Health benefits of a good laugh are no joke, experts say

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die and you need this medicine as much as I do.”

Abraham Lincoln, speaking to his cabinet members, 1862

Forests burning, hurricanes multiplying, America’s racial history haunting us, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, election worries and economic woes — people today are facing our own fearful strains.

Yet, while some of us might be hesitant to crack a joke or share a funny animal video, we need humor now more than ever.

Among its many health benefits, laughter can increase how much oxygen you breathe in, which stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and relieves stress.

“We’re able to take in more air when we laugh,” said family medicine physician Hans Crumpler of SharpCare Medical Group, Chula Vista. “While someone’s telling a joke, think of the tension that builds up before the punchline

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Your Good Health: Ocular migraine gives aura of headache

dr_keith_roach_with_bkg.jpgDear Dr. Roach: In a recent column, you wrote that migraine of any kind starting in a person’s 60s is uncommon. I am a 66-year-old man in relatively good health. I have controlled blood pressure and cholesterol. In the past six months I have started following a “plant-centric” diet and my blood pressure and cholesterol are well within guidelines. My heart rate is in the 43-47 beats per minute range and I have lost more than 29 pounds since October 2019. I weigh 217 and am six feet, three inches tall.

I recently went for my annual vision check at my eye doctor and told him about seeing a shimmery, jagged, half-moon blur in my vision, mostly on in my left eye, but present in both eyes occasionally.

He did a thorough retina exam and found no abnormality. He speculated that I was experiencing a migraine. I asked why there

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To Your Good Health: Night urination is a sleep disruptor | Columnists

ANSWER: There are several reasons for you to be concerned. Your BMI is 28.3, in the overweight range. Your age is 64, which tends to predict progression to diabetes at a higher rate than younger people. You are taking Lipitor, which also tends to speed progression to diabetes. Finally, your A1C is 5.7%, which is just in the prediabetes range. With all of these, you have a significant risk of developing diabetes in the next few years.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. The most important are diet and exercise. Your diet should have very little concentrated sweets, such as fruit juice or candy. You should also avoid processed starches, such as white bread, white rice, and pasta — all of which are rapidly converted to sugar, starting as soon as your saliva starts to digest them. A dietitian nutritionist can provide

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Is The Keto Diet Good For PCOS? Benefits Of Low-Carb Diet For PCOS

Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can affect a lot of different areas of your life. Among other things, PCOS can impact your weight, and a lot of questions come up about the best way to manage PCOS weight gain via your diet. One frequently searched query? Whether the keto diet is a good eating method to help manage PCOS weight gain and other symptoms.

Before we get into that, it’s important to go over some PCOS basics. PCOS is a health condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH). This hormone imbalance causes problems in the ovaries, which make an egg that’s released each month as part of your menstrual cycle. When you have PCOS, the egg might not develop the way it should, or it might not be released during ovulation, according to the

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11-year-old with rare cancer blogs to show good and bad sides of disease

When Nevaeh Williams was just 8, she was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer. Doctors were unsure if she’d ever be cancer-free, but the treatment worked and she enjoyed two years playing softball, enjoying math class with friends and just being a kid. This August, a scan revealed the cancer had returned and her mom, Alana Simmons-Williams, was distraught.

“I’ve always had a little bit of anxiety when it would be time for scans but the anxiety was starting to ease,” Simmons-Williams, 34, who lives outside of Savannah, Georgia, told TODAY. “At her two-year scan (the doctor) told me the cancer came back. I was devastated, like heartbroken. I want to say it was worse than hearing it the first time.”

For two years, Nevaeh enjoyed life like any other child her age. But at recent scans, she and her family learned her rare cancer had returned. (Courtesy Nevaeh's Victory Against Cancer)For two years, Nevaeh enjoyed life like any other child her age. But at recent scans, she and her family learned her rare cancer had returned. (Courtesy Nevaeh's Victory Against Cancer)
For two years, Nevaeh enjoyed life like any other child her age. But at recent scans, she and her family learned her rare cancer had returned. (Courtesy Nevaeh’s Victory
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Not the ke-to good health?

