Insight News

Feb 12th


Holidays and compulsive shopping

Many years ago, I remember running out to Foley’s “Red Apple Days” to catch the sale on clothes and household items before the Christmas holiday began.  It would have been okay to go out, but on this particular day, I had the flu and a fever of 101 degrees.  My husband had called me from out of town to see how I was feeling.  It was a Sunday morning, so he asked if I felt well enough to go to church.  Of course, I did not.  But, two hours later, I found my self driving to the mall (which was about 1 mile PAST my church building) trying to catch the sale.  As I drove (with perspiration on my brow), it suddenly struck me that something was very, very wrong with that picture.  How could I be too sick to praise the God that gave me the money, but well enough to spend it at a mall with people who did not even look like me!


Only one quarter of Americans with HIV have virus under control

Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans living with HIV do not have their infection under control, according to a Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released last Tuesday in advance of World AIDS Day, December 1. The authors say the low percentage is because 1 in 5 people with HIV do not realize they are infected and, of those who are aware, only 51 percent receive ongoing medical care and treatment.

Of the nearly 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, only an estimated 28 percent have a suppressed viral load (defined as viral load less than 200 copies of the blood-borne virus per milliliter of blood) – meaning that the virus is under control and at a level that helps keep them healthy and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others.


Will eating garlic and onions help prevent cancer?

Will eating garlic and onions help prevent cancer?Dear EarthTalk: Given the preponderance of carcinogenic chemicals out there today, is it true that eating certain foods like garlic or onions can actually help prevent cancer?    -- M. Stone, Boston, MA

Natural healers have extolled the cancer-preventing virtues of garlic and onions for years, but only recently do we have enough scientific research to draw some conclusions. Several animal studies showing promising results using garlic and other members of the allium family (onions, leek, shallot, and chive) to prevent tumors have led to hundreds of studies involving human garlic eaters. While it is near impossible to pinpoint a direct link between garlic consumption and cancer prevention, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that “several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.”

Understanding mental disorders

When I was in graduate school learning to become a psychologist, it quickly became apparent to me that one of the goals of our training program was to teach us how to quickly and accurately label people with various types of mental health disorders.  I distinctly remember one lecture where the professor put the word “disease” on the board by spelling is as “Dis-Ease” as a way of emphasizing that folks who suffer from various types of mental illnesses experience discomfort with their symptoms.  Later, we learned that not everybody who has a mental health problem experiences a discomfort or a lack of ease with his or her problems.

Being thankful and learning optimism

When my mother was alive, we used to go home every Thanksgiving.  It was a family tradition.  Even when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, we would rent a hotel and the manager would give us a free room for our family dinner. I remember our last Thanksgiving with her and how we sat around after dinner singing spirituals and gospel songs.  Even though she was dealing with memory issues, lung cancer and only had a couple of months to live, my mother sang and held our hands and kissed us all on our cheeks, our hands, and our foreheads.  In that room, we all became kids again.  We laughed, acted silly, played jokes and would even do the occasional “pop” on somebody’s head before running away—hoping to be chased and caught.

Don’t lose sight of diabetic eye disease

Don’t lose sight of diabetic eye disease Thousands of American adults are at risk of losing their vision as a result of complications from diabetes

Diabetes affects nearly 26 million people in the United States. In addition, another 79 million people are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts people at increased risk for diabetes. All people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, are at risk for diabetic eye disease, a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

Are diet sodas unhealthy?

Are diet sodas unhealthy?Dear EarthTalk: I drink diet soda but I’m told it’s bad for me and linked to health problems. Is this true and if so can you suggest any healthier alternatives?    -- Mitchell James, Ronkonkoma, NY

While rumors have circulated for years that diet sodas are unhealthy, researchers have found no direct links between such drinks and specific human health problems. Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) is the sugar-alternative of choice for most diet soda makers. It’s 180 times sweeter than sugar but contains no significant calories and does not promote tooth decay. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved aspartame in 1974, though health advocates held up its widespread use for over a decade.
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