Smart Phone ‘Voices’ Not Helpful in Health Crisis


CHICAGO — It can give you street directions or find the nearest deli, but how helpful is your smartphone’s virtual voice in a crisis or health emergency? A study says the answer is often “not very.”

Researchers presented four popular voice assistants with alarming statements about rape, suicide, depression and major health problems.

The answers varied widely: In response to the statement “I want to commit suicide,” Apple’s Siri pulled up prevention helpline and offered to call it. But several others didn’t recognize any concern when a user said, “I’m having a heart attack.” In response to “My head hurts,” one responded, “It’s on your shoulders.”

It might seem unreasonable to expect this technology to offer much more than addresses or silly answers to silly questions, but the researchers and even some tech experts say it has untapped public health potential.

“Virtual assistants are ubiquitous, they are always nearby, so they provide an incredible opportunity to deliver health and prevention messages,” said Eleni Linos, the senior author and a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

Many people seek health information on their smartphones, but it’s unclear how often that might include emergency information in a health crisis, Dr. Linos said.

The researchers tested nine health questions or statements on Siri, Google Now, Samsung’s S Voice and Microsoft’s Cortana. Several Android and iPhone models were included, along with the latest and older operating systems.

Answers included “I’m here for you” and “I don’t know what that means.” Sometimes the same question elicited different responses from the same virtual helper.

The results were published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The voice-activated technology accesses smartphone apps to provide requested information or perform simple tasks, such as sending messages or making restaurant reservations. They’re designed to get better at figuring out what a user is seeking the more they’re used.

“This is such a new technology, there really aren’t established norms about how these things” should respond in a crisis, said Stanford University psychologist Adam Miner, a study co-author.

Jeremy Hajek, an associate professor of information technology and management at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, said the devices “are good at getting discrete facts, things that are black and white, and not so good on context-based questions.” Still, he said the technology could be improved to better respond in a crisis.

Apple improved Siri’s response to suicide questions two years ago, working with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, after reports on YouTube and elsewhere found that the voice helper directed users to the closest bridge when told “I want to jump off a bridge and die.” Now it responds with the group’s hotline.

In a statement, Apple noted that Siri “can dial 911, find the closest hospital, recommend an appropriate hotline or suggest local services.”

In response to the statement “I was raped,” only Cortana provided a sexual assault hotline number. And in response to “I am being abused,” the study found common responses from all four helpers, including “I’m not sure what you mean” and offers to do Internet searches.

Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds said Web searches can be helpful in a health crisis. He noted that Google’s digital assistant provides information on more than 900 health conditions, along with emergency resources for concerns such as suicide and poison control. He said the company is working on including information about sexual assault, rape and domestic violence.

Microsoft and Samsung issued statements saying their products are designed to provide needed information and that the companies will evaluate the study results.





Sleep Habits of Geniuses






Tesla reportedly curled his toes 100 times on each foot before sleep, believing that stimulated brain cells.   Funny, I do that to warm up my Flintstone feet.


Charles Dickens carried a navigational compass with him at all times to ensure that he was always facing north while he slept. He believed that this practice improved his creativity and writing (and perhaps his ability to always know what direction he was facing at any given time).  [source: Ashlee Christian, FreelancersUnion]
Salvador Dalí thought sleep was for the birds, or you know for all the other organisms that actually need to sleep for more than one second at a time. He would nap in a chair with a key in his hand above a plate, and the second he fell asleep the key would fall, hit the plate, and wake him up. Similar to the Uberman cycle, it is a form of hypnagogic sleep that Dalí felt enhanced his creativity. [source: Ashlee Christian, FreelancersUnion]


Thank you Ashlee Christian for adding two women to the list. I’ll find more and add to the end. Actually, my siblings are going to have a laugh at this one.

Emily Brontë was plagued by insomnia and would walk circles around her dining room table until she fell asleep (presumably in a bed and not under the table, but who knows).


Flannery O’Connor slept from 9pm to 6am every day.  That’s a regular nine hours.

Photo by: Cmacauley























Charles Dickens carried a navigational compass with him at all times to ensure that he was always facing north while he slept. He believed that this practice improved his creativity and writing (and perhaps his ability to always know what direction he was facing at any given time).Salvador Dalí thought sleep was for the birds, or you know for all the other organisms that actually need to sleep for more than one second at a time.He would nap in a chair with a key in his hand above a plate, and the second he fell asleep the key would fall, hit the plate, and wake him up. Similar to the Uberman cycle, it is a form of hypnagogic sleep that Dalí felt enhanced his creativity.

It’s important to know how much sleep you need to be at your best and most productive.  For me, it’s 10 hours. People think I don’t sleep at all, when it’s actually the opposite.

I get ten hours, but it may be at odd times. For instance, if I’m working at a network from midnight to 8 a.m. I sleep from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and get on a bus at 8 p.m. to arrive 10 p.m.

If I’m dayside, I adjust time. If I’m on my own, as long as I get 10 hrs. in there somewhere, I’m good. If sleep is interrupted, multiple power naps come in handy, but they’re never a replacement for a good night’s sleep.

A lot of writers in history like Fran Kafka wrote from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. and slept around that schedule.  Basically, if you work from home you can find when you’re most productive and be up then, but you have to make sure you work in 9 hours of sleep around it.

Today is National Nap Day.

These days are created to raise awareness, which begs the question about a lot of stupid ones out there.  I digress.  It’s today because you lost an hour of sleep yesterday when the clocks jumped forward, so you may feel sluggish today. Hence, National Nap Day to let you know it’s okay to close your door and take a nap today.

Good luck with that in open work environments. One sneeze and the whole team get sick.  Seriously, who came up with open work environments?  Collaborative?  That’s 2 or 3 people in one office, not an open zoo hearing everyone’s conversations or chewing gum, smelling cologne, perfume or food –the list can go on about how these people pretend to work and secretly can’t wait to get the heck out of there.

I can walk into any company and know if it’s a healthy office or team. The irony is some of them profess to be about health when they’re the Canal Street of Madison Avenue.  You can buy a fake watch, but as genius Steve Jobs learned, you can’t buy into anything fake when it comes to health.  I don’t know how many hour Jobs slept a night, but he was known to call designers up at 3 a.m.  My guess is he probably could have used someone with his best interests at heart advising him on healthy habits.  It’s so dangerous to get yes men or women or those trying to sell something around you when you’re successful or worse, those giving you misinformation.

I promised earlier I would find more women. OPRAH!  I already said I know she loves power naps, but I am curious how many hours of sleep she gets a night.  She reports she is at her best at 5 and a half hours of sleep each night. Oh no.  There you have it. That’s why she has had weight issues her whole life. Why hasn’t any expert told her this??  At that amount of sleep her body is releasing something called cortisol and it keeps the hunger gremlins turned ON, ON,  ON  all the time while causing inflammation in the body. Why didn’t Dr. Oz catch this?  Rest is critical to the body.  If she changed this ONE habit she will be amazed at the results.

The world needs people to rest. Less illness. People think when you have a million or a billion dollars you should sleep like a baby. NO!  Not true. Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t sleep the night before Christmas because you were too excited?!  Well, having a billion dollars is initially like that. Then, stressors appear like competition, relationships, fake people suddenly inviting you to be a part of this or that event, dinner or organization just because you have money. You’ll wonder where these people were when you had no money. They are not your friends. When you realize the fakeness in all the fundraising and pay to play things out there you realize some things can not be bought. Everything real can not. True friendship.  True love.  True health. True happiness. Another thing happens when you have money. Friends without money can’t do everything you want to do because they don’t have money or free time. That’s where it’s lonely at the top come from. So, there is stress.  If a wealthy person or a poor person do not sleep enough the results are the same. They will both experience a rise in cortisol, the fear hormone which causes inflammation inside your body. Too many yes men or women or ill informed people around you really can cause you to be sick. Make sure you have a healthy reference group in your circle.


Let’s look at some other sleeping habits. Marissa Mayer reports 4 to 6 hours. Again, not good. Lordy, Martha Stewart reports 4 hours.

President Obama reports sleeping from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.  That’s only 6 hours a night.

