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5 Ways Women are Tougher, Luckier, and Smarter Than Men

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

By Corrie Pikul

We're Better at Recognizing a Pickup Line

In a 2008 study of heterosexual college students, guys who were shown images of platonic and sexually interested women had a harder time distinguishing between friendly and frisky cues. Men were slightly more likely than women to misidentify the friendly images as sexually interested. While women did mistake about a third of the sexually interested images for folks just being friendly, men did even worse, leading the researchers to deem them as the "perceptually insensitive" sex (feel free to use that line on a clueless date).

RELATED: Women, Men, and Ouch! The Painful Truth

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

We're Faster

Well, at least our circadian rhythms are faster. Researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital found that the cycle length of the daily biological clock in women was shorter than it was in men (six minutes, on average). This means that many of us tend to wake up earlier—and this gives us an excuse to go to bed earlier than our partners.

RELATED: How to Get Quality Sleep Quickly and Easily

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

We Make More Effective Congresspeople (When We Manage to Get Elected)

Regardless of party affiliation, congressional women deliver more federal projects to their home districts and sponsor and co-sponsor more legislation than their male colleagues. In a study that was recently published inThe American Journal of Political Science, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Chicago attributed women's political success not to some innate political instinct but to the fact that it's really hard for us to get elected (there are currently 360 men and 75 women in the House; 83 men and 17 women in the Senate). They theorize that women feel immense pressure to measure up, so instead of meeting expectations, we surpass them.

RELATED: 28 Ways to Become a Leader

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

We're Better Educated

We've been hearing for decades that women earn more bachelor's degrees than men. But in the 2008-2009 academic year, women earned 60 percent of all master's degrees and finally caught up with men in earning 50.4 percent of doctoral degrees. Congratulations, graduates!

RELATED: Women, Men and the Future of Education

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

We Have Stronger Immune Systems

A 2009 study by scientists at McGill University indicated that women have a built-in mechanism to protect from infection. Estrogen naturally found in our bodies suppresses an enzyme that interferes with our defense system. These findings may inspire estrogen-based treatments to boost immunity in those (ahem, men) who don't already possess the hormone.

KEEP READING: 10 More Ways Women are Tougher, Luckier, and Smarter Than Men

Weight Gain and Your Period: Is Aunt Flo to Blame?

Conde Nast Digital Studio

Conde Nast Digital Studio

Amy Paturel, SELF magazine

Your monthly "curse" comes with a slew of unwanted side effects, including cravings, water retention and bloat (we won't even get into themood swings!)

So how many pounds should you expect to pack on during your period? We asked Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, to weigh in.

Gerbstadt explained that these are the monthly changes typical of a "regular" cycle:

Related: Yoga Moves for Flat Abs

Menstruation: When your period starts to flow, chances are you feel crampy, bloated, fatigued and moody. On the plus side, when you're actively bleeding, your body is sloughing off the uterine lining and preparing for a fresh cycle. As the days go on, hunger and cravings dissipate, you lose the bloat (and any excess pounds). In fact, you're at the lowest weight of the month right after you stop bleeding. Enjoy it while you can!

Follicular Phase: Whether you're trying to get pregnant or not, the follicular phase is all about fertilization. Your body is working hard to naturally select the perfect egg (at least for this month), and estrogen levels are on the rise. Unfortunately, estrogen and weight gain often go hand in hand. What's more, as the uterine lining gets thicker to welcome a fertilized embryo, you may tack on a little weight as a result (think one-quarter to one-half pound).

Ovulation: As you near ovulation, you may feel more energized and in tune with your body. But you may notice some bloating and fuller breasts, too -- and that equals more weight gain! Some women experience water gain in response to hormones during this time of their cycle.

