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A Southern California pediatrician was placed on probation this week after penning letters four years ago that exempted a toddler from all childhood vaccinations. But the doctor maintains he did “nothing wrong.”

Dr. Bob Sears, an outspoken critic of mandatory vaccinations, will be under scrutiny for 35 months following the decision by the Medical Board of California.

The Orange County, Calif., pediatrician is accused of failing to obtain a detailed medical history before writing the 2014 letters, which he wrote after the 2-year-old’s mother described the child’s adverse reaction to an earlier vaccination, according to officials.

The doctor said it ended up taking more than a year to receive the boy’s medical records, which would include the child’s history of immunizations.

Sears said he took the boy’s mother at her word when she said her son lost urinary function and “went limp” in response to previous vaccinations, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Isn’t it my job to listen to my patients and believe what a parent says happened to her baby? Isn’t that what ALL doctors do with their patients?” Sears wrote in a Facebook post. “A patient’s word is often the only evidence we have — as doctors we must trust our patients, the same way our patients trust us to look out for their best interest.”

He said he agreed to a settlement with the state medical board, which was signed Wednesday, because “it was likely that I’d get probation anyway,” and to avoid going to trial, the report said.

“After all, I don’t want a child to receive a medical treatment that could cause more harm. I am going to, first, do no harm, every time,” he added in his post, alluding to a famous medical phrase.

Sears can continue to practice medicine, but will need to take an ethics class and 40 hours of medical education courses a year, the Times reported.

During his probation period, he must also be monitored by another licensed doctor, the Orange County Register reported.

The board also requires Sears to notify all locations where he practices within seven days of the order going into effect July 27, according to the Register.

“It’s not a trivial decision, it’s not a slap on the hand,” Dorit Reiss, a University of California, Hastings law professor, told the Times. “It really is strongly limiting his ability to practice. … He’s a doctor under supervision now.”

Rebecca Estepp, who is part of an advocacy group for alternative vaccine schedules, supports Sears.

“Many parents, myself included, are relieved that Dr. Sears will maintain his practice and continue to serve his patients that rely on him,” Estepp told the Times.

Probation is the most common punishment for doctors in California accused of wrongdoing. 

But Sears said that the board had four additional cases pending against him.

“It seems there is an attempt to keep me on probation for the rest of my medical career,” Sears wrote on Facebook.

The state medical board took away 57 licenses, while putting 197 doctors on probation in the last fiscal year, according to the Times.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) – Many people know of couples who married in their teens and went on to live happily ever after.

Shirley Perez’s story is not that story.

Raped at 12, married to her rapist at 13 and abused for 12 years before finally getting a divorce – Perez’s story of teen marriage was a personal hell, and she’s still suffering.

The man she was forced to marry was 39 years old. She had her first child with him at age 14.

Perez cannot read or write, her education was robbed from her. She never got the chance to go to school because she was busy raising the five children she had over the course of her 12-year marriage.

Idaho has the highest rate per capita of child marriage in the United States, of the 38 states that track the data, according to data from the national advocacy group Unchained at Last. The U.S. State Department in its “United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls” lists marriage under the age of 18 as a human rights abuse.

Nationally, the average age for women getting married for the first time reached 27.4 years in 2017, according to the Census Bureau. For men, it’s slightly older at 29.5 years, a Women’s Health article said. That’s the longest Americans have ever waited to get married, the article said.

In Idaho, the average age for first-time brides is 25.9, while the average for first-time grooms is 28. And each year hundreds of teenagers get married in the Gem State.

In recent years there has been a push to ban child marriage in the U.S.

Last month, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed into law a bill that sets the minimum age to marry at 18, with no exceptions.

In 2017, New York state enacted restrictions on child marriage, raising the minimum age from 14 to 18 and requiring parental and judicial consent for marriage of those between 17 years old and 18 years old.

In Utah, state Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, plans to introduce a bill next year to raise the minimum age for matrimony to 18, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Those efforts have not gained traction in Idaho.

LOOPHOLE FOR POTENTIAL ABUSE

There is no minimum age for marriage in Idaho. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds can get married with parental consent, and children younger than 16 can do so with a court order and physician exam.

The court order requirement is designed to protect children from being forced into marriage by making sure a judge sees to the well-being of minors.

But those protections didn’t help Perez.

Perez said she’s still suffering today from the ramifications of her teen marriage.

Possibly to mask the scandal of the age difference between her and husband, someone lied on her marriage license, saying she was 16 instead of 13.

Her birth certificate confirms she was 13 at the time of the marriage: Perez was born in 1953 and married in 1966 in Idaho Falls.

