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Voices: Maybe We All Need a Little Less Balance

Photo Credit Getty Images Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told to strive for balance. Yet I’ve noticed something interesting: The times in my life during which I’ve felt happiest and most alive are also the times that I’ve been the most unbalanced. Falling in love. Writing a book. Trekking in the Himalayas. Training to set a personal record in a triathlon. During these bouts of full-on living I was completely consumed by my activity. Trying to be balanced — devoting equal proportions of time and energy to other…

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The Case for a Breakfast Feast

Perhaps not surprisingly, the latest study found that those who supplemented three meals a day with snacks tended to gain weight over time, while those who ate only one or two meals a day tended to lose weight, even compared with those who just ate three meals a day. But the researchers also found that those who ate their largest meal early in the day were more likely to have a lower body mass index than those who ate a large lunch or dinner. Breakfast eaters tended to keep their…

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Marijuana Tied to Hypertension Risk

Photo Marijuana use may be a cause of high blood pressure, a new study reports. Researchers studied 332 deaths among 1,213 people participating in a larger health study, of whom 57 percent were marijuana users. They had used marijuana for an average of 12 years, and the longer they used it, the more likely they were to have hypertension. The study is in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. After controlling for many health and behavioral variables, including a prior diagnosis of high blood pressure, they found that compared with…

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The New Health Care: Preventing Teen Suicide: What the Evidence Shows

There are things we as a society can do as well. We need to make things safer for teenagers, which includes reducing their access to the means they might likely use in a suicide attempt. Also important but more difficult, we need to promote connectedness and limit isolation. The best thing we can do for teens at risk is to prevent them from cutting themselves off from others. We have been failing to meet these goals too often when it comes to the media, guns and community. The most public…

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The New Old Age: The Appointment Ends. Now the Patient Is Listening.

An extended round of hospitalizations and operations in 2013 affected her memory, she said, so “you can tell me something today and I won’t remember tomorrow.” Thus, last month, straining to recall what Dr. Ryan had said about how often to take allopurinol for gout, she turned to the recording (annotated so that patients can easily locate specific topics of conversation) for clarification. When she changed blood pressure meds, she asked her daughter, who lives nearby, to listen to Dr. Ryan describe side effects to watch for. “At some point,…

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Ask Well: Can You Sweat Out Toxins?

Photo Credit Getty Images Q. Is there any validity to the popular claim that one can “sweat out toxins?” If so, what “toxins” can the body sweat out? A. The body does appear to sweat out toxic materials — heavy metals and bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics, for instance, have been detected in sweat. But there’s no evidence that sweating out such toxins improves health. “The claims for the benefits of saunas and other sweat-inducing treatments are not backed by science,” said Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired…

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Walnuts for Weight Loss?

Photo Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times A handful of walnuts may be an effective weight loss tool. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other substances and, in moderation, have been linked to reduced risk of obesity and diabetes. They may also efficiently reduce appetite. Researchers now may have found out why. They had nine hospitalized obese patients drink, on five consecutive days, either a smoothie containing 48 grams of walnuts (1.7 ounces, or about 14 walnut halves and 315 calories) or a placebo smoothie identical…

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Guns Play Oversize Role in Rural Suicides

Photo Suicide rates are higher in rural counties, according to a new study, and the reason is firearm use by men. The report, in the American Journal of Public Health, used data on 6,196 suicides of Maryland residents over age 15. They found that the rate of firearm suicides was 66 percent higher in the most thinly populated counties than in metropolitan areas with populations greater than a million. Non-firearm suicide rates in rural and urban counties were roughly the same. Rates of firearm suicide by women were no different…

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