KRON 4 | Here’s Why You May Be Carrying a 40-lb Head

Occupational and recreational habits have led to real pains in the neck. Tension and poor posture rank high as the most common pain generators. KRON 4 Morning News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, helps me demonstrate the effects of poor posture and how to fight the aching forces of gravity.

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Forward Head Posture (FHP)

One of the most common postural problems is forward head posture — for both young and old. Forward head posture is also known as:

    • Text neck, computer/notebook neck
    • Sofa neck
    • Book or reader’s neck
    • Driver’s neck

KRON 4 PosturePain1Your head should sit directly on your neck and shoulders. Think of a golf ball on a tee. But the head is more like a bowling ball (weighing about 10 to 11 lbs) than a golf ball. Your neck and shoulders have to carry the burden of this “bowling ball” all day. Supporting and moving the human head is a challenging and tiring task.

Carrying your head is an isometric contraction — you’re actually “strength training”. An isometric exercise is a static hold where the joint angle and muscle length does not change during the muscle contraction. 

Posture_AdobeStock_113073952_croppedCorrect posture: Your ears line up over your shoulder blades.

Incorrect posture: Along with forward head posture, your shoulders also “round” and roll forward.

Causes of Forward Head Posture

Repetitive use of computers, TV, video games, trauma, and even backpacks/laptop bags have forced the body forward. Also, general muscle weakness from illness or aging can cause FHP —  that is, you’re too weak to hold your own head up anymore.

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When you’re holding your head forward (out of alignment), you are putting additional strain on your neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles. The result? Muscle fatigue and an aching neck and back. Here’s why…    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Here’s Why You May Be Carrying a 40-lb Head”

KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens

Studies show that those who regularly used sunscreens were more likely to burn than those who did not. I explain why and what to do about it with KRON 4 Morning News Anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

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Why Sunscreen Users Burn

Possible reasons for this finding* are that sunscreen users:

    1. May have a false sense of security.
    2. Justify staying outdoors loner.
    3. Don’t follow label directions properly.

*National Health Interview Survey of 31,000 Americans recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

Commonly Missed Spots

The most commonly overlooked areas when it comes to applying sunscreen are the most vulnerable to skin cancer. These body parts are exposed to the sun almost daily and not covered up during the colder months.

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The scalp, ears, back of neck, hands, lips, & arms are exposed to aging UVA rays all year around.
  • Scalp: Use an oil-free sunscreen (least greasy option for hair) if you’re bald, shave your head, and on your part.
  • Ears: Cancer occurs frequently on the ears.
  • Eyelids: Cancers often develop on the skin around the eyes. Difficult to protect with sunscreen if you don’t want lotion in your eyes. Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses.
  • Lips: One of the highest risk areas for squamous cell cancer. When they develop on the lips, there is the highest chance of spreading and 35% chance of recurrence. RISK OF DEATH could be as high as 15%.
  • Hands: If you wash your hands after applying sunscreen, the backs of your hands end up with zero sun protection. Must reapply sunscreen onto backs of your hands after washing them (that includes after using the restroom too). Remember… when driving, the backs of your hands, arms, and face are highly exposed to UVA aging rays. Glass filters out only one kind of radiation — UVB rays.
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Wear sunscreen when driving. UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through glass.
  • Back of the neck:  This is a high-risk zone for basal and squamous cell cancer. Even if your have long hair, it needs sunscreen.
  •  Back: According to the American Cancer Society, men are particularly at high risk of developing deadly melanoma on their backs. The back is a difficult area to apply sunscreen and often leads to severe sunburns.

sunburn on back

ALERT! If you’ve had five or more blistering sunburns, your risk of melanoma is increased by 80% and your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is increased by 68%.

  • Feet: If wearing sandals or have bare feet, your skin can burn easily. Apply sunscreen to tops of the feet.

Date and Shake Your Sunscreen

  • Mark the date that you opened the sunscreen with a waterproof marker if there is no expiration date. Sunscreens are meant to maintain their original potency for 3 years.
  • Shake it (even if the directions don’t say to) to distribute the active ingredients throughout the product.

Use Enough Sunscreen   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens”

KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You

One third of U.S. adults are getting sunburned each year which raises their risk of skin cancer. Getting just one sunburn every two years can triple your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. I was diagnosed with skin cancer in August 2013. For my story, click here.

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Three Major Types of Skin Cancer

  • Melanoma (most aggressive and deadly) — Men are more likely to DIE of melanoma than women. 
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – Most common
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – 2nd most that

Researchers believe that men are more vulnerable to melanoma than women due to the differences in their skin. Men tend to have thicker skin with less fat beneath it and it contains more proteins (collagen and elastin). These are the fibers that give skin their youthful appearance as they provide firmness and keep it tight. Perhaps why some men seem to age more gracefully than women?

A man’s skin is more prone to melanoma than a woman’s skin.

But here’s the bad news… researchers are correlating these skin differences to being more likely to be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays than did women’s skin. A separate study reached the same conclusion.

How My Cancer Saved My Husband’s Life

Cancer of the skin is the most common of all types of cancer. I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma five years ago (August 2013) and have not had any recurrences or new lesions. Here’s what happened to me: Why I’m Now a Statistic.

When I was diagnosed, it shocked my family because beginning in my mid-20’s, I became a sunscreen fanatic (a.k.a. the Sunscreen Police). After my diagnosis, I cunningly managed to get my husband to make an appointment for his first skin cancer screening. As a competitive swimmer in his youth and a ‘sunscreen resistor’, if I could have cancer, he was also at risk.

