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While 75 percent of babies start out being breast-fed, just over 1 of 10 are breast-fed exclusively for six months.

America's chief doctor called on Americans to support breast-feeding on Thursday and outlined guidelines for mothers and communities to support that most natural nutrition system.

Studies have shown numerous benefits for babies, mothers and overall healthcare when newborns are breast-fed for the recommended minimum of six months.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin issued a report on Thursday advocating mothers breast-feed their children.

"Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breast-feed," Benjamin said in a statement accompanying the report.

"They shouldn't have to go it alone. Whether you're a clinician, a family member, a friend, or an employer, you can play an important part in helping mothers who want to breast-feed."

Breast-feeding develops immunity in babies and protects them from illnesses like diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia, according to the report.

Some studies have linked breast-feeding to higher IQs.

Despite the reported benefits of breast-feeding, some women find that with busy schedules, social stigma, and lack of know-how, consistent breast-feeding is difficult to manage.

Although 75 percent of babies start out being breast-fed, just over 1 of 10 are breast-fed exclusively for six months.

The Surgeon General's call seeks to combat those problems by expanding and improving community programs that provide support and peer counseling, and ensuring employers and health care centers to provide similar support.

The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed the surgeon general's campaign.

"The Call to Action provides a road map for creating a clear path for all mothers to breast-feed as long as they can and wish to do so," the children's healthcare organization said in a statement.
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Dentist Louis Siegelman (with assistant Sara Helms) helped Julie Cunningham (c.) overcome fears.

Three words that strike terror when they come from a dentist's mouth.

Julie Cunningham, CUNY Graduate Center's chief librarian, knew the dreaded feeling all too well. It was so paralyzing, she simply stopped going to the dentist for 15 years — and only for emergencies in the 20 years before that.

At 63, her teeth were breaking, her gums were inflamed. No matter how much she brushed, she worried about her breath.

Last year, Cunningham finally got herself into the chair, the gentle chair of Dr. Louis Siegelman, who specializes in dental phobia and dental anesthesia.

"He's changed my life," said Cunningham, who in the last year accomplished the major dental work she had been avoiding for years: A new bridge, a crown, wisdom teeth pulled and a deep cleaning and implants.

"My family was so thrilled I finally went," said Cunningham, who needed sedation the first several visits and is now able to be awake for routine dental work. "He is someone who understood, who appreciated I took the first step to overcome this fear."

Call him the Dr. Phil of fillings.

Siegelman truly feels your pain. Like a warm and wise therapist, he has helped thousands of New Yorkers overcome their fears and restore their health and self-confidence.

"When people call me on the telephone for the first time, I know they are suffering," said Siegelman, sitting in his W. 57th St. office. "It's like they are out there shivering in the cold. It's rewarding to be able to lift their burden."

Siegelman's manner and practice differ profoundly from the brutal dentists most everyone remembers from childhood. (Think "Little Shop of Horrors.")

The first visit, for example, is the hour he spends talking with a patient on the telephone. He listens carefully, asks questions about what has kept them from coming and tries to tame their terror.

Next is an office visit, where he explains the choices a patient has to ease pain and fear — from numbing the treatment area, to an oral medication to relieve anxiety, to general anesthesia where you are put to sleep and feel nothing.

Dr. Louis Siegelman's specialty is people who are terrified of the dentist and need to be sedated to get through a procedure. (Roca/News)

"People feel this sense of shame that this part of their body which is so personal is in a terrible state," said Siegelman. "And the more put-together they are in the rest of their lives, the more of a conflict it is for them.

"They need to know it's safe to come in — and that everyone here in the office understands and they won't be criticized," he added. "I want them to understand their fear is a normal fear, they are not unusual or crazy. We all have this mechanism to want to flee something that frightens us."

The staff — a team of receptionists, dental assistants and a hygienist — have all been trained to work with apprehensive patients.

Even the recorded message a person hears when the office is closed, or when someone is put on hold, is aimed at allaying the angst.

