Why Children Aren’t Behaving, And What You Can Do About It

Boy completes his chore of raking leaves

Childhood — and parenting — have radically changed in the past few decades, to the point where far more children today struggle to manage their behavior.

That’s the argument Katherine Reynolds Lewis makes in her new parenting book, The Good News About Bad Behavior.

We face a crisis of self-regulation,” Lewis writes. And by “we,” she means parents and teachers who struggle daily with difficult behavior from the children in their lives.

Lewis, a journalist, certified parent educator and mother of three, asks why so many kids today are having trouble managing their behavior and emotions.

Three factors, she says, have contributed mightily to this crisis.

First: Where, how and how much kids are allowed to play has changed. Second, their access to technology and social media has exploded.

Finally, Lewis suggests, children today are too “unemployed.” She doesn’t simply mean the occasional summer job for a high school teen. The term is a big tent, and she uses it to include household jobs that can help even toddlers build confidence and a sense of community.

“They’re not asked to do anything to contribute to a neighborhood or family or community,” Lewis tells NPR in a recent interview. “And that really erodes their sense of self-worth — just as it would with an adult being unemployed.”

Below is more of that interview, edited for length and clarity.

What sorts of tasks are children and parents prioritizing instead of household responsibilities?

To be straight-A students and athletic superstars, gifted musicians and artists — which are all wonderful goals, but they are long-term and pretty narcissistic. They don’t have that sense of contribution and belonging in a family the way that a simple household chore does, like helping a parent prepare a meal. Anyone who loves to cook knows it’s so satisfying to feed someone you love and to see that gratitude and enjoyment on their faces. And kids today are robbed of that.

It’s part of the work of the family. We all do it, and when it’s more of a social compact than an adult in charge of doling out a reward, that’s much more powerful. They can see that everyone around them is doing jobs. So it seems only fair that they should also.

Kids are so driven by what’s fair and what’s unfair. And that’s why the more power you give kids, the more control you give them, the more they will step up.

You also argue that play has changed dramatically. How so?

Two or three decades ago, children were roaming neighborhoods in mixed-age groups, playing pretty unsupervised or lightly supervised. They were able to resolve disputes, which they had a strong motivation to because they wanted to keep playing. They also planned their time and managed their games. They had a lot of autonomy, which also feeds self-esteem and mental health.

Nowadays, kids, including my own, are in child care pretty much from morning until they fall into bed — or they’re under the supervision of their parents. So they aren’t taking small risks. They aren’t managing their time. They aren’t making decisions and resolving disputes with their playmates the way that kids were 20 or 30 years ago. And those are really important social and emotional skills for kids to learn, and play is how all young mammals learn them.

While we’re on the subject of play and the importance of letting kids take risks, even physical risks, you mention a remarkable study out of New Zealand — about phobias. Can you tell us about it?

This study dates back to when psychologists believed that if you had a phobia as an adult, you must have had some traumatic experience as a child. So they started looking at people who had phobias and what their childhood experiences were like. In fact, they found the opposite relationship.

People who had a fall from heights were less likely to have an adult phobia of heights. People who had an early experience with near-drowning had zero correlation with a phobia of water, and children who were separated from their parents briefly at an early age actually had less separation anxiety later in life.

We need to help kids to develop tolerance against anxiety, and the best way to do that, this research suggests, is to take small risks — to have falls and scrapes and tumbles and discover that they’re capable and that they can survive being hurt. Let them play with sticks or fall off a tree. And yeah, maybe they break their arm, but that’s how they learn how high they can climb.

You say in the book that “we face a crisis of self-regulation.” What does that look like at home and in the classroom?

It’s the behavior in our homes that keeps us from getting out the door in the morning and keeps us from getting our kids to sleep at night.

In schools, it’s kids jumping out of seats because they can’t control their behavior or their impulses, getting into shoving matches on the playground, being frozen during tests because they have such high rates of anxiety.

Really, I lump under this umbrella of self-regulation the increase in anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance addiction and all of these really big challenges that are ways kids are trying to manage their thoughts, behavior and emotions because they don’t have the other skills to do it in healthy ways.