“I think that’s probably one of the reasons he probably married me, young body – you know what I mean? And to keep himself from getting in trouble,” Perez said.

Outside of marriage, a 39-year-old having sex with a 13-year-old would be classified as rape or lewd conduct with a minor, which can carry up to a life sentence. In Idaho, a minor cannot consent to sex.

It’s not unheard-of for adult men to marry their teen partners to avoid criminal prosecution.

“And so in a way, it (marriage) can become a tool, so if I, as an adult person with someone 14 or 15, and I convince the parents that it’s in the best interest because I have sexual desires for that person, if I can get married then I’m protected, then I can have sex with that person and you cannot charge me,” said Teena McBride, executive director of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center in Idaho Falls.

Adjusting the marital law surrounding minors to follow the rape statute, which allows minors 16 and older to have sex with a person within three years of them, would be a possible solution to protect minors from marrying people much older than them, Bonneville County prosecuting attorney Daniel Clark said.

But the way the current law is written, there is the marriage loophole for potential abuse.

“I don’t think the court should be signing off on such things,” Clark said. “In my view that seems to circumvent the purpose of the statutory rape statute.”

And Perez’s case isn’t isolated, nor is it a problem embedded in the past.

There are still teen girls being married to men who are over the age of 18 and it’s legal because of this loophole. It’s rarer for teen boys to be married to older women.

“If it (the law) unintentionally gives the ability of a pedophile or someone to molest a child, there should be an update to that law,” Clark said. “Let’s not make it legal by saying I do”

In 2001, there was a 13-year-old in Idaho who was married-off to a man over the age of 18, according to data from the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics.

From 1999 to 2016, there were 5,629 minors married in Idaho, and 102 were girls under the age of 16. For comparison, between 2000 and 2010, nearly 3,900 minors were married in New York, the New York Times reported. New York has nearly 12 times as many residents as Idaho.

NOT READY FOR RELATIONSHIPS

Developmentally, most teenagers don’t have the life experience or abstract thought to handle the maturity needed for a successful marriage, said Benjamin Barton, a developmental psychologist at the University of Idaho.

Between the ages of 13 and 20, the brain isn’t finished developing its abstract thought capabilities which leads teenagers to have very absolutist and idealist thoughts, Barton said.

A teenager marrying someone much older than them is vulnerable to be taken advantage of. The difference in life experience between the teenager and their older partner may cause an unbalanced power dynamic that may lead to abuse, Barton said.

“It would also raise questions for me why this older person is having trouble forming relationships at their age,” Barton said.

McBride said the older men going after the younger girls often can’t find women their own age because women their age aren’t interested in them. The women their age recognize something is wrong with them. This leads the men to seek younger, more vulnerable girls.

That’s what happened to Perez. She said she was verbally and physically abused by her husband.

“Later on, I really wasn’t his wife. I became his daughter, not his wife; that’s how crazy it was. He thought of me as one of his kids,” Perez said. A lot of people also mistook Perez for his daughter, thinking she was her children’s sister.

When she finally divorced her husband at age 25, Perez lost everything.

“I lost all my family that year,” She said, tears swimming in her eyes. “He made sure I lost my kids.”

One of her sons won’t talk to her, and another talks to Perez but she said he doesn’t know her. She doesn’t really have a relationship with them. She walked away from the marriage with $111 and without a family.

A lot of women fleeing abusive relationships are stuck in similar situations, and especially when they get married young, like Perez, their lack of education makes it difficult to get back on their feet.

“My ex-husband loved it, the no education,” Perez said. “He wanted to keep me dumb, not realizing things”

Perez tried to go back to school and get an education when she was in her early 20s, but her then-husband didn’t support her and hindered her efforts.

“I tried to get an education when I was I believe 21, my ex-husband didn’t like it, he did not support the education,” Perez said. “I was five minutes late (getting home) and I took a beating for it. So I never went back.”

A LIFELONG IMPACT

Child marriage is associated with lower educational attainment, high divorce rates, psychiatric disorders and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, according to the study “Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women” published Pediatrics the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“I think a lot of the prevention component really has to be education and talking about the impact that a young female will feel if she enters into a relationship before she’s really ready,” McBride said. “Her education stalls, even for most women who end up in a divorce setting, these young women are more likely because of the lack of education opportunity, lack of job opportunity, to end up living below poverty level.”

In Idaho, divorce rates for child marriages are two to three times higher than marriages involving people over 18 years old, according to calculations of data from the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics.

Women married before age 18 are more than twice as likely to get divorced. Men who marry before age 18 are almost three times as likely to get divorced.