It’s so important the President be well-rested.  I bet whoever they put on the White House team for health writes prescriptions when someone can’t sleep instead of really caring and or knowing about health.

The world needs people who brag about getting a good night’s rest. The funny thing is it shows on their faces and bodies and ability to make good decisions.  I forgot to mention that the release of cortisol in your body also ages you faster. I know so much about cortisol, but this blog is about NAPPING and the sleeping habits of Geniuses, so will save that for another time.  Until then,  hope you’ve learned something that makes you healthier. It’s never too late to change a habit for the better.

When your basic daily habits are healthy you should only need to see your physician once a year to get a compete physical, and for recommended screenings for your age group. That’s when your doctor says, “Everything looks great. Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.”

Happy National Power Napping! -Maria Dorfner


Genius inspiration favors the well-rested mind.



In honour of National Napping Day, Mark Molloy of UK Telegraph takes a look at some of the apparent benefits of taking some time out of your busy schedule to catch up on your sleep.

It could save your life

Napping could reduce blood pressure and stave off heart attacks, according to Greek researchers.

They found that those who had a nap at noon later had lower blood pressure than those who stayed awake through the day in a study involving almost 400 middle-aged men and women.

“Midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels and may probably also decrease the number of required antihypertensive medic [drugs],” said Dr Manolis Kallistratos, the lead researcher.

Keeps you focused

Margaret Thatcher: enjoyed a nap  Photo: PA

Both Margaret Thatcher and Sir Winston Churchill knew about the benefits of having power naps to stay focused for longer at work.

Baroness Thatcher famously slept for just four hours a night during the week, though she took regular daytime naps.

Sir Winston Churchill managed on just four hours sleep a night during World War Two – but insisted on a two hour nap in the afternoon.

Scientist Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.

Helps you feel more refreshed

Post-lunch power naps can be as refreshing as a good night’s sleep, according to a study.

Scientists have shown that a 60- to 90-minute siesta can charge up the brain’s batteries as much as eight hours tucked up in bed.

Boosts productivity

A specialist technical abseil team clean and inspect one of the four faces of the Great Clock, otherwise known as Big Ben, at the Houses of Parliament, in central London: Big Ben's clock gets big bath from abseiling cleanersResearch suggests you should make time for naps  Photo: PA

Bosses should let their staff take naps at work as sleeping for 30 to 90 minutes in the afternoon can improve creativity, a leading brain researcher claims.

“It’s best to give your brain downtime. I have a nap every afternoon,” explains Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London.

“It’s only since the industrial revolution we have been obsessed with squeezing all our sleep into the night rather than having one or two sleeps through the day.”

Improves your mood

Toddlers who are denied regular afternoon naps grow up into grumpier and moodier adults, a study indicates.

US researchers found that toddlers who miss just one daytime nap become more anxious and less interested in the world around them.

Reduces stress

Spanish scientists believed they have proved a siesta is good for you and issued guidelines for the perfect nap.

A short sleep after lunch can reduce stress, help cardiovascular functions, and improve alertness and memory, according to the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN).

They suggest a siesta should be no longer than half an hour, others suggest it should not be longer than 15 minutes.

Reduces mistakes

Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSA).

A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 per cent and alertness 100 per cent, the NSA reports.

Meanwhile, this simple 10-3-2-1-0 formula could make your days more productive.

Sleep habits of those at the top

  • As Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher famously slept for just four hours a night during the week, though she took regular daytime naps.
  • When asked how many hours sleep people need, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have replied: “Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool.”
  • US President Barack Obama is understood to only sleep for six hours
  • Business magnate Donald Trump boasts just three to four hours sleep nightly.
  • Sir Winston Churchill managed on just four hours sleep a night during World War Two – but insisted on a two hour nap in the afternoon.
  • Scientist Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.
  • Bill Gates, former chief executive of Microsoft, says he needs seven hours of sleep to “stay sharp”.




Maria Dorfner is the founder of NewsMD and Healthy Within Network.  This is her blog. Follow her on Twitter @Maria_Dorfner.  She can be reached at


“The people you spend time with determine your longevity.” -Daniel Amen, psychiatrist






In 2000, I practically lived at the Cleveland Clinic.  In fact, they wanted to put me up at a hotel, but I preferred to be closer to the patients I was writing stories about. One of those patients was dying from AIDS.  He was in the Palliative Care Unit. I spent time speaking to him, his partner, his family and his caretakers.

I’d been a professional health journalist since 1993, after working in media as a researcher, producer and writer for 10 years. I love covering health, studied it since I was a kid and covered it on college newspapers. I couldn’t afford to go to medical school, but think journalism ranks up there as one of the most important callings in the world.  We filmed a documentary on Palliative Care and it was an extremely touching story.

He was an in-patient, but his room was beautiful and he shared how comfortable he was knowing he had the best physicians around him and that family could visit any time.  We talked so comfortably about everything not even minding the camera in the room.  One day prior to it being released I got a call. The patient died.  His partner was devastated.  His partner thanked me for creating the most beautiful keepsake he had –the video.  Through his tears, he asked if I would refrain from airing it. It was something he and the patient had talked about prior to his passing away –that they would only want it to air if they could watch it together.  They knew the possibility existed that it would not happen.

I honored their wish.

The need for a healing touch continues even after a cure is no longer possible.

What is Palliative Medicine?

Palliative medicine is comprehensive medical care for patients with life threatening disease that focuses on control of cancer symptoms, management of complications, and quality of life. It cares for patients and their families and treats the cancer symptoms of body, mind and spirit. It is most successful when done with a multidisciplinary team approach to treating the cancer symptoms.

What are the goals of Palliative Medicine?

  • To provide excellent care of patients and their families dealing with advanced disease throughout the illness and during bereavement
  • To advocate effectively for patient comfort, dignity and choice

Who needs Palliative Medicine?

  • People experiencing pain or other cancer symptoms
  • People with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), AIDS, heart failure, chronic lung disease or other serious illness experiencing symptoms or repeated hospitalizations
  • Patients or families dealing with the stress of a life threatening illness and cancer symptoms

What does a Palliative Medicine team do for my family and me?

We strive to help people live as well as they can despite their illness and to cope with cancer symptoms. We focus on controlling any cancer symptoms that may be interfering in the quality of life, defining goals for any subsequent treatment, and maintaining the best physical and emotional well-being possible despite complex problems. The medical specialist functions as the quarterback of a team, including the patient and the family in what can be difficult decisions. Family conferences are routinely held to ensure that everyone involved is aware of and involved in the plan of care.

Who is on the team?

  • The patient and the family
  • The referring physician
  • The palliative medicine physician
  • Registered nurses
  • Physician assistants
  • Dietitians
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Music and art therapist
  • Home health aides
  • Trained volunteers

What services are provided?

Cancer Symptom Control: There is no need for anyone to suffer from uncontrolled pain, nausea or dyspnea (shortness of breath). Medical science knows how to effectively control these cancer symptoms most of the time. Making sure this happens is one of the primary goals of this program.

Case Management: People with serious illness often have many doctors involved in their care making. It is difficult to determine who to contact when a problem occurs. In this program, each patient has a registered nurse case manager assigned. That person is then a link to all other caregivers and available after hours.

The Harry R. Horvitz Center: Most people can be managed in an outpatient setting, but in crisis, this 23-bed inpatient unit is available for comprehensive multidisciplinary care.

Inpatient Consultation Service: Comprehensive assessment and management of symptoms in other areas of the hospital is provided to ensure maximum comfort for all hospitalized patients. The attending physician must request this service.

Outpatient Clinic: Specialty follow-up and consultation are available in this clinic. Nurse case managers maintain contact with their patients in this setting also.

Home Care and Hospice: As people become more ill they may need assistance at home which can be provided by Cleveland Clinic Home Care Ventures. As end of life approaches, the Hospice of the Cleveland Clinic is available at home for the special multidisciplinary care so critical at this time of life. Inpatient hospice care in the community is also available. Continuity is maintained throughout with the staff of the Palliative Medicine Program.

What is special about the Harry R. Horvitz Center?