As a result, my husband was diagnosed with MELANOMA. Fortunately, because his cancer was caught early (Stage 0), the cells were only found in the outer layer of his skin. To put this in perspective, melanoma at Stage 3 has spread to the lymph nodes. Melanoma is an aggressive, fast-growing, deadly form of cancer. It can grow rapidly within WEEKS! You must be diligent and act fast.

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

  • Basal cell carcinoma accounts for 8 out of 10 skin cancers and usually develops on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face and neck, but they can occur anywhere. 
  • It affects people of all ages.
  • Grows slowly and it’s very rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant parts of the body. 
  • It is malignant because BCC invades and causes significant destruction of surrounding tissues and bone as it goes deep beneath the skin and can be disfiguring.
  • Over 50% of the people diagnosed with one basal cell cancer will develop a new skin cancer within five years.

My Treatment

The Mohs technique was used to remove my cancer because it was on my nose and this surgery could retain as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs is appropriate where there are limited underlying layers of skin tissue. It is the best treatment for therapeutic and cosmetic results. Here’s more on my Mohs surgery. On the other hand, my husband’s melanoma (which was on his arm and visually quite small) was surgically removed with a very wide excision.

Skin Cancer Prevention 

Don’t brush off any changes on your skin as “nothing”. Protect yourself and your children.

1. Limit ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Whether you’re 8 or 80, have fair or dark skin, you need sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun for LONGER THAN A FEW MINUTES. UVA rays age cells and can damage cells’ DNA. UVB rays can directly damage DNA and are a more potent cause of sunburns and skin cancer. To protect yourself, follow the “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap” catch phrase.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You”

ABC 10 | Healthy Summer Treats

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Last week I appeared on ABC 10’s lifestyle/news program in Sacramento (Sac & Co.) with Host Mellisa Paul for their “Healthy Summer Treats” segment. I took advantage of many of the sweet summer fruits in season.

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On the menu…

Summer Fruit Bruschetta (fresh basil, strawberries, nectarines, and raspberry balsamic glaze) served on Dr. Kracker Seedlander Crispbread with cranberry mascarpone* (Italian cream cheese).

The mascarpone is a decadent “treat” due to its creamy milk fat content. To ‘thin’ out the fat, I created more volume by adding the raspberry balsamic glaze used in the bruschetta + chopped berries. The cheese is meant to be thinly spread on the cracker to help hold the bruschetta on the cracker and balance out the acidity of the bruschetta. A healthier substitute for mascarpone is Greek cream cheese which has half the fat/calories per tablespoon but has a more acidic, tangy taste.

The Seggiano raspberry balsamic glaze is a naturally dense, balsamic vinegar glaze, made with just cooked grape must, wine vinegar, and natural raspberry juice.

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Hawaiian guacamole (fresh avocado, mango, and pineapple) served with Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips and Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips. Boost your brain health by serving this dip with an assortment of fresh veggies, on fresh grilled salmon, or with beans. Avocados are an excellent source of vitamin E and healthy fat — great for your heart, brain, and skin!

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“Salad Bars” — A salad in a bar! These baked treats are made with whole grain flours, almond flour, almond milk, flaxseeds, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, banana, apple, applesauce, and zante currants. Contain no dairy or eggs.

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Quick Homemade Almond Milk (used in the Salad Bars above)

Mini Fruit Pizza with Plain Nonfat Greek yogurt (as the “cheese”) and strawberry fruit spread (as “the pizza sauce”) + various plant-based toppings (fresh fruit, nuts and seeds) on a multigrain thin sandwich bun.

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Freshly brewed Hibiscus Raspberry tea infused with fresh citrus and berries

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KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More

Lifestyle diseases characterize diseases that occur primarily as a result of a person’s daily habits. Some of the main contributing factors include bad food habits, physical inactivity, stress, and an aging biological clock — all of which contribute to visceral (intra-abdominal) fat.

When it comes to your health, where you store your fat makes a difference. Are you shaped like an apple or more like a pear? KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and I talk about the difference between the fat that has settled on your hips and thighs versus what you’re carrying upfront.

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All Fat is Not Equal

Fat accumulated in the lower body, such as the hips, thighs, and buttocks (the “pear shape”) is subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat lies under your skin and above your muscles — it’s the “pinchable stuff”. Subcutaneous fat is measured by pinching your skin in a several different locations.

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Your “love handles” are pinchable subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat, a.k.a. intra-abdominal, belly, or deep fat, (the “pear shape”) lies out of reach and is tucked deep within your abdominal cavity where it pads the spaces between and around your VISCERA — your internal organs like your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. Related image

It’s also stored in the “omentum” — an apron-like flap of tissue that sits underneath the abdominal muscles and blankets the intestines. As the omentum fills with fat, it gets harder and thicker.

Lifestyle Diseases Linked to Visceral Fat

Research shows that people with “apple-shaped” bodies face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies. You need some visceral fat to cushion your organs, but too much of it has been correlated with the following health conditions:

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  • Kaiser Permanente of Northern California studied of 6,500 members for an average of 36 years, from they were in their 40’s to 70’s. The study concluded subjects with higher visceral fat had a higher risk of dementia than those with less visceral fat. Possible speculation of the trial is that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effects on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.
  • Researchers are not clear why visceral fat plays a larger role in insulin resistance — which raises risk for diabetes — than other fat.

Why Visceral Fat is a Health Risk

Visceral fat is most dangerous because it is biologically active — that is, it acts like an organ producing hormones and other substances that have harmful effects.

Cholesterol plaque in artery (atherosclerosis) illustrationExcess visceral fat is near the portal vein which carries blood from your intestines to your liver. Substances (e.g., free fatty acids) released by visceral fat enter the portal vein and travel to your liver where they can affect the production of fats in the blood. Visceral fat is directly linked to:

  • Higher total cholesterol
  • Higher LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Lower HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

How Much Belly Fat is Too Much   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More”