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Is Turmeric Good for You? Yes, but It’s Complicated.

Few foodstuffs have had scientists scratching their heads in wonder over its potential more than the widely-lauded spice called turmeric. Native to Southeast Asia and a cousin to ginger, the big fuss isn’t necessarily about the exuberantly-hued turmeric itself, but a component within called curcumin — a phytochemical scientists found to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties with revolutionary healing potential.

As with matcha and coconut oil, two other ingredients of the moment with the wellness set, we set out to understand why turmeric is the ingredient du jour, and whether it’s worth bolting right out to stock some of that orangey goodness in your pantry if you don’t typically have a hankering for Indian food.

A long-celebrated seasoning staple

Regardless of its potential health benefits, turmeric sure does its part in livening up a diet. According to an excerpt gleaned From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine, this rich, golden 4000+ year-old spice first grew popular as a culinary spice in India, where most of it is produced and consumed to this day.

While research on nutrition is key to our learnings about how to optimize our diet, you should never base your diet on any one study or one food.

While research on nutrition is key to our learnings about how to optimize our diet, you should never base your diet on any one study or one food.

But you don’t have to go to India to experience it. We’re in the midst of a huge revival, and you can roll right up to any hipster café and order yourself a turmeric ginger latte along with your vegan carob balls. Patricia Bannan, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eat Right When Time is Tight, recommends that her clients replace salt with certain spicy herbs and spices like turmeric to help boost weight loss, fight inflammation and lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

“Turmeric makes home cooking more exciting,” she says. “It adds a warm, earthy aroma and flavor to poultry, seafood and vegetable dishes, including curries and chutneys.” She also uses it to liven up her sweet potato soup recipe, or sprinkle on her Vanilla Chia Frozen Affogatos.

Image::Never tried turmeric? Make a pot of this Sweet Potato Turmeric Soup tonight.|||[object Object]

Never tried turmeric? Make a pot of this Sweet Potato Turmeric Soup tonight.
Patricia Bannan

The benefits are awfully promising

It seems Vedic practitioners may, indeed, have been onto something all those years ago when using turmeric medicinally. One comprehensive scientific report published in 2013 compiled the results of a collection of clinical trials of curcumin over the prior 50 years, claiming, to quote, “promising effects” for a long, long, laundry list of ailments, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, uveitis, ulcerative proctitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel disease, tropical pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, gastric ulcer, diabetes…and the list goes on and on. It also says, way back in 1937, curcumin was tested on otherwise healthy people with faulty gallbladders. According to the report, all but one person who took an oral remedy containing the herb for 3 weeks were cured after being observed for the next 3 years. That demonstrates a LOT of potential for a little bitty phytochemical.

Though there’s plenty of evidence on its benefits in the preclinical studies, they haven’t quite gotten to performing as many human studies as they need to understand full well how it works.

Though there’s plenty of evidence on its benefits in the preclinical studies, they haven’t quite gotten to performing as many human studies as they need to understand full well how it works.

It could be a mighty medical multitasker

According to a detailed article compiled over years by experts at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, curcumin works in several ways, depending on what it interacts with. Barbara Delage, Ph.D., nutrition scientist with the Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center and contributing author to the article, explained how a single phytochemical could possibly help with health conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease, to cancer to rheumatoid arthritis.

“It has become increasingly clear that oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to the development and/or progression of most (if not all) chronic conditions. This explains why an anti-inflammatory drug that works to treat a specific disease might also help treat other inflammatory conditions,” Delage says.

So how does it work in the body? “Curcumin is versatile. Within cells, it can target specific molecules or pathways that are involved in the control of the cell cycle, inflammation, oxidative stress, etc., depending of the type of cells under scrutiny,” she says, who was also careful to add that, as far as using curcumin to treat these conditions, scientists still have plenty of work to do to wrap their minds around what it can and can’t do.

For example, though there’s plenty of evidence on its benefits in the preclinical studies, they haven’t quite gotten to performing as many human studies as they need to understand full well how it works. Delage also adds that most studies conducted to date on humans have been focused on investigating the efficacy of curcumin in disease management—not disease prevention.

