Thursday, February 23, 2012

Health Newsletters at the Patient Health Library, February 2012

Not all information is free and not all of it is online! The UCSF Patient Health Library subscribes to a number of health and wellness newsletters that are not otherwise free to the public. Here are some highlights from recent newsletters.

To see the entire articles, visit the Patient Health Library!

Harvard Health Letter
Jan 2012
-What is it about coffee? pp4-5
-Talking about migraine, p.6
-Yoga for back pain, p.7
-BPH drugs and risk of prostate cancer, p.8

Harvard Women's Health Watch
Jan 2012
-Twelve tips for healthier eating, pp.1-3

Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50
Feb 2012
-5 setps to lower your risk of diabetes pp. 4-5
-New guidelines for when to get a Pap test, p.6
-Got arthritis? Get active! p. 6

Mayo Clinic Health Letter
Feb 2012
-Mediterranean diet, pp.4-5
-Foot orthotics, pp.6-7
Feb 2012 supplement
-Stroke: recognizing signs, controlling risks, pp.1-8
Nutrition Action Newsletter

Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter
Jan 2012
-Nutrition info labeling on food packages, pp.1-2
-Eating your vitamins, p.3
-Secrets of keeping off the weight you lose, p.8

UC Berkeley Wellness Letter
Feb 2012
-Sweet news about chocolate, pp.1-2
-The bottom line on weight-loss supplements, p.4
-Yoga: it’s got your back, p.6

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nutrition for everyone

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Additional nutrition resources from MedlinePlus

Want an alternative to the USDA's guidelines?  Take a look at Harvard University School of Public Health's Healthy Eating Plate, from their Nutrition Source website.

Need to make it really easy?  Check out the Ten Tips section of
You'll find easy ways to incorporate vegetables, fruit, and fiber; how to cut back on sweets and sodium; tips for food shopping; and much more!

Healthy Eating After 50

Additional nutrition resources for seniors from MedlinePlus

Nutrition and Fitness for Families

Healthy Eating for the Whole Family

Additional child nutrition resources from MedlinePlus

Resources on Nutrition and Cancer
From the UCSF Patient Health Library blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Breaking bad habits

Breaking Bad Habits: Why It’s So Hard to Change
(Excerpted from NIH News In Health, January 2012)

If you know something’s bad for you, why can’t you just stop? About 70% of smokers say they would like to quit. Drug and alcohol abusers struggle to give up addictions that hurt their bodies and tear apart families and friendships. And many of us have unhealthy excess weight that we could lose if only we would eat right and exercise more. So why don’t we do it?

“Habits play an important role in our health,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding the biology of how we develop routines that may be harmful to us, and how to break those routines and embrace new ones, could help us change our lifestyles and adopt healthier behaviors.”

Habits can arise through repetition. They are a normal part of life, and are often helpful. “We wake up every morning, shower, comb our hair or brush our teeth without being aware of it,” Volkow says.

Habits can also develop when good or enjoyable events trigger the brain’s “reward” centers. This can set up potentially harmful routines, such as overeating, smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, gambling and even compulsive use of computers and social media.

The good news is, humans are not simply creatures of habit. We have many more brain regions to help us do what’s best for our health.

“Humans are much better than any other animal at changing and orienting our behavior toward long-term goals, or long-term benefits,” says Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University. “We’ve found that you can improve your self-control by doing exercises over time,” Baumeister says.

Volkow notes that there’s no single effective way to break bad habits. “It’s not one size fits all,” she says.

One approach is to focus on becoming more aware of your unhealthy habits. Then develop strategies to counteract them. For example, habits can be linked in our minds to certain places and activities. You could develop a plan, say, to avoid walking down the hall where there’s a candy machine. Resolve to avoid going places where you’ve usually smoked. Stay away from friends and situations linked to problem drinking or drug use.

One way to kick bad habits is to actively replace unhealthy routines with new, healthy ones. Some people find they can replace a bad habit, even drug addiction, with another behavior, like exercising. “It doesn’t work for everyone,” Volkow says. “But certain groups of patients who have a history of serious addictions can engage in certain behaviors that are ritualistic and in a way compulsive—such as marathon running—and it helps them stay away from drugs. These alternative behaviors can counteract the urges to repeat a behavior to take a drug.”

Bad habits may be hard to change, but it can be done. Enlist the help of friends, co-workers and family for some extra support.

Making Your Resolutions Stick: How to Create Healthy Habits
[From NIH News in Health]

Eating habits and behaviors
[From MedlinePlus]

Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight-loss Program
[From the Weight-control Information Network / National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases]

Your Child's Habits

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Understanding and Finding Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat a disease. Clinical trials may also compare a new treatment to a treatment that is already available.

Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.

Every clinical trial has a protocol, or action plan, for conducting the trial. The plan describes what will be done in the study, how it will be conducted, and why each part of the study is necessary. Each study has its own rules about who can participate. Some studies need volunteers with a certain disease. Some need healthy people. Others want just men or just women.

In the United States, an independent committee of physicians, statisticians and members of the community must approve and monitor the protocol. They make sure that the risks are small and are worth the potential benefits.

[Excerpted from the first two links below]

About Clinical Trials

Understanding Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials
[From MedlinePlus]

How Does Clinical Research Work?
[From the National Institutes of Health]

Finding Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials at UCSF Medical Center offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Searching the hundreds of research studies on cancer treatments can be overwhelming.  Using the tools from the following resources can make it easier to find clinical trials that may be right for you.

National Cancer Institute - Clinical Trials Search

If you need more help, contact the librarian at the Patient Health Library for an individual consultation.