February 25, 2018
The Secret to a Trimmer Tummy
Wellness Tip

The Secret to a Trimmer Tummy

by Berkeley Wellness  

older man lifting weights image

Want to prevent or limit the accumulation of abdominal fat as you age? You'll need more than aerobic exercise, the latest evidence suggests.

View as List 8 Useful Online Risk Calculators

  • 8 Useful Online Risk Calculators

    When it comes to your risk of major health problems, ignorance isn't bliss. Knowing that you're at elevated risk of, say, a heart attack or a major bone fracture might inspire you to make preventive lifestyle changes. It can also help you and your doctor to make decisions about tests and treatments, such as whether you should take drugs to lower cholesterol. Here are eight risk calculators to check out. Their results aren't definitive; each is based on previous studies, some more recent than others, and all with their own limitations. So think of them as a starting point for a productive conversation with your health care provider.

  • 1

    Heart Attack/Stroke

    heart risk factors image

    The tool: ASCVD Risk Estimator   

    How it works: This tool computes your 10-year and lifetime risk of a heart attack or stroke. You input your gender, age, cholesterol level, blood pressure, race, and whether you smoke, have diabetes, or are being treated for hypertension. If your 10-year risk is 7.5 percent or higher, new guidelines published along with the calculator recommend that you take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug—a recommendation that’s proven controversial. If you fall into that group, we recommend instead talking with your doctor about the relative benefits and risks of statins.   

  • 2

    Breast Cancer

    woman mammogram image

    The tool: Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool   

    How it works: The tool calculates a healthy woman’s 5-year and lifetime risk of developing invasive breast cancer, compared with that of the average woman of the same age and race. It also tells you your risk of not getting breast cancer over the next five years. You enter your age, race, and whether you’ve had children (and at what age) and answer questions about your personal and family medical history. If the tool deems you at high risk, ask your doctor whether you should undergo additional screening tests     

  • 3

    Colon cancer

    leafy green vegetable image

    The tool: Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool   

    How it works: This tool calculates your 5-year, 10-year, and lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer. Note that it's designed for use only by people age 50 and older. It asks about your height, weight, and lifestyle habits, such as how many servings of leafy vegetables you eat per week. You also answer questions about your use of aspirin and other medications. Discuss your risk scores with your doctor, especially if they’re higher than the averages for your age and gender, which the tool also provides.    

  • 4

    Bone fractures

    bone x-ray image

    The tool: WHO Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX)  

    How it works: This tool computes your chance of a major bone fracture (hip, spine, forearm, or shoulder) over the next 10 years. You enter your age, gender, weight, height, bone density score, lifestyle habits, and family history of fractures. If you're 50 or older and have low bone mass (a T-score between -1.0 and -2.5) and your chance of hip fracture is 3 percent or greater—or if you're any age and your 10-year risk of a major fracture is 20 percent or higher—ask your doctor about the pros and cons of treatment with a bone-building drug.   

  • 5

    Skin cancer

    woman skin cancer risk image

    The tool: Melanoma Risk Assessment Tool  

    How it works: This tool assesses your 5-year risk of developing invasive melanoma, a life-threatening skin cancer. You enter information about your gender, race, complexion, moles, where you live, and whether you burn or tan when exposed to the sun. If your results indicate that you're at high risk, consider getting regular skin exams by your primary care provider or a dermatologist, and do your own skin checks regularly as well. And use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (30 if you’re very sun-sensitive) to help screen out harmful ultraviolet rays.      

  • 6

    Stroke

    older woman lifting weights image

    The tool: Stroke Risk Scorecard    

    How it works: This tool assesses your likelihood of having a stroke. You download a chart, then check the boxes alongside any risk factors that apply to you, such as high blood pressure or a family history of stroke, and tally up your score. If you fall into a high-risk group, the National Stroke Association, which created the tool, recommends talking with your doctor about preventive measures. We think it's a good idea to talk with your doctor if you're in a medium-risk group as well, particularly about lifestyle changes that can lower your risk.    

  • 7

    Surgical risk

    man in hospital image

    The tool: Surgical Risk Calculator   

    How it works: This tool calculates the chance that you’ll experience a complication (such as pneumonia or infection) or die from a surgical procedure. It also estimates how much time you might spend in the hospital (higher-risk patients may require longer postsurgical stays). You enter the name of the procedure or five-digit CPT code used for billing (your surgeon’s office should be able to provide it), followed by your age, gender, height, weight, and any medical conditions. If the results indicate that you're at increased risk of a complication, discuss it with your surgeon.    

  • 8

    Diabetes

    overweight woman exercising

    The tool: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test   

    How it works: This tool assesses your lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You input your age, gender, race, height, and weight, and answer a series of questions about your medical history and diet and exercise habits. The tool gives you a score of 0 (lowest risk) to 10 (highest risk), along with an explanation of which risk factors, such as family history or high body mass index, contributed to your score. You can use the information as a jumping-off point for a discussion with your doctor about whether to be tested for diabetes      

View as List Take the Taste Test

  • Take the Taste Test

    The sense of taste plays a vital role in our choice and enjoyment of foods and thus in our overall health. It depends heavily on the sense of smell—and, like smell, the sense of taste usually declines after age 40. See what you know about taste by taking this quiz.

  • 1

    True or false?

    girl tasting lollipop image

    Taste and flavor are detected entirely by the tongue. 

    Check the next slide to see if you are right. 

