IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  November 1, 2008

Root vegetables make great side dishes

Worldwide, root vegetables have been staples in many diets for thousands of years. Some, such as turnips, can see three crops a year in some areas of the United States.

Most of us no longer have root cellars, but rutabagas and parsnips can still be stored for use during winter months.

Line a wooden crate with newspapers and place a layer of sand in the bottom. Place the tubers, roots down in the sand, cover with sand, and store the box in a cool, dry area, such as a basement.

Turnips are good and good for you. They have no saturated fats or cholesterol. They do have plenty of iron, calcium and fiber.

Turnip casserole

3 cups turnips, peeled and cut in half-inch sections
1 cup of milk
1cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup fine bread crumbs.

First, boil turnips for half an hour in a half-filled two-quart pan, adding 1/2 teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Drain and let cool.

Thoroughly mix other ingredients, except for the cheese and bread crumbs. Spread the turnips across the bottom of a baking dish and pour the liquid sauce over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the casserole starts to lightly brown on top.

Then, sprinkle first the parmesan and then the bread crumbs across the top. Place under the broiler and keep close watch until the top turns medium brown and crusty in appearance.

The recipe can be used for other root vegetables. Without the initial boiling, it can be used with asparagus, cauliflower or broccoli.


Breast cancer recurrence risk low after five years

A study by the University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center shows that women who survive five years after a breast cancer diagnosis have a good chance of remaining cancer free.

In the most detailed study of its kind, their report shows that 89 percent of such patients remain disease-free 10 years after diagnosis, and 81 percent are cancer-free after 15 years.

Study subjects had surgery to remove the original tumors and some also had radiation. All took medication such as chemotherapy for several months. Afterward, they were either on the pill or on tamoxifen to prevent cancer from returning. Newer drugs may be even more effective.

Singles are healthier

An analysis of the National Health Survey of 1.1 million white or black people ages 25 to 80 shows that never-married people are taking better care of themselves. Married people still report better health, but the gap is narrowing, largely because of the better health of never-married men.


Chuckles Corner

Good protection predicted for 2008 flu shots

Though October is the recommended month for flu shots, November and even December can provide protection. January is the peak month for influenza, but cases continue to appear as late as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2008 formula protects against three new strains of the influenza virus. It includes the two Australian strains that showed up late last year and the type B virus first seen in Florida in 2006

Each year, up to 35,000 Americans die from the flu and its complications. Getting a flu shot significantly reduces the risk of being infected.

Everyone who wants to avoid one to two weeks of misery should get a shot. Children under age 5 and adults with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or heart disease are at high risk for complications. Immunization is especially important for them and for people who work in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.

The flu shot usually causes no reaction. Some people experience tenderness at the injection site. A few report traces of flu-like symptoms for a day or two, but you can't get the flu from a flu shot.


More demand for defibrillators

The most effective emergency treatment is a defibrillator. It increases the odds of survival from 2 percent to 50 percent. The odds are even better if the device is used within three to four minutes of a heart attack.

In the near future, many will have a defibrillator in their own homes or offices. They cost about $1,200 and are easy to use. According to an American Heart Association study, even an untrained sixth grader can operate one.

Everyone should know CPR.

When someone is in cardiac arrest, and there is no defibrillator, he or she needs prompt resuscitation by someone using CPR chest compressions.

Doctors at UCLA School of Medicine say CPR is the only thing that will keep a patient alive long enough for the paramedics to arrive and defibrillate. The window of opportunity is tiny, only five to seven minutes before brain damage begins.


A drink a day may not be good for all

Moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk for heart disease, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. And it could reduce the risk of diabetes, dementia, stroke and inflammation.

These conclusions are generally true, but a review of hundreds of studies also shows that alcohol creates a risk for certain types of cancers.

An analysis of studies done by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research revealed that even moderate drinking increased the risk of mouth, larynx and esophageal cancers, particularly when combined with smoking.

