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Great American Smokeout: Tobacco and Americans
November 18th, 2010
05:33 PM ET

Great American Smokeout: Tobacco and Americans

In 1972, Arthur Mullaney had a creative idea.  The Randolph, Massachusetts, high school guidance counselor challenged his students and other people in the community to give up smoking for a day and to donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes toward a high school scholarship fund.  The event raised $4,500 dollars and sparked one of America's most famous public health movements.

Thursday is the 35th annual Great American Smokeout. In some ways, it is hard to remember a time when smoking was so prevalent.  If you are under 30, you may find it hard to believe that there was a time when everyone seemed to smoke, even pregnant moms a la Betty Draper on "Mad Men."  But through public health programs, clean air laws and anti-smoking campaigns on television shows (remember how Greg got caught with a pack of cigarettes on "The Brady Bunch"?) things have changed.  There are now more former smokers than current smokers in the United States.  But according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tobacco use is responsible for more than 440,000 deaths each year in the United States.  46 million Americans smoke: that's about 20 percent of adults and teenagers.

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On the brain: More about mixed-up senses
November 18th, 2010
05:28 PM ET

On the brain: More about mixed-up senses

For Chad Myers, "2" is a boy and blue. "3" is a girl and green. In his mind, every number and letter has a color and a gender. In his words, they have "personalities."

He thought everyone did this until a few years ago, when he brought up with his family and, he says, "They all started looking at me weird."

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What is H5N1?
November 18th, 2010
12:43 PM ET

What is H5N1?

H5N1 sounds like a random collection of letters and numbers, but to doctors who specialize in the flu it spells the name of a fearsome enemy. Unlike even a severe strain of typical or seasonal flu, H5N1 – which is a type of bird flu – causes critical illness or death in a majority of those it sickens. 

A person infected with bird flu typically becomes feverish and within a day or two develops trouble breathing, as the virus lodges in the lower respiratory tract.  A substantial number of patients have diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Taken early in the illness, the antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza can help, but with or without treatment about 60 percent of all patients die. FULL POST


November 18th, 2010
12:32 PM ET

How can I keep my weight loss off?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.
From Nora Mays Landing, New Jersey:

“I’ve started a low-carb diet and have lost 25 pounds. But it’s hard to stick to and I’m worried if I stop, I’ll gain the weight back. What can I do to prevent this from happening?”

Answer:

When trying to lose weight and keep it off, the most important thing to focus on is making a lifestyle change versus the mindset of a diet. If you’re having trouble sticking to an eating regime you’re comfortable with, begin to make adjustments that will lead to habits you can maintain forever.

Start by making specific goals. However, be realistic. Saying you are not going to eat pasta ever again probably will not last forever. Instead, make a mini-goal. For example if you want to cut down your carbohydrate intake, a mini-goal might be to limit your pasta intake to once a week, then transition to once a month and maintain that regime as a lifestyle change. Another great way to keep your weight loss from creeping back up is to write down everything you eat. It helps keep you accountable for everything that goes in your mouth.

Also, don’t feel tied to a low-carb diet forever. A study released earlier this year that looked at the benefits of low-fat vs low-carb diets. What they discovered was interesting. In terms of long-term weight loss, it does seem to be a tie in effectiveness. Low-fat and low-carb eaters, on average, lost about 24 pounds over the course of a year. Fast forward  two years, and 15 of those pounds actually stayed off for both groups. Both diets also led to a drop in triglyceride levels drop and systolic blood pressure, the top number in your overall blood pressure reading.

Some people find a low-fat diet easier to follow and more satisfying. So if you're focused on shedding pounds and keeping the weight off, pick whatever option you can possibly stick to. You may have heard me talk about this before, but in terms of losing weight – the formula is quite simple. To lose one pound, you have to cut out of your diet or burn off via exercise 3,500 calories. That’s cutting only 500 calories a day to lose one pound a week. So essentially, skipping the morning bagel and cream cheese and walking for an hour after work is enough for many out there to begin a steady weight loss.


November 18th, 2010
08:21 AM ET

The Sexpert: Memo to women: Please stop faking!

As a sex therapist, my profession often makes for interesting, and sometimes awkward, dinner conversation. Not too long ago I was at a cocktail party, when a woman in her mid-30s descended upon me. “Quick” she said in hushed tones, “My husband’s getting me a drink. We only have a few seconds. How do I get him to read your book, ‘She Comes First,’ without hurting his feelings?”

But before I could respond, or even think about my response, her husband sauntered over, draped his arm around her shoulder and chimed in, “Hey, you’re the guy who writes those sex books, right? I have just one question for you: why didn’t you pick me to be your co-author? I could have given you some secrets – right honey?” We all laughed, and as I made awkward eye contact with the wife, it was clear that she was the one with the real secret and it was going to stay that way.  And she’s not alone.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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