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Superbugs have a natural enemy

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The looming scourge of the superbug — bacteria that antibiotics can’t kill — threatens to bring back the era of death by infection.

But there is hope on the horizon.

Superbugs will be responsible for over 10 million deaths per year globally by the year 2050, according to the BBC. Even as recently as 2014, around 700,000 deaths can be blamed on infections that couldn’t be cured with modern antibiotics. The World Health Organization classifies these bugs as an imminent threat to human health.

According to a Time Magazine special report, one treatment currently being researched attacks these superbugs from a completely different angle. This method requires using bacteriophages, or phages, to destroy the bacteria.

Phages are nature’s bacteria fighter, and there are estimated to be around 10 million trillion different phages throughout the world. Phages work by injecting their DNA into a bacterial cell, where it replicates until the bacteria bursts open and dies. Phages are unique in that each strain seems only to attack a particular type of bacteria. This means that treatment with phages will leave the beneficial bacteria intact within the body and just single out the dangerous kind.

Using phages to attack bacteria is not a new idea. They have been used to treat infections throughout the world for nearly a century, but it has had a reputation as an unsafe and clunky treatment. New advances in medical knowledge and technology, however, have shown that this therapy can be a useful cure for cases in which antibiotics have failed, and it remains a promising solution to the impending superbug threat because there is a nearly limitless supply of different phages to use against the bacteria.

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Avoiding back pain as you get older

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It sometimes seems inevitable: as you get older, things ache more — most noticeably, your back. But does it need to be that way? Can you avoid back problems as you age?

For a lot of common aches and pains, the answer is often yes (injury and degenerative issues or disease are a different animal). You should of course consult with an expert regarding your specific questions, as the spine is a complex structure. But there’s hope for those of us who may have assumed that back pain is unavoidable.

The back includes the 24 vertebrae of the spine along with discs and joints as well as a host of supporting muscles and ligaments. The key, according to many chiropractic experts, is to keep these parts in balance.

In other words, a lot of preventative measures come down to diet and exercise.

“Motion is lotion for the spine,” according to Cleveland Clinic, which recommends staying active. Movement can also help keep joints lubricated, which helps offset stiffness and creakiness. Other experts advise you to strengthen your core muscles to better support the spine.

Chiropractors and athletic trainers alike point to muscle imbalances as the cause of much back pain, whether it’s the lower, middle, or upper region. With an imbalance, proper posture is compromised and the load is unevenly distributed, creating strain.

A movement specialist can help identify whether your gait, posture, or other activity is creating an imbalance that you can correct.

Bottom line: aging is inevitable, but there appear to be more options than ever before for warding off the aches and pains that plagued our parents and grandparents. That’s great news for you and your back.

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Cancer survival: then and now

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Thanks to increased awareness and major advances in medical research over the last 30 years, cancer survival rates have drastically improved. Let’s keep doing our part to fund organizations working hard to find cures and share information so that the number of deaths from cancer in the United States continues to decrease.

Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer mortality rates among men decreased by 52% between 1993 and 2015, thanks to the introduction of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings.

Colorectal cancer

Thanks to improvements in treatments and screenings, colorectal cancer mortality rates decreased by 52% between 1970 and 2015.

Lung cancer
The leading cancer killer in the United States, lung cancer mortality rates decreased by 45% from 1990 to 2015 among men and 19% from 2002 to 2015 among women. The decline can be attributed to greater public awareness about the dangers of smoking tobacco.

Breast cancer
Breast cancer mortality rates decreased by 39% between 1989 and 2015. This progress is due to increased emphasis on early detection and advances in mammography.

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Tips for improving your sleep

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Do you regularly have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone, in fact, this is a common problem among seniors. Fortunately, there are a number of things you
can do to catch more Z’s.

Habits to adopt

• Creating a bedtime routine. A sensible going-to-bed routine is essential for getting a good night’s rest. A period of relaxation allows your body to prepare for sleep.

• Reserving your bedroom exclusively for sleeping. Only head to your bedroom when you feel tired.

• Implementing a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and engage in mentally stimulating activities.

• Journaling before you go to bed. If your thoughts tend to run amok as you lay in bed at night, try jotting them down on paper. This helps to clear your mind and ward off anxiety.

Habits to avoid

• Excessive napping. Don’t extend your daytime naps past 20 minutes, and don’t take naps after three o’clock.

• Consuming too much caffeine. Particularly in the evening, avoid foods and drinks that over-stimulate the senses such as coffee, cola and chocolate.

• Oversleeping. If you wake up early, don’t remain in bed too long. It’s natural to assume that more sleep equals more rest but in reality, sleeping in tends to increase fatigue.

Still short on Z’s despite adopting these habits? Then consult with a medical professional. In particular, you may want to ask your pharmacist if the medication you’re taking could be affecting your sleep.

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Guarding against malnutrition

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Seniors are at risk for malnutrition. Though their need for nutrients remains largely the same as when they were younger, their need for energy, and therefore their appetite, decreases with age. Here are a few things seniors can do to fend off malnutrition.

• Have regular weigh-ins. Weight gain or loss can be difficult to notice, as it typically happens gradually. Seniors should make a habit of weighing themselves at least once a month. Any weight loss of more than five percent of their body weight during a period of six months or less needs attention.

• Watch for red flags. Besides weight loss, malnutrition can cause tiredness and irritability, slow healing of wounds and the feeling of always being cold.

• Understand the side effects of medications. Many drugs affect appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.

Remedies for malnutrition include exercising regularly to stimulate the appetite, adding more herbs and spices to meals to enhance flavor and taking supplements (if recommended by a doctor).

