Maintaining bone density

Women who stop taking hormone replace therapy are at increased risk for osteoporosis since they are no longer taking estrogen, which increases bone mass. Fortunately there are options for women to maintain their bone density.

Doctors at Baylor College of Medicine recommend eating foods that are high in calcium, exercising and knowing family history of bone osteoporosis. Women with risk factors for osteoporosis, which includes getting off hormone therapy, should start getting bone scans after age 50, according to Dr. Ronald Young, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM.

An exercise program doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Exercise to streng-then bones can be as simple as walking and just moving your body more. Weight training is recommended, but for those who don’t have a gym membership or own a set of weights at home, consider using things around the house, like a can from your pantry, to do some curls.

Prescription for good health

The failure to communicate effectively during medical visits can cause far worse damage than a mild case of frustration, studies show.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston have found that the elderly, those with low-English proficiency and those from minority populations are more susceptible than others to these disparate health outcomes than other groups.

“When doctors and patients communicate well with each other, not only are both parties more satisfied with the relationship but health outcomes, like blood pressure and blood sugar levels, are better, and control of other disease symptoms are improved,” said Dr. Carol Ashton, a professor of medicine in health services research at Baylor and the director of the Veteran Affairs Health Services Research Center.

Lack of communication has been shown to result in belated detection and treatment of health problems such as breast cancer in minority women.

Personalized

procedures offer best results

Keep your own skin tone and texture in mind when making cosmetic decisions, advise doctors at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Various skin types scar differently, so talking to your doctor about your concerns is important,” said Dr. Anthony Brissett, assistant professor of otolaryngology and director of the Baylor Facial Plastic Surgery Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

“We want to make sure that our patients can feel comfortable with knowing what to expect.”

People with darker skin tones often have hyperpigmentation, or skin discoloration. Some have worries about exuberant scarring like keloids, an overgrowth of tissue at the site of a healed skin injury. They can be treated with steroid injections, creams and radiation or removal with an incision.

“There are also ways to hide or camouflage incisions, such as placing them in natural creases or hiding them in inconspicuous areas like under the chin,” Brissett said. “Each person is different so we can personalize a procedure to have the best outcome.”

Sun-blocking babies leads to need for vitamin D

The lack of sunshine exposure in many babies and small children has led to an upsurge in vitamin D deficiency and rickets.

“Since we don’t want infants and children unprotected in the sun, we are now recommending vitamin D drops for all babies,” said Dr. Steven Abrams, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “In addition, there is increasing recognition that maintaining adequate vitamin D intake is important for all ages, from infants to the elderly.”

Infant formulas and cow’s milk are fortified with vitamin D at the levels needed by infants and toddlers. However, breast milk does not contain enough vitamin D for some babies, especially those with dark skin who have limited sunshine exposure.

“The body can make all the vitamin D it needs when the skin is exposed to sunlight,” said Abrams, also a researcher at the USDA’s Children’s Nutrition Re-search Center at Baylor.

“However, the dangers of skin cancer have caused us to recommend that everyone, including young infants, be protected with a sunblock when exposed to sunlight. Sunblock also prevents the production of vitamin D.”

Vitamin D is not easily obtained through diet. Certain types of fish are good sources, and some soy beverages, fruit juices and ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with the vitamin. Checking food labels is the best way to see if vitamin D has been added.