What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?

LilaLazarus_ColumnArtOpen your medicine cabinet.  If you see a prescription bottle from “Cunningham’s Drugs” or “Perry” or “Arbor” or “Revco” or “Eckerd,” then reading this article is mandatory.  While they were once some of the biggest pharmacy names in America, they’re no longer our corner drugstores. And, you missed the memo about cleaning out your medicine cabinet every spring. 

Believe it or not, medicine cabinets all over Southeast Michigan still have containers from Michigan’s defunct drugstore chains—prescription and over-the-counter medicine that’s long past its prime.IMG_8112

No matter what name is on your prescription bottle, now’s a great time to spring clean the medicine cabinet. 

Check the Date
Nearly every product will have an expiration date.  Even sunblock, toothpaste and eyedrops should be tossed after a certain time.  Most over-the -counter drugs have just a few years and most pharmaceuticals just one year.  After that, they start to break down.   You don’t want these products in or on your body.  The moment you open your medication or hygiene product, the clock starts ticking.  And every time a hand goes in that container, new germs are introduced to the product.  That’s why this yearly cleaning is a good idea

Toss it Carefully
Not everything can be tossed in the garbage or flushed down the toilet.  We don’t want to harm our water supply or put our pets at risk.  Check with your local pharmacy to see if they have a drug disposal program.  Many have drop-off bins for your prescriptions and even over-the-counter products.  Here’s a link to www.dontflushdrugs.com containing great info on programs for disposing expired medications. (Also see 
FDA’s disposal guidelines).

And to be safe, before you start tossing meds, scratch out your name and information from the prescription label just to protect your identity and personal health information. 

If you have over-the-counter products that you haven’t opened and that haven’t expired (bandages and other first aid supplies) consider donating it to a local homeless shelter.

Location, Location, Location
The bathroom is actually the worst place to store your medicine.  It’s too warm and too moist.  Be sure what you keep is kept in an air-tight plastic bin on a high and dry shelf far from children and pets and ideally at room temperature.    And as long as your getting rid of unused products… get rid of the Old Spice, too. 

Happy Spring!

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Isn’t it time you have a colonoscopy?

LilaLazarus_ColumnArtColon cancer kills 50,000 Americans every year.    That’s more people than a full stadium at Comerica Park.  But here’s the good news:  Colon cancer is more than 90% preventable if detected early.  Read that sentence again.  Colon cancer is more than 90% preventable if detected early.   Think of the lives we could save if we just got more people to talk about colons, rectums and bowels and go get checked out. 

I take this subject very seriously.  My sweet friend Ana was in her early 20’s when she was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.  She had a stomachache she kept ignoring until she couldn’t ignore it any more.  By then it was too late.  Look at her beautiful smile.  I gave the eulogy at her funeral. 

Lila and Ana

 Don’t ignore the pain.  Don’t ignore blood in your stool.  Don’t ignore changes in bowel habits or unexplained fatigue and loss of appetite. It’s so important to detect colon cancer early before there are any symptoms.  By age 50, everybody should be screened for colon cancer.  If there’s a family history or if you have inflammatory bowel disease, you’ll want to be checked before 50.  And a colonoscopy is one the best tools for finding cancer or at least finding polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. 

I know, I know… the idea of a long flexible tube with a camera going in to your derriere doesn’t sound very appealing.    But new advances have made the procedure faster and easier to endure.  And it saves lives.  Most people complain that the prep is worse than the procedure.  The prep is all about cleaning out your instestines so the doc has a clear view.  But even the prep has gotten easier in recent years.  And the actual procedure is truly painless.

Overall, colonoscopy is a very safe test, but as with any medical procedure, complications are possible. Studies have estimated the overall risk of complications for routine colonoscopy to be extremely low, at approximately 0.35 percent. In the vast majority of patients, a colonoscopy is a lifesaver that’s worth the risk.

The colonoscopy isn’t your only screening option.  You could give a stool sample, or have a sigmoidoscopy or undergo a virtual colonoscopy.  But if those tests find anything worrisome, you’ll have to undergo a colonoscopy anyway.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of baring your backside, think about this:  I had my colonoscopy on television!  That’s right.  Mine was primetime.  My goal was to get more people to see that it’s not painful or uncomfortable or even that awkward.  At least yours will be private.

Thanks for reading this.  Now go talk to someone you love about their colon.

Your Body is a Furnace. Turn it On!

IMG_1836Happy New Year, friends! Here we are in the dead of winter. This time of year can be a real downer for a lot of people. A good way to boost your mood is to get outside and fight the elements!

It’s not easy to tear myself away from a cozy spot next to the fire for an outdoor workout.  I usually have to talk myself into it.  But the benefits are worth it.  And the more I do it, the easier it gets. So can you!

With the right clothing, you don’t have to get cold! Put on breathable, moisture-wicking layers of clothing. Just be sure to protect your most vulnerable body parts: Fingers, toes, ears and nose. Those are the areas most susceptible to frostbite. And no need to shock the body. Warm up before you ever leave. Do some jumping jacks or lunges.    

I always think it’s going to be colder than it really is. And the truth is, you want to feel a slight chill when you get outside. If you don’t, you’re likely overdressed. But after 10-15 minutes of jogging or cross-country skiing, the body starts warming up and you can feel the winter blues disappearing.LilaLazarus_ColumnArt

Here are the top 5 reasons to bundle up and head outdoors.

  1. You Need the Vitamin D
    Unless you’re headed to the islands for vacation, chances are you could use a boost of the sunshine vitamin.  This time of year, feeling a little sunshine on your cheeks, even at below-freezing temperatures, can really lift your spirits and your energy levels.
  2. You’ll Feel Happy!
    If you don’t believe me, just try it yourself. Working out in Michigan in the winter doesn’t come with that heavy humidity we find in the summer. You actually feel lighter outside this time of year. Since your body is working harder in the cold, it’s easier to get that runner’s high as the endorphins start soaring.
  3. It’s a Calorie Cruncher.
    Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s harder to workout outside in the winter. But that’s the beauty of it. Working harder means your burning more calories. It’s the same workout you might do in the summer, but you get more bang for your buck because your body is using more energy just to stay warm. Your body is one powerful furnace. Turn it on!
  4. It’s Heart Healthy
    If you already exercise on a regular basis, taking it into the elements is going to strengthen your heart muscle even more. With added heart strength, you’ll be better prepared for the big workouts come spring and summer.  
  5. You’ll Get Rosy Cheeks
    One of my favorite childhood memories is sledding on the big hill near our house. It was tough dragging that sled to the top. By the time we came back home my cheeks were bright red. Exercising in the frosty air still gives me that same exhilaration – and rosy cheeks, to boot.


By keeping your body strong and in shape, you can reduce the likelihood of illness, says family doctor Paul Schulz, MD, with St. Joseph Mercy Brighton. “Someone who is in shape tends not to get sick as much,” he says.

But winter workouts aren’t for everyone. If you already have a heart condition or asthma, make sure you talk to your doctor. The cold can tighten your airways. That could limit your oxygen and put extra stress on your heart.

And if you do get sick, the best medicine is to “go by what your mother told you,” says Dr. Schultz. That means getting lots of rest and drinking fluids.

 One last note:  When you’re done exercising outdoors, make sure to hydrate.  The air is so dry during these winter months and you don’t want to get dehydrated. Happy Winter!

Read more Lila’s Health Report posts


Hello Sunshine! Enjoy the Great Outdoors

LilaLazarus_ColumnArtAh, the great outdoors. We froze through the polar vortex and finally the payoff – A pure Michigan summer. Here’s my advice: Wrap your arms around it because it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.   Make your list of 10 things you want to do outside and knock them out one at a time. Go catch some fireflies, spend an hour tonight stargazing, eat a delicious, fresh peach, plan a romantic picnic, lay in a hammock and do nothing at all…

It’s medicine!

This isn’t about being lazy, it’s about taking care of your health. Study after study attests to the powers of Mother Nature and the benefits of natural light. It’s a mood booster. I remember a study that showed patients in the hospital with a window view of the outdoors experience a quicker recovery. So in the interest of good health, get outside.

Go outside!
Sunlight on your skin gives you a boost of vitamin D but, if you’re like most Americans, you’ll spend 90% of your life indoors. And the older we get, the less likely we are to step outside. People over 50 generally need higher amounts of vitamin D. Studies have suggested that Vitamin D can help you battle depression, fight off heart disease and osteoporosis.

But with all the warnings we hear on the news of the dangers lurking in your backyard, it’s a wonder we go out at all. Sure, we need to be aware but not so fearful that we never venture out the front door.

“Give yourself a good dose of the sunshine vitamin during these summer months but don’t overdo it; moderation is always the key,” says Dr. Ann Lafond of Canton Dermatology. “Sunblock is a good idea when you’re spending long periods of time outdoors – especially midday.”

Dr. Lafond says vitamin D from sunlight is more effective than supplements. “When we take the proper precautions, the benefits of sunlight far outweigh the risks.”

Once you commit to more time outdoors, you can’t help but feel better. If you’re spending less time at your computer or in front of the television, chances are you’ll spend more time walking, bicycling, swimming. Just get moving. It’s sure to give your health a boost.

Humans were meant to be out in nature. It’s important to see green and smell flowers and jump in fresh water. And lucky for us, Michigan is a water wonderland. This is your chance. Don’t waste it. We’ll be back to the polar vortex in no time!

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LilaLazarus_ColumnArtRecently, I was asked to speak at an awards ceremony. And though I worked for 25 years as a news anchor and health reporter, instead of giving me the usual introduction as a “TV Personality,” or even “Award-Winning Journalist,” they gave me a much better title: “Adventure Creator.

Helen Keller said it best: “Life is either a grand adventure or it’s nothing.” What’s an adventure? People always think that means jumping out of airplanes or riding a motorcycle across the country (been there, done that.) The truth is, creating adventure is about exploring unknown territory and doing something you think you cannot do. Feeling butterflies in your tummy and doing it anyway.

Sister Anne Marilyn Tyler is an adventurer
Sister Anne Marilyn Tyler is an adventure creator.

And you can create adventure at any age. Take my dear friend, Sister Anne Marilyn Tyler. How do you suppose this spunky 71-year-old photographer from St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor plans to celebrate her 50th year as a religious sister? She’s fulfilling a lifelong dream by visiting the Grand Canyon to spend the night at its base under the starry night sky and attempt to capture a piece of its glory on film. Continue reading “MAKE YOUR LIFE AN ADVENTURE!”