Melissa McEnerney, the hygienist who has worked with Siegelman for 10 years, said she reminds her patients two months before their scheduled appointments, two weeks before, and then again two days before. And still she gets cancellations.

"I know their patterns," said McEnerney. "The sixth time is the charm. If I didn't have the reminders, it would be another 15 to 20 years before I would see them again," she said.

According to the American Dental Association, 30% of Americans do not regularly go to a dentist. While many people cite cost as the reason, a third of Americans who have dental insurance don't go, sometimes for years.

"One-third to one-half of people have a fear of going to the dentist, but they get there," said Dr. Mark Wolff, professor and chairman of the NYU College of Dentistry. "For about 10% of the people, the fear is so bad they don't go for years."

Wolff said the profession needs more dentists like Siegelman, who combine certified skill in dental anesthesia with an excellent chairside manner.

"There are very few dentists whose practice is devoted to these patients," he said. "It's a very real and needed service. He doesn't just put people in a chair and knock them out. He treats their anxieties as well."

As in Cunningham's case, dental phobias are often rooted in bad experiences as a child. Siegelman says there is often some kind of trauma or abuse, something that may not even be related to dentistry. He once had a former prisoner or war who flew out of the chair as soon as he heard a loud noise from the street outside.

Others are upset by the high-pitched sound of the drill, or feel they can't breathe when the dentist has his hands and equipment in their mouths. One patient, who also suffered from a fear of claustrophobia, needed three staffers to walk her up the eight flights of stairs to his office.

Jennifer Rosenblum, 34, said she can't remember not being petrified of going to the dentist. Before Siegelman, she had never had a teeth cleaning in her life. Not in New York or in France, from where she moved five years ago.

"Unfortunately I waited until the pain felt like my head was going to explode," said the advertising designer. "It's so strange that when it comes to the dentist I completely transform myself from a mature woman to a little girl."

A few weeks ago, she had a root canal and crown done under sedation. "In three hours I was out. It was perfect. I hope I won't wait so long the next time. I'm so happy to have met him.

"I'm facing my fears because I couldn't end the pain myself," she added. "If I could, I would never go to the dentist."

Caroline Hightower, a Manhattan consultant, is glad she found Siegelman after lousy experiences with dentists.

On a recent visit, she reclined calmly in his chair for nearly an hour as he worked on her implants.

"He is gentle and efficient," said Hightower. "I've come to truly like him, which is very strange to feel about a dentist."

The son of parents who worked in the Garment District, Siegelman grew up in Bayside, Queens, the youngest of three children. His sunny and sensitive disposition were on display early in life, according to his 89-year-old mom, Elaine, who still lives in Queens.

"The dentist is the last place you want to go," said Elaine Siegelman. She knows about making people comfortable at the dentist; she recently retired from the front office of another dentist after 20 years there.

Asked why he chose this work, given the amount of patience and energy needed to help people in emotional distress, Siegelman smilingly made his own admission. "I have analyzed that in myself," he said. "I like to be needed."

YOU SHOULD KNOW

Here are three things you can do to ease your dental anxiety — and recognize when it's a problem.

- If just thinking of going to the dentist makes your heart pound, causes sleepless nights or intrusive thoughts, or you go only when you have an emergency, be open and honest with yourself and the dentist about your fears and your past experiences.

- Do your homework when looking for a competent and caring dentist. Ask about his or her training, how many years of experience, the number of cases performed with anesthesia, and the training and readiness of the support team.

- Home care is crucial for keeping your teeth and mouth healthy. Avoiding acidic and sugary beverages and foods, as well as foods that stick to your teeth. Brush and floss daily.

The longer you put off going to the dentist, the worse the decay and chances of more serious health problems.
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About 16% of men are able to ejaculate but feel none of the pleasure of orgasm.

For nearly a fifth of men, sex is just terrible.

About 16% of men are able to ejaculate but feel none of the pleasure of orgasm, according to research presented at the European Society for Sexual Medicine.