See Also: Gwyneth Paltrow's Arm and Abs Workout

Luteal Phase: The beginning of this phase is relatively uneventful. Any ovulation-related bloat usually vanishes within a few days. But then, a few days later, the PMS-madness begins. Not only will you feel hungrier (as your body prepares to support a potential pregnancy), but you're also more likely to crave salty, sugary and fatty snacks -- and that can pack on the pounds. In these few days, eating big could add 1 or 2 pounds of fat.

Keep in mind that every woman (and every cycle) is different. If you're taking birth control pills, hormone prescriptions or fertility drugs, some of these weight changes may be magnified (others may be muted). Just take stock of how your body reacts throughout your cycle so you're in tune with what's "normal" for you. And don't sweat a few extra pounds. Chances are, they'll disappear after a few days (no matter where you are in your cycle).

6 Ways to Drink and Still Shrink

By: Liz Plosser

Glug, glug, glug. That's the sound of pounds being poured on. Studies show that we're chugging 411 liquid calories daily, almost 130 more than we consumed in 1990, and all those sips are adding up.

"We don't compensate for what we drink by cutting back on food," says Barry Popkin, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "We still eat the same amount." So slurp a whipped coffee drink at breakfast, a few cans of soda in the afternoon, and a couple of cocktails with dinner and you've just doubled your calorie intake -- and your chances of weight gain -- without realizing it. "Drinks don't require as much effort to consume, so it's easy to overdo them," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

You can still enjoy your faves and not gain an ounce: Just follow our sip-smarter guide.

Hit the Bottle

A water bottle, that is. The old eight-cups-a-day rule no longer has merit, researchers say, because we get plenty of H2O from other sources, including fruits, vegetables, coffee, and tea. But sipping at least a few glasses of water daily can deliver some serious benefits, including weight loss. "Thirst can masquerade as hunger, so a lot of times we eat when really our bodies just need water," says Keri Glassman, RD, author of The O2 Diet. To tell the difference, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes. If your stomach is still grumbling, have a snack. If not, you were probably dehydrated.

Soda Can-Dos

The average American downs almost 48 gallons of soft drinks a year, according to Beverage Digest, a publication that tracks industry trends. This makes soda the largest single source of calories in our diet, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and such sugary beverages increase our risk for diabetes and heart disease. Slowly, though, we're starting to cut back. Thirty-four percent of soda sippers in a survey by Mintel, a market research firm, say they're drinking more water and less of the carbonated stuff to stay healthy and prevent weight gain. More than half the respondents worry about the artificial sweeteners in diet soda. Although studies are inconclusive, some experts believe that diet beverages also cause people to pack on pounds, in part because the sugary taste triggers cravings for the real thing. Those findings may help explain why we now guzzle one-third less regular soda and 10 percent less diet than we used to, according to Mintel.

Sip Tip: Need your daily soda fix? Limit yourself to one or two cans a day and drink more good-for-you beverages, like low-fat milk and plain water.

A Happier Hour

We're a nation that loves to celebrate with a drink; we consume more than 500 million gallons of wine, beer, and spirits a year. Research shows that we would imbibe even more if liquor contained functional ingredients, such as antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins. "There's a growing number of people who want to sip a cocktail and get health benefits at the same time," Taub-Dix says. We're also watching our waistlines and choosing skinnier drinks. Seven of the 10 top-selling domestic beers are light beers. Here's a reason to toast: Women who drink one to two servings of wine, beer, or liquor a day tend to gain less weight over time than teetotalers, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Some studies indicate that regularly drinking a small amount of alcohol may reduce our appetite.

Sip Tip: Moderation is key. While too much alcohol can hurt your health, experts say that a little bit daily may boost it. Stick to no more than two 5-ounce glasses of wine, 12-ounce bottles of beer, or 1-1/2-ounce glasses of liquor a day.

