messenger of

holistic healing

Nancy J. Williams (also known simply as Dr. Nancy), holistic healing doctor and CEO/Visionary of First Fruit Natural Healing Home, had a fear of heights, so she tackled that fear head-on by jumping out of a plane. “Initially it’s one of the most fearful and terrifying feelings you can have, hanging off the wing of a plane, and then your instructor instructs you to let go,” she explains. “But once your parachute opens and you are gliding, you feel a peace and internal stillness come over you.” That wasn’t the first time Williams faced down her fears and took a leap of faith. She worked for nearly 20 years as an air traffic controller, becoming the first African American female to be certified at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Although she was earning six figures, Williams walked away from her corporate job to follow her path of divine purpose. “I was going through a time with a lot of stress, sickness, and depression,” she says. “I started learning about the holistic approach to wellness and applying that to my own life.” After discovering how to start healing her mind, body, and soul, Williams made it her mission to help others do the same. She established her healing home on five beautiful acres located in Lithonia, Ga., just outside Atlanta. Williams is also a motivational speaker, educator and author. In addition, she hosts her own radio show on Love860, Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. “I’ve seen people go from sickness, depression, stress, frustration and a lack of finances to a life of joy, peace, happiness and prosperity,” Williams says. “It’s very fulfilling to see that transformation take place. People are created for greatness. As long as there is breath in their lungs, it’s never too late to change what they’re doing and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.” For more information, visit her website at or contact her at (770) 484-4745. | August 2012 | 15

healthier living

Flu myths from healthier living page 14

Clinic wants to help correct those myths and help everyone Myth No. 1—Healthy people don’t get the flu and so don’t need to get immunized. Healthy people do succumb to the influenza virus. All of the three types of influenza are airborne viruses. That means they travel by air, as well as by touch. If you are in a crowded area—a bus

16 | August 2012 |

or schoolroom or busy office—and someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, anyone, even healthy people, can inhale the virus and be infected. Others might touch something that is contaminated by a person with the flu and unwittingly put their hand to their face and touch their nose or mouth, inhaling the virus. Some of these very healthy people are among the 36,000 who die annually from causes related to the flu. If you are healthy and catch the flu, you will no longer be healthy and in some cases become very, very ill. Solution: get immunized. Myth No. 2—Immunization against the flu causes people to become ill. The flu shot does not give you the flu. The influenza viruses used for the vaccine are inactive or dead. Thus, they cannot cause infection. Manufacturers kill the viruses during the process of making the vaccine, plus they test every batch of flu vaccines for safety. Some individuals report soreness at the spot where the shot was given. This usually lasts less than two days and is generally a result of the person’s immune system making the protective antibodies to the viruses in the vaccine. These antibodies are what allow the body to fight the flu. Some people may get flu-like symptoms after getting the shot. Often, the person was exposed to the flu before getting the shot or during the two-week period that it takes the body to create protection after getting the vaccine. The individuals, then, may become ill from the flu virus. Myth No. 3—The immunization is only for the very young or the very old. While these groups are more susceptible to the influenza virus, they are not the only people who can be helped to avoid the flu through immunization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an individual can reduce his or her risk of contracting the flu by at least 70 percent if immunized. That means that you are less likely to suffer from the miserable symptoms of the flu, such as fever, coughs, congestion and body aches. The earlier you get the flu shot, the better; but getting it late in the season is still better than not getting it at all. CDC recommends that providers begin to offer seasonal influenza vaccination as soon as vaccine becomes available in the fall, but if a person has not been vaccinated by Thanksgiving (or the end of November), it can still be protective to get vaccinated in December or later because influenza disease usually peaks in January or February most years, and disease can occur as late as May.

