Sugar-sweetened drinks: They’re weighing us down

Aug. 27, 2014—If you reach for a can of regular, nondiet soda pop or a glass of lemonade when you’re parched, you’re not alone. More than 25 percent of American adults quench their thirst at least once a day with sugar-sweetened beverages, according to a study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

However, the study’s authors note, these sugary drinks have little, if any, nutritional value—and they’ve been linked to chronic health problems like obesity.

About the study

To estimate how many Americans are drinking sweetened fruit drinks and nondiet soda, researchers looked at data from CDC’s 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). This annual phone survey asks U.S. adults about personal behaviors that can prevent or contribute to health problems. It also assesses risk factors for chronic diseases.

In the 2012 BRFSS, 115,291 adults in 18 states answered optional questions about how often, in the preceding 30 days, they:

  1. Drank regular soda pop that contains sugar (not diet soda pop)
  2. Drank fruit drinks such as cranberry juice cocktail, Kool-Aid and lemonade

Researchers learned that 26.3 percent of these adults—more than 1 in 4—drank nondiet soda, fruit drinks or both at least once a day.

The survey did not ask how much of each beverage people drank. It also did not ask about other sugary drinks, such as energy drinks and sweetened coffee and tea. This means Americans’ consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may be even higher than the survey data suggests.

Read the report here.

The take-home message
Hydration is crucial to good health. For healthy hydration, women should consume about 9 cups of water each day, while men need about 13 cups. Everyone needs more during hot weather, intense physical activity or illness.

If you’re relying on sugary drinks to stay hydrated, it may be time to consider CDC’s advice: Rethink your drink. That’s because consumption of beverages sweetened with sugar has been linked to some serious chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

To start cutting back:

  1. Serve water with meals
  2. Carry a water bottle
  3. Swap one sugary drink each day for plain, zero-calorie water. Here are some possibilities—and the empty calories you’ll cut out (per 12-ounce serving):
    • Sports drink: 99 calories
    • Nondiet ginger ale: 124 calories
    • Sweetened, bottled iced tea: 135 calories
    • Lemonade: 168 calories
    • Fruit punch: 192 calories

Find out more about the benefits of hydration here.


What you need to know about the 2014–2015 flu vaccine

Aug. 26, 2014—The vaccine for the coming 2014–2015 flu season will contain the same virus strains as did the vaccine for the last season.

That doesn’t mean you can skip your annual flu vaccination this time around. The immunity bestowed on you by last year’s vaccine may not protect you this year.

But there may be good news for kids. In fact, this year’s recommendations may reduce the number of doses some kids need for full protection.

Vaccine details

There are two types of flu vaccine available:

Traditional (trivalent) vaccines protect against three strains of flu. They contain dead viruses and are delivered by injection only.

Quadrivalent vaccines protect against four strains of flu and come in two forms. The injection form contains dead viruses, while a nasal spray form contains live but weakened viruses.

The flu virus strains included in the 2014–2015 vaccines are the same strains found in last year’s vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Who needs what when

For this flu season, CDC has these recommendations:

  • Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated as soon as vaccine supplies are available, generally in October.
  • Children ages 6 months through 8 years who received at least one dose of the 2013–2014 vaccine will only need one dose of the 2014–2015 vaccine.
  • Healthy children ages 2 through 8 years should receive the nasal spray if it’s immediately available. If the nasal spray isn’t immediately available, however, the children should get standard shots.

Because the nasal spray vaccine contains a weak but live virus, it’s not recommended for everyone. Among those who shouldn’t get the nasal spray are pregnant women, children under 2 years old, and adults 50 and older.

You can read CDC’s recommendations here.

The take-home message
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, and if you do get sick after you’re vaccinated, you might find that your illness is a little less severe due to the protection the vaccine provides.

But prompt vaccination can do more than keep you from getting sick. It might also help those around you. That’s especially true if you spend time around babies, older adults or others who are at greater risk of getting really sick from the flu. If you avoid getting sick, you’ll avoid spreading those germs to people who simply can’t afford to get the flu.

That’s why you should be vaccinated as soon as you can this year, and make sure the others in your family do the same. But if you do get the flu, you should stay home from work or school.

For more information about the flu, visit the Flu health topic center.


Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program – Changing Lives

We just completed week 4 of the Diabetes Prevention Program when a participant in the class started talking about a goal that she had set for herself. Her goal was to walk up four flights of stairs as she would normally take the elevator to avoid the stairs. She told us that she had finally accomplished that goal. Everyone started applauding her and congratulating her for reaching this goal. The amount of support I felt coming from the class participants was amazing. I hope others in the class realize that no matter how big or small of a goal you have, if you just stick with it you can accomplish it! This moment in class reaffirmed why I am happy that I became a lifestyle coach. I am honored that these women have allowed me to help them lead healthier lives by giving them the tools they need to succeed in this program.

By Catherine Shepler

Diabetes Prevention Program
Prediabetes is a condition where the blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Memorial’s prevention program helps people lower their risk of type 2 diabetes. Participants meet in groups with a trained lifestyle coach for 16 weekly, one-hour sessions and seven monthly follow up sessions. If you would like to learn more about this program, you can attend an orientation on the last Monday of each month from 4-4:30 p.m. at Memorial’s Community Education Center at 2506 W. Nob Hill Blvd. No registration is necessary for the orientation.

How do I know this program is for me?
• Are you an overweight adult?
• Do you have family members with diabetes?
• Have you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy or did any of your babies weigh 9 lbs or more at birth?
• Have you ever been told you have high blood sugar, prediabetes, or borderline diabetes?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may be at risk for type 2 diabetes.
For more information about this program, please call Lori Gibbons at 509-248-7322.

Aspirin and cancer prevention: A new job for an old remedy

Aug. 22, 2014—New research suggests that taking an aspirin a day could keep cancer away. But that doesn’t mean you should rush to the drugstore and stock up.

Taking an aspirin a day for at least five years may indeed lower the risk for certain cancers, according to a review of current data published in Annals of Oncology, and it may help to reduce heart-related problems too. But since aspirin is also linked to a number of other problems, including bleeding, consumers should talk to their doctors before they start popping pills, especially if they have peptic ulcers or bleeding tendencies.

About the study

Researchers pulled data from existing studies to do their work. Some of the studies took a global view of aspirin’s benefits and drawbacks, but others were tightly focused on how aspirin either did or didn’t help in preventing specific types of cancer.

With this data in hand, researchers performed a series of analyses, attempting to determine if taking a daily aspirin helped to prevent cancer or other health problems, including heart attack and stroke. Researchers also attempted to determine the harms that might come from aspirin use.

The findings

Bleeding is always a concern for people who take aspirin for long periods of time. But the researchers found that a daily dose had a number of benefits that could offset the risk of bleeding in some people.

For example, for average-risk people aged 50 to 65 years, the research indicates there would be a reduction of between 7 percent (for women) and 9 percent (for men) in the number of heart attacks, strokes or cancers over a 15-year period in response to daily aspirin use.

The researchers looked at the effect of aspirin on specific cancers and found that aspirin may offer protection against colorectal, esophageal and stomach cancers. The benefits were smaller for breast, lung and prostate cancers.

The authors believe more research is needed to determine exactly how much aspirin people should take and how long they should take it in order to reap the potential benefits. But they summarize their work by saying that, in general, the cancer-prevention benefits of aspirin seem to outweigh its risks, especially since aspirin may also provide protection from heart disease.

Read the study here.

The take-home message
Although the benefits of aspirin may outweigh the risk of serious harm, you should talk to your doctor before starting a daily aspirin regimen. Your doctor can help you to weigh the benefits and risks based on your specific health history.

Meanwhile, scientists know for sure that you can reduce your cancer risk by making these lifestyle choices:

  • Quit tobacco
  • Avoid secondhand smoke
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Protect your skin from excessive UV exposure
  • Get enough sleep
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Receive regular medical care

Finally, follow your doctor’s advice about when to get vaccinated against cancer-causing diseases like human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B and when to get screened for cancers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, screening for cervical and colorectal cancer helps find precancerous lesions so they can be treated before they become cancerous. Screenings also help identify breast, cervical and colorectal cancers at an early stage—when they are highly treatable.