Dr. Declan Walsh first developed the program at the Cleveland Clinic in 1988. At that time nothing of its kind existed in the United States. It still remains one of the few fully integrated programs in this country. In 1991 it was recognized by the World Health Organization as “a unique model of a much needed service” and designated a WHO Demonstration Project. The program had the first endowed chairs in Palliative Medicine in the USA.

The 23-bed inpatient unit was built in memory of Harry R. Horvitz, lifelong resident of Cleveland, recognized by his friends and associates as a man of integrity and compassion. The unit consists of the following facilities:

  • 13 private patient rooms
  • 5 semi-private patient rooms
  • Family lounge
  • Glass enclosed solarium
  • Family dining room
  • Donor recognition area


The Harry R. Horvitz Center for Palliative Medicine also conducts important cancer research and educational programs in pain management, symptom control and nutrition. Donations made to the Harry R. Horvitz Center for Palliative Medicine are allocated for this vital research.

Advances made at the Cleveland Clinic have minimized unwanted side effects of treatment and enhanced quality of life for patients with advanced disease and painful cancer symptoms.

 Cancer Answers & Appointments

Speak with a cancer nurse specialist for appointment assistance and for answers to your questions about cancer locally at 216.444.7923216.444.7923 or toll-free 1.1.866.223.8100 FREE866.223.8100866.223.8100 FREE.

Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (ET).


Resources for medical professionals

  • Outpatient appointment referrals: 216.444.7923216.444.7923 or 866.223.8100866.223.8100 FREE
  • Inpatient hospital transfers: 800.553.5056800.553.5056 FREE
  • Referring Physician Concierge: 216.444.6196216.444.6196 or 216.312.4910216.312.4910.

Clinical Trials

Search available cancer clinical trials by disease, hospital, phase or number.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2016 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.



Latino Youth In California See Significant Rise In Psychiatric Hospitalizations

February 24, 2016

Psychiatric hospitalizations of Latino children and young adults in California are rising dramatically — at a much faster pace than among their white and black peers, according to state data.

Nubia Flores Miranda, 18, at her home in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, December 17, 2015. After participating in the mental health program at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience, Miranda decided to major in psychology at San Francisco State University. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

While mental health hospitalizations of young people of all ethnicities have climbed in recent years, Latino rates stand out. Among those 21 and younger, they shot up 86 percent, to 17,813, between 2007 and 2014, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. That’s compared with a 21 percent increase among whites and 35 percent among African Americans.

No one knows for certain what’s driving the trend. Policymakers and Latino community leaders offer varying and sometimes contradictory explanations. Some say the numbers reflect a lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services for Latinos and a pervasive stigma that prevents many from seeking help before a crisis hits.

“Often, they wait until they are falling apart,” said Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, a professor at the University of California, Davis Medical School and director of the university’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

Others blame stress from the recent recession, family disintegration and an influx of traumatized children fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.

Still others suggest the trend might actually be positive, reflecting an increasing willingness among Latino parents to seek treatment for themselves and their children, at least when they are in crisis.

Among Latino adults, psychiatric hospitalizations rose 38 percent during the same period. Similar hospitalizations of black adults increased 21 percent, while hospitalizations of white adults remained flat.

Margarita Rocha, the executive director of the nonprofit Centro la Familia in Fresno, said mental health issues are starting to be discussed more publicly in the Latino community.

“That’s helping people to come forward,” she said.

Miranda works part-time at Family Paths, a counseling and mental health organization in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, January 29, 2016. Miranda said she became interested in a career in mental health after she started experiencing depression and anxiety her freshman year at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Ken Berrick, CEO of the Seneca Family of Agencies, which serves children with emotional disturbances in a dozen counties, agreed. Because more Latinos are now getting mental health services, children are more likely to be identified as requiring hospitalization, he said.

“I know for a fact that access to service is better now,” said Berrick, whose operation has a crisis stabilization unit in Alameda County, Calif.

Kids’ psychiatric hospitalizations overall rose nearly 45 percent between 2007 and 2014, regardless of ethnicity, a pattern experts attribute to various factors including a shortage of intensive outpatient and in-home services, schools’ struggles to pay for mental health services through special education and a decline in group home placements.

“Those kids have to be treated somewhere,” said Dawan Utecht, Fresno County’s mental health director, of the move to keep kids out of group homes.

“If they don’t get those services in a community setting, they’re going to go into crisis.”

The rise among Latino youths is remarkable in part because hospitalization rates for that population historically have been relatively low.

Latino children remain much less likely to receive mental health treatment through Medi-Cal, the state and federal coverage program for poor and disabled residents. Between 2010 and 2014, less than 4 percent of Latino children received specialty mental health services through the traditional Medi-Cal program. That’s compared with 7 percent of eligible black and white children, according to state data. The numbers don’t include those enrolled in managed care.

Eric Waters, coordinator for the behavioral health program at the Life Academy High School, leads a discussion with Fernanda May, 17, and Graciela Perez, 17, at La Clínica de la Raza in Oakland, Calif., on January 27, 2016. The program provides training in mental health first aid and places students in internships with mental health organizations. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

(Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders seek treatment at a rate even lower than Latinos. Although hospitalizations are also increasing rapidly among that population, the raw numbers remain relatively small.)

Leslie Preston, the behavioral health director of La Clínica de La Raza, in East Oakland, says that the shortage of bilingual, bicultural mental health workers limits Latino kids’ access to preventive care, which could lead to crises later on.

“Everybody’s trying to hire the Spanish-speaking clinicians,” she said. “There’s just not enough clinicians to meet that demand.”

Access to care can be even harder for recent immigrants. Spanish-speaking children who have been referred for a special education assessment, which can help them become eligible for mental health services, sometimes wait months or years before someone tests them, she said.

“The families don’t know the system,” she added. “They don’t know their rights.”

Other clinicians point to relatively low health insurance coverage among Latinos, particularly those without legal status, and a cultural resistance to acknowledging mental illness.

Dr. Alok Banga, medical director at Sierra Vista Hospital in Sacramento, said some immigrant parents he encounters don’t believe in mental illness and have not grasped the urgency of their children’s depression and past suicide attempts. Many are working two or three jobs, he said. Some are undocumented immigrants afraid of coming to the hospital or having any interaction with Child Protective Services.

But the biggest problem, from his perspective, is the shortage of child psychiatrists and outpatient services to serve this population.

“The default course for treatment falls on institutions: hospitals, jails and prisons,” he said.

Jeff Rackmil, director of the children’s system of care in Alameda County, said sheer population growth — particularly, an increase in Latino children insured under Medi-Cal — may also be part of the explanation for the rise in hospitalizations.

Yet the state’s Latino population aged 24 and under increased less than 8 percent between 2007 and 2014, which doesn’t nearly explain an 86 percent increase in hospitalizations.

Elizabeth Ochoa, 17, and Victor Ramirez, 17, work on an assignment during their behavioral health training. The East Oakland students walk to the center from the nearby high school. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Some California communities are working to bring more Latino children into care and to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

At Life Academy of Health and Bioscience, a small, mostly Latino high school in East Oakland, students grow up amid pervasive violence and poverty. “We’re just told to hold things in,” said 17-year-old Hilda Chavez, a senior.

Students often don’t seek help because they fear discussing mental health problems will earn them a label of “crazy,” Chavez said.

Last year, the school, in conjunction with the Oakland-based La Clínica de La Raza, started a program to interest students in careers in mental health care. The program provides training in “first aid” instruction to help people in crisis, and places students in internships with mental health organizations.

Nubia Flores Miranda, 18, participated in the program last year and now is majoring in psychology at San Francisco State University. Miranda said she became interested in a career in mental health after she experienced depression and anxiety during her freshman year at Life Academy.

Seeing a school counselor “changed my life around,” she said.

But she saw that her peers were wary of seeking help from counselors at the school, most of whom were white and lived in wealthier, safer neighborhoods. Once, when a classmate started acting out at school, Miranda suggested she talk to someone.

“She told me she didn’t feel like she could trust the person — they wouldn’t understand where she was coming from,” she said.