healthier children // First 5 LA encourages

outside activity for children Take a walk after the rain

With warmer weather and longer days, it’s time to get your family active. Beginning in infancy, regular physical activity improves a child’s health and well-being, and establishes a healthy habit for life. While exercise is great for everyone in the family, it is crucial for a young child’s developing body and mind. Experts advise that young children be active an hour a day, and research shows that youth who get exercise do better in school and have less risk of heart trouble later in life. Regular, unstructured play time in nature also makes kids smarter, calmer, more self-disciplined, more cooperative and happier, according to several studies. Through physical play, young children discover the things their bodies can do. And as they increase their skills of running, climbing and throwing, children gain confidence in themselves and become more motivated to try new things. Playing outside is one of the best ways to boost self-esteem in young children. Outdoor play tips for parents: > Parents possess a powerful ability to model healthy outdoor behaviors. Skip the gym in favor of an hourlong walk with your kids. Choose daycare that makes outdoor time a priority. > Sandboxes offer a favorite outdoor activity for children, because they enjoy exploring how the sand feels and how it moves. Older children learn to use their fine motor skills to dig, bury, and build. > Today even preschoolers spend many hours indoors using electronic toys. Reverse that trend in your home with a rule that every hour of screen time be balanced by at least one hour outdoors—and stick to it.

Children: matters of the heart Milo Edwards

About 35,000 infants (1 out of every 125) are born with heart defects each year in the United States. The defect may be so slight that the baby appears healthy for many years after birth, or so severe that the child’s life is in immediate danger. Heart defects are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. However, advances in diagnosis and surgical treatment have led to dramatic increases in

> Some kids who aren’t very familiar with unscripted play are more likely to think the natural world is boring compared to TV. Take a walk after the rain and point out how precipitation changes the environment. Teach them how things grow (preschoolers may not realize plants and trees are alive) and offer tools such as a ball or a magnifying glass to encourage creative outdoor play. Remember, it is never too late—or too early—to improve health and have a great time with exercise. For tips, activities and resources on staying active, visit, First 5 LA’s website for parents.

survival for children. In the United States about 1.4 million children and adults live with congenital heart defects. Almost all are able to lead active, productive lives. A baby’s heart begins to develop shortly after conception. During development, structural defects can occur. These defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves and the arteries and veins near the heart. Congenital heart defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, causing it to slow down, flow in the wrong direction or be blocked completely. Treatment can include medicines, surgery and other medical procedures, depending on the type and severity of the defect and a child’s age, size and general health. see MATTERS OF THE HEART page 18 | August 2012 | 17

healthier children

What is an asthma attack? An asthma attack happens in your body’s airways, which are the paths that carry air to your lungs. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell, and the airways shrink. The attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and trouble breathing.

Breathe easier when you know more about asthma Centers for Disease Control

Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans has, or has had asthma at some point in their lives? Most people don’t die from asthma, but there is concern for African Americans because asthma is more likely to cause death. The reason for this disparity is not known. But there are asthma control techniques to help people manage their condition successfully. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers this important advice to everyone with asthma–have an asthma action plan and exercise it. The CDC has a variety of information that patients and healthcare providers can utilize. Here is some basic information that will help. What is asthma? Asthma, a disease that affects your lungs, is the most common long-term disease affecting children, but it also affects adults. Each day, 30,000 people have an asthma attack, 1,000 are admitted to the hospital, and 11 people die. Asthma causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness or early morning or late night time coughing.

Matters of the heart from healthier children page 17

Treatment helps most children live fairly normal lives. Your child may need medicines to help with symptoms, heart catheterization to find out details about the defect or surgery to repair the structural defect. Until your child has surgery, you may need to focus on making sure he/she has enough nutrients, is given medicine properly and to see that other special precautions are taken. Some congenital heart defects can be completely repaired with one surgery. More complex defects often require several surgeries over the years. Knowing what to expect can help you plan ahead. If your child is

18 | August 2012 |

How is asthma diagnosed? Asthma can be hard to diagnose, but regular physical checkups that include checking lung function and allergies can help your healthcare provider make the right diagnosis. During a checkup, your healthcare provider will ask whether you cough a lot, especially at night, and whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or during a particular time of year. They will also ask about other symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, and colds that last more than 10 days, and if anyone in your family has or has had asthma or other breathing problems. How is asthma treated? Your healthcare provider will help you make an asthma action plan and stick to it. He or she may recommend a combination of medication, environmental changes and behavior modification. Not everyone with asthma has the same needs, and your needs may change as you get older, so it’s important to get regular checkups. What triggers asthma attacks? It’s important to learn what triggers your asthma attacks so you can avoid the triggers whenever possible and be alert for a possible attack when the triggers cannot be avoided. Below are some of the common triggers: > Environmental tobacco smoke. Parents, friends, and relatives of children with asthma should try to stop smoking and avoid smoking near a person with asthma or in their house or car. > Dust mites are in almost everybody’s home, but they don’t cause everybody to have asthma attacks. Use mattress covers and pillow case covers, avoid down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters and remove stuffed animals and clutter from your bedroom. Clean blinds and curtains on a regular basis. > Air pollution. Pay attention to air quality forecasts on radio and see breathe easier page 20

