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Health and fitness briefs for Dec. 1

drugs and grapefruit

Wonderful as a cold, juicy grapefruit can be, it just doesn't mix with certain prescription drugs, including the cholesterol drugs atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin as well as some cancer and heart drugs. But that's not the end of the potentially dangerous interactions, researchers write in the current issue of the journal CMAJ. From 2008 and 2012, drugs that interact with grapefruit rose from 17 to 43, as new drugs have been introduced. The culprit: natural chemicals also found in the Seville oranges sometimes used in marmalades, in limes, and in pomelos (but not in Valencia or navel oranges.)

These chemicals affect an enzyme that helps break down some drugs, meaning too much of these medications can remain in a patient's system for too long, resulting in symptoms from the mild to the serious.

Ask your doctor and your pharmacist, or find the researchers' list of drugs that interact with grapefruit by Googling "CMAJ grapefruit.''

holiday weight gain

Maybe you've heard this incredible statistic: Much as many of us worry about holiday weight gain, the average American gains only about a pound during the winter holiday season, far less than the 5-8 pounds commonly believed, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But that's the average. People who are overweight are more likely to gain 5 pounds during the holidays, according to the NIH.

So be careful out there.

join the crowdfunding

Here's a neat new way to give to a worthy cause this holiday season: All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg is taking part in the first-ever crowdfunded hospital gift catalog,

If you haven't heard of crowdfunding, it's a simple concept: People pool their resources via the Internet for a good cause. And in this case, Fundly (a major crowdfunding platform) and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals have teamed up to offer a one-stop-virtual shop to give to participating children's hospitals across the country.

Sure, you could just write a check. But the site allows you to shop for items from a $30 stuffed toy to comfort a sick child, to a $970 pediatric wheelchair — and on up to a multi-million-dollar hospital wing. Or you can team up with other generous souls on big-ticket items. Whatever you give, you'll get updates on how your gift is being utilized.

Check it out at

tweet to run faster

Training plans abound to help runners seeking to improve their mile splits, power up a hill and go farther than before. But might the solution lie in something as simple as a hashtag? In the December issue of Runner's World, writer and avid runner Clare Trageser examines the role that social media and networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and play in training.

Trageser details her own efforts to break a half marathon personal record through a running group she joined on The members connect on Facebook, share training plans and pep talks in online forums, and post inspirational photos on Pinterest. All for the good, says James Fowler, a medical genetics and political science professor at the University of California at San Diego, pointing out that the best way to get someone to start running is to make it social. Still, Runner's World columnist Bart Yasso gave Trageser some advice: "If you're tweeting while you run, you aren't running fast enough."

laugh your way to euphoria

Going to the movies this weekend? Consider a comedy. A study at Oxford University found that laughing causes the body to release the same endorphins as exercising, resulting in the feelings of euphoria mixed with serenity that many endurance athletes report experiencing.

But the laughs can't just be what the researchers called "polite titters." To get the maximum effect, you need full-fledged belly laughs that give the diaphragm a workout.

good news on depression

Depression is a big deal in children and teens: an estimated 12 percent of girls and 4.5 percent of boys had a major episode of depression in the last year.

The good news is that half of the teenagers who screened positive for depression in a recent study got better in six weeks without treatment, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Here's the catch: It's not easy to predict who needs treatment and who just needs "watchful waiting" to be sure symptoms resolve themselves, according to the study. But the more severe the symptoms (suicidal thoughts are the prime example) and the longer they last, the less likely they'll go away on their own, said researchers, making treatment imperative.


"I love exercise, even things like the elliptical machine and stretching. It's a legacy of dancing all those years. It really helps my mood, too, which, with the bipolar thing, is important. I do at least 45 minutes a day, seven days a week.''

Actor Catherine Zeta-Jones, 43, who last year revealed that she suffers from bipolar II disorder, quoted in this month's inStyle magazine.

Health and fitness briefs for Dec. 1 11/30/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 5:16pm]
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