This leaves many education-deprived women without a means to support themselves and their children.

Idaho is also ranked 49th for women’s status and progress, according to Status of Women organization. Kelly Miller, executive director of Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, said this is also in line with women being devalued in Idaho. She said child marriage is a way to devalue women because it mostly affects girls.

State Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said if people can’t sign up for the military before they are 18, then they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. She said children shouldn’t be making those lifelong decisions at such a young age, especially if it’s to marry someone much older than them.

“Especially in a state where I hear so much philosophy about a woman’s place,” Wintrow said. “We need to make sure our young women and girls are allowed to make the choices for their own life.”

But all cases of children getting married under 18 should be alarming to people, even if it’s a 17-year-old marrying an 18-year-old, said Fraidy Reiss, founder of Unchained at Last.

In many cases of child marriage, it is a forced marriage, Reiss said and “completely disempowered throughout this process.”

Even when there isn’t a large age gap within a child marriage, Reiss said it’s still a problem because the underage person doesn’t have the same legal resources as the adult. The child also is usually subject the whims of their parents.

Despite the problems with child marriage, there are still 16- and 17-year-olds who want to marry for the right reasons, but they should still wait until they’re 18, Reiss said. At most, waiting is just an inconvenience, but it protects both parties from unequal power dynamics and potential abuse.

Reiss urges people to go to their lawmakers to change the loopholes in the law that allows child marriage and the potential for abuse which can leave lifelong scars.

“I want to put it behind me, I think it’s time for me to be happy,” Perez said. “To move on, but it hasn’t moved on.

“Maybe if the judge would have acted for me back then, they probably could have (helped me avoid) everything I’ve gone through.”

___

Information from: Post Register, http://www.postregister.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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(Reuters) – A Missouri appeals court on Friday threw out a $55 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit by a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using talc-based products, including J&J’s baby powder, citing a U.S. Supreme court ruling on where such cases can be brought.

FILE PHOTO: A bottle of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is seen in a photo illustration taken in New York, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Illustration

South Dakota resident Gloria Ristesund had been awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages in the 2016 verdict.

She alleged that her decades-long use of J&J talc-based products for feminine hygiene caused her cancer, and that the company had failed to warn consumers about the risks.

J&J denied the allegations, saying decades of testing have shown its cosmetic talc-based products to be safe.

The healthcare conglomerate is battling some 9,000 cases claiming its talc-based products cause ovarian cancer and, in some cases, mesothelioma, a rare cancer closely linked to asbestos exposure, amid allegations the products were contaminated with asbestos fibers. J&J has said its talc products do not contain asbestos or cause any form of cancer.

The unanimous three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals in the Eastern District, in overturning the verdict, did not rule on the merits of the allegations.

The judges instead said the verdict could not stand following a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits where companies can be sued for personal injuries.

The high court ruled that state courts cannot hear claims against companies that are not based in the state or when the alleged injuries did not occur there.

J&J is based in New Jersey and Ristesund exclusively purchased and used the company’s talc products in South Dakota and Minnesota, according to court records.

J&J, in a statement, said it was extremely pleased with the court’s decision to recognize that the trial should have never occurred.

Ristesund’s case was one of more than 60 related talc lawsuits consolidated in Missouri state court, where juries have a reputation for issuing high-paying verdicts. But only one of those cases involved a woman from Missouri, leading many of the cases to be tossed on jurisdictional grounds.

During the appeals process, Ristesund asked the court for permission to present additional evidence tying J&J to Missouri. The judges on Friday rejected her request, saying she had ample opportunity to present such evidence over the past two years.

Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot

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The sun has got his hat on, hip-hip-hip-hooray! A lovely, jaunty song, but one that does absolutely nothing to make people aware of the risks of the sun’s rays. To be fair, sunburn and skin cancer are tricky to fit into a rhyme scheme.

Fortunately, most of us already know that there is some risk to our skin when going out in the sunshine, so we cover up with a hat and long sleeves, avoid going out between 11am and 3pm when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest, and regularly(-ish) apply sun cream. But how do you choose between the many different sun creams available? By using this explainer and sticking to our picks of the best sunscreens, lotions and blocks available, that’s how.

How To Choose Sun Cream

To ensure this sun cream advice is the best available, we checked in with the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD).

What does the SPF rating mean?

