Helping make the health care system work for you

State Farm drops Rob Schneider ad amid outcry over his anti-vaccine stance

US Hollywood actor and stand-up comedian

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Rob Schneider performs during 'Black Dog - Comedy Evenings' in Bangalore in 2011.

State Farm has apparently decided that someone who's outspoken against vaccines is not a good neighbor — or at least, not a good pitchman for the company. The insurer is pulling an ad featuring anti-vaccination activist Rob Schneider, a comedian and actor who's better known for his work on Saturday Night Live and movies like Deuce Bigalow.

Schneider's stance

In 2012, Schneider campaigned against a California law requiring parents to meet with a doctor before they obtain a Personal Belief Exemption, which allows them to opt out of vaccinating their children.

"You can't make people do procedures they don't want," Schneider said in this video interview with News10 Sacramento, posted on the Huffington Post in 2012. "The parents have to be the ones who make the decisions for what's best for our kids."

Read More...

Which flu shot is right for you and your loved ones?

Chicago Clinic Gives Flu Shots To At-Risk And Elderly

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Widespread flu vaccination is intended to protect people who are at risk for serious complications from the virus.

Southern California broke records last week during a late summer heat wave. But, while it may not feel like it, don't be fooled: flu season is almost upon us.

The basics

The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get the seasonal flu vaccine. It's designed to protect people against the main flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness during the upcoming season.

Widespread flu vaccination is intended to protect people who are at risk for serious complications from the virus.

And now is the time to do it. The CDC recommends people get the shot soon after it becomes available, and preferably by October. It takes two weeks for people to develop the antibodies that protect against the flu.

"I would get the flu shot earlier rather than later," said Dr. Shruti Gohil, associate medical director at the University of California, Irvine. The reason: "it affords you protection throughout the flu season," she said.

Read More...

Is sitting really the new smoking?

Man sitting on a club chair reading from his laptop.

/iStockphoto.com

If you work in an office, what tactics have you employed to reduce the amount of time you sit during the day?

I read every anti-sitting story with trepidation.

I do what I can to live a healthy lifestyle, but my job requires a lot of chair time. Over the years, I've tried to accept that death-by-sitting is a necessary evil of my beloved career choice.

But an article by Sacramento Bee health reporter Cynthia Craft makes me rethink my reluctant acceptance of extended sitting.

"Sitting is the new smoking," Craft writes, because, "both are habits that are within our physical capabilities to stop."

Wait, this sitting-at-a-desk thing is just a bad habit I've developed?

Craft continues:

"Like smoking, cardiovascular experts say, the decision to sit is our own. It's preventable. It's deliberate. We can quit it."

And the reasons to quit sitting are extensive, Craft writes: It slows our brain function and increases our risk of cardiovascular disease.

Read More...

If you thought IUDs were just for moms, think again

IUD

iStockphoto.com

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effect forms of birth control, but are relatively underutilized, at least in the United States.

Until recently, intrauterine devices – or IUDs - were marketed as the birth control for moms. This commercial for the hormonal IUD, Mirena, perfectly illustrates that.

At least one reason it was sold that way: There were concerns that the IUD could lead to infertility, if it was implanted wrong or caused pelvic inflammation.

But Dr. Eve Espey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico, says the IUDs on the market now are very safe and complications are rare. (Uterine puncture occurs in an estimated one out of 1,000 women, Espey says.)

They're slowly gaining traction and acceptance among young women, and women who haven’t had kids yet. (If you're among the women using an IUD, please share the cost of your device with our #PriceCheck project!)

Read More...

Will the Apple Watch affect health and hearts?

Apple Unveils iPhone 6

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, on September 9.

A few months ago, Impatient readers told us they love their Fitbits.

"I love my Fitbit and so do my dogs, who get more and longer walks so I reach my 10,000-15,000 steps daily," Toronto Walker commented on this blog.

Will the new Apple Watch – revealed last week – have the same impact on people's health and hearts?

The Features

The watch – announced with a $349 price tag – will be customizable, and available in different colors, sizes, body types and bands, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Reporters Benny Evangelista and Stephanie M. Lee explain the Apple Watch's health-focused features:

Coupled with the accelerometer and GPS sensor of the required iPhone, the Watch can provide real-time feedback of all physical movements, such as cycling, sitting and standing. Over time, it's supposed to suggest personalized daily fitness goals.

Those features, available through the new apps Fitness and Workout, could be useful because people need instant and specific advice, not just raw data, to improve their health, said Malay Gandhi, managing director of Rock Health, a San Francisco accelerator that seeds digital health startups.

Read More...