How you reap all those benefits is harder to say

Though curcumin is regarded as safe by the Federal Drug Adminstration and is sold in various formulas far and wide, there are no guidelines established for its intake. When asked if people should consider integrating curcumin, or turmeric, into their daily wellness regimen, it doesn’t always absorb into the body easily and thus, Delage says the jury’s still out on whether it will actually do anything for you.

If you’re bound and determined to experiment with curcumin medicinally, she recommends consulting your doctor — especially if you are already on medication — because preclinical studies have indicated it might change how other medications you use are metabolized in your body. That’s because curcumin supplements also an ingredient called piperine, which boosts the effects of curcumin but also its potential toxicity because it slows down the elimination of the curcumin and prescription drugs used for seizures, high blood pressure, angina and bipolar disorder.

To back her point that more research on people is needed, just this year, one 30-year old woman suffered a fatal outcome after receiving a turmeric-infused IV-drip holistic treatment. San Diego-area news outlet KGTV reported the woman died immediately from a heart attack after having the drip to treat her eczema.

Don’t put all your eggs in the turmeric basket

For dietitians like Bannan, who are always on the lookout for ways to optimize one’s diet, integrating a little turmeric here and there was a no-brainer due to its long history of established research. Yet, she doesn’t feel we should get too obsessed with any one herb or spice in hopes it will cure our ills.

“While research on nutrition is key to our learnings about how to optimize our diet, you should never base your diet on any one study or one food,” she says.

So when it comes to adding curcumin to your daily wellness regimen, Delage’s basic message is to do your homework and proceed with caution — even though all the data out there is mighty compelling. Hopefully, scientists will soon be able to corral all of curcumin’s promise into a revolutionarily helpful reality.

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TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH: Concerning lab results require a physician’s interpretation

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a white male, 70 years old, over 6 feet tall and weigh 140 pounds. I am healthy except for lymphocytic colitis, which is under control with Imodium. My physical last year included a complete blood count and an automated differential. Everything was good except the RDW. It was 18.7 percent, with a standard range of 11.5 to 14.2 percent. The MCV was 96, and I had no anemia. My primary physician said to not worry about it.

I recently had a pre-op visit for some surgery, and the RDW was 21.1 percent. I asked the surgeon if this was a concern, and he said he did not know and that I should contact my primary again for further analysis. Per the internet (Mayo Clinic, for example), this can be an indication of chronic liver disease or anemia. Should I contact my primary doctor, a specialist or just not worry about it? — L.M.

ANSWER: The RDW is the “red cell distribution width.” It’s a measurement of how similar the cells are in size to each other. A large RDW indicates that there are an unusually large number of cells that are bigger and smaller than the average (which is the MCV, “mean corpuscular volume” — that’s just the red cell again). In people who have vitamin B-12 deficiency, for example, the red cells are abnormally large; in people with low iron, the cells are abnormally small. Someone with both iron deficiency and B-12 deficiency might have a normal MCV but a large RDW.

My experience is that the RDW by itself is not particularly helpful, which is why I suspect your primary doctor isn’t worried about it. With a history of colitis, I would want to be sure you don’t have iron deficiency (iron deficiency can happen before any anemia shows up).

It’s scary to read about the many causes of a finding in your labs, but it’s wise to not get too worried about conditions that you are unlikely to have. It’s not necessary for a physician to chase down every possibility, but they must stay alert for early signs of conditions. Finding that balance is one of the hardest jobs for a clinician.

DEAR DR. ROACH: Over a decade ago, I had a heart attack for which I had a stent put in. I was prescribed Lipitor. I had a bad reaction to Lipitor and was subsequently given Vytorin, which works well. Now I am being changed to rosuvastatin. Will this new drug work as well as the Vytorin? Most important, though, will I have the same side effects as I did with Lipitor — memory problems and soreness? — B.L.