Get Juiced

OJ accounts for more than half of all fruit-juice sales in the United States, and no wonder: We each consume more than four gallons of it a year. "A cup a day is fine, especially if you have trouble getting your daily servings of fruits and veggies otherwise," Taub-Dix says. "But eating a piece of fruit is the better choice, since it packs more fiber into fewer calories." A medium orange has about 60 calories, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of filling fiber; an 8-ounce glass of juice has 112 calories, almost twice as much sugar as the fruit, and only half a gram of fiber.

Sip Tip: Be sure to pick a carton labeled "100 percent juice." "There are plenty of impostors out there containing a lot of added sugar. For a healthier fix and to slash the calories, mix juice with seltzer or club soda," Taub-Dix says.

Good Sports Drinks

Five years ago a straight-up sports drink, like Gatorade or Powerade, was pretty much the only option for quenching your post-workout thirst. Now enhanced waters, like Vitaminwater Zero, and protein drinks, such as Muscle Milk, are filling the gap. "This category used to cater mainly to athletes, who needed to rehydrate after hard workouts," says Sarah Theodore, global drinks analyst at Mintel. "But sports drinks have evolved to meet the needs of all sorts of exercisers, from those looking to lose weight to people who want to build muscle."

Sip Tip: "If you're hitting the gym for less than an hour, low-cal sports drinks or flavored waters are great," says FITNESS advisory board member Leslie Bonci, RD, author of Sport Nutrition for Coaches. "The sweet taste can heighten your desire to drink, helping you stay hydrated." If your sweat sessions last an hour or more, stick to the full-calorie varieties. Long workouts increase your body's production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can weaken the immune system, says David C. Nieman, PhD, a researcher who studies exercise at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Sipping a sports drink provides just enough fuel to decrease the stress on your system, reducing cortisol levels.

Energy Boosters

Today there are hundreds of choices for those in need of a quick pick-me-up, including energy shots (small low-calorie or calorie-free drinks promising supersized caffeine levels), energy-drink mixes, and fortified water jacked up on vitamins. Many energy drinks contain megadoses of caffeine (145 milligrams or more for every 8 ounces), so experts caution against making them a daily habit. "Too much caffeine can cause anxiety and insomnia," says Paul Arciero, PhD, an associate professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. While fortified water may seem like an easy way to get the nutrients you need, it's not the best answer. "Water with vitamins is no substitute for eating whole foods, which have a variety of compounds and antioxidants to help your body stay healthy," says Keri Gans, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. Plus, one bottle can have eight teaspoons or more of added sugar.

Sip Tip: Arciero recommends consuming less than 600 milligrams of caffeine daily. If you take a multivitamin, limit yourself to one bottle of fortified water.

7 Tips for Making Happy Decisions about How to Spend Your Time, Energy, and Money.



We all have to make decisions about how to spend our time, energy, and money. Because of my happiness project, I now explicitly ask myself, "Will this decision make me happier?" I'm determined to get the most happiness bang for the buck.

Here are some questions I consider:

1. Is this decision likely to strengthen my relationships with other people? Strong relationships with other people are a key—the key—to happiness, so decisions that help me build or strengthen ties are likely to boost my happiness. Yes, it's a hassle and an expense to go to my college reunion, but it's likely to have a big happiness pay-off.

2. Will this decision provide me with novelty and challenge? Novelty and challenge make me happier—but they also make me feel insecure, intimidated, frustrated, and stupid. To get past that hurdle, I remind myself that in the end, I usually get a big shot of happiness. When I considered adding video to my blog, I reminded myself that the process of mastering the process would likely make me happier. And it has.

3. What is the opportunity cost of this decision? ("Opportunity cost" describes that fact that doing one thing means foregoing alternatives.) Energy, time, and money are limited. Even if a decision would bring happiness, if it means that I have to give up the opportunity to do many other happiness-boosting activities, it may not be worth it. I could dedicate many hours to learning about classical music, and in the end, I might enjoy classical music more, but that activity would crowd out too many other things that I want to do more.