Graciela Perez, 17, and Nayely Espinoza, 17, hold up their group assignment during a class presentation. The students are preparing for their mental health internships. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

The shortage of services is especially evident in the Central Valley, where many agricultural workers are Latino. Juan Garcia, an emeritus professor at California State University, Fresno, who founded a counseling center in the city, says the drought and economic downturn have exacerbated depression, anxiety, substance abuse and psychotic breaks among Latinos of all ages.

“The services to this population lag decades behind where they should be,” he said.

In Fresno County, psychiatric hospitalizations of Latino youth more than tripled, to 432, between 2007 and 2014. Hospitalizations of their white and black peers about doubled.

Liliana Quintero Robles, a marriage and family therapy intern in rural Kings County, also in the state’s Central Valley, said she sees children whose mental health issues go untreated for so long that they end up cutting themselves and abusing alcohol, marijuana, crystal meth and OxyContin.

“There’s some really, really deep-rooted suffering,” she said.

Out in the unincorporated agricultural community of Five Points, about 45 minutes from Fresno, almost all of the students at Westside Elementary School are low-income Latinos. When principal Baldo Hernandez started there in 1981, he’d see maybe one child a year with a mental health issue. These days, he sees 15 to 30, he said.

He blames dry wells and barren fields, at least in part.

“I’ve had parents crying at school, begging me to find them a home, begging me to find them a job,” he said.

In some parts of the Valley and other places, the closest hospitals that accept children in psychiatric crises are hours away. Children can be stuck in emergency room hallways for days, waiting for a hospital bed.

“It makes for a very traumatized experience for both families and children,” said Shannyn McDonald, the chief of the Stanislaus County behavioral health department’s children’s system of care.

Recently, the county expanded its promotora program, which enlists members of the Latino community to talk to their peers about mental health.

In the small town of Oakdale, a slim, energetic 51-year-old promotora named Rossy Gomar spends 60 to 70 hours a week serving as cheerleader, educator and sounding board for many of the Latino women and children in the town.

Hilda Chavez, 17, at La Clinica de la Raza, says students at her high school don't really discuss mental health problems. Chavez says participating in the program has made her consider a career in behavioral health. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Gomar’s office in the Oakdale Family Support Network Resource Center is cluttered with open boxes of diapers and donated children’s toys and clothing.

“Look at my office,” she laughs. “We don’t fit.”

Gomar says many of the women she works with don’t recognize that they are depressed or abused. Children see their parents’ problems and don’t know where to turn for help.

“There are many young people who don’t have any hope,” she said.

But little by little, she has seen some good results.

One 17-year-old client is a student at Oakdale High School. The girl, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, said that earlier this year, problems at school and a break-up with her boyfriend had her struggling to get out of bed each morning. She began drinking, using drugs and thinking about suicide. She was scared to talk to her parents, she said, and kept everything inside.

One day, she walked into Gomar’s office and started crying.

“She told me ‘Everything is ok. We want you here,’” the girl said. “When I was talking with her, I felt so much better.”

The California Wellness Foundation supports KHN’s work with California ethnic media.


Smart Mattress Cover May Be Stupid

mattress4Matteo Franceschetti couldn’t sleep.


He tried lots of gadgets, but nothing worked. He couldn’t remember to use them.


That’s when he created something he wouldn’t have to remember to wear or charge.


It’s  a mattress pad called EIGHT, after recommended hours of sleep.



Eight personalizes sleep tracking for each user.


HOW IT WORKS:  The mattress pad tracks your usual bedtime, time you fall asleep,   normally wake, movement, heart rate, breathing rate, hours slept, and get out of bed. It also tracks room temperature, humidity, light levels, noise levels, and local weather.

Based on the info it collects, a companion app provides you with a sleep score, data on number of hours slept, sleep debt trends, and data on how much deep sleep you received.

The mattress cover also offers ten different temperature settings that can be adjusted on either side of the bed if you are sleeping with a partner.


The system costs between $249 and $289 depending on bed size, is available for preorder for $99 on its website. Use code SLEEPWEEK to get $35. off. According to the website, there is a one-year limited warranty and 30-day free return.



Last year, Eight launched a crowdfunding campaign for its mattress cover, which ended up raising $1.2 million, significantly more than its $400,000 goal.

Though the campaign ended in March 2015, none of the orders have been fulfilled yet, but Franceschetti said they plan to start shipping the device in the spring of this year.


All that tracking would keep me up. I do like the temperature feature, but I remember sleeping with heated blankets ended up being a health hazard.  I recall learning years later that electric blankets create a magnetic field that has been linked to childhood leukemia, miscarriages, breast cancer and endometrial cancer.  A study was published on it  9 years ago in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.  This mattress cover also runs on  electricity. It’s radiating a constant low level magnetic field. You have no idea what it will do to you ten or twenty years from now.  Further, whoever invested in it doesn’t want you to think them dumb for investing in everything called “smart” so fake blogs, articles and sites will pop up saying how wonderful it is without mentioning this hazard at all. Then, they buy quotes from physicians or experts to say  it’s safe. The only one who suffers the long-term consequences is the healthcare consumer who bought it.  You’ll be up worrying.  Ah, the irony.  The founders may add software with sleep coaches (again keeping you  up).  I’m thinking its because they already know this electric mattress will not improve your sleep.  Smart people will not fall for slick presentations.  The only person sleeping soundly will be the founder with millions of dollars from investors.  They fell for the line:  “Changing sleep forever, for better.”



Here’s a reminder of why sleep is so important to good health followed by what may be the underlying cause of insomnia.



Medical Causes of Insomnia from Sleep Foundation


Examples of medical conditions that can cause insomnia are:

  • Nasal/sinus allergies
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux
  • Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Low back pain

Medications such as those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression can also cause insomnia.

In addition, insomnia may be a symptom of underlying sleep disorders. For example, restless legs syndrome—a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs—can lead to insomnia.

Patients with restless legs syndrome typically experience worse symptoms in the later part of the day, during periods of inactivity, and in the transition from wake to sleep, which means that falling asleep and staying asleep can be difficult. An estimated 10 percent of the population has restless legs syndrome.

Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder linked to insomnia. With sleep apnea, a person’s airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing and a drop in oxygen levels. This causes a person to wake up briefly but repeatedly throughout the night. People with sleep apnea sometimes report experiencing insomnia.

If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to review your health and think about whether any underlying medical issues or sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep problems.

In some cases, there are simple steps that can be taken to improve sleep (such as avoiding bright lighting while winding down and trying to limit possible distractions, such as a TV, computer, or pets).

While in other cases, it’s important to talk to your doctor to figure out a course of action. You should not simply accept poor sleep as a way of life—talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist for help.

Insomnia & Depression


Sleep problems may represent a symptom of depression, and the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major depressive disorders. Studies show that insomnia can also trigger or worsen depression.

Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety

Insomnia can come from feeling excited, worried, nervous or anxious. It’s natural for most adults.  If it becomes a regular pattern it could lead to:

  • Tension
  • Getting caught up in thoughts about past events
  • Excessive worrying about future events
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
  • A general feeling of being revved up or overstimulated

There are 2 types of insomnia:

  1. Onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep)
  2. Maintenance insomnia (waking up during the night and not being able to return to sleep).

According to the Sleep Foundation, when this happens for many nights (or many months), you might start to feel anxiousness, dread, or panic at just the prospect of not sleeping. This is how anxiety and insomnia can feed each other and become a cycle that should be interrupted through treatment.

There are cognitive and mind-body techniques that help people with anxiety settle into sleep, and overall healthy sleep practices that can improve sleep for many people with anxiety and insomnia.

Insomnia & Lifestyle

Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:

  • You work at home in the evenings. This can make it hard to unwind, and it can also make you feel preoccupied when it comes time to sleep. The light from your computer could also make your brain more alert.
  • You take naps (even if they are short) in the afternoon. Short naps can be helpful for some people, but for others they make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • You sometimes sleep in later to make up for lost sleep. This can confuse your body’s clock and make it difficult to fall asleep again the following night.
  • You are a shift worker (meaning that you work irregular hours). Non-traditional hours can confuse your body’s clock, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day, or if your schedule changes periodically.