older, talking to him or her about what to expect may be helpful. With most congenital heart defects, the child’s heart will not be completely normal even after surgery. Medicines and trips to the cardiologist may be needed throughout life. It can be hard to accept that your child has a heart defect, so make sure you take time to adjust to these challenges. If your baby is born with a severe defect, be assured that there is a good chance that he or she will survive with treatment. Talk with your doctor about local resources and organizations that can help manage the emotional and practical struggles. It may help to talk with other parents who have had children with congenital heart disease. Also check with the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more information This information surely will help with your future decisions concerning your child’s health.

healthier teens // Dating violence

common among teens in new emergency-room study Genevra Pittman Reuters Health

NEW YORK—More than half of teens and young adults treated at an inner-city emergency room said they had experienced dating violence, either as a victim or a perpetrator, in a new study. The abuse includes both physical and sexual violence, from hitting and kicking to forced sex. Both girls and boys reported high rates of partner violence, but girls were much more likely to fear getting seriously injured, researchers reported in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. “We all know this exists, now what do you do about it?” said study author Dr. Bronwen Carroll, from Boston Medical Center, where the study was conducted. She noted that many of the adolescents didn’t think they needed help, and only a few followed up on resources for victims of violence provided by the researchers. The findings point to a need for programs specifically designed to help teen violence victims and perpetrators, Carroll said, as well as for all adults—teachers, parents and doctors—to do more to recognize and prevent dating violence. Most experience violence Carroll and her colleagues conducted their study at an emergency room that sees mostly poor, African American kids and teens with government-funded insurance. They knew that many adolescents came in because of substance abuse, mental health problems or unplanned pregnancy—all of which may be linked to partner violence. So the researchers surveyed 327 adolescents between age 13 and 21, all of whom were or had been in a romantic or sexual relationship, about violence, aggression or coercion that had happened in those relationships. About 55 percent of the adolescents said they had been the victim of physical or sexual violence, and 59 percent said they had perpetrated some kind of violence against a partner. Those rates were similar in boys and girls, though girls were more likely to report being physically violent toward a partner. The researchers said the findings wouldn’t necessarily apply to other groups of adolescents, and the rates of violence reported are higher than what other studies have shown in surveys of high school students, for example. Donna Howard, who studies adolescent risk behavior at the University of Maryland in College Park but wasn’t part of the current research team, pointed out that all adolescents in the study had a history of dating, and that this hospital sees vulnerable, at-risk patients

with a high proportion of violent injuries. The average age of these adolescents—almost 19—also means more are likely to report a history of dating violence at some point, she said in an email. Different kinds of violence Despite more girls reporting being physically violent themselves, 16 percent of all girls said they were scared of sustaining a serious injury as a result of dating violence, compared to just 3 percent of boys surveyed. “Both boys and girls perpetrate violence and sometimes girls perpetrate more violence,” Carroll said. But, she added, “It is an enormous mistake to fall into the trap of equating those types of violence.”

We all know this exists, now what do you do about it? “The violence that is perpetrated on girls is much more severe,” agreed Dr. Brian Wagers, an emergency medicine doctor who studies dating violence at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “The injuries sustained on girls are much more severe, much more frequent.” Still, that doesn’t mean violence against boys should be ignored, said Wagers, who wasn’t involved in the new study. Healthcare workers need to be aware that boys may be victims too, and encourage them to seek help, he said. “When boys experience it, they need to realize that this is not something that’s right.” Howard echoed that sentiment. “The toll dating violence takes on male victims, both emotionally and physically, and the extent to which victimization experiences affect subsequent dating behavior, including dating violence perpetration during adolescence and into adulthood, needs more research attention,” she said. “We can’t just focus on girls as victims.” Getting help Carroll’s team gave all victims of violence a list of local dating-violence services where they could get help. But a month after their ER visit, only four out of 127 who were contacted again said they’d reached out to any of those resources. And two-thirds of those who didn’t told interviewers they didn’t think they needed any help. “What they said was that they didn’t perceive themselves as having problems that need help, and that’s really concerning. (That) speaks to how common this is, and I fear that there may be some degree of normalization and they may not realize what a healthy relationship looks like,” Carroll said see dating violence page 20 | August 2012 | 19