Grief recovery groups beginning this fall

Living with Loss—an 8-week discussion-based course working through the book Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart.
Cost is $20 for book/materials, payable on the first day of class
Tuesdays from 6 – 7 pm at the Harman Center
Beginning September 23
Contact Memorial Hospice at 574-3670 to register for this class

Grief Recovery Workshop—an 8-week course centered around personal discovery and homework-style exercises designed to help you focus on grief recovery. This class utilizes the book The Grief Recovery Handbook.
Cost is $20 for book/materials, payable on the first day of class
Thursdays from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm at Cottage in the Meadow
Beginning September 25
Contact Memorial Hospice at 574-3670 to register for this class

Local Ace Hardware supports children’s health care programs

Ace Hardware presented Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) a check for $19,953 and they are not done yet! Still to come are their efforts with the CMN Golf to Give in September!  Ace raises funds for CMN through an employee giving campaign called:  Change for Kids, and special retail store sales.

All funds raised by Ace Hardware for CMN  help fund the children’s health programs right here in our community, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for premature babies and programs and services provided for children with special health care needs at Children’s Village.

Ace Hardware has been a national partner with Children’s Miracle Network for over 22 years.  Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is very lucky to have Ace Hardware as a Children’s Miracle Network partner in supporting special children’s healthcare programs and services in our community.

Carla Fickle, Ace CMN Contact
Scott Raphoon, Ace Warehouse Manager
Jackie McPhee, Children’s Village
Mary Lynne Brewington, Children’s Village

Ace #1 Ace #2

KIT News Radio this week: CEO Russ Myers on changing landscape of health care

Russ Myers assumed the CEO position at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital in January. He succeeded Rick Linneweh, who retired after 37 years at the hospital. Myers joined Memorial in 1989 as a management analyst and served as senior vice president and chief operating officer prior to being named CEO. He appeared on KIT 1280 on Aug. 19, 2014 to talk about the changes in the health care landscape and what they mean for Memorial and Yakima.

There’s a lot of change in the health care industry right now – the Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges, expansions to Medicaid. How do you see this affecting Memorial and the Yakima community?
It’s true. Health care is in a time of intense change. There are exciting new technologies available.  Communication between patients and providers of care is more real-time and more complete. Care is becoming better coordinated, and patient insurance options and the way care is reimbursed are changing.

But with any challenge, there lies opportunity. Memorial has always stepped up to meet challenges and serve the needs of this community, and while health care may not look the same in the future, we’re prepared to provide the high-quality care people need, when they need it, at a lower cost. Our focus at Memorial has always been – and will continue to be – a healthy Yakima. We think we achieve that going forward through something called the triple aim.

What is the triple aim?
The Triple Aim is a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to optimize performance in the health care system. Imagine a triangle; at each corner of the triangle sits one of three major goals:
1.    Improving the health of populations. This is about changing the way we do business – not only sick care, but preventative care. It’s about having a healthy Yakima, and we do that by improving the health of our population.
2.     Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction). Patient satisfaction will play a role in how we are reimbursed for our services going forward, and quality and satisfaction are keys to everything we do.
3.    Reducing the per capita cost of health care. We are working to become more effective and efficient with the way we deliver health care.

Memorial will continue to play a large role in providing health care and working to improve overall health of our community. We’re going to continue to have an acute-care hospital, but that will likely be for the most critically ill. The long-term future will be more closely tied to medical homes – primary care providers – and providing outpatient care in convenient locations: Getting people the right care at the right place at the right time.

Preventive care works, but many adults are missing out

Aug. 21, 2014—Preventive care is powerful medicine indeed. Something as simple as a routine vaccination or advice from a doctor can help people live better, longer lives. But a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report suggests that many people aren’t getting the stay-well care they need.

About the report

Researchers analyzed responses from two national health surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012. They sought to determine how adults used routine services now covered by certain health plans under the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s new health care law. While many preventive services are recommended, researchers focused on six that best fit the survey questions: HIV testing; discussing smoking cessation with a doctor; and being up-to-date on flu, tetanus, pneumonia and zoster (shingles) vaccinations. They also compared participants’ insurance and income levels.

Among the findings: People with insurance were more likely to receive preventive care than were those without it. But even many insured Americans weren’t getting their recommended routine care—suggesting that a lot of people may be missing an opportunity to safeguard their health.

For example, only 18.4 percent of people age 60 or older with insurance had ever received a shingles vaccination—and an even-lower 6.3 percent of those 60 or older without insurance had the shot. Similarly, while 44.2 percent of adults age 18 or older with insurance had a current flu vaccination, only 14.7 percent of adults without insurance got the vaccine.

