Health & Fitness

Help kids handle a violent world; hot news flash


King Features Syndicate

Q: I’m worried that my kids, 6 and 8, are going to see violence or tragedy on TV that’s really going to upset them. How can I protect them and help them deal with what they see and hear? -- Sophia H., Burlington, Vermont

A: Turning off the tube is a good start. (You can DVR appropriate shows for them to play.) Mass shootings, hurricanes, fires and doomsday politics can frighten and confuse children. (Think of what they do to you!) After 9/11, the constant replaying of clips of planes flying into the World Trade Center made young kids very upset; they thought it was happening again, each time they saw it. According to a Senate report, Children, Violence and the Media, by age 18 an American child will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence. Not good.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under age 2 not watch any TV and those older than 2 watch no more than one to two hours of quality programming daily. Besides monitoring TV exposure, here are a couple of other things you can do.

1. Talk to your kids about what’s real on TV and what isn’t. At around age 7 or 8 they may start believing everything they see could happen to them. If they (inadvertently) see a zombie show, let them know it is fantasy. If they see news clips about school shootings, explain the difference between a rare, isolated incident and a common occurrence. When natural disasters happen on the other side of the world, explain that you don’t have tsunamis in Vermont.

2. Monitor your own anxiety. Kids pick up on everything, so don’t let on-screen and world events get you overly agitated. Getting the right amount of sleep (7-8 hours), exercising daily and meditating can help keep things in perspective.

3. Seek help: If you sense your child is getting too anxious, school counselors can be a good resource.

Q: Menopause symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats, are killing me, but I worry about taking hormone therapy. What can provide some relief? -- Cassie J., Carbondale, Illinois

A: There are 11.364 million women in the U.S. ages 50-54 contending with the vasomotor symptoms of menopause. Finding solutions to your sleep-ruining, sweat-drenching, heart-thumping problems can be a challenge, in part because many women, like you Cassie, are reluctant to use hormone therapy.

True, some HT is associated with a slightly increased risk of breast cancer: For every 100,000 women on HT (that combines progestin and estrogen) for a year, there are eight additional cases of breast cancer. (We recommend micronized progesterone, not progestin.) However, if you add two low-dose aspirins taken with a half glass of warm water to your regimen of bioidentical, pharmaceutical-grade HT, you’ll actually have a 10 to 30 percent decrease in breast cancer risk. And with estrogen alone (for women who’ve had a hysterectomy), there’s no increased risk. For most women, starting any HT and aspirin, and staying on it for 10 years or less, reduces your breast-cancer risk.

The risk of blood clots associated with HT is another reason taking aspirin is important. But there’s another way to reduce that risk. A study in the journal Menopause found 22 women (out of around 2,500) taking oral estrogen developed venous thromboembolisms (blood clots) while 13 women, out of around 2,500, using a transdermal estradiol patch did.

So ask your doctor how the risks and benefits of transdermal HT apply to YOU. And consider adding daily aspirin to that regimen. We consider it malpractice and a reason to switch docs if yours doesn’t talk to you about clots and aspirin when you two discuss HT.

And Cassie, it’s smart to help ease symptoms by exercising (10,000 steps a day or equivalent), drinking plenty of water and chilling out with 10 minutes of meditation daily.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)