4. Does this decision help me obey my personal commandment to Be Gretchen? I want to shape my life to reflect my temperament, interests, and values. I ask myself: Am I making this decision to "Be Gretchen," or because I want to impress other people, pretend that I'm different from the person I actually am, or deny a truth about myself?

5. When I consider a particular course of action, do I feel energized or drained?

6. How happy are the people who have made that particular decision? In Daniel Gilbert's bookStumbling on Happiness, he argues that the most effective way to judge whether a particular course of action will make you happy in the future is to ask people who are following that course of action right now if they're happy, and assume that you'll feel the same way. Going on a family trip to Disneyworld. Getting a hamster. Learning to use Instagram. Working as a paralegal. Volunteering. In evaluating the likely consequences of a decision, other people's experiences of happiness—or lack thereof—can be very instructive for me.

7. I remind myself to "Choose the bigger life." People make different decisions about what the "bigger life" would be, but when I ask myself that question, it always helps me see the right answer, for myself.

This list might help answer questions such as:

  • Should I join Facebook?
  • Should I buy a tent?
  • Should I throw a Labor Day party?
  • Should I buy a new kitchen table?
  • Should I sign up for Spanish lessons?

There's no right answer or wrong answer -- only the right answer for me.

How about you? Have you developed questions for yourself, or other strategies, to help make wise decisions?

* I came across Adam Bryant's New York Times interview of Kip Tindell, the chief executive of the Container Store. Very thought-provoking -- and I'd love to talk a look at his "Philosphy Epistle" file.

* If you read this blog, but haven't read the book The Happiness Project -- I promise, the book isn't just a duplicate of the blog. It's different, and I think most people think it's better. There's only so much that can be said in a blog post! Anyway, if you'd like more information...
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.
Can't resist adding: #1 New York Times and international bestseller

Are you putting blind faith in your sunscreen? 5 scary SPF secrets

Slathering on sunscreen is the best way to ward off evil rays, but don't put blind faith in its efficacy. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., reviewed nearly 1,400 sunscreens in 2010 and found that only 8 percent made the grade in terms of preventing skin cancer and signs of aging. (Scary, right?) So choosing the right one is critical. These fascinating facts and tips will help keep your skin healthy this summer and beyond.

11 Foods for Perfect Skin

1.  Some Dangers Lurk Within A form of vitamin A is added to some sunscreens to minimize the aging effects of the sun. What's not to love about that? Potentially plenty: Researchers with the National Toxicology Program say retinyl palmitate--a vitamin-A compound used in at least 40 percent of American sunscreens--may speed up the development of skin cancer-related tumors and lesions when used on skin hit with sunlight. Lab animals coated with a vitamin A-laced skin cream and exposed to the equivalent of just nine minutes of midday sunlight every day for a year developed tumors and lesions up to 21 percent sooner than animals coated in vitamin A-free block.

While there's disagreement in the medical community about whether vitamin A has the same effect on humans, it's best to proceed with caution.

"If there's a question about the safety of something, avoid it. Plenty of sunscreens don't have retinyl palmitate," says Robert J. Friedman, M.D., a dermatologic oncologist in New York City and a clinical professor at the New York University School of Medicine. Try Jason Family Natural Sunblock SPF 45 ($12, at health-food stores).

Score a Bikini-Ready Body 

Vitamin A isn't the only controversial ingredient slipped into some SPFs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, common block chemicals, are linked to allergic contact dermatitis and photocontact dermatitis (irritation caused when certain chemicals are on skin that's exposed to sunlight), as well as hormone disruption, in lab animals.

2. Sunscreen Can Harm the Environment Twenty thousand tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers, divers, and surfers into the oceans every year, eventually affecting marine life, according to a 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. And coral reefs are getting especially creamed. Researchers say sunscreens with octinoxate, oxybenzone, parabens, or camphor derivatives are killing hard corals (which could negatively impact biodiversity and reef ecosystems). None of this is a problem if you're hiking, biking, or sunbathing on dry land. But if you plan to swim in the sea, slather on a biodegradable sunscreen that doesn't contain ingredients that are mean to marine life. Try Alba Botanica Very Emollient Fragrance Free Mineral Sunblock SPF 30.