In fact, when it comes to sexual dysfunction, it's not the erection or the ejaculation that's the problem for many men -- it's feeling anything at all.

So are these men, well, faking their orgasms?

"When I asked the test subjects in plain language, ‘Did you feel orgasm [after ejaculating after sex with a woman], 16 % of men in our group said they didn't have sensation of orgasm," said Dr. Darius Paduch, assistant professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. "This is astonishing."

Problems with sexual pleasure don't just affect older men. Paduch said that he sees men as young as their 20s.

It isn't easy for men to admit to their partner that they can't enjoy sex.

"Our society is more sympathetic for women facing sexual problems, but men are still faced with self-doubt, fear of being labeled as impotent, inadequate and just not a full man," said Paduch. "You need to remember that regardless if a man is a bricklayer or a president, men value themselves through their sexual performance."
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Sen. Charles Schumer revealed a new bill on Sunday which calls for a nation-wide ban on the so-called bath salts.

Two drugs that produce a "meth-like" high and are being sold under the guise of "bath salts" would be banned as federally controlled substances under a bill unveiled on Sunday by Senator Charles Schumer.

"These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country," said Schumer, a New York Democrat.

Schumer said he will introduce a bill to outlaw the two synthetic drugs -- mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV. The drugs come in powder and tablet form and are ingested by snorting, injection, smoking and, less often, by use of an atomizer.

Users experience an intense high, euphoria, extreme energy, hallucinations, insomnia and are easily provoked to anger, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is currently investigating the drugs.

They have emerged as legal alternatives to cocaine and methamphetamines, and one or both have already been banned in the European Union, Australia, Canada, and Israel. In the United States, Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota have all recently banned the substances.

"The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in," Schumer said.

Media reports over the last year describe the drugs as becoming increasingly popular, particularly among young people attending nightclubs, although the actual number of individuals using the drugs is unknown.

"These products are readily available at convenience stores, discount tobacco outlets, gas stations, pawnshops, tattoo parlors, truck stops and other locations," said an alert issued by the DEA.

"Prices range from $25 to $50 per 50-milligram packet," the DEA alert said.

The European Union banned mephedrone in December, saying the drug was directly linked to the deaths of two people, and may have been tied to 37 other cases of death.

The European Union's report said there was limited scientific evidence on the effects of the drug -- believed to be mostly manufactured in Asia before being packaged in the West -- but that there was sufficient evidence of its health risks to support a ban.

Schumer has also asked the health commissioner of New York State, Nirav Shah, to ban the two substances.
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Diabetes in America: 13 million, or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older have diabetes.

U.S. health officials have raised their estimate of how many Americans have diabetes to nearly 26 million or 8.3 percent of the population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new estimate: Here is a breakdown of the terrifying 2011 statistics:

Age 60 years or older: 10.9 million, or 26.9% of all people in this age group, have diabetes.

Men: 13.0 million, or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Women: 12.6 million, or 10.8% of all women aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Non-Hispanic whites: 15.7 million, or 10.2% of all non-Hispanic whites aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Non-Hispanic blacks: 4.9 million, or 18.7% of all non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Pregnant women: Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35% to 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10–20 years.
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Laughter may be the best medicine -- especially if its administered by a professional medical clown.

Women who have tried everything to get pregnant may have one more option: A medical clown. Seriously.

A study of 229 Israeli women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to treat infertility received 15-minute visit from a trained "medical clown" immediately after the embryos were implanted. The success rate ballooned to 36%, compared with 20% for women who weren't given the silly treatment.

The goal of the study was to see if reduced stress, caused by laughter, could increase the chance of that the injected embryo will successfully make its way into the womb.

Afraid of clowns? Other treatments, including acupuncture have lead to positive results for women undergoing IVF.

You can't become a medical clown just from attending your local clown college. The University of Haifa in Israel is the only school in the world that actually awards a degree in hospital jokery.

