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HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA

How to Protect Yourself in the Summer Sun; Popular Summer Sandal Sending People to the Doctor; How to Prevent Back Pain; Invoking God to Help Heal

Aired July 28, 2007 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ...go up 40 percent. If your husband or wife is, it's 37 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men are much more likely to be influenced by the weight behaviors of men to whom they're connected, whether it's their friends or their brothers, than they are to the influence by the weight behaviors of the women to whom they're connected.

SNOW: The findings show that distance does have an effect on that connection, that an obese friend who lives 1,000 miles away can have the same influence as one who lives nearby. Researchers say they hope by understanding these social networks, they can help to reduce the problem of obesity in the United States.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, your next check of the headlines coming up at the top of the hour.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: But first, HOUSECALL with Dr. Sanjay Gupta is next.

SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Thanks, guys. This is HOUSECALL. We're making the rounds this morning. First up, what you need to know about all of that summer sunshine. Some new ways to protect yourself that don't involve lotion.

Then, a popular type of summer sandal sending a lot of patients to the doctor. Find out if your feet are in trouble.

And back pain, thousands suffer with it. Find out what you can do now to prevent from becoming one of them.

Finally, invoking God to help. Parishioners get healthy. We'll explain what medical problems they hope to solve.

We start, though, with all that summer sun. While spending time outside is a part of every good summer vacation, there's a warning to beware. If you don't protect yourself, the sun's rays can be dangerous from bad sun burns to skin cancer. There are a million new cases every year of skin cancer. And sun exposure is linked to a majority of those. So we turn now to one of the meteorologists here at CNN Bonnie Schneider. She reports on hot temperatures and extreme sun often these days. She's here now to show us what we can do to protect ourselves from those punishing rays.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Thanks, Sanjay. The UV index is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. And looking at this map, we already have a 7 or higher across the country. But there are ways that you can protect yourself from the summer sun that you may not have already thought of.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Like many toddlers, Emma isn't normally cooperative when her mom applies sunscreen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, don't tell me no.

SCHNEIDER: So now, in addition to a coating of lotion, Sharon Doering dresses her children in clothing that actually has sun protection in the fabric.

SHARON DOERING: It really was just making it less hassle and more fun. You know, both for me and the kids so that I wasn't always bringing them out of the pool or something like that to put the sun block back on.

SCHNEIDER: With a family history of skin cancer, Sharon wants to protect her kids while they're young. And dermatologists agree.

JODI GANZ, DR., DERMATOLOGIST: What we're learning is the number of sun burns you get early in childhood does have a large impact on your risk of skin cancer.

SCHNEIDER: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, regular fabric protects you from the sun, but can lose effectiveness when wet or stretched. Manufacturers of clothing with UPF or ultraviolet protection factor claim their clothes absorb up to 98 percent of dangerous UV rays through chemical blockers or tighter weaves. Dr. Ganz recommends UPF clothing for everyone, not just those at high risk for skin cancer.

GANZ: We are seeing a rise in skin cancer overall. So we know that even darker skinned patients, if they're getting enough sun exposure, do get certain types of skin cancer.

SCHNEIDER: Several online brands, such as Kulavar (ph) and Land's End now sell UPF products. And shoppers can look for products with this special label in stores. But UPF clothing is not to be used as a substitute for sunscreen.

GANZ: We've gotten very good with sun protection in terms of sunscreens and sun blocks out there. But you still get a lot of sun regardless. So this is one more thing a patient can do. And it stays on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Sanjay, this full body protection gives families like the Doerings peace of mind in the summer sun. Back to you. GUPTA: All right, thanks, Bonnie. Those sunny days can also have some other illnesses creeping up on you, this time from the heat, which can cause cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. With heat exhaustion, people become tired and perhaps disoriented. Then they sweat profusely, replacing fluids with sports drinks or water. Just resting out of heat should clear up the condition. Heat stroke, however, is much more serious. Dr. Steven Dawkins explains what you should look for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN DAWKINS, DR., EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The tell tale sign is that the person is no longer sweating. So their skin becomes hot and dry. So it would seem unusual that you'd have someone outside where they should be sweating. They may be weak, they may be tired, they may have a headache, but their skin is dry. And that means that they really have nothing more to sweat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Now if someone has those symptoms, of course, get them to a hospital immediately. Now if you're trying to seek relief from that heat in a pool, one consumer group has a warning for parents and kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports more than 375 children drown in pools every year nationwide. Greg Hunter's here now with ways you can keep your kids safe around the pool.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE SCALZI, ALEXIS' MOTHER: I was worried when we were playing in front that she would get hit by a car or something. You know, I never in a million years thought this would happen.

