How owning a dog could improve your health

Nearly everybody will smile when they’re petting a dog. If the dog happens to plant a big kiss right on your hands or face, you will probably laugh and giggle, even while pushing the dog away. Did you know that dogs can bring more than a smile to your face, though? Science shows that they actually improve your health.

Owning dog can help boost your health in more ways than one.One Autistic Teen

For years, one autistic teen named Cadence wanted a service dog. Knowing that this dog would improve the teen’s self-esteem and anxiety, Cadence’s mother applied for one over and over again. Every time, her mother kept telling Cadence the sad response—no.

While Cadence has high function as an autistic girl, she still struggles with emotions sometimes. Cadence needed the unconditional love of a dog to balance those moments and bring her that smile. After four years of lowered spirits and let-downs, Cadence finally got a service dog, and the teen couldn’t have been more excited.

The Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

For Cadence, a service dog will help improve her emotional health, and ultimately the physical side too. Still, Cadence isn’t the only one who will benefit from owning a dog. Here are just a few ways that dogs can boost your health and bring you happiness:

Dogs Strengthen Your Heart

According to the American Heart Association, dogs can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. There could be several reasons for the lowered risk, including the time spent exercising the dog and the distraction from work or family stress.

Although the AHA has not been able to link dog ownership and heart disease conclusively, studies do show that dog owners have better heart health.

Dogs Lower Stress

Remember how dogs make you laugh and smile as you pet them? Ultimately, those lighthearted laughs will lower your stress levels.

A study from the University of Missouri-Columbia revealed that petting a dog causes your body to release those “happy hormones,” including serotonin and oxytocin. At the same time, a dog will also lower the stress hormone cortisol.

In one Missouri study, scientists tested the hormone levels of dog owners and non-owners alike. They found that people received the most benefit (through increased serotonin levels) when petting their own dogs. Also, simply stroking the dog for 15-30 minutes lowered the participants’ blood pressure by 10 percent.

Dogs Boost Immunity

If you have children, owning a dog can work in your favor, fending off the onset of allergies. Published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, one study showed that infants exposed to a pet before the six-month mark have a decreased risk of allergies. They also have a decreased risk for hay fever, eczema, and upper respiratory infections too.

In addition, dogs may help balance out and boost your gut health. Because dogs have many different types of beneficial bacteria, owning one will expose you to them.

As you take your dog outside during the day, it will also pick up organisms from outdoors. Simply put, you will definitely benefit from exposure to your dog’s healthy bacteria.

Treat Dogs Humanely.

In light of how much dogs can benefit their human companions, you would think that people would treat them with kindness. Unfortunately, thousands of dogs are mistreated, neglected, and killed across the world every year.

While you might think that animal cruelty means nothing for humans, you might be surprised. Many criminals who have committed violent and grotesque acts against humans actually started with animals.

Even if animal abusers did not turn into human offenders, you should still find the abuse appalling. When a person adopts a dog into his home, he is communicating that he will take responsibility for the dog’s care.

The dog will give him love, but what will he receive in return? For abusive owners, the dog will find himself neglected, beaten, and even killed inhumanely in exchange. If you know a dog in an abusive situation, you should not tolerate it. Find help immediately and protect man’s loving best friend.

If you choose to open up your home to a dog, take responsibility for it. Get all the benefits of a healthy immune system, lowered blood pressure, and reduced stress. Then, give it the love and attention it deserves, and you’ll find an unconditional friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny’s work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit for more.


Outlook good as formerly conjoined twins leave NY hospital

Formerly conjoined twins from the Dominican Republic have left a New York hospital two months after surgery to separate them.

Ballenie and Bellanie Camacho were released Friday from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, north of New York City.

The girls were joined at the base of the spine when they were born Feb. 4, 2016. They shared a key artery that supplies blood to the pelvic region as well as neurologic and gastrointestinal connections.

Abel Camacho holds his daughters Bellanie, left, and Ballanie, at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., Friday, March 24, 2017. The sisters, who were joined at the base of the spine when they were born Feb. 4, 2016, were being released from the hospital after a successful 21-hour surgery in Jan. 2017 to separate them. (Seth Harrison/The Journal News via AP)SOME OF THE YOUNGEST OPIOID VICTIMS ARE CURIOUS TODDLERS

Hospital officials say the twins’ 21-hour surgery Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 was successful and both children should enjoy full lives. Dr. Whitney McBride says the girls’ progress is “nothing short of remarkable.”