Keep Your Feet Summer-Ready With This DIY At-Home Pedicure

3. SPF Doesn't Always Block UVA Rays The magic number shown on the bottle refers only to a sunscreen's ability to block the sunburn-inducing UVB rays, not to be confused with UVA rays, the ones that cause wrinkles and skin cancer (though excessive exposure to both rays can lead to skin cancer). The FDA is considering a set of guidelines that would use a four-star system to rate a sunscreen's effectiveness against UVA rays. In the meantime, check the ingredients on the bottle for one of these UVA blockers:

Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide: These ingredients are famous for their UVA blockage, and new formulas won't leave you with a Casper-like film on your face. Try Episencial's Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 Water-Resistant Protection for Face and Body.

Avobenzone (a.k.a. Parsol 1789): This common UVA fighter is among the most effective chemical-based blockers. Choose one like MDSolarSciences No Touch Body Spray SPF 40.

Ecamsule (a.k.a. Mexoryl SX): This chemical ingredient is 3.8 times more protective than avobenzone and has long been a staple in European and Canadian sunscreens. It's now available in a few American blocks, including La Roche-Posay's Anthelios line and L'Oreal's Ombrelle line. But it's not cheap--a 3.4-ounce bottle of La Roche-Posay costs $30 (

What the Experts Use on Their Skin Year Round

4. Sunscreen Expires If you pull a half-empty, sand-caked tube of last summer's sunscreen out of your beach bag, check the expiration date before using it. Most sunscreens are designed with specially formulated stabilizers that protect its potency for up to three years, but that's assuming you didn't let it bake for days in your backyard. "Leaving sunblock in intense heat for a prolonged amount of time may make it less effective," says Mitchell Chasin, M.D., medical director of Reflections Center for Skin and Body in New Jersey and fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. So store sunblock in a cool place, and while you're at the beach, keep it in the shade.

Get the Right Loot: Our Picks for This Year's Best Beauty Products

5. Meds Can Make You More Vulnerable Medications like tetracycline, diuretics, and painkillers such as Celebrex, Aleve, and ibuprofen up your chances of getting a burn, says Barbara Gilchrest, M.D., professor and chair emeritus of the department of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and chief emeritus of dermatology at Boston Medical Center. "They make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, specifically to UVA wavelengths, which means you need to be extra vigilant about sunscreen when you're taking them." Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, like Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid SPF 50 ($10,, to ward off sunburn and photo damage, which results from chronic exposure to UV rays.

Lying Labels, Protective Foods, and More:  5 Other SPF Secrets 

Tell us: What are your best, and worst, habits when it comes to sunscreen???

Perky, Lifted, and Shaped: How To Get a Better Butt [video]

By Laurel House

It's bikini season, time to put your best butt forward! Ever since Kim Kardashian's revered rear bumped the sinewy silhouette aside as the most coveted shape of a woman, we have done all we can to lift, shape and perk up our own backsides to bootylicious proportions.

When it comes to making the best of what we've got, it's a 5-prong approach:



Your Diet

"Fit"- as in how your Jeans Fit, and Pocket Placement



Cardio: Cardio exercises such as workout videos, kickboxing, step aerobics, stair climbing, stairmaster, jogging, power walking intervals on an incline, hiking, swimming or rollerblading 4-6 times per week for 30-45 minutes will help with butt shaping. The great thing is that you don't have to go to a gym for this, do do-yourself workouts and you will still get the incredible butt you want! If you want to make the most of your time and really get the fastest results, look to The Butt Bible. Trainer Pauline Nordin, the trainer on the Nordic version of The Biggest Loser, is a tough-talking Swedish bombshell who promises a total butt transformation in six weeks! The Butt Bible is a 3-DVD fitness system of 6 kickass, circuit-style workouts.


