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Health Blog

Welcome to the ongoing series of blog posts from UTMB Health focusing on key aspects of maintaining your health

Is there a cancer-fighting diet?

“We know that vegetables, including beans, leafy greens, tomatoes, squashes, onions and fruits have many chemicals, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, fiber, vitamins, minerals and additional bioactive substances that can help in preventing cancer,” wrote Dr. Victor S. Sierpina in his column.

Can I get COVID and flu shots at the same time?

In the latest Vaccine Smarts column, Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp offered a Q&A on the new COVID-19 bivalent boosters. And the answer is yes, you can get your COVID and flu shots at the same time.

Eye contact is crucial in child development

“An extremely important aspect in human development is the moment that a baby looks at its parent,” wrote Dr. Sally Robinson. “Eye contact is associated with strong communication, memory for faces and social connection.”

To have a friend, be one

“Research has shown that having at least three close friends, especially for men, improves longevity,” wrote Dr. Victor S. Sierpina. “It makes sense that with someone else around to help share the joys and burdens of life, we become more resilient.”

Gut microbiomes could be a treatment for bipolar

Researchers are trying to determine if changing the gut microbiome is a viable treatment option for those with bipolar disorder. In Medical Discovery News, Dr. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) as a treatment. “Yes, that means transplanting poop!”

Scientists are studying a new cancer cure approach

Scientists have an exciting new treatment approach to cure advanced-stage ovarian and colorectal cancer. The bad news is that it has only been tested in mice. The good news is that testing it in humans is the next step and clinical trials could begin soon. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel wrote all about in the latest Medical Discovery News column.

Buckle up: Flu season fast approaching

In the recent Vaccine Smarts column, Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp advise everyone to prepare for a potentially rough flu season. One way to forecast the season is to observe what happens to people in the Southern hemisphere as their winter occurs during our summer, and some of their influenza strains make their way to us. We may be in for a bad one as Australia had a rough flu season. This winter we may have a “twin-demic” of both COVID and flu filling hospital beds and clinics. It is important that people receive their influenza vaccination to keep this from happening.

Biological age may be a better gauge of lifespan

Your biological age, also called your functional or physiological age, gauges how old you appear, Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel wrote in Medical Discovery News. Biological age uses many variables including your genes, lifestyle, diet, activity level and even how well you sleep. Your mental condition is also a factor. As with any tool like this, take the results with a grain of salt.

National Immunization Awareness Month reminds us vaccines protect

“We celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month every August,” Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp wrote in the latest Vaccine Smarts column. “One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that we are more knowledgeable about vaccines development, licensure and how they work. Unfortunately, we are also learning about the danger of vaccine hesitancy and refusal.”

Tai Chi has benefits in Parkinson’s disease

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina explained that Tai Chi involves the slow repetitive shifting of weight from one leg to another and challenges balance control to maintain a center of mass within a changing base of support. “This is likely the same reason that Tai Chi has long been shown to reduce fear of falling in other studies of older adults,” he wrote.

A sincere apology can give you a health bump

“Studies have shown that both giving and receiving forgiveness can improve blood pressure, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, improved mental resilience and even improve our immune system and how we respond to illness,” writes Dr. Samuel Mathis

Eggs got a bum rap and other medical news you can use

“Of the thousands of medical articles published annually, of most interest to those of us in primary care are the ones that have an impact on how we practice,” wrote Dr. Victor S. Sierpina in his column. “These are the studies that show how to improve patient outcomes in morbidity and mortality, reduce risk, improve safety and lower costs.” And he lists some top studies.

Betrayed by your skin

Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discussed a condition where even a short walk causes pain and skin blisters. A woman named Grace in New Zealand has a condition called epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, which can make a walk to the mailbox excruciating.

No time for public health

James Bond lives with no health consequences, and some scientists have listed all the times Bond took no precautions at all. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel analyze the data in Medical Discovery News.

Remember the number 988

Dr. Sally Robinson writes about a new number to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7. It is 988. This will help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis to connect with trained staff. It is free and confidential. If needed, connection to local support will be given.

I tested positive for COVID. What should I do now?

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina lists things to consider if this is you, including checking with your doctor. “COVID cases are still occurring regularly locally and nationally though at a much lower rate than at the beginning of the year when Omicron variants emerged,” he writes. “It is still highly contagious but with high vaccination rates and natural immunity from exposures, hospitalizations and deaths are way down. Still, it pays to be cautious.”

Hygiene theory may explain allergies in children

Dr. Sally Robinson explains that hygiene theory suggests that children who have more exposure to germs and certain infections at a very early age develop immune systems that are better suited to differentiating harmless substances from harmful substances. Always talk to your physician, she advises.

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