The twins will receive physical therapy as outpatients before returning to the Dominican Republic with their parents, Abel Camacho and Laurilin Celadilla.

Protect yourself against Zika and Lyme disease this summer

As the weather warms up, you and your family will probably be spending more time enjoying the great outdoors. After all, the summer brings more opportunities for you to camp, hike, swim, and bike. Before going outside, though, be sure to protect yourself from both the Zika virus and Lyme disease this summer.

An aedes aegypti mosquito is pictured on a leaf in San Jose, Costa Rica.The Zika Virus

Although there have not been ongoing outbreaks of Zika recently, you should still take precautions against it. This virus is spread easily through infected mosquitoes, and some people don’t realize its effects for months. During the summer months, the mosquitoes can breed and multiply quickly, increasing the chances of spreading disease.

Recent News

According to recent research, the CDC has also linked the Zika virus to an increase in birth defects, especially microcephaly. In fact, birth defects were 20 times more likely in pregnant women who had contracted the virus. If you’re pregnant and living in affected areas, you’ll need to take extra precautions.

Where Is It?

Since Zika spreads through mosquitoes, areas that have high humidity and warmer temperatures are the most at-risk. The US has seen the virus primarily in Florida and Texas. Especially if you’re pregnant, you should avoid traveling to these areas, specifically to Miami and Brownsville.

Treatment and Prevention

According to the World Health Organization, those infected with Zika will need plenty of rest and fluids. Since there are no treatments or vaccines for the virus, patients simply have to treat the symptoms and relieve pain.

On the other hand, you can prevent from getting the virus. Wear light clothing that covers much of your skin and use insect repellant during the summer months. You should also keep doors closed or use window screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

Zika can also be transmitted sexually. In high-risk areas, you should take care to use contraceptives and ask for medical counsel when choosing whether to get pregnant.

Lyme Disease

During summer months, you and your family have a greater risk of getting Lyme disease because it is transmitted through small ticks. Typically, a person who has contracted the disease will have fever, fatigue, and a rash, among other flu-like symptoms.

Recent News

Last year, the CDC reported a new species of bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Up until then, researchers only recognized one bacteria species that carried the disease. While the new species causes most of the same symptoms as the old one, it also adds nausea and vomiting to the list. At the same time, it produces a rash that spreads out more rather than resembling a bullseye.

In 2017, professionals expect cases of Lyme disease to rise, partially because of an increase in disease-carrying mice. This projection calls for heightened awareness about the problem in the US.

Where Is It?

Most cases of Lyme disease come from states in the Northeast and Midwest. These states include Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, although this list is not comprehensive. Be sure to check for the risk in your area and follow prevention guidelines set forth by the CDC.

Treatment and Prevention

To prevent from getting Lyme disease, you should take care to keep ticks off you and your pets. First, apply insect repellant with DEET before going outside. Then, avoid areas where ticks are likely to live, such as in tall grass and woods. When you do come inside for the day, look for ticks on your body and clothing and remove any that you find immediately. The CDC also recommends throwing your clothes into the dryer for 10 minutes to kill any hidden ticks.

If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, you should see your doctor right away. Since the disease will progress, you could suffer from damage to the nervous system or the heart if not treated quickly. Caught early, you’ll receive antibiotics to combat the effects of the disease and should have few repercussions.

The key to protecting you and your family from Zika and Lyme disease is prevention. Especially in high-risk areas, you should take proper precautions, such as using insect repellant and avoiding tall grass or standing water. Then, you can enjoy the outdoor sunshine without much concern for these diseases.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny’s work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit for more.


Why a lack of education raises death risk for some Americans

Middle-age white Americans with limited education are increasingly dying younger, on average, than other middle-age U.S. adults, a trend driven by their dwindling economic opportunities, research by two Princeton University economists has found.

The economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, argue in a paper released Thursday that the loss of steady middle-income jobs for those with only high school diplomas or less has triggered broad problems for this group. They are more likely than their college-educated counterparts, for example, to be unemployed, unmarried or afflicted with poor health.

