In Mel Brook’s 1976 movie “Young Frankenstein,” Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), grandson of the original Dr. F., recaptures his erratically behaving Monster (Peter Boyle). He then tries to show the nervous townsfolk just how bright and good-natured his creature is by performing a dancing and singing duet of “Putting on the Ritz.” And, after some rehearsal (we assume), the monster remembers and performs every word.
The scene is hilarious, but there’s solid science there: The monster’s borrowed brain was demonstrating a technique that can give you a monster memory, too! Speaking — or singing and dancing — out loud improves long-term memory!
In a new study, researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo had groups of students focus on dozens of words either by hearing a recording of their own voice saying the words, by hearing someone else say them, by reading the words silently or by reading them aloud. Then, the students were shown words and asked if they had just studied them or not. Those who read the words aloud were far more able to remember correctly, around 77 percent of the time.
Seems combining reading and vocalization activates two parts of the brain and involves physical motion — a sure-fire way to strengthen memory muscles. So the next time you want to remember a phone number or a document at work, find a spot where you can read it aloud. (BTW, it doesn’t have to be loud.) And if anyone asks, you’re not talking to yourself, you’re doing brain exercises!
FDA bans triclosan
in OTC antiseptic
health care products
If you go to the racetrack and hit the trifecta, you bet correctly on which horse would finish in first, second and third place. We don’t think that betting on horses is generally good for your health, but if you did hit the trifecta, you hit on a very good bet.
For a long time, triclosan was thought to be a pretty good bet too, because it helped knock out unwanted bacteria in consumer and hospital products. It’s been used in everything from cleaning supplies to toothpaste — in fact, it’s a good bet that any product that says “antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” on the label contains triclosan or its cousin triclocarbon.
Unfortunately, triclosan’s antiseptic properties are toxic to the liver, thyroid and lungs. It’s also a hormone disrupter and promotes antibiotic resistance. So the Food and Drug Administration has banned it for use in over-the-counter health care antiseptic products, labeling it non-GRAS (“not generally regarded as safe”). Previously it was banned from use in soaps, but even with this new ban, it’s still in use until December 2018 (that’s when it, along with 23 other chemicals, has to be out of products).
For a complete list of consumer products (215) that contain triclosan, go to the Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG.org) and look for Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
The good news is that triclosan is in a lot fewer products than it used to be. The FDA proposed this ban in 2015, but we and the EWG have been sounding the triclosan alarm for almost 15 years.
diet influences child’s
In the 2008 movie “Baby Mama,” Kate (Tina Fey), a working woman in her 30s, finds that she can’t have a baby and hires Angie (Amy Poehler) as a surrogate. Angie, who’s a junk-food junkie, is reprimanded by Kate: “I don’t want my kid born addicted to high-fructose corn syrup!” “Really?” Angie replies, amazed that what she eats actually could cause that.
Well, Kate was right! Being concerned about her future child’s corn syrup addiction is legitimate. We know that moms-to-be are aware of the importance of staying healthy for themselves and the health of the fetus, but it’s easy to overlook how powerful an influence your food and supplement choices have on the future health of your child. (“I had to have that glazed doughnut, but I forgot the omega-3 DHA and prenatal vitamins!”) In a new analysis of over 40 studies on kids’ food preferences, researchers determined that flavors from a pregnant woman’s diet actually reach the fetus and shape food preferences.
Says lead author Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, Ph.D., “These early exposures familiarize the baby with specific flavors as well as the experience of variety and set the stage for later acceptance of healthy flavors in solid foods.”
So if you’re enjoying broccoli, dark greens like kale and good-for-you salmon while you’re pregnant, your fetus will experience those flavors and learn to love them! Then when you start feeding your child solid foods, the battle over “eat your vegetables” and even salmon (it improves kids’ sleep and their IQ 11 years later) will be won before it begins!
Clarifying the opioid substitutes that the Center for Science in the Public Interest did investigate
When Hofstra University’s departments of earth sciences and geology helped put together a teaching guide for GeoTeach to sort out the facts from science fiction in the “Jurassic Park” movies, they acknowledged that the filmmakers got many things right … and a few facts wrong. For example, a Pteranodon — the name itself means “wings with no teeth” — couldn’t have swooped down, teeth bared, plucked a 12-year-old boy off the ground and flown away!
Well, we also made a mistake when we said that the Center for Science in the Public Interest included kratom in their investigation titled “Crackdown Urged on Supplements Marketed as Opioid Withdrawal Aids.” Their study specifically excluded kratom, the opioid substitute that’s also being touted on the Internet as a healthy alternative. This product, which we were focusing on in our column, was the target of a Food and Drug Administration warning to consumers; it wasn’t part of the CSPI investigation, and we want to set that record straight.
What CSPI did urge authorities to crack down on were companies that produce products such as Mitadone Anti Opiate Aid Plus, Opiate Detox Pro and TaperAid Complete. Both CSPI and the FDA stress that there are three FDA-approved, medically assisted treatments for opioid addiction withdrawal: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. These are treatments consumers can depend on, and we hope that others come along.
Consider this our “Redactyl” to our Pteranodon, and we look forward to the continued good work the Center for Science in the Public Interest accomplishes year in and year out.
Avoiding and managing varicose veins
On an episode of “Friends,” the gang arrives late to Monica and Chandler’s for dinner. “I bet that vein on Monica’s forehead is popping like crazy,” says Phoebe when Monica won’t let them in. When Rachel suggests eating leftovers instead, Monica warns, “You touch that, and you will be sorry!”
“Guys, I’d listen to her,” says Chandler. “The vein is bigger than I’ve ever seen it.”
Bulging veins in comedy go back to Sid Caesar in the 1950s, but varicose veins are a different story. They can be painful and disfiguring.
Veins carry blood back to the heart after oxygen is delivered to your cells. They accomplish their mission by using valves that open and close, keeping blood headed in the right direction. But if those valves weaken, blood can back up and pool, causing swollen, twisted veins. If you notice them on your calves or thighs, there are ways to ease the pain and stop them from getting worse:
• Exercise regularly to strengthen vessel walls and move blood through your veins.
• Don’t sit for long periods of time; elevate legs when resting.
• Maintaining a healthy weight relieves pressure on veins.
• Avoid tight clothes around the groin and thighs.
• Wear compression stockings (the right compression pressure!) and put them on correctly, if prescribed.
• Talk to your doc about routine aspirin use.
• If VVs become painful or a clot forms, medical interventions include chemical injections (sclerotherapy); laser therapy (for small VVs); endovenous ablation (heat-sealing of veins); for severe cases, surgery.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.