ANSWER: People with blockages in the arteries of the heart, with or without a history of heart attack, surgery or stent, benefit from statin drugs, which reduce the risk of recurrent heart attack and death. Atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) are two of the most potent statin drugs. Vytorin is a combination of simvastatin (Zocor) and a non-statin drug, ezetimibe.

All statin drugs can have side effects. Muscle aches or soreness and memory issues are reported side effects; however, sometimes people get these side effects from one statin but not another. There is no predicting whether the rosuvastatin will cause any problems for you.

I don’t understand why you are switching from a treatment that is working well; I suspect it’s an insurance problem. If so, you may be able to get back on Vytorin if the rosuvastatin doesn’t work. I have had to write similar letters to get medications approved for my own patients.

READERS: Diabetes has become epidemic in North America. The booklet on it provides insight on its diagnosis and treatment. Readers can order a copy by writing:

Dr. Roach

Book No. 402

628 Virginia Dr.

Orlando, FL 32803

Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

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Ensuring everyone has opportunities to achieve good health [Commentary]

Part of our series of essays from leaders imagining the future of Columbia.

When Columbia took root 50 years ago, its founders worked with Johns Hopkins and established a group of medical doctors to provide health care to our earliest residents. They emphasized the importance of preventing illness and promoting wellness. They understood that the health of the community is directly intertwined with the health of the people.

As Columbia grows in diversity and density, it is increasingly important that we stay true to these roots while recognizing the community’s changing needs. These changes call for a renewed commitment to building a Howard County that supports good health.

We are one of the nation’s wealthiest and most educated counties – yet despite these factors typically associated with better health, we still face serious health challenges.

To Your Good Health: Thigh muscle pain not necessarily due to statin use

DEAR DR. ROACH: I think I may have polymyositis. My thigh muscles (specifically, the lateral muscles) are weak and achy. I take a statin, and I don’t like what I read about them. — L.P.

ANSWER: Statins indeed can cause muscle aches in some people who take them. In clinical trials, about 5 percent of people will develop some aches, but significant damage to the muscles occurs in less than 1 percent of people who take statins. About two-thirds of the time, symptoms begin within six weeks of starting the statin.

People with weakness should stop taking the statin and see their doctor, who will do an exam and look for evidence of muscle breakdown using a blood test. If the blood level (especially for CPK, or creatine phosphokinase, released into the blood with muscle breakdown) is high and the problems go away when you stop taking the statin, then the diagnosis is straightforward. However, some people can have muscle symptoms without an elevated CPK.

Many people can tolerate a different statin if they develop muscle aches on one: Pravastatin and fluvastatin, in particular, are metabolized differently and may not cause symptoms. It requires judgment to evaluate the severity of the symptoms and the muscle damage versus the potential benefit of taking a statin.

There are many causes of muscle aches. Some people have subtle genetic differences that predispose them to muscle problems, which never come out unless they are stressed by severe exercise or a statin. People with low thyroid levels are more likely to develop problems from statins.

Polymyositis is an inflammatory muscle disease that may have nothing to do with statins. It would be unusual to be so localized to only the lateral thigh, however.

DEAR DR. ROACH: My 42-year-old son has had a few calcium readings that are high, but his endocrinologist doesn’t seem to be seeing the forest for the trees. He thinks all is fine, even though the last reading was 10.2 and previously had been 10.5. Perhaps my son hasn’t shared the information from his other doctors about what else is happening, things like low vitamin D, gout and calcium oxalate kidney stones. Isn’t it likely he has a parathyroid problem? — F.G.

ANSWER: There are several causes for elevated calcium levels. In people with repeatedly abnormal calcium levels, the most likely cause indeed is elevated parathyroid hormone levels. The level of blood calcium typically is lower in those with high PTH than in people with cancer, which is the other concern in people with high calcium levels.

I certainly would recommend that he get his PTH level checked. Not everyone with high PTH needs to be treated, but a history of kidney stones makes treatment a more desired option, since treatment can reduce frequency of stones.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am now living in Arizona and am aware of rattlesnakes when hiking. I have seen articles on the exorbitant cost of anti-venom in case of a bite. Is this fact or urban legend? — L.M.

