Health Front: Smartphone Hell, Tick Warning, Dark Chocolate

By DR. JERRY DeCAPUA, Two Rivers Tribune contributing writer

• According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health, cell phone overuse can be just like any other kind of addiction. And the two warning signs are; is your smart phone interfering with your life, and do you get withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut down your usage? These and other questions you may want to ask yourself. Do you think about your smartphone even when you’re not using it? Do you feel irritable or anxious when you don’t have it? Do you check your phone constantly? Is your smart phone getting in the way of your work or studies? Do you have a life outside your smartphone?

If any of these questions apply to you, the Cleveland Clinic recommends you turn off and tune out. They advise that you set aside a few hours of no-phone time a day. Set goals to do things without your phone around. Most of all do not let your cell phone rob you of sleep. Stop using it at least an hour before you retire for the night.

• There are several new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics about fruit juice. First, babies shouldn’t have any fruit juice at all. Toddlers should limit their intake of store bought fruit juices. Another recommendation is that parents should forgo the beloved sippy-cup of juice for their kids altogether.

Many fruit juices do not provide any real nutrition and are primarily loaded with sugar and water. Water and milk are preferable. Offering babies juices could keep them from getting enough breast milk or formula, and the protein, minerals and fat they contain. The sugar laden juices that are in the sippy-cups can often promote tooth decay.

• Scientists have a double shot of bad news about ticks: There’s a new, and potentially fatal, tick-borne illness called Powassan, and this summer looks like it might be one of the worst on record for an increase in the tick population.

“Tick-borne diseases are on the rise, and prevention should be on everyone’s mind, particularly during spring, summer, and early fall when ticks are most active,” said Rebecca Eisen. She is a research biologist in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of vector-borne diseases.

Most of the past cases of Powassan have been found around the great lakes region, according to the CDC. Unlike Lyme disease, Powassan is a virus with no known cure. If inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) occurs, the fatality rate is 10 percent, the CDC warns.

• There is new research that suggests that chocolate might help a common and dangerous form of irregular heartbeat. The study of more than 55,000 people from Denmark found that those who favored chocolate tended to have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that raises stroke risk.

The study tracked people’s health for over 13 years, over which time more than 3,300 cases of atrial fibrillation emerged.

The study wasn’t designed to prove cause and effect. However, compared with people who ate a 1-ounce serving of chocolate less than once a month, the risk of heart fibrillation was 10 percent lower among those who ate up to three servings a month, 17 percent lower among those who ate one serving a week, and 20 percent lower among those who ate two to six servings of chocolate a week.

But the benefit then leveled off, with a 16 percent risk of atrial fibrillation among adults who ate one or more 1-ounce of chocolate a day.

“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake,” lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, an instructor in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health said. The study notes that the dark, high cocoa content chocolate taken moderately is the healthy choice.

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June 6th, 2017

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