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 | 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 | Does Your Voice Sound “Old”?

Have you ever talked to someone on the phone and determined the person is old just by the sound of his/her voice? You’ve likely heard an older person speak with that classic gravely, weak. raspy, wavering, hoarse, and/or breathless voice. When it comes to anti-aging, most people think about how to look younger and how to feel younger, but don’t usually think about how to “sound” younger.

As with everything else, your voice ages too, and most people don’t think about taking care of their ‘voice muscles’ like they do their biceps. On this KRON 4 health segment, Weekend News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and I talk about how to keep your voice sounding “young”.

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Karen demonstrates how you produce vocal sounds.

Causes of Sounding Old

Over 30% of people over age 65 have voice problems. As you age, your larynx (a.k.a. voice box) changes. The following conditions may be causing your voice to become hoarse and weak causing you to sound “old”:

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    • Vocal cords are less elastic (just like aging skin and muscles) and are unable to work in the same way as when you were young. Your vocal cords move and vibrate to make sounds. When the surrounding muscles move, your vocal cords either tighten or loosen. To make higher sounds, your cords tighten.
    • Vocal cords and muscles in the larynx wear out and become more thin. As a result, your voice may sound higher.
    • Vocal cords are dry due to a decrease in blood supply and number of lubricating glands.
    • Weak abdominals – In order to form a sound, your abs and rib cage squeeze your lungs which make you exhale air.
    • Decreased lung capacity – By the time you’re 80, you may have 50% less volume compared to when you were 20.
    • Acid reflux can cause harshness, sore throat, cough.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis – This condition can lead to hoarseness because your vocal cords cannot move well. The inflammation limits the ability of the joint near your windpipe (cricoarytenoid joint) to move.
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Rheumatoid arthritis can inflame the joint in your windpipe and cause you to sound old.

KRON 4 Vocal Cords4    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Does Your Voice Sound “Old”?”

KRON 4 | Smell Test to Detect Brain Disease

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A simple smell test could provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify those at high risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” is a willing test subject for the Alzheimer’s peanut butter test.

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Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s disease or a related form or dementia, but only 1 in 4 people with the disease is diagnosed.

Smell Test Protocol

Testing for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can be time-consuming, costly and invasive. In contrast, this University of Florida study used a simple peanut butter test:

  1. Patient: Closed his/her eyes and mouth. Then blocked one nostril.
  2. Clinician: Opened the peanut butter container (one tablespoon).
  3. Clinician: Held the ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally.
  4. Clinician: Moved the peanut butter up the ruler one centimeter at a time during the patient’s exhale until the person could detect an odor.
  5. Clinician: Recorded the distance.
  6. After 90 seconds, the procedure was repeated on the other nostril.

Left-Right Asymmetry

  • peanut butter_dollarphotoclub_40526513_600x400The study revealed dramatic differences between the left and right nostril in patients with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In patients with other kinds of dementia, there were either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one.
  • When smelling the peanut butter, the left nostril in the Alzheimer’s patients could not detect the smell of the peanut butter until it was an average of 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) closer to the nose than the right nostril had detected the smell. *A normally functioning olfactory nerve can detect odors at about 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) from the test agent.

*  See your physician if you lose your sense of smell. *

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Validated Five-Item Test for Dementia

orange-03_croppedIn University of Chicago Medical Center study, nearly 3,000 adults, aged 57 to 85, had to identify five odors (peppermint, fish, orange, rose, and leather). During a five-year follow-up, those that could not identify at least four out of the five odors were found to be more than twice as likely to develop dementia.

 * The smell test marks someone who needs closer monitoring and further testing. *

Scratch-and-Sniff Test for Parkinson’s Disease

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Smell Test to Detect Brain Disease”