Cornerstone Private Practice is there for me and my family… and that to me is not just insurance, it’s assurance.

Homework can be a real pain in the…

back!  Literally, at least according to a study published yesterday about schoolchildren’s backpacks and back pain.  The researchers looked at more than 1400 adolescents, the weight of their backpacks, and the incidence of back pain.  Having lifted my own children’s backpacks, I was not entirely surprised by the results, but they are nonetheless concerning.

The average weight of the backpacks was more than 15 lbs!  And more than half of the children carried backpacks that weighed more than 10% of their own body weight.  One quarter of the children reported having back pain that lasted >15 days in the past year, and the students who carried the heaviest backpacks had a 50% greater likelihood of having back pain than the students with the lightest.  The risks were higher in girls than boys, and increased as the children got older.

Anyone who has had an episode of significant back pain knows that it’s no laughing matter.  If most of the weight of the backpacks was books and related school supplies, perhaps the growing preponderance of e-books and web-based homework will help prevent an epidemic of teenage back pain. 


How To Get Kids To Frequent A (salad) Bar


Fewer than 1 in 10 children eat the recommended daily serving of fruits and veggies.  Part of this reason is the limited choices they have in school, where they spend a good portion of their day.  Research shows kids will make these choices more often if they have a variety of food choices available and a new public effort, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, is working to provide children with a broader, and healthier, range of lunchtime options.  To learn more about this effort, click here.

What is full of sugar and fat, tastes delicious and is good for you?



If you said “nothing” you aren’t alone, but it seems that (once again) Willy Wonka’s favorite treat is making some people rethink that conclusion.  Yes, we’re talking about  chocolate!  If you haven’t heard, another “chocolate is good for you study” came out this week and so we thought we’d give you a brief summary of it. 

If you’ve followed our blog, you’ve seen periodic posts about studies that seem to suggest chocolate (often dark chocolate specifically) might be good for blood pressure, cholesterol and prevention of heart disease. The current study used questionnaires of 1000 healthy adults and found some interesting associations.  Specifically the people who ate chocolate more often (5 times a week) tended to be thinner than the people who ate it less often.  This association persisted even after they corrected for things like activity and saturated fat intake. In other words the people eating chocolate more frequently weren’t also exercising more frequently or eating less saturated fat.

Before you go buy a bunch of chocolate bars, keep reading…

The thought is that there is something in chocolate that helps us process calories better.  Now this is speculation based on animal studies, but it seems that a substance called epicatechin–found naturally in cocoa–increases the metabolism of our cells and improves muscle performance and mass.  Said another way, this substance may help us burn calories faster and make us more muscular!  Dark chocolate, which contains more cocoa, is what tends to contain this substance (sorry to all the white and milk chocolate lovers out there!)

There’s another important point here, and that is there seems to be a “sweet spot” in the amount of chocolate that provides these benefits and if you go below or above it, you don’t get them.  That “sweet spot” is (unfortunately) only about the size of a Hershey’s Kiss (dark chocolate!).  

One last technical, but important point: this type of study (questionnaire-based) has some important limitations, and it is hard to draw firm conclusions because of those limitations.  In other words, this might be all wrong. A stronger study design is what is called a randomized trial.  So if they decide to do a randomized trial looking into the benefits of chocolate consumption in humans, does anyone want to volunteer?!

(photo sourced from

Understanding Healthcare Reform and the Supreme Court

As you probably know, the Supreme Court has taken up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and this week will be hearing arguments about four specific  aspects of the law.   These can be complicated matters, but we found this infographic from the Center for Objective Health Policy to be a helpful and simple look at the issues.  Hope it helps!


Want an easy way to get more attractive skin?


Earlier this month researchers from Scotland published the results of a study that demonstrated a simple way to make your skin healthier and more attractive appearing in just 6 weeks.  They found that when study participants ate about 3 servings more of fruits and vegetables a day, their skin coloration became healthier-appearing and measurably more attractive!  Looks like fruits and veggies are good for you–inside and out!

So…what are you having for dinner tonight?!   

Want to read more?  Click here.

Please pass on the salt!


Last month, the CDC reported that 9 out of 10 Americans consume more sodium than is recommended.  The average was almost 3300mg, whereas the recommended dose is 2300mg for regular joes and 1500mg for high-risk individuals!  More than that, most of that sodium came from only ten food groups, most of which are from grocery stores: cold cuts, pizza, soup, bread, pasta, cheese, snacks (chips, pretzels).  Follow the link below to see them all.  While we can’t completely avoid salt (and most of us admit to loving those chips or pretzels), make sure you pay attention to how much you eat.  Too much sodium can not only lead to unwanted bloating and water weight, but also higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. 

Leading Food Groups Containing Sodium–CDC MMWR

Fast or Curvey… Either Way, Just Keep Count!


Spring is the start of baseball for many young athletes and so we thought a recent study from Athletic Training and Sports Health Care was relevant.  This study looked at both little league and high school players and made some useful points.  Previous studies have already shown that high pitch counts lead to more elbow and shoulder injuries.  It is thought that as children and their arms tire, poor form results, and leads to more arm, elbow, and shoulder injuries.  As a result many leagues limit the number of pitches kids can pitch each game.  This new study found that kids who play baseball in multiple leagues (i.e. local and travel leagues) seem to have more arm injuries–including more surgeries–even if they adhere to pitch count limitations in individual games. They point out that total pitch count limitations need to take into account pitches thrown in every league in which a child is playing.

Want to read more?  Follow this link.

In Your Corner – March 2012 Newsletter

Happy March everyone!  With March comes Saint Patrick’s Day, and with St. Patty’s comes Guinness and shamrocks and much more.  Check out Cornerstone’s March 2012 newsletter for some ins-and-outs of alcohol, fun facts, a clover search, and even a recipe!  Follow the link to read the newsletter…from our corner to yours!

(Not so) Sweet Dreams – When a Good Night’s Sleep Isn’t so Good

 A study out this week in BMJ Open found an association between the use sleep medications and significantly higher mortality and cancer risks. Even the use of sleep medications fewer than 18 times per year was found to carry more than three times the mortality risk compared with no use. The risk seemed to be increased independent of things like smoking and alcohol use, and was seen with many different sleep medications. Click here to read a summary of the BMJ Open article.

Cornerstone – In the News Again! Featured in the Health Journal!

Did you see who was featured in February’s edition of the Health Journal?  Our very own, Dr. Christopher Dowd, was interviewed in a discussion about some home remedies that can be effective versus those that are better left alone.  Even if home remedies might do the trick, all of the doctors interviewed agreed that it was important to include your doctor in what’s going on and which home remedies you plan to use to treat a problem.  To read the article online, click here.