It stands for sun protection factor, and it provides the simplest measure of how good a cream is in protecting against sunburn. The SPF rating only refers to how well the sun cream protects against UVB rays, not UVA (we’ll explain in a second). The SPF rating runs from two to 50+, with anything up to 14 counting as low protection, 15 to 29 medium, 30 to 50 high and 50+ very high. The BAD recommends an SPF of 30 as a minimum.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

The easy way to remember the difference is to think of the B in UVB as standing for burn (although it doesn’t stand for that), because UVB rays are the ones responsible for sunburn and raising the risk of skin cancer. UVA rays aren’t harmless, however – they lead to sun-induced skin ageing, so let’s say the A in them stands for ageing (it doesn’t). As mentioned above, the SPF rating refers to the amount of protection from UVB rays a product offers, while the UVA star system indicates the protection from UVA. What’s the UVA star system? Way ahead of you.

What’s the UVA star system?

You’ll see this on the packing for sun cream, which should have a UVA star rating from zero to five. Now this is where it gets a little tricky, so pay attention. The rating refers to the protection offered relative to how well it protects against UVB. So five-star UVA protection might not be all that great if the SPF is very low. The UVA protection might be good relative to the UVB protection, but neither is especially impressive. For adequate protection, aim for an SPF of 30 and a star rating of four of five to ensure protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

What ingredients should I look out for?

There are two main types of sun cream. Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV radiation and expel it as infrared, while physical sunscreens contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to reflect the UV radiation away. Both are effective, but chemical sunscreens are thinner and so easier to apply, while physical sunscreens don’t block your pores so much, which can help avoid the spots that are a common, unfortunate side effect of using sun cream.

Can you rely on a water-resistant sunscreen after swimming?

If a sun cream says it is water resistant you can be sure it is – products bearing that label are tested with two 20-minute-long intervals of moderate activity in water. However, these products are not towel-resistant, so if you rub yourself down after being in the water you’ll need to reapply your sun cream.

Are once-a-day sun creams effective?

Some sun creams offer over eight hours of protection from one application, and if you absolutely nail that initial application and then stand completely still for eight hours the chances are you will be protected from the sun for the duration. However, most of us apply sun cream poorly and then move around, rubbing or sweating the cream off. It’s best to reapply frequently to be safe, no matter what claims are made on the bottle.

The Best Sun Creams

Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist Sun Cream Spray SPF50+

This spray manages to pull off the trick of being highly protective against both UVA and UVB rays without being sticky or greasy. The fine mist makes it easy to cover your body from all angles and it’s rapidly absorbed by your skin so you’ll be protected quicker. £6 for 200ml, buy on amazon.co.uk

Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF30

It might be a little greasier than some of the more expensive sun creams, but Soltan has a lot going for it. It offers five-star UVA protection matched up to the SPF of 30, it’s cheaper than most other brands and, perhaps most importantly, it’s almost always available in airports when you get through security and realise you’ve forgotten to pack sun cream in your checked luggage. £7.50 for 400ml, buy on boots.com

SunSense Kids Roll On with SPF50

The gentle formula of this sunscreen means it’s suitable for children from the age of six months, and it offers high protection against both UVA and UVB rays. £7.49 for 50ml, buy on amazon.co.uk

Hawaiian Tropic Duo Defence Sun Lotion SPF30

As well as offering excellent protection from both UVA and UVB rays this sun cream has an anti-pollution layer, made from antioxidants and green tea extracts, making it a good pick for those out and about in the city on sunny days. £9.98 for 180ml, buy on amazon.co.uk

Avène Very High Protection Cream SPF50+ Spray

When you need the utmost in protection from the sun, reach for this SPF50+ spray. It’s easy to apply evenly to help ensure no patches of skin are left uncovered, and despite the high SPF it doesn’t feel too thick or oily on the skin. £18.30 for 200ml, buy on amazon.co.uk

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Shine Sun Cream Gel SPF50

If you have acne-prone skin, sun cream can sometimes be a trigger for outbreaks – but not if you go for this gel specifically designed for use on oily and sensitive skin. £15.55 for 50ml, buy on amazon.co.uk

Ultrasun Sports Gel SPF30

Enjoy sport in the sun with this gel, which sinks in quickly and offers long-lasting protection so you can set out for a lengthy run or ride without having to worry about reapplying for a couple of hours. £14 for 100ml, buy on amazon.co.uk

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Given that even £100 fitness trackers now boast features like 24/7 heart rate monitoring and a built-in GPS chip, you have to wonder what marvels are being put in top-end devices that cost north of £500. We certainly did, so when Garmin announced the Fenix 5 Plus range of trackers – £599 and up, way up – we were intrigued to find out what bells and whistles they contained.

That’s why we spoke to Greg Vulinovic, a product manager at Garmin, to explain the most exciting new features in the Fenix 5 Plus range, a substantial update to the Fenix 5 range, which consists of three trackers: the 5S Plus, the 5 Plus and the 5X Plus.

