IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  Febuary 1, 2011

I cannot tell a lie: I covet a cherry tart!

According to tradition, George Washington, in honor of the era's passion for honesty, could not tell a lie.

To illustrate this virtue, one of Washington's biographers published the story of the cherry tree. According to the legend, Washington's father found his favorite cherry tree cut down. When asked about it, Washington supposedly said, "I cannot tell a lie, father, I cut it down with my little hatchet."

In tribute to the Father of Our Country, whose birthday is February 22, here is a cherry tart.

Cherry cream cheese tart

1 graham cracker crust
1 8-ounce cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can of pitted tart cherries
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Whipped cream and mint sprigs for decorating edges.

Soften cream cheese in its foil wrap in warm water. Place the cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and stir until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract and beaten eggs. Spread mixture over crust. Bake 10 minutes and cool.

Drain cherries and take out 1/3 cup of juice. In a saucepan, combine, and corn starch, the 1/3 cup of sugar and almond extract. Stir in cherry juice and heat until mixture comes to a boil.

Add cherries. Cook two minutes and stir in butter. Cool to room temperature. Spread over cream cheese layer. Decorate outer edge with whipped cream and artfully place mint sprigs around the circumference for garnish. Refrigerate until served. It can be frozen.

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How to treat a painful rotator cuff and shoulder

Your rotator cuff is made of muscles and tendons that run between your upper arm and shoulder blade. They facilitate shoulder movement and hold together the ball-and-socket joint connecting your upper arm and shoulder.

Pain is the most common symptom of rotator cuff problems. It can occur when you move in certain ways, particularly in overhead movements like combing your hair or putting on a jacket, or when you lift something heavy.

An injury can be caused by repetitive overhead motions, like painting a wall or ceiling, or more intense movements, like in playing tennis or golf.

Pain from overuse often feels better after a couple days of self care. That includes rest and avoiding movements that aggravate the shoulder, especially repetitive overhead activities.

Ice the shoulder, applying a cold pack wrapped in a cloth for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do it three or four times a day to reduce pain and inflammation.

Take over-the-counter pain medications to ease the pain. Talk to your doctor if the shoulder doesn't improve.

You can strengthen your rotator cuff muscles and keep them limber with daily exercises: 1-Move your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. 2-Gently stretch your arm cross your body and hold, then do the other arm. 3-Holding on to a chair seat, bend down, dangle your arm and circle it for range of motion. Then do the other arm.


Food labels can aid in food buying

Only 61 percent of shoppers check the labels on food they buy. The American Dietetic Association says if buyers did, this, they would buy foods with less total fat, fewer calories, and less sugar.

Only 51 percent of shoppers check the ingredient list, 47.2 percent look at serving size, and just 43.8 percent consider health claims when buying a food product.


February 22: The birthday of George Washington, Father of Our Country Though the story about George Washington cutting down a cherry tree and confessing to the deed was a myth created by a biographer to illustrate his honesty, integrity and courage, he had all of these qualities.

Today, his likeness is found on currency, stamps, sculptures and paintings. Manufacturers consider his image public property. Many schools, bridges, towns, our national capital, and even a state have been named after him.

  • The Washington Monument was built in his honor between 1848 and 1884. It is the world's tallest stone structure, the world's tallest obelisk, and is the tallest structure in Washington D.C.
  • His likeness is carved in stone with those of three other presidents on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; the mammoth display is called the Shrine of Democracy.
  • He was awarded a posthumous promotion to the rank of six-star General of the Armies in 1976.
  • The U.S. Senate reads Washington's Farewell Address every year, a tradition dating back to 1862, when it was read to boost morale during the Civil War.
  • In Virginia, the Presidents Day holiday is known only as George Washington Day.
  • At Mount Vernon, Washington's 500-acre estate, three days of special events mark his birthday
  • Alexandria, Virginia, Washington's hometown, stages historic demonstrations, including a Revolutionary War skirmish.


    Chuckles Corner

  • February is American Heart Month

    In 2010, Heart Month focuses on women and heart disease.