Resistance: To lift and shape, you need to tear down the gluteus muscles and create active muscle cells that are ready to rebuild. Try butt exercises that focus on resistence and power moves that shock the butt muscles and force them to fire. A few butt lifter faves: squats, lunges, butt lifts, step ups


The Foods You Eat: I didn't say to "diet," this is more about "your diet"- what you eat/you're your diet consists of. Having a shapely behind also has to do with foods you choose. If you want to lose size you have to minimize your calorie intake. Remember that 3500 calories equals 1 pound of fat. Make sure to eat wholesome, nutrient-rich meals with a proper balance of protein, high fiber low sugar carbohydrates and healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Also, help the fat-trimming process by eating fat-blasting foods (foods that naturally burn fat).

Some jeans are specifically engineered to accentuate your assets- lifting and separating like a wonderbra. Instead of buying a completely separate contraption to do the trick, our favorite denim shapers have built-in butt enhancers (no, not butt pads!). Through careful construction, perfect pocket placement and seemingly innocent seams, your behind can be shaped like a ripe set of cherries. Avoid bubble butt and create the appearance of your own set of cherries by selecting a style that lifts and separates (kind of like a butt bra). Look for 5-pocket, tight-fitting, stretch material jeans, with a specifically contoured waist and back rise, all of which work to sculpt the butt, while simultaneously bringing the eye to certain areas and away from others.

Perfect Pocket Placement

Half the battle of having a great butt is paying attention to the type of pants that you wear. Back pocket placement and size can dramatically change the appearance of your behind. For best placement, the pocket should end right above the crease between your butt and thigh. When pockets are too far apart they tend to bring your eyes out, making your butt appear wider. Be sure pockets are close enough together.


Drink lots of water with lemon (lemon acts as a mild diuretic) to flush out your system and minimize fluid retention and bloat. Believe it or not, after a night of sushi and soy sauce (loaded with salt) your butt will bloat! The goal is perky cherries, not swollen cherries! Water, Water, Water!

Alright, time to slip on that bikini and show off that butt at the

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Fast food rolls out healthier kids menus. At last.

Turkey Sliders for healthy kids at Silver Diner.

Turkey Sliders for healthy kids at Silver Diner.

An army of 19 major chain restaurants have banded together to offer healthier options for kids. The Kids Live Well campaign, announced today, rolls out more choices and a little less soda-pushing, at major franchises from Burger King to iHop.
To join the movement, chain restaurants have to meet certain criteria:
  • at least one kid's meal option(entree, side and drink) under 600 calories 
  • a side under 200 calories with under 35% of those calories from sugar
  • the option to swap out fries and soda for the healthier side and beverage
  • entrees must include two of the following: whole grains, veggies, fruit, lean protein and lower-fat dairy.

Some fairly big names have already made the team including Cracker Barrel, Chili's and Denny's.  Overall not all of the dishes are necessarily good for kids, but they are an improvement. Now for the million dollar question: will your kids really go for fruit sides over the fries without a tantrum? Maybe if that fruit is cut in the shape of french fries or if it's a summer favorite like watermelon. Kids aren't dumb. Based on the handy campaign website ( some restaurants are offering a solid, creative combo of healthier fare while others are making a more feeble attempt at attracting kids. 