ANSWER: Unfortunately, this is fact. The cost of anti-venom in the U.S. is indeed exorbitant, with a well-publicized case in 2015 resulting in a charge of $153,000 for a single rattlesnake bite (the victim was posing for a selfie with the snake; please don’t do that). This is another example of how the market in the U.S. drives prices very high: The same anti-venom that costs $14,000 a vial in the U.S. runs $100 to $200 in Mexico.

The charge from the hospital is very different from what gets paid, due to negotiations between the hospital, the insurer and the manufacturers. However, if you have no insurance, then you may be asked to pay the entire charge.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to or request an order form of available health newsletters at 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Health newsletters may be ordered from

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Sleep: Nature’s Elixir for Sustaining Good Health

News Report,

D. Kevin McNeir ,

Posted: Aug 15, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO–How many hours per night do you sleep? Do you ever feel the need to take a catnap in order to make it through the day? What are the benefits of a sufficient amount of sleep? And why does it seem that both infants and children, as well as elders, require more sleep than others?

These are the kinds of questions that sleep researchers, psychiatrists and behavioral scientists explore in this new millennium where the average life expectancy continues to rise and where more medical breakthroughs provide ways to overcome illnesses once considered to be death sentences.

During an interactive session recently led by Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD, during the 21st World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco, a standing-room only crowd listened to her and several others as they shared their latest findings on the importance of getting adequate quality sleep. They stressed that it is associated with healthy aging, as well as how to better manage sleep disorders, particularly in older patients.

Caffeine, Alcohol and Insomnia

One thing on which medical experts agree: Sleep can start to deteriorate in late middle age and steadily erode from that point on. Also, poor sleep, counter to commonly accepted theories, does not occur because of aging, but rather because of illnesses or the medications one uses to treat them.

“The more disorders older adults have, the worse they sleep,” said Ancoli-Israel, who directs the Gillin Sleep and Chronomedicine Research Center at the University of California San Diego School (UCSD) of Medicine. “If you look at older adults who are very healthy, they rarely have sleep disorders,” she said.

What about those who say they suffer from insomnia? Ancoli-Israel, a professor of psychiatry and also director of education at UCSD’s Sleep Medicine Center at UCSD, said there are a few changes one can make.

First, she advised, avoid caffeine after lunch. Also, avoid alcohol, which although it makes one sleepy, may actually increase the risk of insomnia. If one can’t get to sleep, get up and do something active for a while. Then return to bed. Most important, Ancoli-Israel said, remember that the bed is meant for sleep — not for texting or returning e-mails — or for tossing and turning.

For the record, given the healing benefits associated with sleep, it may be wise to consider a few reasons why we should remember that adequate sleep remains a key part of a healthy lifestyle, impacting the heart, one’s weight and the mind in positive ways. In addition, adequate sleep not only makes us feel better, experts say, but has benefits way beyond keeping those bothersome bags under our eyes from developing or making us grouchy.

5 Tips for Sleep Health

One sleep research report conducted by the New York University Sleep Disorders Program made the following observations:

* Memory improves after a good night’s sleep, so don’t fight the need to rest.

* Too much or too little sleep, for reasons still unknown, can be connected to shorter lifespans.

* Sleep not only can reduce levels of stress but helps people maintain greater control of their blood pressure and cholesterol levels — both of which play a significant role in heart disease.

* Sleepiness, often underrated, affects both reaction time and decision making and costs society more than we can imagine

* And if you’re trying to handle depression, make sure you’re sleeping well as a lack of adequate sleep can result in a lot more than just a few moments of irritability.

D. Kevin McNeir, editor of the Washington Informer, wrote with support of a journalism fellowship from New America Media, the Gerontological Society of America and AARP.

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Is Moderate Drinking Good for Your Health? The Science Is Confusing

Should you feel good or bad about drinking a glass of wine a day?