    This year, the American Heart Association presents "Go Red for Women," a movement providing information to women about cardiovascular disease.

    Traditionally, we think about men being the primary victims of heart disease, but each year, it claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of women.

    The older you are, the more likely it is that you will get heart disease. But healthy living at any age is the foundation for disease-free later years.

    In your 20s, health isn't on your mind, and you believe there will be plenty of time later to think about it. Wrong. Heart disease can develop at any age, so it's crucial that you make health conscious-decisions that will benefit you now and in the long run. Don't smoke, drink in moderation, and choose birth control methods carefully.

    In your 30s, life is a balancing act between family, work and yourself. But you're not a kid anymore. Now is the time to build heart-healthy habits. If you avoid the conditions that put you at risk for heart disease until you turn 50, you may never develop heart disease. Check your family history, quit smoking, and avoid gaining weight.

    In your 40s, it becomes even more important to make healthy choices. No matter what life brings, it's important to stay happy and healthy so you can enjoy the years to come. Make healthy lifestyle choices now that will benefit you in the long run. Eat well, exercise, watch your weight, and get a checkup.

    In your 50s, your body is changing and that affects your heart.

    Check with your doctor too see if your numbers are acceptable for cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and body mass index. To get your estimated heart risk, go to goredforwomen.org.

    In your 60s, heart disease is more likely, but you have the power to prevent it. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. It's never too late to quit. Keep an eye on body weight, continue to exercise, and have your blood pressure checked.

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    Use these five tips to protect your kidneys

    Each one of your two kidneys has about a million tiny filtering units in it. That might seem more than enough to do a good filtering job, but they have a lot to do and are easy to harm.

    The kidneys remove sodium and water to maintain the fluid balance in your body, and they eliminate urea caused by protein breakdown.

    They also work to fine-tune levels of calcium, phosphorus and potassium, and they help to regulate the acid balance in your blood.

    If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, you have a high risk of killing off some of those million filtering units. Smoking, being overweight and having high cholesterol also threaten to break them down.

    To save your kidneys, take these steps.

  • Carefully control diabetes, which is the most common cause of kidney failure. Talk with your doctor about how exercise, food, medications and stress affect your blood sugar, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
  • Make every effort to control hypertension. High blood pressure damages small blood vessels in the kidneys and can cause kidney disease.
  • Avoid taking too many pain killers. Long-term use of over-the-counter pain killers can damage the kidneys.
  • Eat with kidney health in mind. Avoid eating too much meat. Talk to your doctor if you already have kidney disease about how to achieve a low-protein diet. Reducing protein in your diet will slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.
  • If you smoke, quit now. Smoking and using other tobacco products makes kidney and heart disease worse. If you don't already have kidney or heart disease, smoking significantly increases your risk of both.


    Women and gout

    The inflammatory arthritis known as gout always used to strike more men than women. Now, it's becoming more common in women.

    Researchers say sugary sodas could have something to do with the trend, according to Time magazine. A study of 79,000 women shows that those who drank two or more sweetened sodas per day had more than twice the risk of getting gout than those who drank sweet soda once a month or less.

    The painful condition is caused by a buildup of uric acid, a by-product of the fructose in the drinks.

    To protect your brain: Work up a sweat

    Harvard researchers have come to some conclusions about how much exercise will protect you from dementia. They say people engaging in moderate to heavy physical activity are 45 percent less likely to develop any kind of brain problems.

    In the study, activities were categorized in three categories:

  • Light: standing and walking.
  • Moderate: faster walking, housework, yard chores, climbing stairs and light sports, such as bowling and golf.
  • Heavy: major housework and intensive sports such as jogging.

    One way the study was different from others: It mainly focused on older people. Other studies included people of all ages. This study shows that even for older people, moderate exercise is protective.


  • Drugstores, doctors move to 'telemarketing'

    As more doctors computerize patient records, it's easy for their staffs to determine who should be coming in for a checkup or who has missed a prescribed test.

    It used to be telemarketers and fundraisers who put out a robocall to contact you. Today, it's likely to be a message from the doctor's office. Or it could be from the drugstore to say it's time to refill your prescription. Dentists are also placing calls to remind patients it's time for a checkup.