First the more appealing kid's Kid's Live Well menu options:
  • Au Bon Pain's Grilled Chicken on Multigrain bread with a side of watermelon and low fat milk (410 calories, 8 grams of fat). 
  • Chevys' Kiddie Chicken or Beef Taco with grilled veggies, carrots and celery side, and apple juice (450-490 calories, 13-14 grams of fat)
  • Silver Diner's Kid's Turkey Sliders with strawberries (570 calories, 16 grams of fat)
  • Cracker Barrel's Grilled Chicken Tenders with corn and apple juice (410 calories, 11 grams of fat)
  • Burger King's Kid's Hamburger with apple "fries" and fat free milk (420 calories, 11 grams of fat)

Now the lazier menus at chain restaurants in the campaign:
  • Chili's grilled chicken platter with either oranges, celery or broccoli. It's definitely healthier, but how about carrots with that celery? And since orange juice comes with the meal, why also offer kids mandarin oranges as a side?
  • At Friendly's there's a garden salad with chicken and a side of orange juice. Eh. 
  • IHOP lets kids swap out fruit for hash browns which is great but a little more creativity in the waffle department will be welcome. 

Overall, the campaign is still a supersize accomplishment in the fast food world. With 19 brands involved, healthier kid's menus seems like more of a change of tide than a trend. And maybe with a little time and some competition, the good-for-you options will continue to get as creative as the fried fare. In the meantime, the campaign welcomes more chains to hop on the bandwagon. Hear that McDonald's?

5 Things Your Doctor Looks for in a Doctor

By: Lambeth Hochwalk

Finding a doctor you like is exactly like finding a needle in a haystack. Cut down on your research time and get the healthcare you deserve by discovering what real doctors demand from their own MDs.

Related: What Your Doctor Is Really Thinking

1. Knowledge About the Latest Research

"It doesn't matter to me if she went to Harvard Medical School," says Alice Chuang, MD. "What matters is what she knows now: Docs practicing at universities or academic hospitals are usually very up-to-date on new studies."

Related: QUIZ: Find the Right Doctor for Your Pain Problems

2. Proper Certification - and a Clean Record

"I want to know that my doctor has a reasonably good reputation. She should be licensed by the state she's in and board-certified, information that's available online," notes Christina Catlett, MD, an ER physician in Baltimore. "You can also check your doctor's malpractice history by contacting your state's medical board."

Related: Skincare SOS: When It's Time to Go to a Doctor

3. Strong Communication Skills

"I want a physician who's comfortable saying that she doesn't know something and who sends me copies of my test results when I ask," says Marie Savard, MD. The ability to listen -- without interrupting -- is even more important to Dr. Catlett: "You have to be able to tell your doctor everything."

Related: The Heart Disease Prevention Guide for Every Age

4. Healthy Habits

"They should practice what they preach -- a dermatologist who's tan, for instance, would throw me off," says Dr. Savard. Also key: hygiene. "Don't be afraid to ask your doctor if he's scrubbed up right before seeing you," says Sandra Fryhofer, MD.

Related: Get a Free Skin Check

5. A Helpful Staff

"My old internist was great, but I switched to another because his office was a zoo and the support staff was inefficient, so I waited too long for appointments," says Vicki Porges, MD, a New York City pediatrician.

Obesity Linked to Aggressive Breast Cancer in Older Women

Obesity in the post-menopause years may lead to a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer that grows independently of estrogen, HealthDay reports.

A new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle shows that women with a high body mass index (BMI) had a 35 percent increased risk, compared to women who were not obese, for developing triple negative, an aggressive type of breast cancer identified by a lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 protein expression.

According to HealthDay, triple-negative breast cancer is rare, only occurring in about 10 or 20 percent of breast cancer cases, but it carries a poor outlook with its diagnosis because of the aggressiveness of the cancer and the lack of target treatments.

How To Lose Weight Without Dieting

While the link between obesity and more mainstream, estrogen-fueled breast cancer has been acknowledged, the link between this estrogen-independent form of cancer is a new discovery.

"The new part of this is the triple-negative," said study leader Amanda Phipps.

Phipps and her colleagues followed participants, ages 50 to 79-years-old, for 15 years to look at cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. The women reported exercise habits, along with weight and height, from which their BMIs were calculated. During the study follow-up, it was discovered that 2,610 women developed estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, and 307 developed triple-negative cancer.