For years, moderate drinking was linked to a slew of health benefits, including a lowered risk of developing heart disease and longer life expectancy.

But more recently, these connections have been called into question. A 2016 meta-analysis of 87 long-term studies on alcohol and death rates found that many of these health benefits likely stemmed from baked-in design flaws in how the research was conducted. For example, many of the studies compared moderate drinkers to current abstainers, a group that included former heavy drinkers and those who avoided alcohol entirely because of health conditions, potentially skewing the comparison.

After correcting for these perceived biases, the study’s authors found no evidence that moderate drinking had protective health benefits.

But the debate is far from over.

On Monday a study was published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology that found light-to-moderate drinking did, in fact, lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. (Moderate drinking was defined as less than 14 drinks per week for men, and seven for women.)

The study used data from more than 333,000 people, who were tracked between 1997 and 2009. Of these participants, around 34,000 died sometime during the course of this eight-year period. Light-to-moderate drinkers were about 25% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t drink at all.

The researchers were careful to address issues present in previous studies on alcohol and health. For example, in the study, the non-drinker group only included lifetime nondrinkers, a strategy meant to exclude former heavy drinkers and those who gave up alcohol because they got sick.

“Our conclusions definitively show there is a J relationship” between drinking and heart health, says Dr. Sreenivas Veeranki, one of the study’s authors (i.e. as alcohol consumption goes up, at first the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease decreases slightly—the bottom of the J—before swooshing upwards once intake exceeds a certain level.) The curve illustrates “moderate drinking has a protective effect, while heavy drinking or binge drinking is harmful.”

Tim Stockwell, the director of the Centre for Addictions Research of BC who also happens to be the lead author of the 2016 meta-analysis, isn’t convinced. While he concedes this latest study solves for many of the design flaws present in previous research, problems still remain.

Most glaringly, in his view: lifetime nondrinkers, particularly in the U.S., are relatively rare. While the Journal of American College of Cardiology controls for a range of important factors—including smoking, BMI, physical activity, and smoking status—it’s close to impossible to control for everything. Abstainers could share other, unforeseen traits that impact their health, whereas “people who are moderate drinkers might be moderate in a lot of other ways,” leading to an overall healthier lifestyle.

The new study isn’t poorly designed, says Stockwell. But, as with most research that try to parse alcohol’s impact on health, it’s an observational study and can’t illustrate causation.

Stockwell has a lot of sympathy for people who are confused by the plethora of (often contradictory) research. His own position has wavered in the past. He used to advocate that moderate drinking came with positive health effects, before he caught wind of the industry’s systematic involvement (alcohol companies have funded studies in the past, a practice that continues today), and carefully reviewed previous research in-depth.

Today, his advice is simple (if somewhat frustrating). In the face of new articles proclaiming wine the solution to heart disease, maintain a sense of “healthy skepticism,” he says. “Drink for pleasure, but don’t kid yourself that it’s making you healthier.”

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Fiscal chief aims to keep ONS in good fiscal health

  • Jodie Sahota, Orthopaedic  Neurosurgery Specialists’ (ONS) new chief financial officer, stands in an office at the ONS practice in Greenwich, Conn., on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Photo: Bob Luckey Jr. / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time



With a prognosis for more growth, a local health care practice has written a new prescription for its executive team’s structure.

Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, which has offices in Greenwich and Stamford, has picked its finance director of the past three years, Jyotsana “Jodie” Sahota, to fill its new chief financial officer position. As ONS continues to expand its infrastructure and patient base, its leaders are looking to Sahota to help keep the organization’s strategy on solid financial footing.

“We have grown to a size now that we have to face a lot of competitive challenges in the market — I think that was the basis for why this position was created,” Sahota said in an interview last week at ONS’ offices at 6 Greenwich Office Park. “There’s a focus on making sure strategically we’re making the right moves. That’s where finance comes in and helps the organization do that.”

The planned opening at the end of this month of 15,000-square-foot offices in Harrison, N.Y. represents the next milestone for ONS. About 30 percent of the group’s patients come from Westchester County, N.Y.