The report doesn’t provide a perfect picture. But it could be a starting point for tracking the Affordable Care Act’s effects going forward. That’s because the data collection took place when many people were still uninsured and/or unaware of the preventive care covered in that law, according to the authors.

Read a summary of their findings in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report here.

The take-home message
Since many preventive services are covered by insurance, now might be a good time to make preventive care a priority. A primary care doctor can help you get what you need, but first it’s up to you to make an appointment.

After that, CDC has some suggestions for making the most of your visit:

  1. Ask about screenings and shots. Your age and other factors help determine when they’re needed.
  2. Know and share your family health history. Find out if a disease in your family raises your risk—and what you can do about it.
  3. Speak up for your body and your mind. Tell your doctor about any pain, lumps or other problems you’re experiencing, including sadness or stress.
  4. Consider your health goals. Whether that’s losing weight or quitting smoking, ask for help.

To find out more about the vaccines that you might need as an adult, click here.


Chronic disease classes at Memorial

As rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases continue to rise in our community, we must pursue avenues of prevention and management to affect meaningful change in how these conditions impact people’s lives.

Memorial Hospital is starting its next round of classes Sept. 2 to help individuals who suffer from chronic illness. The “My Health, My Life” classes are designed to teach simple techniques for living a healthy life by managing your symptoms. The six-week program teaches key skills for improving your health, despite your illness.

Juanita Silva of Memorial’s Community Health Education appeared on KIT 1280 on Aug. 12 to talk more about the classes.

Who should take these classes?
Anyone living with a chronic illness that impacts the quality of their life can attend. We see people with any number of disorders:
•    arthritis, diabetes, asthma, depression, obesity, heart disease, cancer and debilitating, chronic pain.

You also don’t need to be ill to attend the class – caregivers and family supporters are also welcome.

What are some of the things the class teaches?
•    Healthy eating
•    Weight management
•    Getting a good night sleep
•    Preventing falls and improving balance
•    Managing your chronic disease
•    Communicating with your doctor
•    Managing your medications
•    Pain management
•    Managing difficult emotions
•    Problem solving
•    Goal setting

These classes will be held at Memorial’s Tieton House, located at 2707 Tieton Drive. They are 2-1/2 hours each, once a week for six weeks. New classes start in September.

For more information, call 225-3178 or visit

Many cancer survivors struggle to quit smoking, study says

Aug. 20, 2014—Many cancer survivors continue to smoke. Some do so every day, and they keep smoking for years.

That’s the finding of a study published online in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Here, researchers examined survey data collected from nearly 3,000 people who had survived one of 10 types of cancer. Study participants were selected at random from national cancer registries.

Among other things, researchers found that about nine years after cancer diagnosis:

  • More than 9 percent of all cancer survivors were current smokers.
  • Most current smokers—more than 80 percent—smoked daily, averaging over 14 cigarettes a day.
  • Those most likely to smoke were those who had survived bladder, lung or ovarian cancer.

Read the study abstract here.

The quest to quit

Overall, the study found that cancer survivors who currently smoke are younger and less educated, earn less money, and drink more alcohol. About a third said they intended to quit smoking—and about 40 percent of those wanted to do so within the next month. Those less inclined to quit were often heavier smokers, older or married.

If you see yourself reflected in these statistics, you might be motivated to pull together your own quit-smoking program. You might even be tempted to quit smoking if you don’t fit these descriptions and you have a cancer background.

Some smokers diagnosed with cancer simply think it’s too late to quit or that there’s no good reason to do so, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

If that’s true for you, remember that quitting tobacco is always beneficial, and it’s always possible, ASCO said. Benefits include:

  • Longer life
  • More energy
  • Fewer side effects from cancer treatment while treatment continues
  • Less chance of cancer recurrence
  • Lower risk of other serious diseases

Smoking is also expensive. To calculate just how much you might be spending on a smoking habit, try this calculator.

The take-home message
Quitting smoking should be part of your cancer-recovery program. With help, you can kick the habit for good.

The most successful stop-smoking plans include steps such as setting a quit date and developing strategies to deal with things that spark the urge to smoke, ASCO said. Nicotine replacement therapy, other medications and counseling can help.

To get started, talk with your doctor. He or she can help you find a plan that’s best for you, prescribe any necessary medications and point you toward support services that can help you quit smoking for good.