Middle-age white Americans with limited education are increasingly dying younger, on average, than other middle-age U.S. adults“This is a story of the collapse of the white working class,” Deaton said in an interview. “The labor market has very much turned against them.”

Those dynamics helped fuel the rise of President Donald Trump, who won widespread support among whites with only a high school diploma. Yet Deaton said his policies are unlikely to reverse these trends, particularly the health care legislation now before the House that Trump is championing. That bill would lead to higher premiums for older Americans, the Congressional Budget Office has found.

“The policies that you see, seem almost perfectly designed to hurt the very people who voted for him,” Deaton said.

Case and Deaton’s paper, issued by the Brookings Institution, follows up on research they released in 2015 that first documented a sharp increase in mortality among middle-aged whites.

Since 1999, white men and women ages 45 through 54 have endured a sharp increase in “deaths of despair,” Case and Deaton found in their earlier work. These include suicides, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related deaths such as liver failure.

In the paper released Thursday, Case and Deaton draw a clearer relationship between rising death rates and changes in the job market since the 1970s. They find that men without college degrees are less likely to receive rising incomes over time, a trend “consistent with men moving to lower and lower skilled jobs.”

Other research has found that Americans with only high school diplomas are less likely to get married or purchase a home and more likely to get divorced if they do marry.

“It’s not just their careers that have gone down the tubes, but their marriage prospects, their ability to raise children,” said Deaton, who won the Nobel prize in economics in 2015 for his long-standing work on solutions to poverty. “That’s the kind of thing that can lead people to despair.”

It’s not entirely clear why these trends have affected whites much more than they have African-Americans or Hispanics, whose death rates are improving.

Case and Deaton note that many Hispanics are “markedly better off” than parents or grandparents who were born abroad, enabling a greater sense of optimism. African-Americans, they add, may have become more resilient to economic challenges given their long-standing disadvantages in the job market.

The data is clear, though: In 1999, the death rate for high school-educated whites ages 50 through 54 was 30 percent lower than the death rate for all African-Americans in that age group. By 2015, it was 30 percent higher.

The educational split is also growing. Even while the death rate for whites without a college degree is rising, the rate for whites who are college graduates is falling, Case and Deaton found.

Americans with less education are also faring much worse when compared with adults in other countries, Case and Deaton concluded. Death rates in Europe for people with limited education are falling — and in most countries, they’re falling faster than death rates for those with more education.

For those reasons, Case and Deaton discount the notion that government disability benefit programs are responsible for some of these problems by enabling more Americans to stop working. Social welfare programs in Europe are typically more generous yet haven’t caused a rise in death rates.

Given the long-running nature of these trends, many of which stem from the 1970s, reversing them could take years, Case and Deaton write. But there are immediate steps that could be taken, Deaton said in the interview. Routine prescriptions for opioids should be cut back.

And, “Europe has a much better safety net than we do, and they’re not seeing the same sort of problems as we are,” he said.

Palliative care linked to fewer repeat hospitalizations

Comfort care for advanced cancer patients is associated with fewer repeat hospitalizations and more hospice referrals, according to a study highlighting how this approach may offer chronically sick or terminally ill people a better quality of life.

Researchers focused on terminal cancer patients who often end up receiving a lot of care during their final months of life; all were already hospitalized for serious medical issues. The study team tested what happened to these patients before and after the start of a new palliative care consultation program in the hospital.

Daughter holding her mother's hand.Palliative care aims to improve quality of life for seriously ill patients by relieving their symptoms and easing their stress.

“Patients who received inpatient palliative care consultations have improved quality of life, reduced intensive care unit utilization, longer stays in hospice and lower overall cost of care,” said lead study author Dr. Kerin Adelson of Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut.

“Despite this, many patients never receive palliative care,” Adelson said by email. “Patients who do not receive palliative care are more likely to have medicalized deaths and receive unwanted, futile, interventions near the end of life.”

Under the program tested in the study, cancer patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City got consultations about palliative care options if they had advanced tumors, had been previously hospitalized in the past month, had been in the hospital for at least a week during their current stay or if they had active symptoms.