Who is the Fenix range aimed at?

While Garmin’s Forerunner range takes care of road runners and triathletes, the Fenix trackers are designed for those who want to explore more of the great outdoors.

“It’s more for trail runners and people who go up mountains who want the navigation features and something a bit more rugged,” says Vulinovic. “The Forerunner 935 is made of plastic so it’s really light, which is great when it’s all about race times, whereas the Fenix is made out of premium materials with a more everyday look.”

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Watches Of 2018

What are the major new features of the 5 Plus range?

“The main feature is that all the trackers have maps,” says Vulinovic. “On the previous range it was only the 5X that had preloaded maps and mapping capability.”

There are also extra routing features on the 5 Plus trackers that take advantage of the preloaded colour maps, including the ability to create a round-trip course for a run or cycle from the watch itself simply by choosing a direction and distance you’d like to cover. These courses use popularity routing based on past Garmin activities, so you know you’ll be using roads and tracks that other Garmin users have used in the past. And if you’re on a course full of ups and downs, the Fenix 5 Plus range can help you pace yourself by breaking down the information for you so you know how much elevation is left in that climb and over the entire route.

The 5 Plus trackers have all got much smarter as well. “There’s also Garmin Pay across the range, so you can use your watch to pay for things in shops,” says Vulinovic. “Currently we’re working with Santander and some start-up online banks, but the portfolio is increasing all the time. Then there’s wireless music as well. You can load music on the watch and there will be streaming services further down the line.”

RECOMMENDED: Five Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Garmin Fitness Tracker

One of the most impressive new features on the watches, however, is limited to the top-end 5X Plus.

“The extra on the 5X Plus is the PulseOx feature, which measures pulse oxygen saturation levels when you’re at high altitude,” says Vulinovic. “Above 3,000m you can get altitude sickness. The feature measures your saturation levels against your current altitude and you can track that across a period of time.

“You can take a measurement in about 30 seconds or there is a function where you can track it all day, so when you are not moving it will periodically take a measurement. You have green bars when your PulseOx is at normal levels, then when it starts dropping it will go amber, so you can track at what altitude your levels started dropping.”

Is the PulseOx measurement the main difference between the 5 Plus models?

“Yes, plus it’s a bigger watch so it’s got a bigger battery,” says Vulinovic. “The 5S Plus is the smallest one, but it has a bigger display compared to [its predecessor] the 5S. It’s better to have a bigger display to see the maps, so everything in this 5 Plus range has a 1.2-inch [30mm] display. Then as you go through the range the watch gets bigger, which increases the battery life, from the 5S to the 5 to the 5X.”

The battery life on all three of the watches is impressive, but playing music while using the GPS hits it hard. The Fenix 5S Plus has 11 hours of GPS life, reduced to four hours with music, the 5 Plus has 18 GPS and eight GPS plus music, and the 5X Plus has a monstrous 32 hours GPS, and 13 hours GPS plus music.

Fenix 5S Plus, from £599, Fenix 5, from £699, Fenix 5X Plus, from £749, buy on garmin.com

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Temperature: Check. Weight: Check. Blood pressure: Check. Feet… When did you last check in with your feet? They literally carry us everywhere, but being furthest from our eyes means they’re also often furthest from our mind.

However, the nerves and blood vessels in your feet link to your brain, heart and spine, and therefore mirror your body, so a peek at your toes could tell you if you need to head to the doctor or just slightly alter your daily routine.

The next time you think ‘my feet are killing me’, stop and pay attention – they may just need a little TLC or they may be trying to tell you to check in with your GP. Here’s what a look at your tootsies might reveal.

Yellow or blue toenails

“The natural colour of your toenails is an important tool in a health check,” Bodell says. Any discolouration could be cosmetic (such as an overuse of nail polish) or more serious.”

Yellow toenails generally point to an infection. Most of the time it’s a fungal infection, but it can be a sign of other infections such as sinusitis. Yellow nails can also occur alongside psoriasis or hypothyroidism. In rare cases, they can be a sign of yellow nail syndrome, which also causes swelling and fluid in the lungs.

Pale toenails might mean a lack of nutrition or anaemia, while blueish ones suggests reduced blood flow. “Questions to ask are: Do you have enough oxygen in your body and are your heart and lungs functioning properly?” says Bodell. Meanwhile, a dark line under your toenails could be an easy-to-fix fungal infection or something more sinister like a melanoma. And if your toenails crack easily, it’s worth asking your GP for a thyroid check.