You write a lot about the importance of giving kids a sense of control. My 6-year-old resists our morning schedule, from waking up to putting on his shoes. Where is the middle ground between giving him control over his choices and making sure he’s ready when it’s time to go?

It’s a really tough balance. We start off, when our kids are babies, being in charge of everything. And our goal by the time they’re 18 is to be in charge of nothing — to work ourselves out of the job of being that controlling parent. So we have to constantly be widening the circle of things that they’re in charge of, and shrinking our own responsibility.

It’s a bit of a dance for a 6-year-old, really. They love power. So give him as much power as you can stand and really try to save your direction for the things that you don’t think he can do.

He knows how to put on his shoes. So if you walk out the door, he will put on his shoes and follow you. It may not feel like it, but eventually he will. And if you spend five or 10 minutes outside that door waiting for him — not threatening or nagging — he’ll be more likely to do it quickly. It’s one of these things that takes a leap of faith, but it really works.

Kids also love to be part of that discussion of, what does the morning look like. Does he want to draw a visual calendar of the things that he wants to get done in the morning? Does he want to set times, or, if he’s done by a certain time, does he get to do something fun before you leave the house? All those things that are his ideas will pull him into the routine and make him more willing to cooperate.

Whether you’re trying to get your child to dress, do homework or practice piano, it’s tempting to use rewards that we know our kids love, especially sweets and screen time. You argue in the book: Be careful. Why?

Yes. The research on rewards is pretty powerful, and it suggests that the more we reward behavior, the less desirable that behavior becomes to children and adults alike. If the child is coming up with, “Oh, I’d really like to do this,” and it stems from his intrinsic interests and he’s more in charge of it, then it becomes less of a bribe and more of a way that he’s structuring his own morning.

The adult doling out rewards is really counterproductive in the long term — even though they may seem to work in the short term. The way parents or teachers discover this is that they stop working. At some point, the kid says, “I don’t really care about your reward. I’m going to do what I want.” And then we have no tools. Instead, we use strategies that are built on mutual respect and a mutual desire to get through the day smoothly.

You offer pretty simple guidance for parents when they’re confronted with misbehavior and feel they need to dole out consequences. You call them the four R’s. Can you walk me through them?

The four R’s will keep a consequence from becoming a punishment. So it’s important to avoid power struggles and to win the kid’s cooperation. They are: Any consequence should be revealed in advance, respectful, related to the decision the child made, and reasonable in scope.

Generally, by the time they’re 6 or 7 years old, kids know the rules of society and politeness, and we don’t need to give them a lecture in that moment of misbehavior to drill it into their heads. In fact, acting in that moment can sometimes be counterproductive if they are amped up, their amygdala’s activated, they’re in a tantrum or excited state, and they can’t really learn very well because they can’t access the problem-solving part of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, where they’re really making decisions and thinking rationally. So every misbehavior doesn’t need an immediate consequence.

You even tell parents, in the heat of the moment, it’s OK to just mumble and walk away. What do you mean?

That’s when you are looking at your child, they are not doing what you want, and you cannot think of what to do. Instead of jumping in with a bribe or a punishment or yelling, you give yourself some space. Pretend you had something on the stove you need to grab or that you hear something ringing in the other room and walk away. That gives you just a little space to gather your thoughts and maybe calm down a little bit so you can respond to their behavior from the best place in you — from your best intentions as a parent.

I can imagine skeptics out there, who say, “But kids need to figure out how to live in a world that really doesn’t care what they want. You’re pampering them!” In fact, you admit your own mother sometimes feels this way. What do you say to that?

I would never tell someone who’s using a discipline strategy that they feel really works that they’re wrong. What I say to my mom is, “The tools and strategies that you used and our grandparents used weren’t wrong, they just don’t work with modern kids.” Ultimately, we want to instill self-discipline in our children, which will never happen if we’re always controlling them.

If we respond to our kids’ misbehavior instead of reacting, we’ll get the results we want. I want to take a little of the pressure off of parenting; each instance is not life or death. We can let our kids struggle a little bit. We can let them fail. In fact, that is the process of childhood when children misbehave. It’s not a sign of our failure as parents. It’s normal.