healthier women // The war against

cervical cancer Cervical cancer has historically been one of the leading causes of cancer death for women in the U.S. Despite the fact that it is a largely preventable disease, cervical cancer continues to affect 13,000 people in the U.S. every year, with African Americans having the highest rates of disease. Planned Parenthood works to decrease these numbers with regular screenings for women and vaccine against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer. Planned Parenthood’s effort to prevent cervical cancer is accomplished in three main ways: Pap tests to detect abnormal cells, treatment for abnormal cells, and vaccine to prevent HPV for both men and women. These methods, combined with prevention education for women, men and teenagers, can greatly reduce cervical cancer rates. Planned Parenthood services are available to all, regardless

Breathe easier from healthier children page 18

television and plan your activities when air pollution levels are lowest. > Mold. Get rid of mold in all parts of your home. Keep the humidity level in your home between 35 and 50 percent. In hot, humid climates,

Gene pool

of insurance status or ability to pay. In addition to cervical cancer prevention, Planned Parenthood offers a full range of reproductive health services, including contraception, breast health exams, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and abortions. Planned Parenthood has four convenient locations in South Los Angeles. To schedule an appointment, call (888) 633-0433 or visit Dorothy Hecht Health Center (South L.A.) 8520 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90003 Planned Parenthood Basics—Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Health Center 3637 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90016 S. Mark Taper Foundation Center for Medical Training 400 West 30th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007 Stoller-Filer Health Center 11722 S. Wilmington Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90059

you may need to use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier or both. Fix water leaks, which allow mold to grow behind walls and under floors. > Other triggers. Strenuous physical exercise; strong emotional states; some medicines; bad weather such as thunderstorms, high humidity, or freezing temperatures; and some foods and food additives can trigger an asthma attack. Allergens such as pet dander, pollen, mold or cockroaches may also trigger attacks. For more information, call (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636 or visit

Dating violence

from healthier living page 10 from healthier teens page 19

> Eliminating toxic exposure > Eating foods that are highly nutritious > Managing a stressful lifestyle > Exercising on a regular basis > Living with hope and having an optimistic outlook on life > Getting proper rest > Healing the spirit man These suggestions are definitely not a cure for congenital diseases but provide an internal defense against bad genes. If the soil is healthy, the cells are strong. Oftentimes a mutated gene flourishes due to the infirmities of the cellular environment.

20 | August 2012 |

Carroll said that many at-risk adolescents may look around and see adults and their peers involved in relationships where physical or sexual violence or coercion also occurs. Because of that, it’s even more important for not just pediatricians, but parents and teachers as well, to talk with teens about dating violence whenever it might be a concern. “We need to be aware about this, we need to ask. My guess is that just a meaningful discussion for an adolescent with an adult that he or she trusts about, ‘What does a healthy relationship look like?’ can go a long way,” Carroll said.

healthier men // > A feeling that something is caught in your throat > Difficulty chewing or swallowing > Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue > Numbness in your tongue or other areas of your mouth > Swelling of your jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable > Pain in one ear without hearing loss > Be on the lookout for any changes in your mouth, especially if you smoke or drink. What should you do if you have symptoms? See a doctor or dentist if any symptoms last more than two weeks. Most often, symptoms (like those listed) do not mean cancer. An infection or another problem can cause the same symptoms. But it’s important to get them checked out—because if you do have cancer, it can be treated more successfully if it’s caught early. Ask for an oral cancer exam. It’s quick, painless, and could save your life. An oral cancer examination can detect early signs of cancer. During the exam, your doctor or dentist will check your face, neck, lips, entire mouth. Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in partnership with the National Cancer Institute, components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md.