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mike and Michelle's Scalzi, who's lives changed in an instance last June when their two-year old daughter Alexis wandered out alone to the backyard pool and drowned.

MIKE SCALZI, ALEXIS' FATHER: There's no words to describe how we feel. The pain is just too much.

HUNTER: Her father tried to revive Alexis, but was never trained in CPR. Now the Scalzis are raising awareness about pool safety, the importance of learning CPR, and installing pool alarms. Their charity, Lexi's Legacy, has given out 700 free pool alarms. Here's how they work.

When a weight of 15 pounds or more falls into the pool, like this doll, a sensor triggers a high-pitched sound. Other safety measures to consider, an automatic cover and a fence around the pool with a self-latching gate and even an alarm on the back door, signaling that a child has gone outside. But parents still must keep a sharp eye out. And remember, drowning can happen quickly.

JULIE VALLESE, CPSC: Drowning is a silent act. Parents often think that they're going to hear screaming, or splashing, or cries for help, but that's not actually true. HUNTER: Mike, who was home alone that day, had only taken his eyes off Alexis for a few minutes.

SCALZI: Our goal is to keep Lexi's memory alive and to try and prevent another child from drowning.

HUNTER: If you had had a pool alarm?

SCALZI: We wouldn't be talking today.

HUNTER: Michelle is now pregnant. The Scalzis don't know when they'll be ready to roll back the tarp and use their back pool again.

Greg Hunter, CNN, Williamsville, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Thanks, Greg. What a tragic story. And experts say they can't emphasize enough how important it is to have at least one adult always watching the kids when they're in the water. And don't rely on those water wings, those inner tubes as well. Children can slip out of those in a matter of seconds. They can lose consciousness after only two minutes underwater. Instead, safe kids worldwide recommends carrying a water watcher card, designating an adult to watch the pool, so everyone knows who's got their eye on the kids. We want to put that on our Web site. So go to cnn.com/housecall. You can print out a card for yourself. Plus, get certified in CPR. You can find courses in your neighborhood at the American Heart Association Web site. That's www.Americanheart.org.

Now a part of summer for years has been the inexpensive and relaxed flip flop. Normally relegated to the beach, they're also worn on campuses and in offices all over the country. But as Judy Fortin reports, they may not be the best choice for your feet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're trendy and relatively cheap, but podiatrists claim some flip flop fans are paying a painful price.

PERRY JULIEN, DR., PODIATRIST: When the summer months begin, we get so busy with people with heel pain, Achilles tendon pain, and pain on the ball of their foot. And in most cases, we can attribute that to the use of sandals or flip flops.

FORTIN: Dr. Perry Julien argues many of the thin-soled foot coverings lack proper support and cushioning.

JULIEN: So this sandal has no heel, it has no arch support, and it's very, very hard.

FORTIN: Dr. Julien explains low-old heeled shoes can cause a strain on ligaments. He prefers his patients wear a shoe with more of a lift, with a 3/8 to 1/2 inch heel. JULIEN: Here's an example of a good sandal. This sandal has a little bit of heel height from the back portion to the front portion, as well as having an arch across here.

FORTIN: If you're not willing to compromise on style, Dr. Julien says you can always try stretching your calves to help relieve sore foot and leg muscles.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Judy, thanks.

A recent study grabbed our attention about going to the beach. Now most people consider the water to be the most dangerous problem. But a father and son doctor team is sounding the alarm about sand holes. Two dozen young people have been killed in the past decade when the sand collapses. Rescue efforts often make it worse because the sand keeps pouring in. The doctors say not to let young kids play in sand unattended. And not to get in a hole deeper than your knees.

For more on summer safety and other health topics, make sure to check out my blog at CNN.com/health. We've been talking about lots of different things from the truth behind SPF numbers, to the dangers of kids ingesting hand sanitizers.