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Dog saves owner by sniffing out her cancer BEFORE she even knew she had it

Image: Dog saves owner by sniffing out her cancer BEFORE she even knew she had it

Dogs have a long history of being man’s best friend. But the story of a Newburyport Police Department officer and her blind dog from Massachusetts, doesn’t merely prove the bond between owner and pet but also proves that dogs are great at detecting illnesses.

Police officer Megan Tierney was reportedly at home with Dude, her blind border collie/Australian shepherd mix, when he started acting a little strange. According to her, she was lying in bed when Dude suddenly became focused on her chest area, placing a paw on her.

Tierney turned her attention on the spot Dude was touching and noticed a tissue swell. But to her surprise, a trip to the doctor confirmed that she has stage two triple negative invasive ductal breast cancer. And although finding out you have cancer is never an easy thing to swallow, the police officer said, “Dude found the lump, and we were never so happy because it just meant that we could get it where it was, rather than not knowing.”

It is known that dogs have a more heightened sense of smell compared to humans. Dude, being a blind dog, has greatly enhanced this particular sense which helped him detect the illness of his owner. Moreover, canines’ olfactory bulbs have 220 million scent receptors; 195 million more than that of humans.

According to dog-cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz from Barnard College, dogs can smell odors in parts per trillion. For example, in a million gallons of water, dogs can detect if a teaspoon sugar was mixed into the water. This means their smelling abilities are 100,000 times better than ours. (Related: Dogs can smell lung cancer in humans.)

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One study, conducted by the Pine Street Foundation, reflects Dude’s exceptional skill. The study involved five dogs that were given breath samples of 31 breast cancer patients, 55 lung cancer patients and 83 healthy persons. All dogs were able to pinpoint which samples came from those who were ill, with approximately 90 percent accuracy.

Can dogs really smell cancer?

According to Tammana Khare of Dogs Naturally Magazine, because of the metabolic waste released by cancerous cells, a distinct smell is also released from the human body. This significant smell can be easily traced by dogs even during the earlier stages of cancer.

Other studies suggest that canines also have the ability to smell traces of skin cancer melanoma through skin lesions, and detect prostate cancer with just a urine sample from a person who is suffering from one.

“Not only does their sense of smell make cancer detection possible, but research suggests that dogs can be trained actively to sniff out the cancer, ” the canine expert shared. “In Berlin, a group of researchers trained some dogs to detect the presence of various types of cancer, including ovarian cancer, bowel cancer, as well as bladder cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer,” Khane finished.

Although some remain to be with the whole idea of dogs being able to sniff out cancer and other illnesses, there are already some field experts who see a future where dogs will be directly used in patient care. More importantly, the special dog ability Dude exhibited helped his owner, Tierney, to manage her sickness and prolong her life.

Check out more amazing stories about man’s best friend on NaturalNewsPets.com.

Sources include:




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What is the most dangerous selfie ever taken?

Some selfies are more espactacular and more dangerous than others, and there are selfies most of us will never be able to take even if we wanted to.

Here are a few of them.


The fighter jet selfies


A fighter jet pilot taking a selfie at the speed of sound, about 343 m/s! And notice the missile to the left

A few more:




The space walk selfies


An astronaut taking a selfie at the orbital speed of the international space station, about 7.67 km/s!

And a few more:








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Something Wonderful: New Horizons’s Encounter with Pluto

A new book tells the tale of how a remarkable space probe transformed a distant, fuzzy blob, whose planethood some have questioned, into a full-fledged world.
Something Wonderful: New Horizons's Encounter with Pluto
Pluto, seen close-up by New Horizons just 15 minutes after the probe’s closest approach on July 14, 2015. Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Southwest Research Institute

For the past 17 years, it’s been my privilege to lead NASA’s New Horizons space mission and its exploration of Pluto—the farthest planet ever explored. During that time, I was often asked to predict what we would find there, but I knew better, because I’d seen too many such predictions about what would be found by previous first-time explorations of planets completely fail.

So I just said (perhaps to the disappointment of many journalists) that the only prediction I’d make about the results from the exploration of Pluto is that New Horizons would find “something wonderful.”