Not hairy enough

No-one likes to be Hobbit-level hairy but even the tiny hairs on your toes provide useful health information. “We’re all born with hair on our toes, and a gradual loss is a sign of poor circulation,” says Charlotte Bodell, spokesperson for the Australian Podiatry Association. “It can occur when the heart is unable to pump blood to the extremities properly or can be a sign of a narrowing of the peripheral arteries.”

Feel icy

‘Getting cold feet’ may be an everyday phrase, but having constantly frigid tootsies points to poor circulation.

“Since feet aren’t viewed as vital organs for the body’s survival, if it’s cold, the body adjusts the circulatory system to move blood towards the vital internal organs, leaving the feet cold,” says Dr Ryan Harvey, of Queensland GP service House Call Doctor.

“If your feet continue to feel cold when they’re rugged up, it may be a sign of vascular disease or diabetes.”

Numb to touch

Numb feet are a common side-effect of chemotherapy, however, if you haven’t had the cancer treatment and your feet start to go to sleep unexpectedly, with the numbness lasting for a long duration, it could be due to a temporary compressing of the nerves that run to your legs and feet. This results in that dead-leg feeling you experience after sitting a certain way for an extended period.

“Pathological causes of numb feet are many and varied but one of the most common is diabetes, which can damage the nerve supply to your feet, resulting in numbness,” Harvey says.

Dry, flaky skin

If your feet remain dry despite your moisturising routine, it could mean your thyroid isn’t functioning properly and it’s worth raising with your GP. However, if you notice the skin on your feet, especially between the toes, is unusually dry, flaky and itchy, a fungal infection could be to blame.

Smelly feet

Everyone experiences stinky feet at one time or another, and it’s normal for feet to perspire, especially when you realise they have a quarter of a million sweat glands. When shoes and socks are worn and the atmosphere is warm and moist, it encourages the growth of the existing bacteria, creating the smell. You can reduce the whiff by applying foot and shoe deodoriser, and washing your shoe insoles on a regular basis.

Cramps

Cramping is relatively harmless but for those few minutes when it occurs, it can take your breath away. “If your calves or balls of your feet are cramping, you might have a nutritional deficiency, like a lack of sodium, potassium or magnesium,” Bodell says. Spasms could also occur if you’ve overexerted yourself, not stretched enough before exercising or you’ve been wearing ill-fitting shoes.

Enlarged big toe

If your big toe suddenly becomes enlarged, swollen and painful, it could be a bacterial or fungal infection or an ingrown toenail.

Another possibility is an acute gout attack, Harvey says. The big toe is the coldest part of the body and often shows the first signs of gout or arthritis.

Swollen or sore feet

Swelling and/or pain in your feet as well as other joints can be one of the first signs of rheumatoid arthritis. A study in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research revealed that 50 per cent of people with rheumatoid arthritis in the UK had reported foot pain symptoms at diagnosis, and early foot health intervention can go a long way in helping to manage the condition. Swollen feet can be the result of a long flight, hot weather or pregnancy, but Harvey says it can also occur due to “a build-up of fluid in your tissues due to a lack of movement, circulatory problems or kidney and liver issues”.

Sores galore

If you have sores that don’t heal over time, try to keep your feet dry to give the wound a chance to repair itself, and cut down on booze and smoking. Also ask your GP to check your blood sugar levels as hard-to-heal sores can be a sign of diabetes.

What your feet say about your personality

As well as showing signs of potential health problems, your feet may also reveal personality traits, says Jane Sheehan, author of Let’s Read Our Feet!

Toes in a neat diagonal line: You’re methodical, detailed and love seeing things from start to finish.

Wide feet: You’re a hardworking person who finds it difficult to relax.

Wear socks all the time: You’re a secretive person.

Long feet : You enjoy the limelight.

Extra-small little toe: Denotes a childlike nature.

Extra-long big toe: You’re good at brainstorming and thinking outside the square.

Narrow feet: You’re quiet, observant and happy to sit back and delegate.

Being able to waggle your little toe: You love a challenge and hate routine.

Second toe is longer than the big toe: Indicates leadership qualities.

While we’re on the topic of feet, here’s why this podiatrist says you need a medical pedicure. Also, the new less invasive surgery to remove bunions.

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The head of the nation’s top public health agency once opposed condoms and needle exchange programs as ways to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

This week, in one of his first media interviews since taking office, Dr. Robert Redfield Jr. said his views have changed.

“I think the data is just clear that these strategies work. When you see evidence that these strategies work, you need to embrace them,” said Redfield, director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Redfield, 66, rose to prominence as a top researcher into the emerging AIDS epidemic. He has earned praise for his extensive experience treating HIV patients as well as drug addicts.

