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Friday, July 26, 2013

Gmail Users: Find Your WebMD Newsletters

As a Gmail user, you may have noticed that Gmail has been rolling out changes to your inbox. Your access to WebMD newsletters may have been affected by these changes.

Do you see three tabs across the top of your inbox labeled Primary, Social, and Promotions? If so, please check the Promotions tab. You probably will find your WebMD newsletters there.

To move your WebMD newsletters to the Primary tab:

Open Gmail and click the + icon to the right of your tabs.

To move WebMD emails to the Primary tab, drag and drop it into the Primary tab. Another way to do this is to right-click a message in your inbox, and select the “Move to tab” option. You will then get a message asking if you want to undo that action or choose to always put messages from that sender in the tab you chose.

To disable your Gmail inbox tabs:

Use the checkboxes to show or hide each tab, then click Save. If you hide a tab, messages in that category will appear in your Primary tab instead. If you prefer to see all your messages in one list, simply hide all tabs.

For general information about your Gmail inbox tabs, visit:


Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 2:13 pm

Friday, June 15, 2012

Council Bans 9-Year-Old Food Blogger, Then Backs Down

By Brianne Moore

Usually we applaud children who are enterprising and trying to eat well, but local authorities in Lochgilphead, Scotland took a dim view of one 9-year-old’s food blog, which depicted photographs of her school meals.

Martha Payne started taking the photos and set up her blog six weeks ago to raise awareness and money for Mary’s Meals, a charity that sets up school feeding projects in impoverished communities around the world. Martha would take pictures of her lunches and rate them on health, taste, and the number of bites it took to finish the meal. As the blog went viral, students from around the world started sending in pictures of their school lunches, which Martha posted alongside her own.

Although Martha was generally full of praise for the school lunches, Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper portrayed her as being highly critical of the meals. The Daily Record’s articles caught the attention of the Argylle and Bute Council, which ordered Martha to stop taking photographs of her food, as her blog had upset the lunch ladies and was misleading, since it only showed what Martha herself was eating, not all the meals that were available.

Martha wrote one last entry on her blog, explaining why she wouldn’t be able to post anymore, and the internet exploded in outrage. Celebrity chef and school meals advocate Jamie Oliver tweeted his support to more than 2 million followers, a free speech group stood up on her behalf, and even the Scottish Labour party’s spokesman for children and young people applauded Martha’s blog, which has helped raise thousands of pounds for her chosen charity. In the face of the immense backlash, the council finally backed down and lifted the ban on photos in the cafeteria, just hours after putting in place.

It’s unclear whether Martha will continue to write her blog, but there is a definite silver lining to the brouhaha: Donations to Mary’s Meals have now passed 36,000 pounds, more than 500 percent of Martha’s original goal, enough to build an entire kitchen in Malawi.

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 5:02 pm

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The New Teen Drinking Trend: Hand Sanitizer

By Louise Chang, MD

Hand Sanitizer

The LA Times recently reported on six recent cases of teens who wound up with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer. The active ingredient in hand sanitizers is ethyl alcohol, and some teens were able to separate out the alcohol from the gel, resulting in 120-proof liquid. A 1.5 oz. shot of 80 proof gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey is considered a standard drink. As you can imagine, just a few ounces of alcohol from hand sanitizer could cause serious problems for anyone and could be fatal.

Abuse of common household products is not a new phenomenon. Mouthwash and cough syrup have been trends. Case reports of people who drank hand sanitizer for its alcohol were also reported in The New England Journal of Medicine as well.

Teens can be tempted to experiment with over-the-counter products because they are easy to access. They may feel like it’s “safer” because the products are over-the-counter. Teens are also good at keeping such activities secret from their parents. As parents, it is important to be on the lookout for risky behavior; maintain an open dialogue with your teen about drugs, including over-the-counter products; monitor how they are doing in school and their peer relationships; and take advantage of teachable moments like this one.

Photo: iStockphoto

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 2:29 pm

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Readers Weigh in on Autism

Autism Awareness

April is Autism Awareness Month, and April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day. While an autism diagnosis is generally viewed as something to fear, many autistics can be high-functioning, affectionate, and remarkable. We asked our community members to share their experiences and recognize someone they know with autism. Here’s what some of them had to say:


My six-year-old son has Autism. He is such an amazing and endearing little boy who tries very hard in school and is doing extremely well this year. Kindergarten…he has amazed the teachers with what he knows.

One thing that is very unique about him is he is very affectionate towards others, which is not common among autistics. He loves hugs and loves to be cuddled. When he was a baby, he spent so much time in my arms right next to me for most the day and night and I think that has helped bring out his affectionate side as a little boy.

He loves trains, cars, anything with wheels. He has his oddities like rubbing his hands together or rubbing his head and he loves pants! Pants are like a security blanket to him. He cuddles with them at night.