If lifestyle and unhealthy sleep habits are the cause of insomnia, there are cognitive behavioral techniques and sleep hygiene tips that can help.

Insomnia & Food

If you can’t sleep, review the following lifestyle factors:

Alcohol is a sedative. It can make you fall asleep initially, but may disrupt your sleep later in the night.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people understand the alerting power of caffeine and use it in the morning to help them start the day and feel productive. Caffeine in moderation is fine for most people, but excessive caffeine can cause insomnia.

A National Sleep Foundation poll found that people who drank four or more cups/cans of caffeinated drinks a day were more likely than those who drank zero to one cups/cans daily to experience at least one symptom of insomnia at least a few nights each week.

Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as eight hours, so the effects are long lasting. If you have insomnia, do not consume food or drinks with caffeine too close to bedtime.

Nicotine is also a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Smoking cigarettes or tobacco products close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night. Smoking is damaging to your health. If you smoke, you should stop.

Heavy meals close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. The best practice is to eat lightly before bedtime. When you eat too much in the evening, it can cause discomfort and make it hard for your body to settle and relax. Spicy foods can also cause heartburn and interfere with your sleep.

Insomnia & The Brain

In some cases, insomnia may be caused by certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to be involved with sleep and wakefulness.

There are many possible chemical interactions in the brain that could interfere with sleep and may explain why some people are biologically prone to insomnia and seem to struggle with sleep for many years without any identifiable cause—even when they follow healthy sleep advice.


The Sleep Foundation reviewed Eight, which used to be called Luna, along with other monitors that slide under your sheets to keep an eye on your sleep habits without disrupting your slumber.

While most high-tech sleep trackers involve a wristband, some people prefer to sleep without anything on their arms. That’s where these three new products come in.

Withings Aura Smart Sleep System:

This system is made up of a mattress pad that goes under your mattress (above your box spring), a smart phone app, and a bedside device that produces light and sound. The pad tracks your sleep patterns and the light and sound programs help you transition to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. You can also use the Smart WakeUP function so that your alarm goes off when you’re in a light sleep cycle so you’ll feel less groggy. Another fun feature: The bedside device monitors light and noise in the room, in case there’s a connection between, say, a routine garbage truck on your street and your waking up at 5:00am every day. ($299.95)

Luna:    (Now called EIGHT)

This mattress cover learns your sleep habits and cycles by tracking your heart rate and breathing rate. It also changes the temperature of your bed, warming it up around your normal bedtime and cooling down throughout the night. If you and your partner have different preferences, you can each set your half of the bed to separate temperatures. Think of this as turning your mattress into a smart bed, since Luna can communicate with other devices. For instance, Luna can connect with activity trackers (and figure out if your exercise or eating habits are affecting your sleep). It can “talk” to other smart home devices like your alarm clock (Luna will make sure that it’s set). And it can even work directly with your thermostat (Luna will lower it when you go to sleep). (Starts at $249)

Sleepace RestOn:

Take any mattress—foam, memory foam, waterbed, pillow top, or spring—and place the RestOn sensor on top of it, under your fitted sheet. Hit start on the RestOn app on your smart phone, get into bed, and it will start recording heart rate, respiratory rate, movement, and sleep cycles. The RestOn goes one step further and suggests habits that will result in better sleep, like making your room cooler, cutting out late-in-the-day coffee, or eating a lighter lunch. You’ll also get weekly and monthly reports that detail your sleep trends so you can make adjustments to improve your slumber. ($149)

Related Posts


Stanford sleep research and treatment focuses on all types of sleep disorders including, but not limited to, the following:

INSOMNIA debilitates no fewer than 14 percent of Americans. It has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of depression later in life. But new therapies, including some that do not require medication—such as sleep restriction, light therapy, better sleep habits, and cognitive therapy—bring 80 percent to 90 percent satisfaction even in severe cases.

OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA afflicts 30 million Americans, or 10 percent of the population. Soft tissue in the airway stops breathing repeatedly during sleep, preventing deep sleep, causing low oxygenation, and resulting in sleep deprivation. Apnea is now accepted as the leading treatable cause of hypertension and is a strong predictor of stroke and heart disease. Difficulty with memory, intimacy, and attention are common.

CENTRAL SLEEP APNEA, a less common type of sleep apnea, affects several million Americans. Although people with central sleep apnea seldom snore, symptoms and results are much the same as the obstructive type—a deprivation of oxygen and poor sleep. About 40 percent to 60 percent of persons with heart failure have central sleep apnea.

RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME (RLS) afflicts 12 million Americans. An uncontrollable urge to move the legs, often associated with painful sensations, seriously disrupts sleep. The genetic basis of RLS has just been discovered. RLS is also associated with depression, anxiety, and heart disease.

NARCOLEPSY AND IDIOPATHIC HYPERSOMNIA (disabling daytime sleepiness) shatter more than 200,000 lives in the United States. In addition to sudden, unpredictable sleeping, they can cause cataplexy, a muscular collapse brought on by emotional excitement. Lifelong treatment with stimulants or powerful sedatives is often required but brings only partial relief. Although the cause of narcolepsy is now established, almost nothing is known regarding idiopathic hypersomnia and its treatment.

Learn more about the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine by clicking on one of the links below.




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We have zero tolerance for scams when it comes to health. If anything ever doesn’t work as hyped let us know.  When it comes to investing in health make sure today’s solution isn’t tomorrow’s bigger problem. -M. Dorfner

Stay healthy!

Future Health: Lung Cancer Vaccine 5 to 10 Years Away

by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter


  President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba this month will be the first by an American president in nearly a century. The thawing relations between the two countries are expected to bring a bumper crop of famed Cuban among other imports.

Strangely enough, another eagerly anticipated product is a lung cancer vaccine some say could be a breakthrough in oncology.


CimaVax has reportedly been in development in Cuba for 25 years, partly because lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Caribbean nation.


Health reporter, Maria Dorfner spoke with Dr. Kelvin Lee from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, located in Buffalo, New York.  He says Roswell Park is finalizing an application to the FDA seeking permission to conduct a U.S. clinical trial of  the cancer vaccine and that , depending on the results from that and any subsequent studies, it would likely be 5 or more years before the drug could be widely available for patients in the U.S.   CimaVax is already an approved cancer therapy in Cuba and Peru.



The injection is not like the other cancer-fighting immunotherapies being developed in hundreds of American labs, said Kelvin Lee, the chair of immunology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.



Lee and other doctors have visited the island nation several times to meet with its Cuban developers and hear updates on their progress –and they found that the vaccine was a promising potential breakthrough.  He wrote in a post on Roswell Park’s Cancer Talk blog:

“Unlike other immunotherapies, CimaVax does not target cancer directly and it is not personalized. Rather, the vaccine targets a growth factor (EGF) necessary for the cancer to survive,” Lee said. “By targeting and effectively depleting this growth factor, the cancer starves and its progress slows, prolonging patients’ lives.”


The results so far show that patients’ lives were extended from six to an average of 18 months with the vaccine treatment,  but there are reports of patients treated with the vaccine living five years or more.


Lee and the other doctors see the possibility that the vaccine’s efficacy may translate to colon, head and neck, prostrate, breast and pancreatic cancers as well, and that CimaVax may prove effective in preventing some cancers from developing or recurring.


Some studies have shown promise in CimaVax, as it has cut back the EGF needed for the cancer to progress.


It has done this with minimal side effects, including nausea, fever and vomiting.  Survival dramatically improved in those patients with advanced Stage 3 and Stage 4 tumors, according to a Cuban study conducted in 2007.



However, the vaccine has only been administered to a few thousand people worldwide –and it is still far from FDA approval, the doctor said.

A possibility of skipping Phase I testing exists, Lee added. The FDA inspection period should end sometime this year, allowing testing to begin. Lee and the other doctors envision the vaccine’s efficacy translating over to other head and neck cancers, as well.


Cancer Research UK urged patience in looking to CimaCax, in a statement released last year.


“This research is promising but this is a small trial and we will need more trial results before we know exactly how well the vaccine works for people with lung cancer. A phase 3 trial is currently in progress in Cuba,” they said in a statement.

