Health Advice



Stepping It up

Scott LaFee on

We all know walking is wonderful exercise, especially as we age and other forms of strenuous physical activity become more difficult. A plethora of devices let us count our steps, with 10,000 steps a day presumed to be the universal goal.

A recent study looked at 4,800 people age 40 and older to see if there was a correlation between steps taken and healthy outcomes, i.e., who was less likely to die over the course of 10 years.

There was no magic number: More steps were better than less steps; the intensity of walking appeared to play little role.

"The main thing is to get moving for better overall health as we age," said co-author Eric Shiroma.

Body of Knowledge

It's not a figment of your imagination when you "see stars" after rubbing your eyes, sneezing or standing up too fast. All cells within the human body are capable of producing light, called biophotons.

Usually your brain ignores them, but when pressure is applied to the eyes, more biophotons are created than the brain can process and ignore. These notable flashes of light and squiggly lines are known as phosphenes.

Get Me That, Stat!

Over the past 20 years, the pharma and health care industries have spent nearly $5 billion on lobbying efforts, reports JAMA Network. More than $400 million went to elections, with congressional candidates garnering nearly 10 times as much in lobbying funds as presidential candidates.


1 in 4: Ratio of residential facilities for elder care that now use electronic health records (EHRs can make it easier for facilities to coordinate care for patients with multiple conditions and providers).

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stories for the Waiting Room

Here are the five healthiest cities in the U.S., according to the credit report agency WalletHub, based on 43 metrics covering health care, food, fitness and green space:

1. San Francisco, California

2. Seattle, Washington

3. San Diego, California

4. Portland, Oregon

5. Washington, D.C.

And here (among the more than 174 cities ranked) are the five unhealthiest:

170. Memphis, Tennessee

171. Shreveport, Louisiana


172. Gulfport, Mississippi

173. Laredo, Texas

174. Brownsville, Texas

Doc Talk

Lunula: The whitish, crescent-shaped area at the base of each fingernail. It comes from the Latin meaning "little moon." It is part of the nail matrix where new nail cells are made. The absence of lunulae is normally not worrisome but may be an indicator of anemia or malnutrition (in combination with other symptoms).

Phobia of the Week

Aphenphosmphobia: fear of being touched, also known as haphephobia and thixophobia.

Food for Thought

Polydimethylsiloxane (or sometimes just dimethicone) is a silicon-based organic polymer that acts as an anti-foaming agent and is used in contact lenses; shampoos; caulking; Silly Putty; lubricants; and foods, primarily cooking oils.


"Armpits lead lives of quiet perspiration." -- Patrick Murray

Medical History

This week in 1987, Chet Fleming was granted a patent for a cabinet that would keep a severed head alive via physical and biochemical support. The idea was doctors would use the cabinet while searching for a body transplant. Chet was ahead of his time, so to speak. The cabinet never became a reality.

Med School

Q: Why is one nostril typically stuffier than the other?

A: Nostrils take turns receiving the majority of air you inhale. The one not working can get a little stuffy until it takes over.

Curtain Calls

A couple in Hamburg, Germany, got trapped in their homemade sauna when the door jammed. Sauna temperatures exceed 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The 60-year-old husband collapsed and died while trying to pry off the pine roofing. The 53-year-old wife managed to rip out wiring in the wall, which caused a short circuit and shut down the sauna, before passing out. She was rescued the next day by a neighbor.


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