Undertaking the exploration of Pluto was something deeply personal for me. Why? In part because, as a planetary scientist, I knew that even in our best telescopes that faraway world remained barely more than a fuzzy blob, and thus we would never unravel Pluto’s many mysteries without going there and seeing it in detail.

The exploration of Pluto was also personal to me because, by the time I finished my PhD in 1989, NASA’s Voyager mission to explore the giant planets of our solar system was wrapping up at Neptune, and all the other planets then known, from Mercury to Neptune, had been explored by spacecraft. So Pluto represented the only remaining opportunity back then to be a part of a first mission of exploration to a new planet.

The best image of Pluto ever made before New Horizons, by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA Hubble Space Telescope

A final part of what made the exploration of Pluto personal to me was my desire to be a part of something larger than life in my career, a legacy for the ages—and the first-time exploration of a whole new planet was certainly that.

But most of all, it was personal to me because so many people told me it couldn’t be done. Many said NASA would never approve another faraway mission again after Voyager. But once we achieved a ranking by the National Academy of Sciences for the exploration of Pluto as the highest priority for a new mission in the early 2000s, and NASA approved the project, that theory collapsed. Then some said we could never do it on the budget NASA offered: about one fifth of what it had cost to do the Voyager mission; that that was an impossibly small budget to squeeze in to.

But we accomplished that too, thanks to some clever compromises in spacecraft capability and design, and the decision to send only one spacecraft (not two, like Voyager) on the long journey. Then it was said that a single spacecraft mission flying so far (over three billion miles) and needing so long (9.5 years) to reach its target would be too risky and was likely to fail.

But it didn’t fail. In fact, despite a harrowing, near-death experience just days out from arriving at Pluto, New Horizons succeeded in crossing the entire solar system and then exploring Pluto—and did so brilliantly, accomplishing all the objectives set out for it and then some!

In all, the exploration of Pluto took 26 years to accomplish—soup to nuts—from idea to flyby and data return. During that quarter century there were no fewer than five mission studies, then a tough competition between fiercely vying teams to win the project, then millions of hours of effort by the approximately 2,500 Americans who designed, built, tested and flew New Horizons, and ultimately a successful reconnaissance of Pluto and its system of moons that generated an intense public interest that greatly surpassed public interest in every robotic NASA mission before it.

Also along that long road were many battles to keep the mission funded, some adversaries that wanted to see us fail, and more than a few technical problems during spacecraft development. And there was also the sad development of 2006 when a few hundred astronomers—mostly non-experts in the study of planets—declared that Pluto and the then burgeoning list of other small planets that had been discovered beyond Pluto were not planets, largely to prevent schoolchildren from having to memorize their names. (I wonder if those same astronomers—also non-experts in chemistry—believe that there are too many elements in the periodic table for the same reason.)

But in addition to battles and disappointments, there were also soaring moments of unparalleled success during the 26-year-long quest to see Pluto explored. One such was our day of launch, January 19, 2006. Another was the day of our Pluto flyby, on Bastille Day 2015, when New Horizons stormed the gates of Pluto and revealed what had been nothing more than a distant point of light in most telescopes as the truly amazing planet that it is, before our very eyes.

A composite image of Pluto and its giant moon Charon as seen by New Horizons. Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Southwest Research Institute

Few have any idea how much sheer effort it took to undertake this project, how much career risk was involved, how dedicated the team of people were who carried it out were, and how much reward resulted from upending some scientific paradigms of planetary science. But in addition, there was also the reward of how it inspired so many in the public as to what humans can achieve, how it inspired countless schoolkids toward science and engineering careers, and how it showed once again that people still love great expeditions of exploration.

The improbable story of how Pluto came to be explored—including all its good, bad and sometimes even ugly facets—is described now in a just published book called Chasing New Horizons (Picador Press, 2018), which David Grinspoon and I wrote over the past two and a half years.

As we wrote that book about what the New Horizons team accomplished, and how we did it, against many odds, against strong competitors, and even against fate, I became convinced that my long-ago prediction about what we would find at Pluto had been correct: For we truly discovered both in Pluto and in our species—something wonderful.

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Breast Cancer Info Scrubbed From Government Website

Why did WomensHealth.gov delete its breast cancer web pages?