Most important of all, I am VERY PROUD to be his mother! He is my life; without him I do not know how I could go on. He is a very special boy to us and brings so much joy and laughter to our family. I never regret anything about him or his diagnosis. It is unfortunate that he has the diagnosis of autism but we as parents are CONFIDENT that he WILL achieve his goals. We will always be beside him to support in whatever he wants to do in life.
Our little boy and other little boys and girls with autism are a gift to this world! We must support them and encourage them in all they do. I believe each and every person (young and old) with autism contributes something special to the world despite the challenges they face. We must lift them up and let them know they are loved and appreciated each and every day!


My wonderful friend J has Asperger’s syndrome. He knows what it’s like to be subject to prejudice and unfairness, and he’s made it his life’s mission to never do that to anyone around him. Plus he’s a helluva mechanic and one of a very few people on the planet I’ll trust with my car.

My other friend J (different name, same initial) probably has Asperger’s syndrome, and his sister A definitely does. They’re both musical geniuses; they both sing, and J is a classically trained pianist.

My little basically-niece, age 4, has developmental delays that may or may not put her on the spectrum. One of the things I’m proudest of in my life is that she has chosen me as one of the people she trusts enough to come to with her feelings.

My best friend from high school’s five-year-old son has PDD-NOS. The unique thing about him is his rapier wit. The kid is hilarious, just like his parents, who are both kooks in the best possible way.

Many of the clients I have worked with are on the spectrum, and to protect their confidentiality, all I can say about them is that they are awesome.
And although he’s passed many years ago, my dad — had good diagnostic screenings existed back then — very likely had Asperger’s syndrome. He gave me his love of and talent for music, and he threw himself into supporting my love of and talent for writing. And I think Asperger’s made him a better dad to me, because while my mom would say things that pretty much any parent says out of anger when I disobeyed (“you’re naughty, you’re bad, you’re a brat, get out of my face”), my dad recognized and accepted and understood that I needed reassurance of the difference between me and my actions. He would actually say out loud to me things like, “I love you, I don’t love what you did. You’re so much better than what you did.” Because my dad was a literal person, he — unlike my mom and unlike many others — never questioned or belittled my need for those literal words.


My 4-year-old grandson is autistic; he will be 5 on the 25th! He was also born with both speech and motor apraxia. He is a very happy little man and makes everyone around him happy too! Sign is his main language and his little “girlfriend” is the only one he signs at his heart. He has taught all of us a lot.

Do you know someone with autism? How have they touched your life? Share your stories in the comments below or in our Autism Support community.

Photo: iStockphoto

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 4:04 pm

Friday, March 30, 2012

Was Lawrence Too Healthy for ‘The Hunger Games’?

A week ago, the much-anticipated movie “The Hunger Games” opened to huge audiences and mostly decent reviews. Some of those reviews, however, took a disturbing turn when some critics brought up the film’s lead, Jennifer Lawrence’s, weight, with a few suggesting she was too healthy looking to play a girl from a poor district. Though he praised her overall performance, Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter rather oddly mentioned her “lingering baby fat” while Jeffrey Wells in “Hollywood Elsewhere” called her a “big-boned lady.” Interestingly, all but one of these critics (Manohla Dargis of The New York Times) are men, and none of them criticized the well-fed physique of co-star Liam Hemsworth, who comes from the same impoverished background as Lawrence’s character.

Nearly anyone who’s ever seen Jennifer Lawrence would agree that she’s got a fit, healthy (and slender) figure, and the fact that these critics are dwelling on her waistline instead of her performance illustrates a dangerous and worrying preoccupation with actress’—and, indeed, women’s weight. For Lawrence to perfectly fit the character’s body description in the book (particularly the latter parts of the story), she would have probably had to starve herself, or at least go on an extreme diet, and she would have had to do it quickly—she had six weeks to get ready and train for the part. That’s a dangerous and potentially life-threatening prospect that can have far-reaching health implications—among other things, rapid weight loss can cause hair and muscle loss, electrolyte imbalances, and gallstones. The actress herself has claimed she takes a healthy approach to life—she exercises regularly but refuses to diet. Shouldn’t that be celebrated instead of derided?

Between this and the Vogue story about the mother who put her 7-year-old daughter on a diet, young women’s bodies have been in the news quite a bit this week. There’s a lot of pressure on women and girls to be skinny, no matter what their genes dictate, and Hollywood has often been guilty of advancing the skinny=pretty idea, leading many young girls to embrace crash diets, unregulated pills and supplements, and eating disorders. Criticizing an actress in mainstream newspapers for refusing to starve herself for a role and derisively calling her “big boned” when she most definitely is not is sending the wrong message to many. It’s time to focus on the performance rather than looks and get the message straight that it’s not about fitting into a size 0, it’s about being fit and healthy.