Consultation with the palliative care team included things like discussions about treatment goals, advance planning for end-of-life care and planning to transition patients out of the hospital. Care teams included a physician, nurse practitioner, social worker and chaplain.

Researchers compared what happened to 65 patients who qualified for this program during the study to outcomes for 48 patients in a “pre-intervention” group who were hospitalized before the program started but would have qualified for it.

Overall, 39 percent of patients in the pre-intervention group and 80 percent of the people in the program group received palliative care consultations, researchers report in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

The proportion of patients who had repeat hospitalizations within 30 days of being discharged dropped from 35 percent pre-intervention to 18 percent after the consultation program started.

Receipt of chemotherapy after discharge declined from 44 percent to 18 percent.

Beyond its small size, other limitations of the study include the focus on a single care team at one academic medical center with a previously well-established palliative care service, the authors note.

Some patients who could have received consults when the program was up and running also didn’t get this opportunity because they were admitted on Fridays and staff wasn’t able to do consultations over the weekend, researchers point out.

Still, the results suggest it is possible to make palliative care a more routine part of the hospital experience for people with serious illness, said Dio Kavalieratos, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh who wasn’t involved in the study.

“For patients living with serious illness and their families, palliative care offers an extra layer of support to help manage stress, suffering, and decision-making,” Kavalieratos said by email. “Palliative care is appropriate for anyone with a serious illness, no matter where they are.”

While palliative care isn’t always available, patients and families should always speak up to find out about this option, said Joy Goldsmith, a public health researcher at the University of Memphis in Tennessee who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Without a big picture, decisions about time spent in the hospital, side effects from chemotherapeutic agents, and place of care are never brought to the fore,” Goldsmith said by email. Palliative care can help patients and families consider medical decisions in the broader context of what they most want for the time they have left rather than focusing only on a single test or treatment.

“Better outcomes equal the chance to take the whole person and their life into account, rather than staggering on the treadmill of the medical world,” Goldsmith said.

Recovery from addiction

Recovery from addiction involves a process. The transition from active addiction to sobriety doesn’t happen overnight. The person in recovery shouldn’t expect that life will instantly change when he or she stops using or drinking. The reality is that most addicts go through stages of sobriety. Some of these stages bring insight and others bring despair.

For individuals in recovery, it’s important to know that millions of others have successfully transitioned from addiction to sobriety. It’s possible to maintain sobriety and create a new life. You have the ability to accomplish the same. Support throughout the phases of sobriety can help you imagine and built the life you want after addiction.

Image result for Recovery from addiction

Stage One: Withdrawal

If you abuse alcohol or drugs over a period of time, your body is dependent on these substances. After you decide to stop drinking or using drugs, your body goes through a period of withdrawal. In this stage, your brain and body are starving for the substances you’ve used. Your cravings to use drugs or drink alcohol are high during the withdrawal period.  You’ll experience wide emotional swings as well.

After alcohol or drugs are gone from your system, your central nervous system and neurotransmitters will misfire. One or more of your organs might go into a sort of shock. You need medical support during withdrawal for that reason.

Know that your body can heal itself but it will take time for your body to heal and function as it should. Withdrawal and detoxification can span several weeks. Your doctor will prescribe drugs to help ease the withdrawal symptoms as well as meditation, exercise, and nutrient supplements.

It’s potentially dangerous to go through withdrawal alone. Consult an addiction specialist and consider a medical detox program before you begin. These are your safest options.

Stage Two: A Second Chance (Pink Cloud)

Most addicts say that the detox stage is very difficult. After the first few weeks of sobriety, he or she feels a sense of hope about the future. Some refer to the second stage of sobriety as their “second chance.” If the treatment program they’ve chosen addresses the addict’s body, mind, and spirit, he or she realizes there’s finally a way out of the cycle of misery. It’s exciting to feel alive.

Some call this stage of recovery the pink cloud. Almost all addicts experience a sense of renewal at this point. Experts refer to this stage of recovery as a type of mania. The addict must learn to expect highs and lows and to establish realistic expectations for the future.

Everyone experiences life stresses. During treatment, the addict must expect that the desire to drink or use drugs will happen again. Without the ability to manage manic highs and depressive lows, it’s quite easy for many addicts to relapse after treatment.