If you think you or a loved one is suffering from malnutrition, see a physician right away. Malnutrition has a number of serious consequences, including a weakened immune system (increasing the possibility for contracting infections) and a heightened risk for falling and getting fractures due to muscle weakness and decreased bone mass. A doctor will help you form an appropriate care plan to get your health back on track.

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Cancer myths versus facts

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April is National Cancer Control Month, a time for raising awareness about the prevention and treatment of cancer. In honor of the annual event, here’s the truth about four common cancer myths.

Myth: Cancer is contagious
Fact: Since your immune system automatically destroys foreign cells, cancer can’t spread from person to person, either through the air or through direct contact. However, certain bacteria and viruses that increase the risk for cancer are contagious — for example, human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted, can cause cervical cancer.

Myth: Antiperspirants cause cancer

Fact: While a few rogue scientists claim using antiperspirants containing aluminum heightens your risk of breast cancer, the National Cancer Institute states that no reliable scientific evidence links these products to the development of cancer. There’s also no evidence that using hair dye presents a cancer risk.

Myth: Eating sugar makes cancer worse
Fact: While eating lots of sugar isn’t good for you, it won’t cause your cancer to develop more rapidly, as is sometimes claimed. Likewise, cutting sugar out of your diet won’t cause your cancer growth to slow.

Myth: You won’t get cancer if no one in your family has it
Fact: Only a very small percentage of cancer cases are inherited (about five to 10 percent). You’re more likely to develop cancer because of age, environmental factors or life-style choices.

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Three misconceptions about cognitive aging

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Cognitive aging refers to the changes a person undergoes in their ability to think, sense and reason as they get older. It seems simple enough, but in fact, it’s a subject that’s rife with misconceptions. Here are three of them:

1. Cognitive aging is synonymous with cognitive decline
Health professionals judge that it’s incorrect to speak of a decline, given that cognitive aging is a natural process and one characterized by enormous variability. It’s true that a person’s memory tends to become less sharp as they age and their mental processes tend to slow. However, this isn’t the same thing as a change in intelligence. In fact, there’s no reason cognitive aging should interfere with a person continuing to learn new skills as they get older.

2. Cognitive aging is connected to Alzheimer’s disease

While the signs of cognitive aging resemble the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to some degree, the two should not be confused. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by severe declines in cognitive capabilities. Cognitive aging, on the other hand, isn’t a disease but a natural part of getting older; the changes in cognitive ability to which it refers vary and are gradual.

3. Nothing can be done about age-related cognitive changes.
Cognitive aging may be a natural process, but the extent to which one’s ability to think, sense and reason will change over the years can be controlled. You can be mentally sharp at any age. To attend to your cognitive health, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends the following:

• Be physically active. Physical health goes hand-in-hand with mental health.

• Be socially and intellectually active. Seek out new experiences and new learning opportunities.

• Make sure you’re sleeping well. The quality of your sleep directly impacts your cognitive functioning. Consult a health professional if you’re having trouble sleeping.

• Manage your medications. Certain medications can negatively affect one’s cognitive functions.

Consult with your doctor if you’re concerned about the effect of your medications, or if you want to learn more about maintaining your cognitive health.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

May
18
Sat
10:00 am 33rd Annual Virginia Wine & Craf... @ Downtown Front Royal
33rd Annual Virginia Wine & Craf... @ Downtown Front Royal
May 18 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
33rd Annual Virginia Wine & Craft Festival @ Downtown Front Royal
Wine and craft lovers unite!  The 33rd Annual Virginia Wine & Craft Festival, presented by Jack Evans Chevrolet, will be held on Saturday, May 18th in historic downtown Front Royal, Virginia from 10 am –[...]
10:00 am Clay House Planter Workshop @ Explore Art & Clay
Clay House Planter Workshop @ Explore Art & Clay
May 18 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Clay House Planter Workshop @ Explore Art & Clay
Come in and build a House Shaped Planter with us! Arline J. Link will provide all instruction. $35 all supplies included.
May
19
Sun
all-day Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
May 19 all-day
Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
It’s Lyme Awareness month and one of your local Lyme patients has organized a 5K to support Lyme awareness and research! Lauren Nicole is no stranger to Lyme disease. She has personally dealt with Lyme[...]
May
20
Mon
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
May 20 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
May
21
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
May 21 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Out of the Studio @ Art in the Valley
This four week course will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance. During the first class[...]
May
22
Wed
6:30 pm Rose Wine Class @ Element
Rose Wine Class @ Element
May 22 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Rose Wine Class @ Element
Join us for Rose’ Wine Class & Tasting at Element on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 6:30pm led by our own Caitlin Love! APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY ROSE! Come join us as we celebrate the[...]
May
23
Thu
9:30 am Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
Explore your painting potential by creating unique compositions. We’ll find out what motivates you to paint and how to express your point-of-view on canvas. Learn methods of developing a composition and how to best use[...]
1:30 pm Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Portraits for Beginners: People and Pets @ Art in the Valley
Learn to create realistic portraits of people and pets. Students will practice drawing and painting techniques used in portraiture. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are required to bring their own reference[...]
3:00 pm The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
May 23 @ 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
Have you been thinking about a career change? Are you nearing graduation and not quite sure what you want to do, or what your next step should be? Are you a parent of a student[...]
6:00 pm Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Painting the Landscape with Oils: Late Spring @ Art in the Valley
This class provides a hands-on experience for painting with oils. Students will focus on techniques for painting landscapes. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are recommended to bring their own reference photos[...]