These professional funnymen, who have taken courses in nursing, have made strides in Israeli children's wards by helping young patient communicate their pain and distract them from their suffering.
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Charlie Sheen is reportedly undergoing another round of rehabilitation to cope with his drug addiction - only this time, he's getting the help delivered to his home.

The star of the CBS comedy hit "Two and a Half Men" will reportedly receive visits to his Los Angeles home from "an expert in addiction," reports TMZ.

But does at-home rehab work?

The clearest benefit for a patient receiving rehabilitation treatment at home is that he receives all the comforts of, well, home.

But this can be a mixed blessing.

"The patient doesn't have access to the full compliment of medical services," Dr. Petros Levounis, the director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Lukes & Roosevelt Hospitals told the Daily News. "If something goes wrong, there are no resources available."

Making an addict feel "at home" isn't always the wisest treatment move.

"Every time you sacrifice something to make rehab more 'like home'—you are catering to the way the addict's life is currently operating," said Dr. David Moore, psychologist and author of the NY Daily News weekly column 'Addictions & Answers.'

For example, Sheen is likely to have full access to his cell phone and internet, a luxury that is usually denied to patients first entering rehab.

"The only benefit to treating Sheen at home is to control the environment so that the paparazzi has less access to what is going on," said Moore. "However, this type of 'sterilizing the environment' is simply not effective."

If the patient is still suffering from withdrawal symptoms, he may require a battery of caregivers to administer IV fluids and medication, provide counseling, and schedule around the clock visits.

This also costs a lot of money - most likely a lot more than one would spend in a traditional inpatient rehabilitation facility.

"You have to bring the hospital resources to the patient, rather than the other way around," said Levounis.

Even if the patient being treated at home has every medical marvel at his fingertips, there's one thing he's likely to miss out on - group counseling.

Sheen may be intent on avoiding the cameras but he may have trouble succeeding in sobriety if he doesn't have contact with non-celebrity addicts.

"It requires a very motivated person," said Levounis. "Part of rehabilitation is asking for help, having humility and the ability for introspection. You can't bring an AA meeting into someone's home. It's helpful if the patient is willing to leave the home for group therapy and counseling."

Is there ever a time when at-home rehabilitation is recommended over traditional treatment?

Only when the patient refuses anything else.

"When a person steadfastly refuses to come to an addiction treatment center, then this can be a successful option," said Levounis.

Moore is less optimistic.

"Take a look at Tiger Woods—he had family counselors and therapists coming to his Florida compound for his drug and sex addiction stuff," he said. "Where did it get him?"
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The 30-second spot stresses that a 20 oz. bottle of soda pop contains the equivalent of 16 packets of sugar.


Sugar is the new scourge of the city, the Health Department is warning.

The city cut a grisly new TV commercial warning of the health risks of sugary soft drinks - including images of a diabetic's decaying toes.

"Don't drink yourself sick. Go with water, seltzer, fat-free milk or unsweetened teas instead," admonishes the narration.

The 30-second spot stresses that a 20 oz. bottle of soda pop contains the equivalent of 16 packets of sugar.

A mid-morning soda, a sweetened tea at lunch, a frozen coffee drink in the afternoon and then a few sodas at dinner might seem harmless, but they add up to 93 packets of sugar, a female narrator intones.

The ad says excessive sugar intake can cause health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

And to drive home the message, the ad features the decaying toes and an unconscious man being shocked with a defribillator.

This the second such commercial released by the city in its campaign against sugar drinks.

The earlier spot was released in September 2009 - and featured a young man chugging what was described as liquid fat, with the admonition, "drinking one can of soda can make you ten pounds fatter a year."

Print versions of the ads have also been displayed on subway trains and.

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said the latest ad push could be seen as gruesome by some, but she added, "we're trying to educate people about the potential harmful health consequences of sugar drinks.

"We call them hard-hitting and realistic," she added.

The latest ads will air through Feb. 22 on major broadcast and cable TV channels in the area.
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