How do you feel?  Did Lawrence’s appearance affect the movie for you? Were the critics right to point out the weight discrepancies between what’s onscreen and on the page? Or is it much ado about nothing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 4:03 pm

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Debate: Should the Government Make You Have Health Insurance?


In just under two weeks, the Supreme Court will start its hearings on the Health Care Reform Law’s individual mandate—the requirement that all Americans carry some sort of health insurance or face a fine. The individual mandate has been a major bone of contention in the health care debate, and our readers, like many other Americans, were divided on the issue. Here’s what they had to say:

Davedsel57: [The government should make you have health insurance] only if they will pay the premiums or make them much less expensive. Health care coverage has gotten too expensive and does not cover enough over the past few years, as everyone is aware. If the government is going to force health care on everyone, then it should be cost effective for the citizens and be worth having.

Apprd: Should the government force you to purchase low fat foods (since, in the aggregate, a population dieting on low fat foods would presumably have fewer medical conditions long term and thus alleviate some of the costs contributing to high premiums)? Or should the government force me to buy birth control or condoms (since in the aggregate, a population not procreating will reduce the population’s size long term and thus alleviate some of the costs of contributing to high premiums)? The people in this country have gotten entirely too complacent about what they will allow the government to require of them. People need to wake up.

Edwhug: The problem with being able to opt out of health insurance is that healthy young people…wait until they “need” it. This “adverse selection” process means that only at-risk people will pay the premium to get health insurance, which will make the premiums high. The whole idea of insurance is to spread the risk. So yes, I think everyone, healthy and sick, should be part of the same insurance pool.

Anon_1631: Read the Constitution. The Federal government’s authority begins and ends there. Healthcare is WAY outside its realm of authority.

Plaidskirt: At the present time I am paying for myself and for those who don’t have insurance. And I don’t believe that we can possibly say, “You don’t have insurance? Sorry, we’re not going to treat you!” We are, however, still faced with the dilemma that we don’t know how to reduce the overall cost of medical care without compromising quality. Talk is cheap and there is lots of it around! I do have a suggestion that perhaps the forum can comment on: since there is some resistance to charging people [for their] poor living habits (overeating, smoking, for example)…, we instead extend a reduction in cost to those who follow a healthy lifestyle. Some plans may already do this.

Kabernathy: No. The federal government should not require anyone to have healthcare. The government needs to stay out of individuals’ personal decisions on where and how they spend their income.

Rhondamay: If there is to be any control of escalating healthcare costs it makes sense that everyone should have health insurance coverage. One of the main reasons that medical costs are high is cost shifting, passing the costs of the uninsured that are unable to pay onto those with insurance. The Affordable Health Care Act is a great start and I strongly support it…For the system to work for the benefit of all we must all have coverage and there are also tax credits to help offset the costs for low income, uninsured individuals.

Mlk240: I think it is wrong, and against the Constitution, to make all citizens purchase something from the private sector…I think that everyone deserves affordable health care, but making us all purchase insurance isn’t the answer. If anything, the government should be doing more to regulate the insurance industry to make it more affordable for everyone…and also work to make it more difficult for insurers to drop people when they have a health issue…and regulate what must be covered on every basic policy. I really believe that most people would carry health insurance if they could afford it comfortably, but the problem is that they can’t…Insurance prices keep going up, but covering less, so no wonder so many Americans are struggling.

Chastens: Given that hospitals cannot, by law, refuse treatment to the uninsured, I don’t see how individuals can be allowed to opt out of coverage. Those who do still get treatment, subsidized by you and me.

When you get treated in the emergency room and don’t pay, the hospital doesn’t just eat those losses. They recoup them by increasing the cost of the hospital’s services across the board and pass the increases along to Medicare, Medicaid, other public assistance programs, and medical insurance companies, who in turn pass them along to tax payers and policy holders. If you have medical insurance, you get a double whammy!

Triple whammy, actually, because the uninsured often forgo even inexpensive preventative treatments and management of chronic health problems until they have serious, expensive-to-treat illnesses…

For those who truly cannot afford insurance, increasing the risk pool would help drop the cost of a policy to an affordable range, and for those who truly can’t afford it, I’d much rather be subsidizing policy payments that enable them to receive less costly preventative care and management of chronic diseases. And avoidance of the more costly medical care can contribute to helping put rising medical costs under control by reducing unreimbursed emergency care.

I fully support mandatory healthcare coverage, with fines for those who don’t comply the same way I support mandatory auto insurance. The uninsured harm us all.

To read the full debate, click here.