Are you at risk for

oral cancer?

What African American men need to know Are African American men at risk for oral cancer? Yes, African American men are one of the groups at highest risk for oral cancer—but many don’t know it. Most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use, or the use of both tobacco and alcohol together. In fact, using tobacco plus alcohol poses a much greater risk than using either substance alone. Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) may also play a part in oral cancer. It’s not just smokeless tobacco (“dip” and “chew”). Using tobacco of any kind, including cigarettes, puts you at risk for oral cancer. The risk of oral cancer increases with age. Most oral cancers occur after age 40. The term oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth and the pharynx (FAIR-inks), part of the throat. What are the possible signs and symptoms of oral cancer? > A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in your mouth, lip or throat > A white or red patch in your mouth | August 2012 | 21

healthier seniors // Hurting joints Arthritis Foundation

Arthritis and related conditions can affect anyone, no matter what their race. Osteoarthritis, the common form of arthritis in African Americans, affects all races in similar frequency. However, gout and lupus affect more African Americans than people of other races. Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA) affects nearly 27 million Americans. Although it does not affect African Americans more than other people, it is the most common form of arthritis. OA causes the cartilage that cushions the bones in joints to break down. OA affects both men and women, but up to age 55, OA is more common in men. After age 55, it is more common in women. Treatment includes exercise, medications, use of heat and cold, joint protection and weight control. You can reduce your risk for OA by maintaining your recommended weight or losing weight if you are overweight.

the blood caused by some high blood pressure medications. Symptoms of gout include: > Sudden joint pain and swelling, often in the big toe. > Shiny red or purple skin around the joint. > Tenderness around the joint. A doctor diagnoses gout by taking fluid from the affected joint. The fluid is examined under a special microscope for uric acid crystals. The good news is that gout can be treated and attacks of gout can be prevented. Gout is usually treated with medication and changes in diet prescribed for gout help treat attacks, reduce uric acid production, or help rid uric acid from the body. Certain foods may raise your uric acid level. You may need to reduce the amount you eat of the following foods: > Sardines and anchovies > Broths and gravies > Organ meats (liver, kidneys, etc.) > Legumes (dried beans, soybeans, peas) High uric acid levels in the blood can be caused by obesity. Drinking alcohol also can trigger an acute gout attack. Lupus Lupus affects women more often than men, and African American women are more likely to have lupus than Caucasian women Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and organs. Lupus typically begins between ages 18 and 45. Most people with lupus have changes in disease activity known as flares and remissions. A flare is when the disease is more active and inflammation is worse. A remission is when there are no signs or symptoms of the disease. On rare occasions, a complete or long-lasting remission can occur. There is no single set of symptoms for lupus. Blood tests are used to help with the diagnosis of lupus. Rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in the treatment of people with arthritis or related diseases) are more certain of the diagnosis when people have more of the typical signs of the disease.

Gout Gout is a painful condition caused by uric acid crystals in one or more joints (often the base of the big toe). Uric acid is a substance that forms when the body breaks down waste products called purines. Uric acid is usually dissolved in the blood and passes through the kidneys into the urine. In people with gout, the uric acid level in the blood becomes very high. This causes uric acid crystals to form in joints and other tissues. It can lead to joint pain and swelling. Gout affects approximately 2.1 million Americans and occurs much more commonly in men than in women. It can occur at any age, but usually begins between ages 40 and 50. African American men are twice as likely as Caucasian men to have gout. This may be related to their greater risk of high blood pressure and the increased uric acid levels in

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Signs and symptoms of lupus include: > A rash across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose > Scaly, disk-shaped rash on the face, neck, ears, scalp and/or chest > Sensitivity to sunlight > Sores on the tongue, inside the mouth and/or in the nose > Arthritis (pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints) > Pain in the chest or side > Kidney problems > Brain problems > Blood problems > Antinuclear antibodies (a common lab test marker of the disease) Lupus is usually treated with a combination of medications, rest, exercise and a healthful, balanced diet.

Healthier You Magazine August 2012  
Healthier You Magazine August 2012  

Welcome to the July-August issue of Healthier You. This issue concerns itself with congenital heart defects. The word congenital refers to s...