Last week, actor Mishti Mukherjee, who was in her mid-thirties, passed away in a Bengaluru-based hospital, owing to kidney failure. The actor, who had starred in several movies, was on a keto diet, which allegedly affected her kidney function. Although the keto diet is one of the most popular ones to have emerged in the past five years — with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow, among other celebrities, trying it — Mukherjee’s sudden death highlights the need to understand the risk of following fad diets.

What is it?

Dr Alifia S Bhol, clinical nutritionist, lifestyle therapist and founder of NutriAl online diet clinic, explains that the ketogenic or keto diet was originally developed as a measure to treat epilepsy patients in the 1920s. “It’s a low-carbohydrate, high-fat and controlled protein diet. It was not considered the best measure to treat epilepsy patients, but was used

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To Your Good Health: Poll worker looking for clarity on Election Day COVID risks | Columnists

Health care workers taking care of people with known COVID-19 wear multiple layers of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, gowns and face shields. Gloves are changed after every interaction and then hand hygiene is performed. This combination is very effective (though sadly not perfectly), but the best PPE can be hard to find. I would obtain PPE now if you plan to work. Multilayer cloth masks provide protection and are easy to obtain.

A 30-year-old and a 60-year-old have about the same risk of acquiring COVID-19, but a 30-year-old has much lower chance of having a severe complication.

The question of quarantine is one of local guidelines, and my advice to you or your son would depend entirely on the local prevalence in your area.

While health care workers go into the field understanding that there may be some risk to themselves from taking care of sick and potentially

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Your Good Health: Seborrheic dermatitis triggered by stress, not hand sanitizer use

dr_keith_roach_with_bkg.jpgDear Dr. Roach: Like everyone, I have been using a lot of hand sanitizer and a lot of disinfecting wipes throughout the day. Do these sanitizing products get absorbed through the skin and build up in our bodies? I ask because I have come down with a difficult case of seborrheic dermatitis on my face, though I don’t use any of these products on my face. My facial skin has always been hypersensitive, so I was thinking, if this is my weak spot, maybe the ill effects of the sanitizers and disinfecting wipes would show up there.

A.H.

Hand sanitizers use alcohol to kill bacteria and disable viruses. The alcohols used in approved sanitizers are not well absorbed through the skin, but if they were, your body is able to metabolize the small amounts that come through.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition. Although its cause is not well-understood,

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To Your Good Health: Surgery is standard treatment for penile cancer | Columnists

DEAR DR. ROACH: What can you tell me about cancer of the penis? I can’t seem to find information. — S.S.

ANSWER: Cancer of the penis is quite rare in industrialized nations, accounting for less than 1% of all cancers in men. By contrast, it is quite common in parts of Africa, Asia and South America, where it can account for 10% to 20% of all cancers.

One risk factor is phimosis, an inability to retract the foreskin. Circumcision decreases risk of penile cancer, but careful lifelong hygiene (thus avoiding phimosis) reduces the risk of penile cancer to the same level as seen in circumcised men. Human papillomavirus is another risk factor, found in 30% to 50% of penile cancers. HIV infection and tobacco use are other risk factors.

Surgery is the standard treatment for cancer of the penis. The goal of treatment is to preserve as much of the

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Your Good Health: Breast-cancer surgery can reduce potential pain and suffering

dr_keith_roach_with_bkg.jpgDear Dr. Roach: My 90-year-old father has been diagnosed with breast cancer. His doctor is recommending mastectomy, after which time they will determine a course of treatment.

My father is fairly healthy for his age, although he does have high blood pressure, diabetes and spinal stenosis, for which he takes oral medications.

He has a history of transient ischemic attack at age 75.

I am concerned that the risks of surgery at this age may be greater than that posed by the cancer. There is not much information available on male breast cancer, and any information you could provide would be appreciated.

G.S.

I am sorry about your father. Breast cancer in men is less common than in women, but usually diagnosed later, as male breast cancer is not readily suspected by patients or many physicians.

Yours is a question I have seen frequently in medical practice. The risk of

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