The second stage of sobriety is powerful. You may feel cured. You may believe you don’t need treatment and that meetings with your addiction counselor are a waste of time. You might start to feel disappointed with your surroundings and life in the real world. It’s common to experience depression throughout the addiction recovery process.

Holistic Rehab Centers knows it’s important for the recovering individual to do too much, too soon. He or she might decide to change careers or move to a new place to start all over again. Before implementing major life decisions, it’s best to avoid adding new stresses for six months to a year. Take small steps with the expectation of staying sober.

Dealing with stage two is difficult without learning new coping skills and tools. Recovering addicts must learn these skills at a program that treats body, mind, and spirit.

Stage Three: Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS)

If the addict has been sober for at least several weeks, he or she may experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal a second time around. Post-withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) may occur as the addict recovers from drinking alcohol or taking opiates, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and other substances.

Mood swings, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, lethargy, and poor concentration of common symptoms during this stage of sobriety.

Some recovering addicts experience PAWS symptoms for up to two years. Patience and preparation for these symptoms are necessary to continue to full emotional sobriety.

Stage Four: Emotional Sobriety

The first two years of recovery are challenging. When you’ve successfully maintained physical sobriety for at least two years, you’re ready to focus energy on achieving emotional sobriety. At this stage, you’re living in the moment. You’re comfortable with reality. You don’t worry about the future or regret what happened in the past. You don’t suffer from intense mood swings. You’re positive about the future.

Life is stressful. Staying physically and emotionally sober is difficult. All people, even emotionally sober and mature individuals, experience disappointment or sadness sometimes. Continue to work with aftercare support and reach out to your support network. Recovery involves a process. Each sober day is a successful day.

Man accused of posing as dentist allegedly cooked meth in office

A California man is accused of practicing dentistry without a license in an unsanitary office where he allegedly cooked meth. Joseph Hirsch, of Redwood City, is being held in San Mateo County jail on $500,000 bail after authorities received a tip about his alleged crimes, Mercy News reported.

Joseph Hirsch is accused of posing as a dentist and possessing narcotics. Hirsch, 59, is accused of possessing and manufacturing controlled substances, possessing brass knuckles and possessing ammunition as a felon, the report said. Authorities said it was unclear if any patients had been harmed as a result of treatment allegedly provided by Hirsch.

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Authorities arrested Hirsch after serving a search warrant at Thermo Dental and a three-month investigation involving California’s Department of Dentistry and the state’s Department of Justice, Mercury News reported. The office is allegedly surrounded by warehouse businesses and auto-repair shops.

A news release revealed authorities discovered a “crude dentist office,” with an x-ray machine and dental tools, as well as narcotics and equipment used to manufacture narcotics. A man who answered the phone at Thermos Dentistry told Mercury News he had no comment on the arrest.

Caring for your gestational diabetes

During your pregnancy, you might dread the renowned “sugar test” that your doctor will probably order around 24–28 weeks. You have to drink a sugary liquid and wait around for its effects to spread throughout your system. If you screen through the one-hour and three-hour tests with both positive results, you’ll have to work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar stable through a proper diet, often called an ADA diet. With this diet plan, many pregnant women can control their gestational diabetes and deliver happy, healthy babies.

What is an ADA diet?

A pregnant woman gets her blood sugar/glucose checked.Simply put, the ADA diet is a meal plan recommended by the American Diabetes Association for those dealing with diabetes. This diet encourages you to eat a variety of healthy foods while watching the intake of starches and sugar. You should also choose foods high in vitamins and minerals and balance starch with fiber to keep your sugar levels under control.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you work with a dietitian and/or your doctor to learn about proper nutrition for gestational diabetes. If you cannot control your sugar levels through the ADA diet alone, your doctor may add insulin shots.

Controlling Blood Sugar

To control your blood sugar through diet, you can choose one of several ways: carbohydrate counting, the glycemic index, or the plate method. All of these methods focus on balancing starchy foods with protein and low-starch vegetables to improve energy, control weight, and balance blood sugar.