Other data they assembled showed that two drinks a day every day was associated with up to a 10 percent higher risk of colon cancer in men and a 5 percent to 7 percent increase in breast cancer risk among women. Alcohol was also linked to liver cancer.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Centers caution, however, that how risk is reported may make it sound more serious than it really is. In one colon cancer study, only 56 of more than 10,418 study participants drank at least one drink per day and developed the disease.

Additionally, some data in studies is self-reported and people may not remember very well. Additionally, people who drink very much may not have a healthy diet, may have other health problems or a family history of a certain type of disease.

While these studies do not disprove the benefits of moderate drinking, they do provide a basis for discussion with a doctor. Other risk factors for certain diseases can help the doctor determine whether a drink a day should be advised for an individual.

Never start drinking to take advantage of its benefits because they can be achieved in risk-free ways, such as exercise and diet. But if you enjoy an occasional drink, it probably does you more good than harm.


New slant on Alzheimer's

Serendipity is thought of as a fortunate accidental discovery. In medicine, it could more accurately be described as an unanticipated result of research.

One such discovery occurred at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Dr. Claude Wischik was studying the protein Tau, which masses into tangles in diseased brains. In 1988, he dyed tangles with an old malaria drug, methylene blue, to make them more visible. Instead, the tangles dissolved.

After years of studying to determine why it happened, he formed TauRx in 2002, based in Singapore, and developed the drug Rember. In a recent 12-month phase II trial, Rember reduced mental decline by 81 percent. The results need to be confirmed by a larger trial.

Rember outperformed Alzheimer's drugs made to clear amyloid clumps.

November is American Diabetes Month

The American Diabetes Association is calling type 2 patients and their families to attention.

It's easy to get complacent about type 2 diabetes. Just take a pill and forget about it? That's a dangerous idea, but handling type 2 is so convenient that people may put it into the back of their minds and not give it a thought.

As diseases go, this one is fairly easy to handle if you do it right. Getting regular exercise is important, as well as eating a nutritious low-fat diet. But you should do that anyway. If your doctor has given you a diet to follow, it's probably a lot like any healthful eating plan. But for type 2 people, the diet is basic.

Of the 20 million people in the United States living with diabetes, about 6 million don't yet know they have it.

Many others have prediabetes. Their blood glucose levels are high but not high enough to be diabetes.

For them, progression to type 2 is not inevitable. They can prevent or delay onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight by eating healthier and getting 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.

The lifetime risk of diabetes for people born here in 2000 is 1 in 3 for all Americans, 2 in 5 for African Americans and Hispanics, and 1 in 2 for Hispanic women.


How to avoid overindulging

It's the holiday season, a time to eat, drink and be merry. But with a strategy of your own, you could avoid having to loosen your belt mid-way through and wondering how you will lose the typical 6 or 7 pounds you could gain this year.

These common-sense tips can help.

  • Don't go there hungry. Eat before you leave home so you won't overload your plate because you feel starved.
  • Watch the alcohol. It's high-calorie and impairs judgment. The more you drink, the more you'll eat.
  • Check the table or buffet line to determine what you really like and what you can skip. Focus on fruit and vegetables, unless the vegetables are swimming in cheese. Look for good foods that aren't high in fat. Skip the bread at first so you have more room for the good stuff.
  • At a buffet, fill your own dish so you can choose what you want and your dish won't be overloaded.
  • For baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, avoid the butter, cheese and bacon. Look for low-fat sour cream or yogurt.
  • When you're finally ready to eat, start with the fruits and vegetables. Eat slowly. Be sociable. Visit while you eat so you won't just be shoveling in the food.
  • When it comes to dessert, take the smallest piece. If you must sample two desserts, just take a few bites of each. After dinner, take a walk and invite family members to go with you. It's fun, burns a few calories, and helps to relieve that full feeling.

    Great American Smokeout! November 20

    In spite of all health warnings, more than a quarter of Americans still smoke cigarettes or cigars. If you're among them and you want to quit, as almost all smokers do, The Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20 provides an ideal target date.

    For tips and advice on how to quit, visit: