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Did you know: "An Apple a day" keeps more than the doctor away?!

Yes. It's true. For sometime now we've understood that enjoying one of these luscious delights regularly actually helps us to stay healthier and thereby reduces the number of unwanted visits to our trusted physician's office. Now there is overwhelming research coming out in our daily headlines extolling the virtues of a variety of fruits and vegetables in the prevention of the still dreaded disease of cancer. Apparently nutrition is the key to trouble free health.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, "An astonishing 60 to70 percent of all cancer cases have been directly linked to our daily dietary and lifestyle habits". Moreover, "Perhaps more surprising, dramatic reductions in our cancer risk can be brought about by some less-than-dramatic means".

Just in time for Christmas, from apples to zucchini, you'll be amazed at the power of health vested in these little gems of nature.



Did you know: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women...and men?

Yes. It is true. In particular for African Americans. And as we approach February, likely, many of us have already edged closer to being further at risk for heart attack and stroke by merely discarding or discontinuing our New Year's resolutions to actualize better lifestyle choices through diet and exercise.

The desire for being vibrant and healthy as we age is innate for us. However, taking proactive action to reach these goals is often hampered by a personal lack of energy, excessive stress or high blood pressure, physical discomfort of allergies, migraines, headaches, backaches, joint pains and/or digestive problems.

We can all agree that once we gain mastery over the 'excuses' that block us from proper exercise and healthy eating habits, we then have an excellent chance at moving on to productive lifestyle behaviors.



Did you know: It's your life and your freedom?

As we rush headlong into this wondrous season of merry making and celebration, those of us on the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Education Committee, being constrained by the Spirit of El Centro, want to soberly draw our attention to a less brighter side of our holiday routine: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

In a report from the Fall 2005 edition of the Journal of American College Health, we are reminded that "Drinking and driving is perhaps the most serious problem associated with heavy drinking amount college students in the United States".

In the study being cited we see that "among college students at high risk for drinking and driving, the vast majority of drinking prior to impaired driving takes place either at a bar or a friend's house. However, both number of drinks consumed and estimated BAC (blood alcohol content) levels prior to driving were highest when drinking at parties".

Each year this season of celebration is marred by statistics regarding 'holiday highway death tolls'. And each year these numbers appear to be going up rather than down. The tragedies are significant for all of us.



Did you know: "Nutrition is better than Botox"?

Like to live a good long time? Like to live a good long time and look and feel good while you are at it? As we closely monitor our media sources for current trends in lifestyle enhancements for looking good and feeling good, we discover quite a lot being made of rather fadish fountains of youth and elixirs of health and vitality. The Botox fad is a good example.

Yet, we have at our literal finger tips some tried and proven ways of living that if followed, with some measure of self discipline, will greatly improve ones health and wellness without significant pain or discomfort.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service in 2005 have issued new Dietary Guidelines for Americans that form the basis for Federal nutrition policy. For the first time in nearly a decade, there is a concerted effort aimed at educating consumers on basic healthy eating habits. The current campaign is The My Pyramid Food Guidance System which utilizes dietary reference data from the National Academy of Sciences, while taking into account current consumption patterns of Americans. My Pyramid translates the guidelines into a total diet that meets nutrient needs from food sources and aims to moderate or limit dietary components often consumed in excess. It seeks to provide recommendations that cover four (4) important areas relative to healthy eating: Variety, Proportionality, Moderation and Activity.



Did you know: The #1 means of preventing the spread of Influenza is Handwashing?

Yes. It's true. Aside from getting a 'flu shot', which might actually be on target for whatever this season's (from October through March) particular viral strain works out to be, the simple action of frequent hand hygiene goes a long way indeed toward personal and communal interruption of the chain of Influenza infection. And we are fortunate to have some strategically placed hand sanitizer dispensers mounted in many of our high traffic area work stations. You are encouraged to use them regularly and let us know when they need refilling.