“We want to make sure the whole billing and collections aspects of that and being credentialed and contracted with the insurance companies and making sure we’re ready to function there is all in place,” Sahota said.

ONS’ expansion to Harrison follows the addition earlier this year of about 3,500 square feet to its offices and physical-therapy center in Stamford’s High Ridge Park complex that launched in 2015. The Greenwich offices opened in 1998. Last year, ONS received about 120,000 patient visits.

As it has enlarged its operations, ONS has remained profitable, Sahota said. ONS officials declined to provide specific financial statistics.

Not affiliated with any local health system, ONS generates its referrals from outside health-care providers. When patients arrive, Sahota said they can expect to receive as much care as they need, but no superfluous treatment. Only 10 percent of ONS patients undergo surgery, according to the organization’s data.

“We make sure when they come in they’re going to the right doctor and getting the right care,” Sahota said.

As ONS’ finance chief, Sahota also tracks the impact of structural changes such as the potential repeal or reform of the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s an uncertain market right now and has been for the last few years,” she said. “We see these fluctuations, and we just have to manage to them.”

While taking on a more strategic role, Sahota will maintain the operational responsibilities of her former position.

“Jodie has been very successful and has redesigned the functioning of the ONS business office to perform more efficiently, increasing productivity in all areas, from billing to collections to assisting patients with insurance processing,” said Sally Frank, ONS’ chief operating officer. “She is very well liked and has built a very supportive and enthusiastic team.”

Sahota, 35, joined ONS in 2014, after previously working as the director of finance and division support at Valley Medical Group in Ridgewood, N.J.

A native of New Delhi, India, Sahota completed her undergraduate studies there and then earned an MBA from Cleveland State University in Cleveland.

“Being in the industry over 12 years now, and working with a lot of different, larger medical groups prior to coming here, this was a nice change,” Sahota said. “Being with a freestanding practice was something new for me. What I found when I came here was a fascinating model.”; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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Consumers, builders in good health

Consumers and the construction industry are showing increased confidence over future spending plans, separate surveys suggest.

They make good news for Government tax revenues as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe prepares his budget this October.

According to KBC Bank and the Economic and Social Research Institute, consumers are feeling at their most buoyant for 17 months — official figures also show that the economic growth is picking up pace.

Households were, however, more downbeat about their own finances in the month. This may signal concerns about “limited income growth and the perception that they are not sharing adequately in the widely heralded economic recovery”, according to KBC chief economist Austin Hughes.

Despite the large mortgage debts faced by many households, consumers appear to be more confident about the economic outlook here than in other countries.

In particular, Mr Hughes noted another drop in consumer sentiment in the UK in July, the weakest reading since the Brexit vote last summer, which “implies that earlier consumer optimism about UK economic prospects now seems to be undergoing a marked reassessment”.

Another key monthly economic survey, the Ulster Bank snapshot of the building industry, suggests purchasing managers believe construction orders will accelerate later this year, even as the pace of growth in housing and commercial units slowed somewhat for the second successive month in July.

“Firms reported another substantial increase in new business flows reflecting a greater availability of projects — a signal that offers considerable encouragement regarding the health of the sector’s near-term outlook,” said KBC chief economist Simon Barry.

The output of civil engineering firms — the third leg of the industry — contracted again last month.

The Government closely watches such private surveys for clues about the direction of its tax revenues. The exchequer returns for July showed tax revenues were rising as expected from a year earlier but with no sign of the windfalls that characterised recent years.

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Good mental health is good business

When web developer Madalyn Parker emailed her team to say she was taking time off to care for her mental health and posted her boss’s positive response on Twitter, the news went viral. Suddenly, everyone was talking about mental health in the workplace. Now, we need to go from talking about it to doing something to help.

For years, we have used the term “mental health day” to mean we need time to recharge our batteries and take a break. We know that workplace stress is rampant and costly, in both human and financial terms. One in three Americans is chronically stressed on the job, and job stress costs U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity and medical, legal and insurance costs.