    Some are using their computers to tweet you a reminder, and others are sending text messages on their patients' cellphones.

    The contact barrage has two goals. It gets patients to pay attention to their conditions before they get more serious. A patients' well-being is a doctor's concern.

    The reminder calls also help doctors fill gaps in their schedules. Today, some people are cutting costs by skipping routine appointments, which is not a good idea. For most doctors, appointments have declined since last year.

    The number of appointments jumps during the flu and cold season, making doctors' offices more crowded. But some of these patients might not be there if they had taken their doctor's advice for follow-up visits and tests or for seeing a specialist.

    Healthcare reform and Uncle Sam may be responsible for part of the calling programs. In 2011, Medicare begins pilot programs recommended for preventive care called the Medical Home Program. It involves computerizing records and using support staff to monitor whether patients are filling prescriptions and keeping appointments. Those who are forgetful or "too busy to go to the doctor" are targeted. It's a way to get disengaged patients to take care of themselves.

    Large drugstore chains, such as CVS routinely refill monthly prescriptions, then call to say the medications are ready to be picked up.


    New treatment for Alzheimer's, depression

    A treatment primarily used to treat Parkinson's disease is now showing promise for other conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease and long-term depression.

    Deep Brain Stimulation focuses on two areas in the brain, and either site produces similar outcomes, according to the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Nebraska.

    A surgically implanted, battery-powered device about the size of a stopwatch is placed under the skin near the collarbone. It delivers electrical stimulation through a thin wire that is placed in a precise location in the brain.

    All patients recommended for the procedure have had unsatisfactory results from medications.

    Vitamin D linked to diabetes

    A study by Johns Hopkins University that reviewed vitamin D levels in type 2 diabetes patients, found that more than 90 percent of the patients had insufficient levels of vitamin D. Those with the lower vitamin D levels were more likely to have higher blood sugar readings.

    Participants ranged in age from 36 to 89

    The finding suggests an active role of vitamin D in development of type 2 diabetes. The doctors recommend that primary care providers should screen for vitamin D deficiency in patients at risk for type 2 diabetes.

    Melanoma drug offers hope

    An experimental drug named PLX4032 is giving doctors hope for future treatment of melanoma, a virulent skin cancer that can kill within nine months.

    Among those patients with a mutation in a key gene called BRAF, 81 percent saw tumors shrink with the drug. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study, say this breakthrough is not a cure, though it leads the way for future research. Tumor regression with the drug is temporary but can extend life for a few months.


    New medication raises hopes for heart disease

    It sounds like dream come true. But in the future, heart disease could be pushed from the top of the list as the leading killer of Americans.

    A new drug by Merck & Co., anacetrapib, has passed its first test for effectiveness and safety. It is designed to raise levels of HDL, the good cholesterol that is associated with lower heart-attack and high blood pressure risks.

    It did that dramatically by increasing HDL 138 percent. HDL acts as a kind of dump truck that hauls LDL away. At the same time, it cut LDL, the bad cholesterol, by 40 percent in patients who already had low levels. About 25 percent of patients in the study achieved the LDL levels that people are originally born with, according to USA Today.

    "These are jaw-dropping changes", said Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He presented the findings at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association, and the findings were recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Some researchers say the new drug "may turn back the clock" on heart disease.

    Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, the chairman of Cleveland Clinic cardiovascular medicine says "this medicine could be as big as statins." Statins, including Lipitor from Pfizer, Inc., have led heart-disease treatment choices for the last two decades.

    Merck is starting a 30,000-patient global study to further prove the new findings. Even if the global study lasts only two and a half years, because the drug is so powerful that it quickly proves its effectiveness, it could be at least four years before the drug would be marketed.

    Researchers are taking special steps to assure anacetrapib's safety. Previously, a promising drug by another manufacturer was found to cause high blood pressure and heart attacks. By the time anacetrapib is released for patients, Merck will have more assurance that it safe is and effective.

    The new medicine is the most promising in an entirely new class of drugs.