Carbohydrate Counting

For carbohydrate counting, you and your doctor will work to set a number of carbs that you will incorporate into each meal. At first, this process may have some trial and error since your carb intake will depend upon your lifestyle, metabolism, and physical activity. Once you have a set number, you’ll need to learn the amount of carbs in the foods that you eat. You should never exceed your carbohydrate limit during a meal.

The Glycemic Index

If you choose to use the glycemic index, you will need to incorporate mostly foods that are low or medium on the scale. With this system, you’ll still need to work closely with medical help since one food may change its glycemic index when paired with another food. For example, you can eat a food high on the glycemic index with one lower on the scale to balance out the glycemic effects.

The Plate Method

To use the plate method, you would aim to fill a certain portion of your plate with either protein, non-starchy vegetables, or starches. You may find this method the easiest one to use, but it doesn’t always fit a person’s lifestyle.

According to Stephanie Dunbar, ADA’s director of nutrition and medical affairs, you should fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Then, you can fill another quarter with protein and the final portion with whole grains or starchy vegetables. Finish with a small serving of fruit and low-fat dairy, and you’ll leave yourself filled and happily balanced.

Choose Foods Wisely

When planning meals for gestational diabetes, you should make wise choices about the foods you eat. You will need to restrain yourself with some types of food and completely eliminate others from your diet. Below, you’ll find examples that you can eat and some that you should avoid.

Foods to Eat

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Lentils and black beans
  • Low-fat or skim milk
  • Olive oil

Foods to Avoid

  • Specialty coffee drinks
  • French fries, or other fried food
  • Loaded deli sandwiches
  • White flour or rice
  • Fruit juice
  • Flavored water

While having gestational diabetes does require some diet changes and extra care, you can still enjoy filling, healthful foods throughout your pregnancy. Then, with your doctor’s guidance and the balanced ADA diet, you should successfully control your sugar levels and deliver a happy, healthy baby into the world.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny’s work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit for more.


7 surprising ways you wreck your body when you don’t get off your butt

One of the worst things you can do to your body is doing nothing at all: Sitting parked on your butt can be just as dangerous as being obese, according to a study from the University of Cambridge.

Globally, 1 in 4 adults aren’t moving enough, according to the World Health Organization. And even if you think you’re an active person, you might be spending just enough time in front of your TV when you’re not at the gym to be putting your health at risk.

What’s more, the effects of staying seated go far beyond what you may think. Sure, your sedentary behavior can hurt your heart and make you fat, but it might also be responsible for some more surprising, effects too.

These 7 sinister side effects of living a sedentary life will have you itching to jump out of your seat. Read on to learn more—and to discover the easiest thing you can do right now to reverse the damage.


Feeling down? Blame your chair: After surveying more than 3,300 government employees, Australian researchers found that men who sat for more than 6 hours a day at work were 90 percent more likely to feel moderate psychological distress—like feeling nervous, restless, hopeless, or even tired—than men who sat for less than 3 hours a day.

What’s more, other types of sedentary behavior—like watching TV or playing electronic games—can increase your risk for anxiety, according to a recent meta-analysis of nine studies published in BMC Public Health. That might be because if you’re spending your time on those pastimes, you’re probably not fitting in enough physical activity, the researchers say. (Here are 7 things that destroy your mood.)

And that’s important, since exercise has mood-boosting benefits. When you work up a sweat, your body produces feel-good hormones called endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. What’s more, recent research indicates that cardio can boost your mood just as effectively as prescribed antidepressants.

Too busy to walk during your lunch break? Check out this quick workout you can do right at your desk. Your body and mind will thank you.


A German meta-analysis of 43 different studies including more than 4 million people found that sedentary behavior significantly increases your risk for several types of cancer.

People who logged the most sitting time experienced a 24 percent higher risk of developing colon cancer, a 32 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21 percent higher risk of lung cancer.

Plus, the risks about doubled for people who usually spent their butt time parked in front of the TV, possibly because you tend to nosh on sweetened beverages and junk foods when you’re glued to the screen, the researchers say.

And that paves the way for obesity. Large studies have consistently shown that higher levels of body fat can spike your cancer risk. That’s because chronic local inflammation can attack your body’s cells, leading to cancer-causing DNA damage over time, according to the National Cancer Institute. Plus, a surplus of fat cells eventually produce hormones that lead to cell proliferation, a process that causes your cells to grow and divide rapidly. (Here are 10 things you can do to prevent cancer.)


