Health Buzz: Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Other Health News

Use of alternative meds consistent; setting weight-loss goals; and addressing sex with teenagers.


The Use of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

About 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children in the United States use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including such nonconventional treatments as acupuncture and meditation, according to a new government survey. Respondents answered questions—included in the 2007 National Health Interview Survey—about their use of 36 different types of CAM, including 10 provider-based therapies (such as chiropractic treatment or acupuncture), and 10 other types of therapy that don't need a provider's involvement, such as meditation and herbal supplements, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The use of CAM by adults has remained consistent in the past several years: 36 percent of adults used CAM in 2002. This is the first time the survey asked about children's use of CAM.

In January, U.S. News's Avery Comarow explained how you can find alternative medicine at reputable hospitals. In September, a survey reported a rise in the use of alternative and complementary medicine in hospitals. In November, Michelle Andrews suggested hypnosis and counseling as alternative therapies for treating stomach pain and digestive problems like those caused by irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease.

Oprah Talked About Her WeightShould You?

Now, we all know exactly how much Oprah weighs and that she's not very happy about it. In a forthcoming issue of her eponymous magazine, O, she confesses that she has gained 40 pounds in the last few years, putting her at 200 pounds, Katherine Hobson reports. Talking openly about your weight-loss goals might not be a bad idea, says Brian Zehetner, a sports nutrition consultant in Woodbury, Minn. Setting a goal can help you tune in a little more, plus add some accountability and rope in some support from people around you. And many researchers advise using those very principles when managing your weight. One caveat: If you have a history of disordered eating, he says, "focusing on the magic number can be really problematic."

Earlier this year, Hobson offered advice on how to keep the weight off once it's gone, and she identified four ways a food diary can help you lose weight. In April, she reported on four old-fashioned diets that promote health. Diet No. 1? It's something you've heard of before.

How to Address Teen Sex

About 70 percent of teenagers have had sex by their 19th birthdays, and about 14 percent lose their virginity before turning 15, Lindsay Lyon reports. A result: approximately three quarters of a million teen pregnancies each year. And while today's teens overall report having safer sex than did those in years past, about a quarter of girls ages 14 to 19 are infected with at least one of four common STDs. "[Teens] are swimming in higher prevalence waters," says John Douglas Jr., director of the STD-prevention division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lyon lists four areas where parents can help teens steer clear of trouble. Also, Katherine Hobson reports on how to protect teen athletes from sports injuries.

—January W. Payne

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