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 7:28 pm

Monday, March 12, 2012

Study Suggests Beards Get Respect, but No Love

By Brianne Moore

bearded man

Has stubble lost its sex appeal? A study recently published in Behavioral Ecology suggests that women find bearded men less attractive and more aggressive than those who are clean shaven, but both men and women thought bearded men had the appearance of higher social status.

The study used pictures of men from New Zealand and Samoa who were shown making angry faces while wearing a full beard (over six weeks’ growth, no trimming) and clean shaven. The photos were viewed by more than 200 women, who were asked to rate the men’s attractiveness. The women judged the men more attractive when they were clean shaven. The pictures were then shown to other men, who thought the beards made the men in the photos look older and more aggressive.

Curiously, both sexes agreed that facial hair adds “gravitas,” and that the bearded men appeared to have a higher social status and commanded more respect from other men.

So, apparently beards are out, for those looking to score a date, but what about a day or two’s worth of stubble? Previous research indicates that light stubble actually makes men more attractive to women than being clean shaven.

What do you think, readers? Is a beard attractive or not? Sound off in the comments below.

Photo: AbleStock

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 5:21 pm

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sore Winners

By Brianne Moore

Winners and Losers

Most of us are taught in childhood to be gracious winners, but according to researchers from Ohio State University, that lesson isn’t really sinking in. Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State found that those who outperformed others on a competitive task tended to act more aggressively towards those who performed worse. The losers’ behavior towards the winners was much less aggressive, suggesting people at least know how to lose gracefully.

Bushman, along with three colleagues from a university in Paris, conducted three studies to find out if winners or losers tended to be more aggressive. In the first study, 100 American college students were told they’d be competing against a partner on two tasks (the partner didn’t actually exist). After the first task was finished, half the students were told they did better than their nonexistent partner and the rest were told they did worse.

The second task was designed to measure aggression. Participants were told to push a button as fast as possible, and whoever was slower would receive a blast of noise through headphones. The faster pusher would decide how loud the noise would be and how long it would last. The students who “won” the first challenge tended to blast their partners much longer and louder than those who lost.

Two follow-up studies involving French students showed similar results—winners were meaner to losers than losers were to the winners. According to Bushman, the takeaway from this is that “losers need to watch out.”

So, are winners just more aggressive in general, or only toward those they defeat? Apparently, that’s a study for another day…

Photo: Digital Vision

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 8:11 pm

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mother Passes Melanoma to Baby

By Louise Chang, MD

Many of you may have heard the news of young Addison Cox, the 9-month-old baby with advanced melanoma skin cancer. Her mother had a cancerous skin melanoma removed years ago and was deemed cancer-free when she was pregnant. It was only shortly after the birth of Addison that her mom was found with melanoma that had spread to her brain and other organs. Addison’s mother passed away a few weeks ago, and Addison is fighting melanoma that has spread to her brain, lungs, liver, and other parts of her body.

Having cancer during pregnancy is uncommon; estimates are that it may occur in 1 in 1000 pregnancies. Spread of cancer to a fetus is much less common, with less than 100 cases reported since 1866. Melanoma comprises about 30% of those cases.

Addison’s mother did everything right. After her initial cancer was removed, she had routine check-ups to make sure it hadn’t recurred, and when she was re-diagnosed shortly after giving birth, she insisted her daughter be tested. Sometimes cancer can be insidious and, unfortunately, discovered too late. It’s a tragedy, but a rare one, and an important reminder to keep checking your and your children’s health, and if you’ve had a history of illness, to make sure your doctors are running all the appropriate tests.

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 9:05 pm

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finding Humor in Fear

By Brianne Moore


Can a phobia be funny? Ask Sara Benincasa, a woman who overcame crippling agoraphobia to become a stand-up comedienne and, now, an author. She chronicles her struggles with her phobia in her recently published book Agorafabulous!, which is described  as a “collection of short, humorous stories that chronicles one woman’s struggle…and how she overcame her demons through therapy and comedy.”

Benincasa uses her experiences as the basis for her stand-up routines, but for those who suffer from it, agoraphobia is no laughing matter. Agoraphobics often become anxious in public areas (the word derives from the Greek “agora,” meaning “marketplace”), fearing they could become trapped there. Those who suffer from agoraphobia frequently experience panic attacks in open spaces, crowds, and uncontrollable social situations such as malls or airports. In the most severe cases, the person can become housebound, afraid to leave their home or any space that they can’t control. Women are about twice as likely to become agoraphobics as men are, though it’s unclear why this is. Agoraphobia is commonly treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy, which includes imagining being close to the situation they’re afraid of, or with systematic desensitization, in which the sufferer is gradually introduced to the fear-inducing situation. Certain medications can also help.

Learn More

Humor Therapy

Most Common Phobias

Phobias Overview

Photo: Ingram Publishing

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 8:28 pm


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