Your brain health suffers when you lounge for too long: Older adults who are sedentary may be just as likely to develop dementia as people who are genetically predisposed to the condition, new research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found.

In a study of more than 1,600 adults 65 and older, the researchers found that people with a gene strongly associated with dementia were nearly twice as likely to develop it as people without the gene. But when they looked at people who didn’t exercise regularly, they found that their odds of developing dementia were similar.

The fix is simple: The study participants who kept active—and thus warded off the additional dementia risk—walked for about three times a week as their main form of exercise. So add a brisk walk to your routine, and try these 7 more simple things you can do to keep your brain young.


Even if you’re at a healthy weight, your blood sugar levels can rise if you’re parked in a chair for too long, according to a recent University of Florida study. In fact, sedentary adults were more likely to have blood sugar levels at 5.7 percent or above in an A1C test, which is high enough to be considered prediabetes by the American Diabetes Association, the researchers note.

While these people maintained a healthy weight, they had a higher ration of fat to muscle, with an average of 25 percent body fat or more for men.

This “skinny fat” condition leads to various metabolic issues, like higher blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, the researchers say.

If you’re in the prediabetes range, losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight (about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound guy) and making time for 150 minutes of exercise a week can delay the onset of full-fledged diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Your inactive behavior can lead to a gut, and that might be setting yourself up for penis problems down the road. Men with a bigger belly—or a waist of 42 inches or more—are more than twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) than those with waists below 32 inches, one Harvard study found.

Your swimmers can take a hit, too. Men who binged on TV for more than 5 hours a day had 29 percent lower sperm concentration than men who didn’t watch any TV, recent Danish research found.

Take note: The work you put in at the gym follows you to the bedroom. After surveying 300 men, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that highly active men—or men that completed 3.5 hours of moderate exercise or more a week—had higher sexual function scores than men who reported lower levels of physical activity.


Ever feel like you sleep more soundly after logging a great workout? That’s because exercising at least 150 minutes a week can improve the quality of your shuteye, according to a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity. When people met those physical activity guidelines, their risk for daytime sleepiness dropped compared to people who didn’t hit the guidelines, the researchers found.

Those who exercise vigorously are nearly twice as likely to experience a good night’s sleep every night compared to people who avoid the gym, a National Sleep Foundation poll found.

In fact, more than two thirds of vigorous exercisers reported almost never experiencing symptoms associated with insomnia. On the flip side, 50 percent of people who don’t exercise reported waking up in the middle of the night.

Just keep in mind that when you get moving can impact your sleep, too: Here is the best time to work out for a better night’s sleep.


The effects of slouching in front of your computer can last beyond your workday. Sitting for as little as 4 hours straight can increase pressure on the disks in your lower back, a Penn State study found. This compression can lead to disk degeneration, a common culprit behind back pain.

So get up and move, the researchers suggest. When the participants in the study changed their position every 15 minutes, they didn’t see any adverse effects in their disks.

While you might assume rest is the answer, research shows that movement is great pain medicine. Just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise—like running or swimming—can reduce your back pain perception by 28 percent, according to a study in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development.


You don’t need to block out serious amounts of time to get your butt out of the chair. If you don’t have the type of schedule that allows you to fit in 2.5 hours of moderate exercise throughout the week—as federal guidelines recommend—working out on the weekends is still better than parking it on the couch, as we recently reported.

When English researchers analyzed lifestyle data from 64,000 adults, they found that people who crammed their workouts into just one or two days per week were still 40 percent less likely to die from heart disease, 18 percent less likely to die from cancer, and 30 percent less likely to die of any cause over 18 years than people who didn’t exercise at all.

“Every sustained bout of aerobic exercise improves blood pressure, cholesterol concentrations, and glucose metabolism for a day or two,” says lead study author Gary O’Donovan, Ph.D.

Still, if you can manage to spread your workouts throughout the week—even if you’re just taking your dog for a brisk walk—the benefits will be even better. But fitting in a day or two of exercise is definitely better than doing nothing at all.

City says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market

As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle.

       Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people. The city says it has spent millions combating OxyContin and heroin abuse — and expects the tab to rise.

So Everett is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, in an unusual case that alleges the drugmaker knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and the city of about 108,000. Everett alleges the drugmaker did nothing to stop it and must pay for damages caused to the community.

Everett’s lawsuit, now in federal court in Seattle, accuses Purdue Pharma of gross negligence and nuisance. The city seeks to hold the company accountable, the lawsuit alleges, for “supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious pharmacies and physicians and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market” and into Everett, despite a company program to track suspicious flows.

“Our community has been significantly damaged, and we need to be made whole,” said Stephanson, who grew up in Everett and is its longest-serving mayor, holding the job since 2003.

He said the opioid crisis caused by “Purdue’s drive for profit” has overwhelmed the city’s resources, stretching everyone from first responders to park crews who clean up discarded syringes. The lawsuit doesn’t say how much money the city is seeking, but the mayor says Everett will attempt to quantify its costs in coming months.

Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma says the lawsuit paints a flawed and inaccurate picture of the events that led to the crisis in Everett.

“We look forward to presenting the facts in court,” the company said in a statement.

Purdue said it is “deeply troubled by the abuse and misuse of our medication,” and noted it leads the industry in developing medicines with properties that deter abuse, even though its products account for less than 2 percent of all U.S. opioid prescriptions.

In 2007, Purdue Pharma and its executives paid more than $630 million in legal penalties to the federal government for willfully misrepresenting the drug’s addiction risks. The same year, it also settled with Washington and other states that claimed the company aggressively marketed OxyContin to doctors while downplaying the addiction risk. As part of that settlement, it agreed to continue internal controls to identify potential diversion or abuse.

While numerous individuals and states have sued Purdue, this case is different because Everett is getting at the results of addiction, said Elizabeth Porter, associate law professor at the University of Washington.

She thinks Everett may have a shot at winning, though it will have to overcome some legal burdens, including showing that diverted OxyContin from rogue doctors and pharmacies was a substantial factor in the city’s epidemic.

Stephanson said he was “absolutely outraged” after the Los Angeles Times reported last summer it found Purdue had evidence that pointed to illegal trafficking of its pills but in many cases did nothing to notify authorities or stop the flow. That newspaper investigation prompted the city’s lawsuit.

In response to the newspaper’s reporting, Purdue said in a statement that in 2007, it provided LA-area law enforcement information that helped lead to the convictions of the criminal prescribers and pharmacists referenced by the Los Angeles Times. The company also pointed to court documents that showed a wholesaler alerted the Drug Enforcement Administration about suspicious activity at a sham clinic noted in the newspaper’s story.

Still, Everett contends Purdue created a market for addicts that didn’t exist until the company let its pills flood the streets.

The region saw two spikes in overdose deaths: first from OxyContin and other opioid painkillers in 2008 and then, after the drug was reformulated in 2010, a spike from heroin as people switched to a potent but cheaper alternative, officials said.

The city contends Purdue’s wrongful conduct fueled a heroin crisis in Everett. Between 2011 and 2013, nearly one in five heroin-related deaths in Washington state occurred in the Everett region.

In response to the drug epidemic, Everett last year began sending social workers on routine patrols with police officers. Sgt. Mike Braley says the community outreach and enforcement team strikes a balance between enforcement and connecting people to addiction treatment, mental health and other services.

“We understand that we can’t arrest our way out of problems that addiction is causing our city,” Braley said.

Sometimes it takes many follow-ups and hours of handholding to get people help. On their first stop one morning, Braley and his team check under a street overpass, a popular hangout for addicts. They find plenty of needles, drug packaging and mounds of garbage but none of the people they had encountered there recently.

They swing by a woody vacant piece of city property to follow up with a homeless man who told social workers he was on a housing list. He previously was reluctant to talk but opens up this time.

Social worker Kaitlyn Dowd offers to check on the man’s housing status with a local nonprofit provider and then punches her number into a cellphone he recently got.

“You can call me, and I have your number,” she tells him.

Social worker Staci McCole said they come across many cases where highly functioning residents were introduced to opiates or heroin. “So many of these people — somehow it’s taken a hold of them, and their lives now have forever changed,” she said.