As we approach and enter our Spring registration period, we are reminded that we will all engage ourselves in needful close contact with each other. And although this year's flu watch has fallen off the media radar, (for the moment), with the past holiday gatherings gently fetching warm memories, it gives us pause to remember that "Uncle Dave and Cousin Buster" seemed to have some really nasty colds while sitting next to me after Christmas and New Year's dinner". Get the picture?

Now that picture probably would not make the Saturday Evening Post! Nonetheless, Influenza is real and just that easily passed from one of us to the other. So let's be mindful that 'washing our hands several times a day, just may keep the doctor away'!!!



Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Did you know?

2005 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Red Ribbon Campaign. The week of October 23-31 is Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is an ideal way for people and communities to take a visible stand against drugs and show their personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the red ribbon.

The Red Ribbon Campaign was started after drug trafficers in Mexico City kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. The Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration notes that "this tragic event created an immediate outpouring of grief, but over time has generated a sense of hope across America".

The purpose of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment toward the creation of a DRUG-FREE AMERICA. And while we are winning, (the overall numbers are going down), there is still evidence that our vigilance and fortitude must continue.

Here are some SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) research facts and figures:

The 2003 Survey on Drug Use & Health reports that 74.5 million (61%) females aged 12 or older and 30.0 million (70%) males aged 12 or older used alcohol during the past year.

In 2002, as well, 12% of females (15.2 million) and 17% of males (19.8 million) used an illicit drug.

Among those aged 12 to 17, 9% of both females and males were dependent on or abusing alcohol or an illicit drug.

Among respondents aged 18 or older, males were more likely than females to be dependent on or abusing alcohol or an illicit drug. For males 18 to 25 years old, the rate of dependence or abuse was 26.3% and 15.7% for females.

Among those aged 18 to 49 who were employed full time, the rate of substance dependence or abuse was 15% for males and 8% for females. Comparatively, for the unemployed, 23% for males and 12.5% for females.



HIV/AIDS: Did you know?

Notwithstanding the prominence that the disease of HIV/AIDS has attained in the collective awareness of our world-wide culture and society, there are yet many myths and misconceptions surrounding this affliction. Here are some clarifications from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enter the body of an uninfected person. The virus can enter the body through a vein, the anus or rectum, the vagina, the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes, or cuts or sores. The virus can also be passed from mother-to-child during pregnancy. There are other low-risk means of transmission such as open-mouth kissing or oral sex.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) notes that at the end of 2003 we saw an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,00 persons in the U.S. living with the infection.

Of the above numbers, there were an estimated 24-27% undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection.

In 2003 alone, there were an estimated 43,171 new diagnoses of AIDS in the U.S. Of this number, adult and teenage cases totaled 43,112 with 31,614 in males and 11,498 in females. Through 2003, the cumulative number of estimated clinically diagnosed AIDS cases totaled 929,985. By a significant margin the larger percentage of these were male at >80%, with females being 15-20%.

In 2003, the estimated number of U.S. deaths from AIDS was 18,017. And cumulatively since the initiation of careful surveillance through 2003 we have witnessed the deaths of and estimated 524,060 persons from AIDS.

Means of Exposure has continued to be a factor in the continuing epidemic. In 2003, newly diagnosed Heterosexual contacts totaled 13,260 compared to Injection drug use at 9,449 and Male-to-male sexual contacts at 17,969. Of interest we find an alarming trend in observing that clearly 67% (2/3) of new adult/teen AIDS cases occuring in females do so via heterosexual contact.

Race or ethnicity as well is taking a more prominent place in the epidemiology of this disease. Of the total number of new AIDS cases seen in 2003, slightly less than 50% were Black, >20% White and 10-15% were Hispanic.

In an interesting combination of the last two factors, we are realizing that African American (Black) females have the fastest growing rate of occurrence among all groups.

AIDS was first identified by scientists in the U.S. in 1981. Today, twenty four years later, the epidemic has spread throughout the globe, and has currently infected a total of 36 million people (men, women and children) worldwide. As of this time, 22 million+ people have lost their lives to the disease.
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