But he also made headlines more than two decades ago when he was scrutinized for overstating the effectiveness of an experimental AIDS vaccine. And he was criticized for being out of step with the public health community on some issues.

In a 1987 booklet on AIDS aimed at young people, Redfield and his co-author offered no advice on condoms or other preventive measures, preaching that the best way to avoid AIDS was to avoid sex until marriage. They wrote, in all caps: “DON’T ENGAGE IN INTIMATE CONTACT AT ALL. IF YOU HAVE HAD THAT KIND OF CONTACT IN THE PAST, STOP NOW.”

The booklet came out at a time when prominent public health leaders, including U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, endorsed condoms as one way of preventing the spread of the AIDS virus.

In a foreword to a 1990 book entitled “Christians in the Age of AIDS,” Redfield wrote: “It is time to reject the temptation of denial of the AIDS/HIV crisis; to reject false prophets who preach the quick-fix strategies of condoms and free needles; to reject those who preach prejudice; and to reject those who try to replace God as judge.”

Research showing needle-exchange programs work emerged in the 1990s. “Science evolves,” Redfield said.

Until this year, Redfield sat on the board of Children’s AIDS Fund International, an organization that has long prioritized abstinence before marriage in preventing the spread of HIV.

Redfield told The Associated Press this week that it has become clear to him that condoms and needle exchanges work as part of comprehensive programs to stop the spread of certain infectious diseases.

“One thing I can commit to is CDC is not an opinion organization. It’s a science-based, data-driven organization,” he said.

The CDC investigates disease outbreaks, researches the cause and frequency of health problems, and promotes prevention. It has nearly 12,000 employees and 10,000 contractors worldwide.

Redfield was appointed in March. Like his predecessor, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Redfield had been avoiding contact with the media. He said he wanted 90 days to learn about the agency but is now prepared to become more of a national spokesman on health issues, as some earlier CDC officials have been.

Redfield told the AP his priorities for the agency include work to identify and stop infectious disease epidemics around the world, with a keen eye on newly emerging forms of flu and on germs that develop resistance to existing medications.

Another priority will be ending AIDS. He told CDC employees in late March that it’s possible to end the U.S. AIDS epidemic in less than seven years.

Asked about it this week, he backed off a specific timetable, saying his earlier statement was “an aspirational goal” and “no one can predict how long it will take.”

But he said he is encouraged that the number of HIV cases diagnosed in the U.S. was down in recent years, to just under 40,000 in 2016. If more people can be diagnosed and put on virus-suppressing medications, that will cut down the number of people who can spread the disease. Condoms, clean needles and a pill that can protect a patient from developing an infection are also important, he said.

“We do have the tools to end this epidemic. Let’s use them,” he said.

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The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Even before they went gourmet, I was a fan of kebabs. As teenagers, my friends and I would dance into the early hours before hitting a particular kebab shop favoured by my best friend, who was Greek and wise enough to know about these things. We’d buy mouthwatering grilled chicken shawarma dressed with chilli and garlic sauces, which would dribble down our chins. Today’s recipe turns those much-loved kebabs into a light, succulent salad. If you’re vegetarian, swap the chicken for falafel.

Chicken shawarma salad with tahini dressing

If you are having a barbecue, this chicken is delicious cooked over coals.

Prep 15 min
Marinate 2 hr
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

For the chicken
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
A small thumb ginger, peeled
and finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
6 boneless chicken thighs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt, drained
Salt

For the salad
1 head butter lettuce
A handful each parsley and mint leaves
1 cucumber
1 packet radishes (about 200g)
Black onion seeds or white sesame seeds (optional)
4 pickled green chillies, roughly sliced, to serve (optional)

For the dressing
½ garlic clove
½ tsp flaky sea salt
20g tahini
1 tsp honey
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Put the cumin and coriander seeds in a small, dry pan and toast over a medium heat for about a minute, until they start to give off their aroma. Transfer to a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar with the peppercorns, and grind together finely.

Mix the garlic and ginger into the spices with the paprika and cinnamon. Put the chicken thighs into a large bowl and add the spice mix, the lemon juice and zest, the olive oil and three tablespoons of yoghurt. Season generously with salt and rub the marinade into the chicken with your hands. Marinate in the fridge for at least two hours – ideally overnight.

When you are ready to eat, heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6. Put the chicken thighs on a foil-lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, turning once, until cooked through (you can check they are cooked by slicing into one). Leave to rest for five minutes, then slice them into strips.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Core the lettuce, separate the leaves and rip in half. Halve the cucumber lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then slice diagonally into long half-moons. Top and tail the radishes, finely slice, then put the salad veg in the fridge to keep cool, covered with damp kitchen paper.