This question is now being asked because breast cancer content has been greatly reduced on the site, which belongs to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

While there is still a single page with rudimentary information on mammograms and breast cancer, most of the seven-page content was taken down.

The WomensHealth.gov site is well-trafficked, being visited approximately 700,000 times a month, according to a report.

Critics of the action emphasize that information for low-income women and other vulnerable populations was among the removed content and that its removal appears to reflect a broader agenda from the current administration.

For example, under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act, breast cancer screening is offered free of charge for women meeting certain financial criteria, but that information has been deleted from WomensHealth.gov. Now, the information must be accessed on the site via a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which, in turn, requires a click through to yet another link.

Also, the “Government in Action” section of WomensHealth.gov previously contained information on federal programs that provide free or low-cost cancer screening, including clinical breast exams and mammograms. Known as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, the entity offers screening to all “low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women.” That entire section of the site is now removed.

This information cannot be found elsewhere on the OWH website, or anywhere on the HHS site, despite the agency’s contention that it has been integrated into other parts of the HHS website.

The deletion of most of the breast cancer content on WomensHealth.gov is startling, said an expert.

“Because breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the US, affecting 250,000 annually resulting in 40,000 deaths a year, it is astonishing that important information about risks, prevention and treatment of breast cancer has been eliminated from the Office on Women’s Health site,” Joyce Bichler, deputy director of Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco, California, told Medscape Medical News.

Government Answer: It’s Audit Related

According to a report from the Sunlight Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog, the bulk of the breast cancer–related pages were removed in the second half of 2017 from within the OWH’s WomensHealth.gov site.

The government contends that the pages were removed for lack of use and the content is being reviewed. An HHS spokesperson told the news site ThinkProgress that the “pages were removed on December 6, 2017, because content was not mobile-friendly and very rarely used. Before we update any of the information…we engage in a comprehensive audit and use analysis process that includes reviewing other federal consumer health websites to ensure we are not duplicating efforts or presenting redundant information.”

The spokesperson also explained that users should go to WomensHealth.gov/cancer. This page does not have a dedicated section for breast cancer, but the spokesperson said “sister HHS agencies…have the same information in a much more user-friendly format on their websites.”

Unexplained Censorship

However, the Sunlight Foundation disputes the HHS explanation. They point out that this isn’t the first time that important health information has vanished without notice or explanation. The removal of breast cancer information is part of “wider changes to the OWH website that include the removal of resources related to lesbian and bisexual health, minority women’s health, and other topics.”

In a tweet, Sunlight’s Web Integrity Project policy director Andrew Bergman noted that “Our new Sun Web Integrity reports document the removal of breast cancer and LGBT health info from HHSGov’s @womenshealth website. This censorship sows real doubt about health considerations for populations of vulnerable women throughout the country.”

On their website, the Sunlight Foundation similarly noted that the “unexplained censorship” raises questions about the current administration’s commitment to public health. They note that other media outlets have been documenting the broad overhaul of the OWH website since the release of their report and are “delving” into the removal of web pages relating to lesbian and bisexual women’s health. WomensHealth.gov was visited nearly three quarters of a million times in a recent month’s time, said Sunlight.

“The specificity of these removals adds more evidence to a growing concern: that public information for vulnerable populations is being targeted for removal or simply hidden,” says Sunlight. “As we have highlighted before, the absence of transparent process around removing this information, which was done without notice, has sown further confusion.”

Breast Cancer Is Political

Breast Cancer Action’s Bichler placed the events in a larger context.

“Breast cancer is a public health crisis and social justice issue, and we know that communities of color have higher rates of uninsured people and that access to healthcare is incredibly important for managing illness and obtaining preventative health services,” she said.

Bichler emphasized that it is very concerning that important information intended to assist low-income individuals and people of color access healthcare has been removed from the website. “And although mammography information is left on the site, when women don’t know how to access affordable healthcare, including medical treatment, we’re talking about life and death.”

Bichler also pointed out that in the current climate, breast cancer has become “political because women’s bodies are political.”

