From the January ACP Internist, copyright © 2013 by the American College of Physicians.
By Kathy Holliman

When it comes to patients' alcohol consumption, the "who" and "how much" are important, but the "what" is probably not.

Research on alcohol's health benefits and risks has shown that ethanol works the same whether it is consumed in a glass of red wine, a bottle of beer or a gin and tonic. The amount and frequency of consumption, along with the drinker's gender, age, medical condition and history, family history, and medications, are all linked with the effect of ethanol over time.

Patrick G. O'Connor, MD, MPH, FACP, professor of medicine and chief of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, advises primary care physicians to routinely screen every patient about daily and weekly alcohol consumption.

"It is such a common and fundamental issue that if you don't ask all patients, you are going to be missing many who could benefit from what you have to offer in terms of improving your patients' health," he said.

Long-term observational studies have highlighted a few key points about alcohol consumption: Benefit seems limited to the cardiovascular system in people over age 50 if they do not exceed the recommended number of servings per week. Risk includes development of breast cancer in women, particularly those who consume more than a few servings a week. Heavy drinking imposes significant risks for osteoporosis, many types of cancer, liver disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, stroke and multiple social and behavioral problems.

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Achieving Ideal Cardiovascular Health - November 25, 2012

Learn about the American Heart Association's new program called "Life's Simple 7" on how to achieve ideal cardiovascular health.

You can learn the state of your heart and what you can do to live a better life at:

Life's Simple 7

 

  1. Set a realistic weight-loss goal. Most experts recommend aiming for half a pound to 2 pounds a week.
  2. Keep track. Dieters who keep track of everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don't, research shows.
  3. Motivate yourself. Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet to keep yourself inspired.
  4. Get help from family and friends. Dieters who have support from a partner at home lose more weight than those who don't, studies show.
  5. Move it to lose it. Research shows that people who do physical activities such as walking or biking for two to four hours a week during weight-loss efforts lose an extra 3 to 5 pounds over a year.
  6. Pay attention to portions. A 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards; 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine, a standard postage stamp; a cup of cold cereal, berries or popcorn, a baseball; 4-inch pancake or waffle, the diameter of a CD.
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By ANAHAD O'CONNOR

Exercise can help ease joint pain and stiffness for arthritis sufferers. But despite urgings from health officials and plenty of science documenting its benefits, many men and women with osteoarthritis do not engage in any meaningful physical activity in a typical week, according to new research.

 

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