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    Housecall: Over-the-counter weight-loss pills — know the benefits and risks

a group of diverse, middle-aged women friends walking on the beach and laughing

Over-the-counter weight-loss pills
There's no magic trick for losing weight. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is by eating a healthy, low-calorie diet and being more physically active. But the appeal of using over-the-counter weight-loss pills to lose weight fast is hard to resist. Do these products lighten anything but your wallet? And more importantly, are they safe? Here's what you need to know.

Breast self-exam for breast awareness
Most medical organizations don't recommend routine breast self-exams as part of breast cancer screening. That's because breast self-exams haven't been shown to be effective in detecting cancer or improving survival for women who have breast cancer. Still health care providers believe that there is value in women being familiar with their own breasts, so that women understand what's normal and what is not. Though most breast changes detected during a self-exam for breast awareness have benign causes, some changes may signal something serious, such as breast cancer. Learn more about breast self-exam and when you need to seek medical care.

Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?
Eating more whole-grain foods regularly may reduce your chance of developing high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, eating more whole-grain foods may lower your blood pressure. Learn more from Dr. Sheldon Sheps, an emeritus Mayo Clinic hypertension and peripheral vascular diseases specialist.

What are the risks of vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency can cause your bones to become thin, brittle or misshapen. Vitamin D also may play a role in insulin production and immune function — and how this relates to chronic disease prevention and cancer. Learn more from Katherine Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist.

Treating pain
Proper walking technique
Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

Berries marinated in balsamic vinegar
Strawberries and cream
Peach crumble
Blackberry iced tea with cinnamon and ginger

Golfers: Know when to call it quits
Love to golf? You may look forward to every minute that you can spend on the course, but it pays to be reasonable. Limit your sun exposure. While golfing, watch for symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Red flags might include a headache, dizziness, nausea, excess fatigue, rapid heartbeat or confusion. Drink plenty of water, and cut your game short, if necessary.

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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