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Costume considerations

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for planning safe Halloween costumes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for planning safe Halloween costumes.

As Halloween nears and families begin planning costumes, these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics will help keep kids safe:

• Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

• Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

• Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over the eyes.

• When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for those with a label clearly indicating they are flame-resistant.

• If a sword, cane or stick is part of a child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long, as a child may be easily hurt if he stumbles or trips.

• Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their chaperones.

• Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While packaging on decorative lenses often includes claims such as “one size fits all” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous and illegal. Such lenses can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. While awareness of breast cancer is widespread, many people fail to do all they can to detect the disease in its earliest, most treatable stages and forget to encourage others to do the same.

During October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the National Breast Cancer Foundation is offering a variety of tools to help fight the disease:

• An Early Detection Plan to help women detect the disease in its early stages. Women receive reminders to do breast self-exams and schedule exams and mammograms based on age and health history.

• Beyond the Shock is a free, online guide to understanding breast cancer  and serves as a resource for women who have been diagnosed with the disease. There is also information to help their loved ones better understand breast cancer and a tool for doctors to share information.

• Fundraiser information to help provide mammograms for women in need.

To access the tools and learn more about the prevention and treatment of breast cancer, visit nationalbreastcancer.org.


The Angelina factor

Media coverage of Angelina Jolie’s decision to have both breasts removed and undergo breast reconstruction improved public awareness of reconstructive breast surgery options, according to an article in CANCER, a journal of the American Cancer Society.

Researchers conducted two online polls, each involving 1,000 women, to assess the effect of media coverage on the general public’s awareness of healthcare issues. One poll was conducted prior to Jolie’s 2013 announcement of her surgeries and the other after widespread news reports of her double mastectomy and subsequent breast reconstruction.

Following the announcement, the proportion of women aware that reconstructive breast surgery is possible increased 4 percentage points; knowledge that reconstructive surgery can be performed with one’s own breast tissue increased 11 percentage points, and awareness that breast reconstruction can be done during a breast removal surgery increased 19 percentage points.


Bad fats and carbs

Cutting back on saturated fats to help prevent heart disease makes sense, but not if those fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found. On the other hand, replacing saturated fats – mainly found in meats and dairy foods – with unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils and nuts is good for heart health. Likewise, choosing whole grains over saturated fats lowers heart disease risk.

Study author Frank Hu said it is common for people to up their intake of refined carbohydrates such as those found in white bread when they reduce their consumption of saturated fat, but “in terms of heart disease risk, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates appear to be similarly unhealthful.”

The study used years of diet and health information from nearly 85,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 40,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


Walking it off

Advances in technology have created an increase in sedentary lifestyles, especially for workers who spend the majority of their days seated at computers. Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine studied the effects of extended sit-times and found that while they pose a threat to vascular health, a short walk can do wonders to reverse damages.

Researchers had 11 healthy, young men sit for prolonged periods and compared their vascular function before and after sitting. After six hours of sitting, the participants’ experienced greatly reduced blood flow in a lower leg artery but after their walks, blood flow was improved and vascular function was restored.

“It’s easy for all of us to be consumed by work and lose track of time, subjecting ourselves to long periods of inactivity,” said the study’s lead author, Juame Padilla, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU. “However, our study found that when you sit for six straight hours, or the majority of an eight-hour work day, blood flow to your legs is greatly reduced. We also found that just 10 minutes of walking after sitting for an extended time reversed the detrimental consequences.”


Kids resisting exercise

Parents who try to “guilt” their children into exercising are not likely to succeed.

A University of Georgia study found that middle-school students who feel like they are not in control of their exercise choices or feel pressured by parents to be more active typically are not physically active kids. In comparison, fifth- and sixth-grade students who feel they are free to make their own decisions about their level of exercise are more likely to be physically active.

According to researcher Rod Dishman, middle school is a critical time for children, because between fifth and sixth grade, activity levels typically decrease by 50 percent.

“Just like there are kids who are drawn to music and art, there are kids who are drawn to physical activity, but what you want is to draw those kids who otherwise might not be drawn to an activity,” Dishman said.

Rather than guilt students into exercise, parents and teachers want to give them opportunities to become involved in or improve at a particular activity or sport.

“The best thing is to (exercise) because it’s fun,” Dishman said.  “It’s the kids who say they are intrinsically motivated who are more active than the kids who aren’t.”


On the calendar

“Pampering Your Feet” is from 1:30-3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the St. Peters City Centre, One St. Peters Centre Blvd. in St. Peters. Dr. Damon Hays of Hays Foot and Ankle Center presents this segment of the Showcase on Seniors program, which features monthly meetings focusing on improving physical, intellectual, social, cultural and financial interests of seniors. The annual program membership fee is $5. For more information and to register, call 928-9355.

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Bone density screenings are from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Middendorf-Kredell Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. For an appointment, call 928-9355.

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“Harms of Heroin” is from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov 18 at Spencer Road Library, 427 Spencer Road in St. Peters. Attendees hear first-hand from a recovering addict, a parent who lost a child to a heroin overdose and an attending physician from the Progress West Hospital Emergency Department. Registration is required. Call 928-9355, or visit bjcstcharlescounty.org.

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