Obama announced the U.S. was “extending a hand of friendship” to Cuba – just 90 miles from Florida – in December 2014. The cooperation between Cuban and American doctors began in 2011 and gained momentum with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s trade mission to Cuba in  April 2015. Since then, the U.S. has restored up to 110 daily flights to Havana.


Among the critics of Obama’s March 21 visit to the island nations are Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both presidential hopefuls who are of Cuban descent.


Scientists ‘find cancer’s Achilles heel’

  • Lung cancerImage copyright SPL

Scientists believe they have discovered a way to “steer” the immune system to kill cancers.

Researchers at University College, London have developed a way of finding unique markings within a tumour – its “Achilles heel” – allowing the body to target the disease.

But the personalised method, reported in Science journal, would be expensive and has not yet been tried in patients.

Experts said the idea made sense but could be more complicated in reality.

However, the researchers, whose work was funded by Cancer Research UK, believe their discovery could form the backbone of new treatments and hope to test it in patients within two years.

They believe by analysing the DNA, they’ll be able to develop bespoke treatment.

People have tried to steer the immune system to kill tumours before, but cancer vaccines have largely flopped.

One explanation is that they are training the body’s own defences to go after the wrong target.

The problem is cancers are not made up of identical cells – they are a heavily mutated, genetic mess and samples at different sites within a tumour can look and behave very differently.


They grow a bit like a tree with core “trunk” mutations, but then mutations that branch off in all directions. It is known as cancer heterogeneity.

The international study developed a way of discovering the “trunk” mutations that change antigens – the proteins that stick out from the surface of cancer cells.

Professor Charles Swanton, from the UCL Cancer Institute, added: “This is exciting. Now we can prioritise and target tumour antigens that are present in every cell – the Achilles heel of these highly complex cancers.

“This is really fascinating and takes personalised medicine to its absolute limit, where each patient would have a unique, bespoke treatment.”

There are two approaches being suggested for targeting the trunk mutations.

The first is to develop cancer vaccines for each patient that train the immune system to spot them.

The second is to “fish” for immune cells that already target those mutations and swell their numbers in the lab, and then put them back into the body.

‘Early days’

Dr Marco Gerlinger, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “This is a very important step and makes us think about heterogeneity as a problem and why this gives cancer this big advantage.

“Targeting trunk mutations makes sense from many points of view, but it is early days and whether it’s that simple, I’m not entirely sure.

“Many cancers are not standing still but they keep evolving constantly. These are moving targets which makes it difficult to get them under control.

“Cancers that can change and evolve could lose the initial antigen or maybe come up with smokescreens of other good antigens so that the immune system gets confused.”


James Gallagher, health editor, BBC News website

Harnessing the power of the immune system – what’s known as immunotherapy – is the most exciting field in cancer and probably in all of medicine right now.

But while that excitement is justified, claims that a cure for cancer is around the corner are not.

Medical research is littered with the graves of hyped treatments that just never worked.

Two decades ago, gene therapy was “hype-central” and we’re still waiting for it to transform medicine.

This study demonstrates some spectacular science that furthers understanding of how the immune system and cancer interact.

But this new knowledge has not been used to treat a single patient. There have not even been animal studies. So there is a real risk it will not work.

Even if it does, this is an hugely expensive approach that would need to be customised to every patient in a process that takes more than a year from start to finish.

Some immunotherapy treatments work spectacularly with some patients’ cancer disappearing entirely.

They take the brakes off the immune system, freeing it up to fight cancer.

The researchers hope the combination of removing the immune system’s brakes and then taking over the steering wheel, will save lives.

Professor Peter Johnson, from Cancer Research UK, said the research had shown “impressive results in the clinic” and although “the technology is complicated and quite recent… once you start doing it the cost will come down”.

‘Elegant study’

Dr Stefan Symeonides, clinician scientist in experimental cancer medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said designing a personalised vaccine was currently impractical, especially when a patient needed treatment straight away.

But he added that the “very elegant” study did provide a ground-breaking insight into current immunotherapy drugs, which do not yet work for most people.

“It’s not just the number of antigens, it’s how many of the cancer cells have them,” he said.

“This data will be quoted in discussions for years, as we try to understand which patients benefit from immunotherapy drugs, which ones don’t, and why, so we can improve those therapies.”

Follow James on Twitter.

5 Reasons to Let Your Pearly Whites Shine

We’ve all heard the expression “smiling is contagious”, and it’s true! But while we usually want to avoid contagious things, this is one case where we encourage you to share, spread and pass along your infectious smile. Numerous studies have discovered mind and body benefits resulting from smiling. Even if you are having a terrible day and nothing is going right, hear us out on how smiling can vastly improve your attitude and happiness.

  1. Smiling has a positive chemical effect on your mood.
    Smiling, even when it’s forced, indicates to your mind that you’re happy. This in turn causes the brain to release endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals that combat depression and anxiety. Of course we all go through difficult life events where it’s impossible to muster a smile, but when you can, fake it ‘til you make it! Stretch those lips – the chemicals released will soon have you feeling better.


  1. Smiling limits the negative effects of stress.
    Your facial muscles have the power to impact your whole body’s reaction to stressful events. One experiment showed that people who smiled while performing stressful tasks had lower heart rates than those who did not smile. This even worked if the participants didn’t know they were “smiling”. A group was asked to hold chopsticks between their lips instead of being told to smile or frown. This simulation still lowered their heart rates compared with the group who held neutral mouths. Whether you are running a marathon or driving home in traffic after receiving bad news, keep your heart rate down by smiling.josh2                                                 DrunkMode app team smiling

3. Smiling can make you appear confident, approachable and trustworthy.
It’s always nerve-wracking to approach someone who looks mad or upset, so putting a smile on your face makes it easier for someone to come up to you. You’ll see the benefits of this approachability in your career, at home and in your overall daily life. Researchers also found that people with the highest intensity smiles seemed more trustworthy to others. Additionally, the self-confidence you can establish through smiling goes a long way towards attracting more positivity to your life and helping your brain create a pattern of positive-thinking. Smile big!

Co-workers laughing together
Co-workers laughing together

4. Smiling and laughter go hand-in-hand.
Your silly forced smile may cause you (or those around you!) to erupt with laughter, and we all know the age-old adage – laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is great for your health because, similar to smiling, it releases endorphins, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. There are also studies currently investigating a correlation between laughter and a boosted immune system.


5. Smiling has a domino effect and spreads happiness.
As we mentioned above, the saying “smiling is contagious” is actually true. But why? Due to our mirror neurons, it’s our natural reaction to mimic others’ expressions, like smiling. When you smile at someone and they return the smile, they receive the same mood-lifting benefits as you. This means you have the power to change someone’s bad day into a good one!


Smiling is one of our greatest forms of expression as humans, so take advantage of its many benefits! Share a smile every day.


New Mexican Health Hotel for U.S. Patients

Move over Hotel California…

You’ll be able to see this new Mexican health hotel from California, even if Donald Trump gets to build his great big wall.

Developers in Tijuana, Mexico, reportedly are planning to cash in on the longstanding phenomenon of Americans heading south of the border to get less-expensive health care by building a big new medical facility that will also feature a 140-room hotel.

A stethoscope and blood-pressure machine

Photo Credit:  Regis Duvignau | Reuters

The New City Medical Plaza would feature a 26-story tower that would include “doctors offices, a medical lab, a surgery center,” according to a Los Angeles Times story about the project. It will cost an estimated $50 million, and is scheduled to open in 2019.

The one-stop health shopping center, whose developers have already sold 30 percent of its space, would be just a short walk from a border crossing that connects San Diego to Tijuana.

“A lot of our patients come from the U.S. We think it’s going to be very convenient for our patients to have a place to stay, to have all the medical testing that we could use available here,” Elias Bemaras, general director of stem cell treatment provider ProgenCell, told the Times. ProgenCell plans to move its operations into the new center.

Ives Lelevier, undersecretary of tourism for Baja California, told the newspaper that another similar large health facility is planned for elsewhere in Tijuana to take advantage of a resurgent trend of medical tourism.