Wellness Walk promotes good health for families, especially black men

By Sean Barron


Carol Smith’s face beamed after she received results of one of her important numbers.

“Everything is wonderful. My blood pressure is good, and my cholesterol numbers are to be mailed to me,” said Smith, a nurse and community health activist. “It’s a wonderful way to learn what we need to know about staying healthy.”

Smith was among the many men and women who took advantage of free health screenings, which were the main offerings of Saturday morning’s fifth annual African- American Male Wellness Walk/Run of the Mahoning Valley that began at the Covelli Centre.

People of all ages took part in the 5K walk and run that meandered through much of the downtown and back to the Covelli Centre. The first two participants to return were brothers Marquan and Marquise Herron, both of whom play for the East High School Golden Bears football team.

Licensed medical professionals, including more than 30 nursing students from ETI Technical College in Niles, provided the screenings for blood pressure, body-mass index, cholesterol, blood glucose, weight, dental care and hearing. Also available were flu vaccines and tests for lead.

The family-oriented walk and run, themed “Healthy men make healthy families,” was to encourage especially males to be more proactive regarding their health and well-being. Too many men continue to die before age 65 from health problems that are preventable and treatable, noted the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II, walk coordinator.

“We’re dealing with the mind, body and soul. Early prevention is the key,” said the Rev. Mr. Macklin, who’s pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side.

Men who take care of their health often set good examples and encourage family members to follow suit, which usually contributes to improved health of communities, he continued.

New as part of the annual walk and run was a mobile medical clinic to put area veterans in touch with available resources.

“We treat the family unit as a whole. The veteran can bring in anyone who is significant to him or her,” explained Brandon L. Gregory of Morgantown, W.Va., an outreach program specialist with that city’s veterans center.

Gregory noted that one of his facility’s primary services is readjustment counseling, which makes it easier for veterans of all branches of the armed services to transition from military to civilian life. Other offerings include help for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual trauma and bereavement, along with individual, group and marital counseling, as well as substance-abuse screenings and referrals, said Gregory, adding that suicide continues to be far too high among those who served in combat.

“One suicide is one too many,” he added.

Veterans who are in crisis, need someone to talk to or wish to be connected with resources are encouraged to call 877-927-8387 (WAR-VETS) or 800-273-8255 (TALK), both of which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Gregory noted.

Also part of the gathering were workout and exercise classes, educational workshops, entertainment, activities for children and a variety of fruits and other healthful foods, as well as plenty of brochures on assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Also, information on Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, financial literacy and behavioral-health counseling was available.

At another table was Penny Wells, director of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, who was distributing fliers that listed events for the seventh annual Ohio Nonviolence Week, which will be the first week of October.

Also on hand was a mobile dental clinic that provides services such as cleanings, exams, fillings and minor tooth extractions. The large vehicle, in conjunction with St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital’s dental unit, stops at elementary schools, senior centers, facilities such as the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley and other locations in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties five days a week, noted Bill Hughes, a driver.

“Don’t ignore your health,” he advised.

Nearby was a 3-D mobile unit that offered mammograms. Those interested in the service needed a driver’s license and insurance card, said Teresa Sowinski, a mammography technologist. People without insurance could receive applications to see if they qualify for free mammograms, she added.

During a somber moment, Mr. Macklin asked attendees to honor the late Olla Tate, a community activist and former registered nurse who was active with the walk, and Shawn Trowers, who was an intake worker for Mahoning County Children Services, a social worker with Belmont Pines Hospital and a walk participant before she died last month.

He also called for a moment of silence to remember victims of violence, including Anvia Mickens, 28, of Bradley Lane, whose body was found in the trunk of her boyfriend’s car in Niagara Falls, N.Y., last week. The Niagara County Coroner’s Office said she died from strangulation and multiple stab wounds, and ruled her death a homicide.

Additional free health screenings will be offered from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Grace AME Church, 1137 Main Ave. SW, Warren. To register, call Mercy Health at 330-480-3405.

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