This is a step back from addressing and ending the breast cancer epidemic, not a step forward. Joyce Bichler

She concluded that “this is a step back from addressing and ending the breast cancer epidemic, not a step forward.”

The oncology community and the public at large should also not be standing by and allowing vital information to be removed and hidden away, Bichler said. “Since this is the government site for the Office on Women’s Health, all women, as well as the oncology community, should be demanding an explanation and a return to comprehensive information,” she emphasized. “Again — the most common cancer in women is breast cancer and this is all the OWH has to say about it?”


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‘I’m going to change your nappy, is that OK?’: Expert claims parents should ask babies for permission before changing diaper

Deanne Carson said it’s important to use eye contact to teach infants their response matters but viewers have been left “dumbfounded” by her ideas

A sexuality expert has said parents should ask babies for their permission before changing their nappies in order to set up a culture of consent from birth.

Deanne Carson, who describes herself on Twitter as a ‘sexuality educator, speaker and author,’ made the claim while speaking on ABC.

She said she works with children from three years old on issues surrounding consent, but added that parents are advised to introduce ideas much earlier.

Deanne recognised that babies are unable to give an answer, but said it’s important to use eye contact to teach them their response matters.

On a segment aired on consent laws, she said: “We work with children from three years old.

“We work from parents from birth.”

Deanne Carson said parents should ask babies if it’s OK to change their nappies 
Deanne acknowledged babies would not be able to answer but said it’s still important 
Deanne suggested parents ask ‘I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK’?

The reporter seems confused and asks “from birth?”

“Yes, just about how to set up a culture of consent in their homes so ‘I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK,’ Deanne responded.

“Of course a baby is not going to respond ‘yes mum that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed’.

“But if you leave a space, and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact then you’re letting that child know that their response matters.”

Deanne describes herself on Twitter as a ‘sexuality educator, speaker and author’ 
Deanne said it’s important to let babies know their response matters (file photo)

Many viewers seemed confused by her suggestion with Twitter users saying “I’m not hearing this right surely” and “I’m dumbfounded.”

One wrote: “If this doesn’t qualify for Lefty Lunacy…”

Another agreed, adding: “Absolute lunacy. The world has gone completely mad.”


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Can You Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

If you have stretch marks, you probably wish they’d go away. These grooves or lines in your skin aren’t harmful to your health, but they aren’t great to look at, either.

And even though they’ll never really go away, they might fade over time or with help from certain products and procedures.

Why Do You Get Them?

Stretch marks happen when your body grows quickly for any reason. Your skin can’t stretch enough to keep up. These long, thin, rippled marks are also called stria.

Collagen is a protein that makes your skin more elastic. If your skin doesn’t have enough, the marks may show up as it stretches.

You may get stretch marks because of:

They also run in families.

Who Gets Them?

Stretch marks are more common in women, especially during pregnancy. As your tummy grows to make room for a baby, your skin stretches. Hormones that surge when you’re pregnant may also weaken skin fibers and cause stretch marks.

Any body part that gets bigger during pregnancy could get stretch marks. They might fade as you shed pounds after the baby is born.

Both women and men who are obese can get the marks. Even bodybuilders who have little fat can get them where their muscles bulge.

Kids might get them if they suddenly get taller or gain weight, like during puberty. Make sure they know this is normal. Childhood marks may fade as kids get older.

What Do They Look Like?

These rippled, streaky lines in your skin come in different colors. They fade from red or pink to purplish-blue to thinner, pale, more scar-like streaks over time. You may not notice them as much.

They can show up on many parts of your body:


Your doctor only has to look at your skin to diagnose them. But she’ll probably ask about your medical history. If you’ve taken either oral or topical steroids for a long time, high cortisol levels in your body might be to blame.

Are There Products That Help?

Body makeup can help hide stretch marks. You’ll find many creams, salves, oils, and other skin ointments that claim to either prevent or treat them. But there’s little proof that any of these products really work.

Tretinoin: Creams with tretinoin (Retin-A) contain retinoid. They may help fade newer stretch marks, but they can cause your skin to become red, irritated, or scaly. They’re also used to treat wrinkles.

Collagen boosters: StriVectin-SD and lupin seed extracts are both supposed to increase collagen in your skin, but it’s hard to say if they’ll fade or prevent stretch marks.