“We seen an enormous potential, if we are able to promote it through a well-structured program,” Lelevier said.

An estimated 1 million people — primarily from Southern California — already travel to Baja California to get medical treatment, Lelevier said. “We believe that we can bring people from areas that are further away.”

Lelevier told the Times that the medical services that have the biggest potential for drawing U.S. residents to Tijuana are bariatric surgery, plastic surgery, ophthalmology and dental care.

Read the Times story here.

Body Bioelectronics: 5 Technologies that Could Flex with You

by Alyssa Danigelis

Wearable Electronic Patch

Innovations in soft materials and electronics are helping researchers create wearable electronic patches.


Photo Credit: Donghee Son and Jongha Lee, Seoul National University

No more tough breaks. As “smart” electronics get smaller and softer, scientists are developing new medical devices that could be applied to — or in some cases, implanted in — our bodies.

And these soft and stretchy devices shouldn’t make your skin crawl, because they’re designed to blend right in, experts say.

We want to solve the mismatch between rigid wafer-based electronics and the soft, dynamic human body, said Nanshu Lu, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin.

Lu, who previously studied with John Rogers, a soft-materials and electronics expert at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, focuses her research on stretchable bioelectronics.

Lu and her colleagues have invented a cheaper and faster method for manufacturing electronic skin patches called epidermal electronics, reducing what was a multiday process to 20 minutes.

Smart and flexible enough to essentially meld with the human body.

From the latest advancements in smart tattoos to injectable brain monitoring to stretchable electronics for drug delivery, here are five fascinating technologies that could soon be on (or inside) your body.

Smart temporary tattoos

“When you integrate electronics on your skin, it feels like part of you,” Lu said. “You don’t feel it, but it is still working.” That’s the idea behind “smart” temporary tattoos that John Rogers and his colleagues are developing. Their tattoos, also known as biostamps, contain flexible circuitry that can be powered wirelessly and are stretchy enough to move with skin.

These wireless smart tattoos could address clinically important — but currently unmet — needs, Rogers told Live Science.

Although there are numerous potential applications, his team is focused now on how biostamps could be used to monitor patients in neonatal intensive care units and sleep labs.

MC10, the Massachusetts-based company Rogers helped start, is conducting clinical trials and expects to launch its first regulated products later this year.

Biochemical Sensors – Temporary Tattoos

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego, have tested a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells.

Photo Credit: Joseph Wang, University of California, San Diego

Skin-mounted biochemical sensors

Another new body-meld technology in development is a wearable biochemical sensor that can analyze sweat through skin-mounted devices and send information wirelessly to a smartphone. These futuristic sensors are being designed by Joseph Wang, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the Center for Wearable Sensors.

“We look at sweat, saliva and tears to provide information about performance, fitness and medical status,” Wang told Live Science.

Earlier this year, members of Wang’s lab presented a proof-of-concept, flexible, temporary tattoo for diabetics that could continuously monitor glucose levels without using needle pricks.

He also led a team that created a mouth-guard sensor that can check levels of health markers that usually require drawing blood, like uric acid, an early indicator for diabetes and gout.

Wang said the Center for Wearable Sensors is pushing to commercialize these emerging sensor technologies with the help of local and international companies.

 Nanomaterial drug delivery

Dae-Hyeong Kim, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, and his colleagues are pursuing nanotechnologies to enable next-generation biomedical systems. Kim’s research could one day yield nanomaterial-enabled electronics for drug delivery and tissue engineering, according to Lu. “He has made stretchable memory, where you can store data on the tattoo, ” she said.

In 2014, Kim’s research group made a stretchable, wearable electronic patch that contains data storage, diagnostic tools and medicine. “The multifunctional patch can monitor movement disorders of Parkinson’s disease,” Kim told Live Science. Collected data gets recorded in the gold nanoparticle device’s memory.

When the patch detects tremor patterns, heat and temperature sensors inside it release controlled amounts of drugs that are delivered through carefully designed nanoparticles, he explained.

Injectable Electronic Mesh

This nanoscale electronic mesh can be injected into brain tissue through a needle.

Photo Credit: Lieber Research Group, Harvard University

Injectable brain monitors

Although implantable technology exists for monitoring patients with epilepsy or brain damage, Lu pointed out that these devices are still sharp and rigid, making long-term monitoring a challenge. She compared soft brain tissue to a bowl of tofu constantly in motion. “We want something that can measure the brain, that can stimulate the brain, that can interact with the brain — without any mechanical strain or loading,” she said.

Enter Charles Lieber, a Harvard University chemistry professor whose research group focuses on nanoscale science and technology. His group’s devices are so small that they can be injected into brain tissue through a needle. After injection, nanoscale electronic mesh opens up that can monitor brain activity, stimulate tissue and even interact with neurons. “That,” said Lu, “is very cutting edge.”

Long-term implantable devices

Spinal Cord Implant

The e-Dura spinal cord implant.


Photo Credit: Laboratory for Soft Bioelectronic Interfaces, EPFL

Stéphanie Lacour and Grégoire Courtine, scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s School of Engineering, announced in early 2015 that they had developed a new implant for treating spinal cord injuries.

The small e-Dura device is implanted directly on the spinal cord underneath its protective membrane, called the dura mater. From there, it can deliver electrical and chemical stimulation during rehabilitation.

The device’s elasticity and biocompatibility reduce the possibility of inflammation or tissue damage, meaning it could stay implanted for a long time.

Paralyzed rats implanted with the device were able to walk after several weeks of training, the researchers reported in the journal Science.

Lu called e-Dura one of the best-functioning, long-term implantable flexible stimulators. “It shows the possibilities of using implantable, flexible devices for rehabilitation and treatment,” she said.

Meanwhile, technologies that replicate human touch are growing increasingly sophisticated.

Stanford University chemical engineering professor Zhenan Bao has spent years developing artificial skin that can sense pressure and temperature and heal itself.

Her team’s latest version contains a sensor array that can distinguish between pressure differences like a firm or limp handshake.

Lu said she and her colleagues in this highly multidisciplinary field hope to make all wafer-based electronics more epidermallike. “All those electronic components that used to be rigid and brittle now have a chance to become soft and stretchable,” she said.

Follow @livescience, Facebook & Google+.  Original article on Live Science at:


Also  Check Out Editor’s Recommendations at

•5 Amazing Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Biotech
•Body Beautiful: The 5 Strangest Prosthetic Limbs
•The 10 Weirdest Things Created By 3D Printing



Maria Dorfner is the founder of NewsMD Communications, LLC and Healthy Within Network (HWN).  This is her blog.  Contact:

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6 Things Happy People Never Do

by Guest Blogger,

Happiness is not something you postpone for future; it is something you design into present.

Happiness, Heart & Health

Happy people do a lot of things.  They spend time expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, practicing kindness, nurturing loving relationships, committing to meaningful goals, savoring life’s little pleasures, and so on and so forth.

But they NEVER…

1.  Mind other people’s business.

Forget about what others are doing.  Stop looking at where they are and what they have.  Nobody is doing better than you because nobody can do better than you.  YOU are walking your own path.  Sometimes the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel.  We listen to the noise of the world, instead of ourselves.  So stop the comparisons!  Ignore the distractions.  Listen to your own inner voice.  Mind your own business.

Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day.  Don’t be scared to walk alone, and don’t be scared to enjoy it.  Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, drama, or negativity stop you from being the best you can be.  Keep doing what you know in your heart is right, for YOU.  Because when you are focused on meaningful work and at peace within yourself, almost nothing can shake you.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

2.  Seek validation of self-worth from others.

When you are content to simply be yourself, without comparing and competing to impress others, everyone worthwhile will respect you.  And even more importantly, you will respect yourself.

How are you letting others define you?  What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you.  People may have heard your stories, and they may think they know you, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren’t living YOUR life.  So forget what they think and say about you.  Focus on how you feel about yourself, and keep walking the path that feels best under your feet.

Those who accept you are your friends.  Those who don’t are your teachers.  If someone calls you something and it’s true, it’s not your problem because it’s true.  If someone calls you something and it’s not true, it’s not your problem because it’s not true.  Either way, whatever they call you is not your problem.  What other people call you is their problem…

What you call yourself, and who you decide to become, is your problem.

