September 2005 Health News Tips

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.

Sunglasses should be more than a fashion statement

As the parade of cloudless Texas summer days continues, ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center remind everyone to protect their eyes from the sun.

"Sunglasses should be used by adults and children when outdoors for prolonged periods of time. For eyeglass wearers, polycarbonate lenses, which are thin and shatterproof, offer protection from ultraviolet radiation," says Dr. V. Vinod Mootha, associate professor of cornea, external disease, refractive and cataract surgery.

The surface of the eye and the cornea are particularly vulnerable to the sun's rays. "Excessive exposure may increase the risk for the formation of a fleshy tissue over the cornea, some forms of cataract and possibly macular degeneration," Dr. Mootha says.

UV-B exposure is higher on sunny days (especially at noon) and low-ozone days.
Dr. Mootha says some sunlight is good for you but common sense should be a guide for limiting your exposure.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Counter Parkinson's limitations with active exercise

Despite the limits that Parkinson's disease inflicts, it's important to keep exercising - particularly extending your range of motion, says Dr. Padraig O'Suilleabhain, associate professor of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Keeping your joints limber reduces the chance of getting arthritis in addition to Parkinson's, he says. 

For arms, he recommends rotating the shoulder slowly three times forward and three times back as far as it can go. For hamstrings, hold on to a support and place one foot about two feet behind the other, both facing forward, with knees and back straight. Gradually move the feet farther apart.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie
Dental implants help keep a beautiful, healthy smile

The loss of a tooth can strongly affect the attractiveness of a smile. One remedy for this is a dental implant.
"Implants provide a stable foundation for tooth replacement that are closest in look, feel and function to natural teeth. Dental implants also replace the dental roots, which prevents bone deterioration," said Kathia Steel, a dentist and assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Patients need to have good general health, including healthy gums and a jaw bone that is strong enough to support the implant, to receive a dental implant. There are treatment options available to enhance the bone and gum in order to be able to support an implant.

"It is important to remember that even though a dental implant will not develop tooth decay, a meticulous oral hygiene routine, including flossing, brushing and regular dental visits, is a must in keeping your natural teeth nice and healthy," Dr. Steel said.

Putting off treatment for the replacement of a lost tooth can lead to dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, changes in biting force, speech difficulties, loss of jaw bone and/or additional tooth loss.

Media Contact: Donna Hansard

Benefits of eating blue are bountiful

Blueberries continue to top the charts as one of the best choices to include in a healthy diet. Considered a "super food," blueberries are full of disease-fighting and anti-aging properties. They also help promote urinary tract health.

"Blueberries are one of many examples of the benefit of selecting very colorful fruits and veget-ables," says Dr. Jo Ann Carson, professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "The rich blue-purple color comes from the flavonoid anthocyanin. It offers powerful antioxidant benefits."

Another compound, ellagic acid, has been shown to help prevent cancer cell growth. Recent studies also have demonstrated that blueberries may help reduce LDL, or "bad" cholesterol.

Nutritionally, blueberries provide a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Watching your weight? Blueberries are low in calories and high in taste. Add ½ cup of blueberries to your daily meal plan to help meet your five-a-day recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

Ways to get your daily dose of delicious blueberries include:

* Shake it up! Blueberries, soy or skim milk, and crushed ice make a healthy smoothie treat.
* Great garnish! Sprinkle berries on top of your favorite hot or cold cereal in the morning.
* Perfect parfaits! Layer frozen yogurt and blueberries in a tall glass for a colorful desert.
* Batter up! Blueberry muffins or pancakes are a great way to start the day.
* Fruit fusion! Cut a cantaloupe in half and fill it with blueberries. Top it off with a dab of your favorite yogurt.

Media Contact: Katherine Morales

Add some important 'D'fense for strong bones

More and more older women attempting to prevent osteoporosis are taking calcium supplements. But don't forget another important ingredient - vitamin D - which is necessary for the efficient absorption of calcium. Without vitamin D, bone mass diminishes and the risk of fractures increases.

"Vitamin D is present only in a few foods, such as fatty fish, cod liver oil and vitamin D-fortified milk. It also may be formed in the skin with adequate ultraviolet light exposure, but many older people avoid excess sun exposure," says Dr. Howard Heller, associate professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "In addition, as people age their production of vitamin D may decrease."

For adults, Dr. Heller recommends daily doses of 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D. For people over age 65 and postmenopausal women not on hormone-replacement therapy, the recommended dose of calcium increases to 1,500 milligrams. Most multiple vitamins contain about half the needed amount of vitamin D, and calcium tablets contain about a fourth your daily need.

Media Contact: Donna Hansard



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