Centella asiatica : This herbal oil boosts cells in your body that make collagen and build up skin tissue. Some peoples use it to help heal wounds. Centella asiatica is in a number of over-the-counter skin creams for stretch marks, but there’s little proof it helps to fade them.

Bitter almond oil: One study showed that women who massaged bitter almond oil into the skin on their bellies during pregnancy did have fewer stretch marks than others who just used oil without massage.

Cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, vitamin E oil, and other moisturizers: These natural creams may help make your skin feel softer, but it isn’t clear if they help or prevent stretch marks.

Are There Procedures to Get Rid of Them?

A skin doctor or plastic surgeon can use lasers or other treatments to help fade the marks. It may help your skin make more collagen:

Pulsed dye laser therapy is a painless blast of light used on new, red stretch marks. The light’s energy calms blood vessels under your skin that could cause the marks.

Fractional CO2 laser therapy is a new treatment that may smooth out old, white stretch marks. One study showed that women’s stretch marks faded after five sessions compared to others who used topical creams with glycolic acid and tretinoin.

Microdermabrasion uses tiny crystals to rub off the top layer of your skin. One new study showed that this treatment helped fade new, reddish stretch marks when combined with skin peels.

Cosmetic surgery , like a tummy tuck, may remove skin with stretch marks. But these operations could leave scars. Plus they’re often painful and costly.


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Artificial Nails: What to Know Before You Get Them

Artificial nails can help you make a fashion statement or wear long nails if your real ones won’t grow. While the nails aren’t harmful, putting them on and taking them off can involve acids and other chemicals that could cause allergic reactions. Damage to artificial nails also can lead to fungal infections and other problems.

Here’s what you should know before you head to your salon or to the drugstore.

Types of Nails

Artificial nails come in two main kinds: acrylic and gel. A third type, called silks, is often used to fix damaged nails or to make nail tips stronger.

Acrylic. This plastic material is the most popular choice. It forms a hard shell when you mix a powder with liquid and brush it on top of glued-on nail tips. You have to file down your natural nails to make it rough enough for the nail tips to bond to it.

Since your real nails grow all the time, you’ll eventually see a small gap between your cuticle and the acrylic nail. You’ll need to go back to the nail salon every 2-3 weeks to get the gaps filled, or do it yourself. Chemicals in the filler and the filing may weaken your real nails.

If you already have a fungal infection, artificial nails can make it worse or lead to other issues.

Gels. These are more expensive and last longer than acrylics. You paint the gel on like regular nail polish. You then put your nails under an ultraviolet (UV) light to harden the gel.

UV light can cause skin damage, including wrinkles and age spots. Too much UV light can cause skin cancer. But there are no reported cases of skin cancer caused by UV lamps at nail salons, not even among the manicurists who work around the lights all day.

Possible Problems

Artificial nails can be tough on your real ones. Issues you should watch for include:

Allergic reaction: The chemicals used to attach or remove artificial nails can irritate your skin. You may see redness, pus, or swelling around your fingernails.

Bacterial or fungal infections. If you bang your artificial nail against something, you may dislodge your real nail from the nail bed. Germs, yeast, or fungus can get into the gap and grow. A bacterial infection can turn your nails green. Nail fungus, on the other hand, starts out with a white or yellow spot on the nails. The nail may thicken over time, and it can crumble in severe cases. See your doctor if you suspect any infections.

Weakened nails. To remove acrylic or gel nails, you soak your fingers in acetone for 10 minutes or longer. This chemical is very drying to your real nails and can irritate your skin. Some artificial nails must be filed off. That can make your natural nails thin, brittle, and weak.

What You Can Do

If you love the look of artificial nails, these tips can help you enjoy them more safely.

  • If you’ve had nail fungus before, stay away from artificial nails. Don’t use them to cover up nail problems.
  • Get nails that can be soaked off instead of filed off.
  • Ask your manicurist not to cut or push back the cuticles too much. They help guard against infections.
  • Pick a salon that hardens gel polish with LED lights, which have smaller amounts of UV light. Apply a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen to your hands before you go under the lights.
  • Use cream moisturizer on your nails, especially after you soak them in acetone.
  • Take a break from artificial nails every couple of months. This lets your real nails breathe and heal from chemical exposure.