Last, make the dressing: crush the garlic with the salt. In a mortar or small bowl, work in the tahini and remaining tablespoon of yoghurt. Stir in the honey and whisk in a tablespoon of water, followed by the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste.

Put the salad ingredients in a large, wide bowl and add half the dressing. Top with the chicken slices and any juices, then drizzle over the rest of the dressing. If you have black onion seeds or white sesame seeds, sprinkle over the top and serve with slices of pickled chillies.

And for the rest of the week

This marinade is a keeper. Try adding half a teaspoon of honey and smearing it over a spatchcocked chicken for the barbecue – it makes a feast served with a variety of salads. It’s also great with barbecued lamb, whether a butterflied leg, slow-cooked shoulder or lamb steaks, with grilled courgette, peppers or aubergine. Dress these vegetables with the tahini dressing.

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The government has announced £1m of funding to help police forces across the UK crack down on close passing of cyclists by drivers, and to improve driving instructor training around cycling safety.

Although the sum is small beer indeed in transport terms, split between two projects, poor driver behaviour is a key reason people are discouraged from cycling in the UK. If we can start to tackle the culture of poor driving, including at source with driving instructors, we could eliminate a major reason more people don’t cycle – but it needs more money.

The minister responsible for cycling, Jesse Norman, told the Guardian these were issues he wanted to address after sifting through the 13,000 responses the government received to its cycling and walking safety review (CWIS).

“This is something that’s clear, important and pressing, and so we thought we’d push ahead with it and not wait,” he said. “People have been going on about close passing and having a proper awareness of it in government and it’s nice to be able to respond.”

Norman said it is “a dream and a hope of mine” to have long-term strategic funding for cycling and walking, as we do for roads, rail and air travel, and that he would like to see “the [funding] numbers heading appropriately upwards”.

“The CWIS as a strategy pulled together these pots of money but it did highlight that the amounts of money in this area have significantly gone up. I think it’s trebled, from £2 to £6 [per person per year], and so it would be nice to take that level of commitment on again,” he said.

Norman recognises the success of the “close pass” cycling initiative, pioneered by West Midlands police, where plain-clothed police on bikes are used to catch close-passing drivers. West Midlands police recognised driver behaviour as the primary cause of collisions involving cyclists, and their evidence-based approach reduced cycle injuries by a fifth and halved close-passing reports.

Many drivers they pulled over had not even seen the police cyclist, and educating people is a key part of the force’s tactic. While several police forces across the country since followed suit and introduced their own close-pass initiatives, others remain sceptical. Whether extra resources, which have yet to be defined, will get them on board remains to be seen.

PC Mark Hodson, one of two West Midlands officers who pioneered the initiative, knows the tactic is effective, as drivers cannot tell whether a person riding a bike is a police officer or a member of the public. “Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole, motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger vulnerable road users,” he said

“We’ve seen reports of close passes halve in the West Midlands since we started the project and the number of cyclists seriously hurt in collisions fall by a fifth − that’s incredible against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads.

“Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand that we run operations to catch them, and if they avoid our officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by cyclists and other motorists.”

Then there’s the driver training element. The Bikeability Trust, which delivers cycle training, will give driving instructors “bespoke” training with their £500,000 – though with 400,000 registered driving instructors in the UK, this amounts to just £12 per driving instructor. As it’s a voluntary pilot scheme, though, only those driving instructors who want the training are likely to go for it.

Campaigners want to see a mandatory cycling element in all driver training, but Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said “training the trainers and embedding cyclists’ safety in the mindset of driving instructors is a fantastic first step”.

“Education and awareness on its own is not enough, which is why close pass operations by police forces have proved so effective,” he said.

Dollimore wants to see close pass policing as “the norm, not the exception”. Research by Cycling UK published on Friday revealed that 52% of British adults were not aware of Highway Code recommendations on overtaking cyclists, with approximately one in 10 believing you only need to give a cyclist a handlebar’s width when overtaking.

We know the benefits of people walking and cycling more, and the impact poor driving has on our communities. We know investing in cycling reaps enormous returns, and Manchester’s announcement of a huge programme of cycling infrastructure earlier this week shows that some local authorities recognise it.

But the Treasury holds the purse strings. It’s time for it to get on board and allocate significant funding so the nation can reap the huge benefits of more people walking and cycling. However small the sums, focusing funds on reducing the danger posed by bad driving is a welcome start.



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