March 2004 Health News Tips1

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Sometimes letting go of worries is best for health

Stress is here to stay. It's how you manage it that's important - particularly for women, who are the "queens of multi-tasking," says Dr. Stephanie Setliff, assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"Stress refers to internal and external pressures that we experience daily," she says. "We can't eliminate it, but it's up to us to decide how to deal with it."

Most people react to stress in one of three ways, says Dr. Setliff. They are crushed by it and "freeze," try to climb around it and "escape," or "hold it lightly on their shoulders."

If not managed effectively, stress can turn into depression. It also can result in high blood pressure, rapid weight loss or gain, headaches or other physical symptoms. Becoming "stress hardy" requires learning to balance the important elements in your life - such as work, family, relationships, parenting and finances - and realizing that sometimes you should simply "let go" of worries and frustrations about situations over which you have no control.

Common stress reduction strategies for women include exercising, reading, talking to a friend, shopping and participating in yoga, Dr. Setliff says.

Taking care of yourself, seeking assistance from friends or family members, practicing better time-management skills, and being ready to take direct action and make quick decisions also help in coping with the stresses that life dishes out, she says. 

Media Contact: Donna Steph Hansard

Headache vs. migraine: Understanding the difference

If headaches consistently stop you from working or enjoying life, you may suffer from migraine - the most common neurological disorder in the developed world.

Migraine affects an estimated 28 million Americans - more than diabetes, asthma and epilepsy combined - and it is believed that more than half of them remain undiagnosed.

"If you are having more than two or three headaches a week, or if your headaches cause disability more than three days in a month, those are chronically recurring headaches," says Dr. Dion Graybeal, assistant professor of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "Regardless of how those headaches have been diagnosed in the past, 75 percent to 85 percent of them are actually migraine, and not tension or sinus headaches."

Migraine is a debilitating condition marked by intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head that becomes worse with movement and often involves nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. One attack can last several hours to several days.

Fifteen percent of migraine sufferers experience neurological disturbances called auras before the pain begins. Symptoms include vision problems, ringing in the ears, difficulty speaking, disorientation, and numbness or tingling. There is no cure for migraine, but there are prescription drugs that can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

Media Contact: Rachel Horton

Treatment for male breast cancer same as for women

While 100 times more common among women, about 1,300 new cases of invasive breast cancer are annually diagnosed among U.S. men. About 400 men will die annually from the disease.

Since the incidence of male breast cancer is so low, routine screening for the general population is not recommended, says Dr. Phil Evans, director of the Center for Breast Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. The treatment and prevention options are the same as for female breast cancer - surgery and possibly chemotherapy.

"Most male breast cancers present as an asymptomatic painless breast lump and are discovered by the patient," he says. "The lump is evaluated with physical examination, mammography and ultrasound, and the diagnosis is usually made by needle biopsy."

Media Contact: Scott Maier

Regular exercise aids those with arthritis

Non-medical therapies are very important for people suffering from arthritis.

According to doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, therapies for osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis affecting the hip, knee and hands) include exercise programs designed to strengthen the muscles around the joint, improve flexibility and promote a sense of health and well being. Besides the physical benefits, patients also feel better by taking control of part of their treatment and socialize with others in the same situation.

"An arthritis exercise program could be a strengthening program devised by a physical therapist, a cardiovascular fitness program such as walking or swimming, and specific exercise programs for arthritis," says Dr. David Karp, UT Southwestern chief of the Division of Rheumatic Diseases. "These exercises can take place either in a classroom or in a pool. Water exercises are often easier, since there is less weight on the knee or hip joints"

Many exercise programs require a doctor's prescription or other approval first to be certain participants or instructors understand and heed any needed special precautions. Dr. Karp says the best source of information is the local Arthritis Foundation chapter or

Media Contact: Scott Maier

Use A-B-C strategy to avoid unhealthy weight-loss plans

To determine the appropriateness of various weight-loss plans, apply the ABC rule, says Leigh Ann Kowalsky, clinical instructor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Consumers should consider:

  • Adequacy - Does the meal plan offer enough nutrients for one's daily needs?
  • Balance - Is there an appropriate distribution of carbohydrates, proteins or fats?
  • Calorie control - Does the meal plan allow for a minimum caloric total to be at least 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 for men?

"If one or more answers result in a negative response, then beware, you might be doing more harm than good," Kowalsky says.

March is National Nutrition Month.

Media Contact: Amy Shields




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