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Exercise an Antidote for Aging

If you want to counter the physical costs of getting old, regular exercise might be your best option, researchers report.

The findings “debunk the assumption that aging automatically makes us more frail,” said researcher Janet Lord. She is director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham in England.

In the study, the team assessed 84 male and 41 female cyclists, aged 55 to 79. The men had to be able to cycle 62 miles in under 6.5 hours, while the women had to be able to cycle 37 miles in 5.5 hours.

Unlike a “control group” of adults who did not get regular exercise, the cyclists did not have loss of muscle mass or strength, did not have age-related increases in body fat or cholesterol levels, and their immune systems were as robust as much younger people.

Male cyclists also had higher testosterone levels than men in the control group, according to the study authors.

“Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier,” Lord added in a university news release.

The findings were published March 8 in the journal Aging Cell.

Researcher Niharika Arora Duggal, also from the University of Birmingham, said, “We hope these findings prevent the danger that, as a society, we accept that old age and disease are normal bedfellows, and that the third age of man is something to be endured and not enjoyed.”

Fasting Reduces Your Cardiovascular Risk

Intermittent energy restriction diets such as the 5:2 diet clears fat from the blood quicker after eating meals compared with daily calorie restriction diets, reducing an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a new study in the British Journal of Nutrition reports.

Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar and there are five huge benefits.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Surrey examined the impact of the 5:2 diet on the body’s ability to metabolise and clear fat and glucose after a meal and compared it to the effects of weight-loss achieved via a more conventional daily calorie restriction diet. Previous studies in this field have predominantly focused on blood risk markers taken in the fasted state, which only tend to be, in for the minority of the time, overnight.

The simplicity of the diet and the fact you can eat pretty much what you like five days a week, are key to its popularity. Dieters are recommended to consume a ‘normal’ number of calories five days a week and then, for two, non-consecutive days, eat just 25% of their usual calorie total – 500 calories for women and 600 for men.

There are no restrictions on the types of food you can eat and it is suggested that women can expect to lose about a 1lb a week on the diet with men losing about the same if not a little more.

During the study, overweight participants were assigned to either the 5:2 diet or a daily calorie restriction diet and were required to lose five per cent of their weight. Those on the 5:2 diet ate normally for five days and for their two fasting days consumed 600 calories, using LighterLife Fast Foodpacks, whilst those on the daily diet were advised to eat 600 calories less per day than their estimated requirements for weight maintenance (in the study women ate approx. 1400 calories, men ate approx. 1900 calories/day).

Under the expert guidance of the team, those on the 5:2 diet achieved 5 per cent weight-loss in 59 days compared to those on the daily calorie restriction diet who took in 73 days. 27 participants completed the study, with approximately 20 per cent of participants in both groups dropped out because they either could not tolerate the diet or were unable to attain their 5 per cent weight-loss target.

Researchers found that following weight-loss, participants who followed the 5:2 diet cleared the fat (triglyceride) from a meal given to them more efficiently than the participants undertaking the daily diet. Although there were no differences in post meal glucose handling, researchers were surprised to find differences between the diets in c-peptide (a marker of insulin secretion from the pancreas) following the meal, the significance of which will need further investigation.

The study also found a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats) in participants on the 5:2 diet. Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 9% of following the 5:2, compared to a small 2% increase among those on the daily diet. A reduction in systolic blood pressure reduces pressure on arteries, potentially lessening incidences of heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Rona Antoni, Research Fellow in Nutritional Metabolism at the University of Surrey, said:

“As seen in this study, some of our participants struggled to tolerate the 5:2 diet, which suggests that this approach is not suited to everybody; ultimately the key to dieting success is finding an approach you can sustain long term.

“But for those who do well and are able stick to the 5:2 diet, it could potentially have a beneficial impact on some important risk markers for cardiovascular disease, in some cases more so than daily dieting. However, we need further studies to confirm our findings, to understand the underlying mechanisms and to improve the tolerability of the 5:2 diet.”

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