Breast Cancer Prevention: A Top 10 List

While the statistical significance of the link between BMI and triple-negative breast cancer is "borderline," Phipps says she believes it is simply the product of low study numbers. She is advocating more research into the phenomenon.

One thing the study does indicate is that "obesity [and cancer risk] is not just an estrogen problem," Joanne Mortimer of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center told HealthDay. "It's not just the problem of the estrogen feeding the cancer cells."

Mortimer, who reviewed the study, said she believes fat cells may create a welcoming environment for the growth of cancer cells.

Also Popular On Thirdage:

8 reasons to make time for family dinner

Getty Images

Getty Images

By Sarah Klein

Soccer practices, dance rehearsals, playdates, and other scheduling conflicts make family mealtime seem like a thing of the past. During the holidays, it gets even worse with parties, school events, and last-minute shopping trips. Suddenly, we're feeding our kids breakfast bars during the morning commute, sneaking 100-calorie packs at our desks, and grabbing dinner at the drive-thru window.

Eating meals together goes beyond the opportunity for bonding and relaxing. And despite the feeling that there's no time for such luxuries, 59% of families report eating dinner together at least five times a week—an increase from only 47% in 1998, according to the Importance of Family Dinner IV, a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

If you're finding it difficult to get together with your family at the dinner table, here's a little inspiration:

1. Kids might learn to love their veggies.
A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber. Family dinners allow for both "discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods," says Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the survey's lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School. New ways to deal with picky eaters

2. It's the perfect setting for new foods.
Most likely, a 6-year-old is not one day going to decide she'd really like to try Brussels sprouts. Parents have to introduce new foods to children, who initially need a little guidance in making healthy choices. A family meal is the perfect opportunity for parents to expose children to different foods and expand their tastes.

In a 2003 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children were offered some pieces of sweet red pepper and asked to rate how much they liked it. Then, each day for the next eight school days, they were invited to eat as much of the pepper as they wanted. On the final day, the kids were again asked to rate how much they liked it.

By the end of the experiment, the children rated the pepper more highly and were eating more of it—even more so than another group of children who were offered a reward for eating the pepper. These results suggest that a little more exposure and a little less "You can leave the table once you finish your broccoli!" will teach kids to enjoy new foods, even if they don't like them at first.

3. You control the portions.
Americans spend more than 40% of their food budget on meals outside of the home. Eating out can be convenient but it's also caloric—portion sizes in restaurants just keep growing! The average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal. Studies show that when we are presented with more food, we eat more food, possibly leading to our expanding waistlines. 8 tips for controlling portion sizes

4. Healthy meals mean happy kids.
Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them. When a child is feeling down or depressed, family dinner can act as an intervention. This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents. "If a child eats with his or her parents on a regular basis, problems will be identified earlier on," she says.

5. Family dinners help kids "just say no."

Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen's chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report "While substance abuse can strike any family, regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age, or gender, the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help prevent [it]," says Elizabeth Planet, one of the report's researchers, and the center's vice president and director of special projects. 4 ways to stay fit with your kids this summer

6. Better food, better report card.
Of teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20% get C's or lower on their report cards, according to the CASA report. Only 9% of teens who eat frequently with their families do this poorly in school. Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other, which may explain why family dinnertime is also thought to build a child's vocabulary.

7. Supper can be a stress reliever.
Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed. In 2008, researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study of IBM workers and found that sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office. (Interestingly, the effect wasn't as pronounced among dads.) Alas, the study didn't take into account the stress of rushing to get out of the office, picking up the kids, and getting a meal on the table. Secrets to a stress-free, happy, healthy family

8. Put a little cash in your pocket
In 2007, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals away from home, according to the national Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you take into consideration that the $2,668 spent on meals away from home only accounts for about 30% of meals (according to historical data), that's about $8 per meal outside of the home, and only about $4.50 per each meal made in your own kitchen. You do the math!