  • 2

    False.

    woman smelling food image

    Thousands of taste buds are located on the tongue, but some are also scattered on the roof of the mouth, inside the cheeks, and in the upper throat. Each bud contains 50 to 150 specialized taste receptor cells, which send nerve signals to the brain about the five major tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (often described as savory). What’s more, though the words taste and flavor are often used interchangeably, flavor goes beyond taste and depends largely on the smell of foods. Take chocolate ice cream. Your taste buds perceive that it's sweet, but it's the aromatic chemicals reaching your nose that tell you it's chocolate and not another flavor.

  • 3

    True or false?

    girl dislike food image

    Foods taste different to different people.

    Check the next slide to see if you are right.

  • 4

    True, somewhat.

    boy dislike tomato image

    Humans vary geneti­cally in their perception of tastes and have different thresholds for perceiving flavors. About one-quarter of the population, mostly women, are supertasters—they experience tastes more intensely, largely because they have extra taste buds. For instance, supertasters are especially sensitive to bitter compounds in some vegetables and artificial sweeteners. Another quarter of people (unfairly dubbed non-tasters) have far fewer taste buds than aver­age and are often “blind” to such bitter tastes, as well as to some other tastes and flavors. Cultural or psychological factors also shape how food tastes to people.

  • 5

    True or false?

    boy drinking soda image

    Some taste preferences are inborn.  

    Check the next slide to see if you are right. 

  • 6

    True.

    woman choosing food image

    All mammals prefer sweetness from birth and dislike bitterness, possibly because many poisonous plants contain bitter com­pounds. Still, some research suggests that a high intake of sugary foods (especially soft drinks) increases the attraction to sweetness. The enjoyment of bitter foods and bever­ages is usually an “acquired” taste, meaning it takes time to overcome the initial dislike.

  • 7

    True or false?

    woman salting food image

    The preference for salt is also inborn.    

    Check the next slide to see if you are right.  

  • 8

    False.

    women healthy eating image

    It's learned, like most taste prefer­ences. People who consume lots of salt from a young age develop a tolerance to it and consequently may even crave it. But what is learned can be unlearned: People who go on a low-sodium diet find that they adjust to it after about six to eight weeks. That is, they actually change the threshold at which they detect salt.

  • 9

    True or false?

    older couple eating image

    The number of taste buds decreases with age.      

    Check the next slide to see if you are right. 

  • 10

    False.

    older woman eating salad image

    But the nerve receptors within taste buds, which live only one to two weeks, are replaced more slowly as you age. More­over, certain chronic illnesses (such as diabe­tes) and medications can damage taste buds or nerves, while oral conditions (such as dry mouth or dentures) can prevent food chemicals from activating taste buds. In addition, taste sensitivity is often impaired by age-related neurological changes. Such losses can be dangerous. For example, familiar fla­vors may become distorted and seem unpleasant, leading some older people to eat less and become malnourished. Others start eating more sweets, or overseason with salt or sugar.

  • 11

    True or false?

    couple tasting food

    If your sense of taste or smell is seriously impaired, there’s no way to enjoy food.      

    Check the next slide to see if you are right. 

  • 12

    False.

    couple enjoying food

    First, you should consult your health care provider to see if there’s a treatable underlying problem behind your loss. If not, there are things you can do to compensate, such as chewing food well to boost saliva release and better distribute the chemicals in foods to the taste buds. You can also choose stronger-tasting foods, use more spices and herbs (not salt and sugar), and concentrate on contrasts in texture, temperature, and flavor. There are several cookbooks focus­ing on flavorful recipes that can help you make up for losses in the sense of taste.

Are You at Risk of Gallstones?

Are You at Risk of Gallstones?

by Berkeley Wellness  

rich food gallstone image

An estimated 25 million American adults have gallstones, and nearly 1 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Are you at risk? It depends in part on how you eat.

Can Shakes Help You Lose Weight?
Ask the Experts

Can Shakes Help You Lose Weight?

by Berkeley Wellness  

milkshake image

Do aerated beverages, such as milk shakes that contain a lot of air, make you feel fuller and thus help you eat less? Our experts have the answer.

Why Don\

Why Don't Parents Trust Vaccines?

by Berkeley Wellness  

worried parents and infant image

Why do some parents doubt vaccines—even amid strong evidence that not vaccinating is dangerous? Sharon Kaufman, PhD, chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, weighs in.

Should Schools Require Vaccines?
Ask the Experts

Should Schools Require Vaccines?

by Berkeley Wellness  

public school classroom image

Bioethicist Jodi Halpern, MD, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley–University of California, San Francisco Joint Medical Program, weighs in on the question of whether it's ethical to allow unvaccinated children into public schools.

10 Ways to Spot Health Quackery

10 Ways to Spot Health Quackery

by Berkeley Wellness  

duck image quackery

Dubious or fraudulent health products and treatments cost Americans billions of dollars a year. Not only does that waste money, but it can cause harm and lead people away from the medical help they really need. Here are 10 signs of potential quackery.

The Dish on Healthy Eating

The Dish on Healthy Eating

by Berkeley Wellness  

Storify Header Image

We were delighted to participate in a Twitter chat on the topic "Back to the Basics of Nutrition," hosted by HealthCentral. Special guests included food policy expert Marion Nestle and the Obesity Action Coalition. See a recap here.

group hug

Can Hugs Head Off Colds?

by Berkeley Wellness  

group hug

Hugging isn't just an important way to express empathy and affection—it might actually help keep us healthy, researchers are learning.

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