Practical health tips | Inquirer News
Heart to Heart Talk

Practical health tips

/ 09:48 AM December 02, 2013

Do smokers hurt their children?

Yes, parents who smoke negatively impact the immune system of their children, making them more susceptible to allergies, respiratory tract illnesses and infections in general, from infancy to adulthood. Constant exposure to secondhand smoke damages the DNA. The new Leipzig Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research found that the Micro-RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecule, which is essential in gene regulation and influences the regulation of the T cells (which prevents autoimmune diseases) are damaged by tobacco smoke. If Micro-RNA is impaired, there will be insufficient T cells, depressing the immune system, leading to lowered overall resistance to allergies and illnesses. But even decades before this new study, it was well known that smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes cancer of the lungs, mouth, lips, nasal cavity, sinuses, voice box, throat, food pipe, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, cervix, ovary, colon and rectum, acute myeloid leukemia. As I have underscored in my coffee-table health book, Let’s Stop “Killing” Our Children (view at,,, and at all Central Book Supply in major cities around the Philippines), all of us have the personal and societal responsibility to protect our children (and ourselves) from this and other poisons in our environment.

What causes vaginal dryness?


A very common condition during and before menopause, vaginal dryness results from inadequate vaginal lubrication. Many women may not even be aware they have this condition, which is a hallmark sign of atrophic vaginitis, a condition characterized by inflammation and thinning of the vaginal walls resulting from lack of estrogen. Symptoms include itching, soreness, burning, urinary frequency, recurrent urinary tract infection and painful intercourse or light bleeding after the sex act. Some allergy or cold medication, vaginal douche, could also cause vaginal dryness. Following medical exam, diagnosis, and confirmation, the physician will tailor the treatments according to the woman’s situation. There are vaginal estrogen creams, estrogen rings, or tablets, some lifestyle modification, and other regimen, that are available today. A gynecological consultation is recommended for customized care.


How early should a girl go for preventive exam?

The basic recommendation is for a girl, who is not sexually active, to go for her breast medical examination at age 18 and her first Pap Smear at 21. For those sexually active … no matter how young they are, screening for sexually-transmitted diseases and education about pregnancy are part of preventive care. For both girls and boys between ages 9 to 12, Gardasil vaccination to prevent Human Papiloma Viruses infection is most effective in warding off cervical cancer. The boys are likewise vaccinated because they are potential carriers, who could transmit them to the girls. This vaccination is now considered a standard of care.

Does laughter really prolong life?

Laughter, the best medicine, is in fact a longevity-stretcher. Researches have shown that laughter and frequent humor-packed pastimes do not only reduce stress but is potent in reducing pain, improving immunity and lowers blood pressure. As such, everything else being equal, laughter, which induces happy hormone secretion in our body, can help us live longer. So, here’s our prescription for you: multiple daily doses of the age-reducing, life-prolonging, belly laughs. While it may sound funny and ridiculous, laughing out loud (the physical act in itself ), even when you are alone, and even without anything funny, confers some health benefits. Daily exercise is another activity that prolongs life. All circumstances being equal, it improves longevity by nine years.

Are nuts healthy for us?

Except for those allergic to nuts, people who eat a handful of nuts (peanuts, almond, walnuts, Brazilian nuts, etc) a week have 46% lower risk of sudden cardiac death compared to the same subset of people who rarely eat nuts. Nuts are high in antioxidants and fiber. They are good for snacks, instead of sweets and other carbohydrates.


Why are apples and citrus good for us?

An apple (or more) a day does keep the doctor away. Eating apples provides a good level of quercetin, which reduces the risk of colon cancer, asthma and diabetes. The skin of the apples contains a lot of quercetin, so enjoy the skin too. Other sources of this wonderful substance are the berries (cranberry, raspberry, blackberries). Those who drink citrus juice or eat fruits, like oranges or grapefruit, have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis because of a substance in them called beta cryptoxanthin. Eating a low fat diet that includes four servings of fruits a day can make a person 4 years younger in real-age benefit. Diabetics must first seek the advise of their healthcare provider before adding fruits to their diet.

Why are organic foods healthier?

Organic food contains a lot of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Corn that has been grown without the use of pesticides, for instance, has almost 60 percent more antioxidants called flavonoids than corn grown with pesticides. This is just one example. Besides this bad side-effect, chemicals used in produce and other food items are not healthy, especially in processed foods.

How do vegetables protect vision?

Eating green leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce, spinach and collard greens, and corn, confers upon the individual protection from an eye disease called macular degeneration (MD), which causes blindness. These food items contain zeaxanthin, which reduces the rsik of MD and also protects the rods and cones of the eyes from the damaging effects of the sun.

Is taking antibiotics often safe?

While antibiotics are a life-saver when judiciously used as prescribed by physicians, taking these bacteria-fighting drugs and taking them often without physician supervision, is dangerous. Using antibiotics frequently will eventually reduce its efficacy against the target bacteria, which will “get used to the drug” and then build resistance to them. Antibiotics, in general, are bactericidal (bacteria-killer), but when used unnecessarily and too frequently, the germs could develop “immunity” to them and render said drugs useless. If this “misuse and abuse” of antibiotics goes on, there will come a time when they will no longer be effective in fighting infection. And the world would retrogress back to square one, the pre-antibiotic era when people died left and right, even from what we today consider “simple” infections.

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