Also, make sure to check out the health page when eight CNN.com users share their personal success stories for weight loss. Get this. A married couple losing 557 pounds on a spiritually based health lifestyle regimen to a young woman reclaiming her life and changing careers after losing 110 pounds.

Some motivational stories. And later in the show, would biking together motivate you to stick with your exercise routine? These couples say it does. It also helps their relationships.

But first, how to prevent your back from talking back? Keeping your spine healthy in your 30s, 40s, and beyond. Then, the faithful, taking actions to make healthy changes in their community. Why churches are getting involved in this community, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with HOUSECALL. Summer can be a tricky time for your back. Between the yard work, fixing up the house, packing up cars, hauling coolers and kids, your back can get a real workout. Elizabeth Cohen is here now with a look at what you can do to keep your back health in your 30s and beyond.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't realize how much you use your back until you lose it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just laying on the couch watching TV. And I just sneezed. And I felt something pop.

COHEN: Hurt it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in a car accident. We were rear ended.

COHEN: Or throw it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really doesn't matter whether I'm sitting or standing at night or I'm in bed. It still - it comes and it goes. I still suffer from the pain.

COHEN: Back pain is the number two reason people go to the doctor. Second only to colds and flu. As we age, our bodies change and so does our spine. In your 30s, focus on maintaining the flexibility and strength of your 20s through exercise. But most back problems are muscle strains and you should rover quickly. When you're 40-something, working nine to five is taking its toll.

MICHAEL SCHAUFELE, DR., EMORY SPINE SPECIALIST: One of the most common problems is sitting a desk job all day long. You don't stretch. You don't exercise. But on the weekends, you want to keep up with your kids playing softball and soccer. And that's how you get hurt.

COHEN: Doctors also begin to see more serious problems, degenerative or herniated disks.

SCHAUFELE: This little red things is a herniated disk. A herniated disk is when pieces of the disk material squeeze out and start causing pressure on the nerve roots.

COHEN: Your 50s could be the beginning of more chronic issues.

SCHAUFELE: Patients start complaining more of a dull, permanent backache, which may be related to some underlying arthritic changes that are developing.

COHEN: Doctors say most back pain is temporary. And you'll usually be better within a week. And the pain will be completely gone in a month. If a back attack strikes, it's OK to stay still for a little while, but then get moving.

SCHAUFELE: We have found over the years being active and we recommend to continue the regular activities is much more effective in the long run than being completely still in bed.

GUPTA: Doctors also recommend trying different therapies. Yoga, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, whatever works. But at any age, doctors say maintaining a healthy weight and staying active is the key.

If you don't use it, you lose it.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Elizabeth, thanks. And if you don't want to lose it, here's some advice from the specialists at the Mayo Clinic. Listen to your mother. She warned you about your posture. Turns out she was right. Maintaining a neutral position really helps your back.

Second, sit smart. That means choose a seat with good back support from top to bottom. Remember to keep your knees and your hips level. Then when lifting heavy objects, make your legs do all the work. Hold the load close to your body.

Lastly, sleep smart. Recent studies show a medium to firm mattress is your best choice for avoiding back pain. Now for more information on back pain, check out Mayo Clinic's medical library on CNN's health page at CNN.com/health.

Also, check out CNN.com/podcasts for the best highlights of "HOUSECALL". The newest podcasts are downloadable every Monday.

Stay where you are. Coming up, why some researchers are touting the benefits of a little cinnamon. And later, find out what medical issue has the faithful taking action to make a change in their community.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: And for more of this week's medical headlines, we check in with Judy Fortin and "The Pulse."

JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Sanjay. Regular and diet soft drinks may increase a person's risks of developing metabolic syndrome. According to a new study, metabolic syndrome can lead to heart disease, diabetes and stroke. While the beverage industry refutes the study, researchers say soda drinkers tend to drink more calories, consumer more fat, eat less fiber, and live more sedentary lifestyles, which can lead to metabolic syndrome.

And a study finds people who take statins to lower bad cholesterol have a slightly higher cancer risk. These findings come after researchers studied medical records of over 40,000 patients. But the American College of Cardiology insists the benefits of statins outweigh the slight cancer risk. They encourage patients to discuss the possible risk with their doctor.