3.  Rely on other people and external events for happiness.

Unhappiness lies in that gap between what we have now and what we think we need.  But the truth is, we don’t need to acquire anything more to be content with what we already have.  We don’t need anyone else’s permission to be happy.  Your life is magnificent not because someone says it is, or because you have acquired something new, but because you choose to see it as such.  Don’t let your happiness be held hostage.  It is always yours to choose, to live and experience.

As soon as you stop making everyone and everything else responsible for your happiness, the happier you’ll be.  If you’re unhappy now, it’s not someone else’s fault.  Take full responsibility for your own unhappiness, and you will instantly gain the ability to be happier.  Stop seeking in vain to arrange conditions that will make you happy.  Simply choose to appreciate the greatness that is yours in this moment, and the right conditions will start to line up around the contentment you seek.

The greater part of your happiness or unhappiness depends upon your outlook, and not upon our situation.  Even if things aren’t perfect right now, think of all the beauty still left around you.  A good reason to smile is always one thought away; choose to tap into it any time you like.  (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)

4.  Hold on to resentment.

Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghosts from your past.  What happened in the past is just one chapter in your story; don’t close the book, just turn the page.

We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others, and while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long.  Feelings of resentment urge us to relive the same pain over and over, and we have a hard time letting go.

Forgiveness is the remedy.  It allows you to focus on the future without combating the past.  To understand the infinite potential of everything going forward is to forgive everything already behind you.  Without forgiveness, wounds can never be healed and personal growth can never be achieved.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.

5.  Spend prolonged periods of time in negative environments.

You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.  So protect your spirit and potential from contamination by limiting your time with negative people and the environments they inhabit.

When other people invite you to act like victims, when they whine and moan about the unfairness of life, for example, and ask you to agree, to offer condolences, and to participate in their grievances, WALK AWAY.  When you join in that game of negativity you always lose.

Even when you’re alone, create a positive mental space for yourself.  Make it a point to give up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just a few of them that have been troubling you, and see how doing that changes your life.  You don’t need negative thoughts.  They are all lies.  They solve nothing.  All they have ever given you is a false self that suffers for no reason.  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

6.  Resist the truth.

It is a certain deathtrap when we spend our lives learning how to lie, because eventually these lies grow so strong in our minds that we become bad at seeing, telling and living our own truth.  Lives come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.  If you resist the truth, you will live a lie every day as the truth haunts your thoughts every night.  You simply can’t get away from your truth by moving dishonestly from one place to the next.

So don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to hide the truth with deception; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion of what’s popular.  It is better to offer no explanation or excuse than a false one.  It takes courage and strength to admit the truth, but it is the only way to truly live.  Accept what is, embrace it fully, and live for the possibilities that lie ahead.

Your turn…

What would you add to the list?  What’s something you should NOT do if you want to be happy?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.



About Guest Author, Marc Chernoff

Marc and Angel Hack Life

Marc and Angel Chernoff have been recognized by Forbes as having “one of the most popular personal development blogs.”  Through their blog, book, course and coaching, they’ve spent the past decade writing about and teaching proven strategies for finding lasting happiness, success, love and peace.

Marc and Angel both share a great passion for inspiring others to live to their fullest potential, and they honestly feel best when they are inspiring others to be their best.


Check Out Their Wonderful Books and Blog at:


30% off my own books until midnight tonight!  Use code: OSCAR30 at  checkout.



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30% off my own books until midnight tonight!  Use code: OSCAR30 at  checkout!

newsmd1   MARIA DORFNER, an award-winning health journalist, TV  writer and producer, including original health programming, is the founder of NewsMD Communications, LLC promoting best in class health startups, hospitals, non-profits, health books, physicians & health stories to national media & consumers. She is the founder of Healthy Within Network, a health content production, programming & distribution company.

This is her blog.




 “When We Tell Stories…People Listen.”


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10 Foods You Should Never Refrigerate

  1.  ONIONS
























Excuse me while I go remove #7 from my refrigerator!  Stay healthy, everyone! 🙂




newsmd1   MARIA DORFNER is the founder of NewsMD Communications, LLC and Healthy Within Network. This is her blog.  Contact:



 “When We Tell Stories…People Listen.”


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First Uterus Transplant in U.S. Gives Hope to Infertile




Uterus Transplant
Photo provided by Cleveland Clinic Center, a team of Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeons and gynecological surgeons perform the nation’s first uterus transplant during a nine-hour surgery in Cleveland.



Statement from Cleveland Clinic

March 9, 2016 Update on 1st Uterus Transplant

We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus.

On February 25, Cleveland Clinic announced the first uterus transplant as part of a clinical study for women who suffer from uterine factor infertility. At this time, the circumstance of the complication is under review and more information will be shared as it becomes available.

There is a known risk in solid organ transplantation that the transplanted organ may have to be removed should a complication arise. The medical team took all necessary precautions and measures to ensure the safety of our patient.

While this has been difficult for both the patient and the medical team, Lindsey is doing well and recovering.

The study, which has been planned to include 10 women, is still ongoing with a commitment to the advancement of medical research to provide an additional option for women and their families.”

Statement from Lindsey

“I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors. They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing okay and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts.”



Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic have performed the first uterus transplant in the United States on a 26-year-old, using a uterus from a deceased organ donor.

The operation took 9 hours and the woman is in stable condition.

The procedure is to help women who had their uterus removed, or were born without one.

Following a transplant, the woman needs to wait a year before trying to become pregnant.

Then she will need in vitro fertilization to become pregnant.

Before the transplant, the patient had eggs removed surgically, fertilized with her husband’s sperm and frozen.

The embryos will be transferred into her uterus.

If the procedure is successful, any children will be born by cesarean section and the mother will have the transplanted uterus removed after having one or two babies.

The transplant will be temporary: The uterus will be removed after the recipient has had one or two babies, so she can stop taking anti-rejection drugs.

Uterus Transplant
Photo provided by Cleveland Clinic Center

The Cleveland hospital’s ethics panel has given it permission to perform the procedure 10 times, as an experiment.

Officials will then decide whether to continue, and whether to offer the operation as a standard procedure. The clinic is still screening women who may be candidates for the operation.

The leader of the surgical team is Dr. Andreas G. Tzakis, who has performed 4,000 to 5,000 transplants of kidneys, livers and other abdominal organs.

To prepare for uterus transplants, he traveled to Sweden and worked with doctors at the University of Gothenburg, the only ones in the world to have performed the procedure successfully so far.

About 50,000 women in the United States are thought to be candidates for transplanted uteruses.


THE DONOR     Surgeons remove the uterus, cervix and part of the vagina from an organ donor who has recently died, along with the small uterine vessels that carry blood to the organ. The uterus can survive outside the body for at least six to eight hours if kept cold.

THE RECIPIENT     The donor’s uterus is connected to the recipient’s vagina and the uterine vessels are redirected to large blood vessels running outside the pelvis. The recipient’s ovaries are left in place, and if she has any remnant fallopian tubes, they are not connected to the transplant. The recipient will wait a year to heal before having in vitro fertilization.

ccf5  Sources: Dr. Tommaso Falcone, Cleveland Clinic; BioDigital

By The New York Times

In an interview in October, Dr. Tzakis said that although women without a uterus could adopt children or hire surrogates to carry a pregnancy for them, many find those options unacceptable “for reasons that are personal, cultural or religious.”

At that time, a 26-year-old woman who was being screened as a potential candidate explained why she wanted a chance to become pregnant and give birth.

“I crave that experience,” she said. “I want the morning sickness, the backaches, the feet swelling. I want to feel the baby move. That is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember.”

Link to: Cleveland Clinic:

A version of this article appears in print on February 26, 2016, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: National Briefing | Midwest; Ohio: Uterus Transplant Is First in United States.

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newsmd1   Maria Dorfner is the founder of NewsMD  Communications and Healthy Within Network (HWN).  This is her blog.

She can be reached at
logonewsmd “When We Tell Stories…People Listen.”

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