Another risk to consider. Your friends could be making you fat. Researchers from Harvard and the University of California studied the records of more than 12,000 adults. And they found if they were obese, their close friends had a 171 percent chance of becoming obese as well. Interestingly, spouses and families had a lower risk, closer to 40 percent.

A research team in North Carolina claims it's developed a process of removing allergens from peanuts. Their test on human serum of people severely allergic to peanuts showed no reaction. Their findings have not been FDA evaluated. And more research needs to be done to verify if the peanuts are in fact allergy free. But if correct, it could bring relief to the three million Americans who suffer from peanut allergies.

Sanjay, back to you.

GUPTA: All right, thanks, Judy.

Now when you're making desert this weekend, here's something to keep in mind. A spoonful of cinnamon may help keep your blood sugars stay down. Now get this. A Swedish study says adding a little bit of cinnamon to a sweet treat may temper the blood sugar surge that follows. It may help keep your cholesterol in check as well.

Stay where are you. Coming up on HOUSECALL, churches getting involved in the fight against obesity. While communing with parishioners may be the way to slimmer waistlines.

Then, couples that bike together stay together. We're not sure about that, but it is a great way to a good exercise program. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back with HOUSECALL. You know, religion has been used in healing for centuries, but now some churches are taking on a new health challenge - obesity. Take a look at a new program in Philadelphia that's turning to religion to help the faithful lose pounds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Some people will tell you that faith is good for the soul, but can it also affect your diet? Welcome to Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, home to the first community-based weight loss program run by Temple University.

Now it's part of a four-year study designed to help overweight African-Americans slim down, with support from their church community. Members attend weekly meetings to talk about their weight and eating habits. Camaraderie is key.

JILL COLEMAN, TEAM LEADER: This is more than a diet. I think it's -- the goal is to encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle overall.

GUPTA: Participants listen to music to keep moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Psalms 37:23.

GUPTA: And scripture plays an important role.

RAYVON FAULKS, PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: God wants to you, you know, take care of yourself. That way you can go out and bring other people to him.

GUPTA: Even the pastor of Mount Zion participates.

THOMAS JAMES, REV., MT. ZION UNITED METHODIST: It's easy, it's light spirited. Nothing too serious. We are serious, but we don't get that kind of serious.

GUPTA: The church has been provided with a computer, so members can share their experiences.

BILL SANTAMORE, DR., TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: What we're trying to do is use today's technology to really facilitate prevention and weight loss maintenance.

GUPTA: The parishioners hope to teach other faith-based communities that working and praying together can help and heal the body, quite literally.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Good luck, guys. I hope they stick to it. Just ahead, though, one bike, two people. Do those who pedal together have better relationships? Find out, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're back. Well, experts say working out with someone is a great way to stay committed to a fitness program. Judy Fortin now with a new spin on an old workout that could help even your relationships.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forty bikes, 80 riders, pedaling at speeds up to 18 miles an hour. This tandem bicycle rally winds through picturesque and sometimes grueling terrain.

JOHN SHORT, TANDEM CYCLIST: I feel great. Not that I want to go do it again.

FORTIN: John Short and his wife completed 59 miles in about four hours. He says riding a tandem is a great way to stay in shape and stay together.

SHORT: Everybody told us that if you get a tandem, you're going to get a divorce. But it keeps us together. And we're closer than ever.

FORTIN: Physician assistant Christine Trahan has been riding tandems for 20 years.

CHRISTINE TRAHAN, PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT: If you're just starting out, you can really be at almost any fitness level you want, because a tandem is a great equalizer for couples. If one is a little stronger, athletic than the other, it equals out.

FORTIN: As the stoker or the person who rides in the back, she describes herself as the power person, pedaling all the time. The captain is at the front of the tandem, controlling and steering the bike. Together, the couples get into a rhythm, working their heart and lungs and motivating each other to keep pedaling. Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now Judy told us the bikers she talked to said you can burn between 1,500 and 3,000 calories during a four-hour tandem bike ride, going about 14 miles an hour. There's some quality time together.

All right, we're out of time for today. But make sure to tune in next weekend for another edition of HOUSECALL, where all of your medical questions are answered. Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.

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