Health

Ticks Spread Diseases – How to Prevent Tick Bites

In Michigan, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease. It is spread by an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs that feed during the spring and summer months. Nymphs can be difficult to see since they are approximately the size of a poppy seed. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. “Prompt removal of ticks is the best method to decrease the chance of Lyme disease,” said Dr. Paul Heidel, the medical director of the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. “Seek medical attention if you develop a fever, a rash, severe fatigue, facial paralysis, or joint pain within 30 days of being bitten by a tick.”

The most important way to protect against Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites.
ticks

Avoid direct contact with ticks

• Walk in the center of trails.

• Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

• Create tick-safe zones in your yard. Keep patios and play areas away from vegetation, regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around home, place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas, and use a chemical control agent.

Use insect repellent

• Apply repellent containing DEET (20-30 percent) or Picaridin on exposed skin.

• Treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.

• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellents.

Find and remove ticks

• Bathe or shower after being outside in tick-infested areas (preferably within two hours).

• Conduct a full-body tick check (under arms, in and around ears, inside belly button, behind knees, between legs, around waist and especially in hair).

• Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, and then attach to a person later. Use tick prevention products on your pets.

• Wash clothing in hot water and dry on high heat after being outside to kill ticks.

• Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
tickremoval
“Tick checks are recommended after any hike, but especially one along the lake shore,” said John Scholtz, the director of Ottawa County Parks & Recreation.
For more tick and Lyme disease information, please visit www.cdc.gov/lyme or www.michigan.gov/lyme.

Guide – Ticks and your health: Preventing tick-borne illness in Michigan

Fact sheet – How to prevent tick bites when hiking and camping

MDHHS_tick_guide.pdf
CDC_Lyme-disease_HikersCampers_FACTSheet.pdf

Ottawa Farmer Appeals Raw Milk “Cease and Desist” Order

Michael Ilgert appeals his case to the Health Services and Review Board
from EINPresswire.com.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA, February 27, 2017 – Ottawa-area farmer Michael Ilgert is the current target of government action to curb raw milk sales. In December of 2016, Renfrew County and District Health Unit ordered Ilgert to “cease and desist from selling, offering for sale and distributing, milk that is not pasteurized.” Ilgert is now entering an appeal of the order to the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 10 am in the Indigo Room at the Metcalfe Hotel, 123 Metcalf Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5L9.

Ilgert is asking supporters or raw milk and food choice to show up at the hearing, call or write letters to defend consumer choice and access to farm fresh milk. See Ilgert Hit with Cease and Desist Order.

“With consumers looking for fresh, local farm foods, it is up to all of us to come out and speak up on behalf of farmers. This is especially important when our food sources are threatened and our farmers challenged,” says Elisa Vander Hout, president of Our Farms Our Food Coop, another Ontario farm which has undergone serious legal challenges for many years.

“This is the first step in what could be a long struggle for the survival of my farm. Many families depend on the food we produce,” says Ilgert.

Michael Schmidt, of Our Farms Our Food Coop, is well known for his struggle to provide raw milk to his food coop. Over the past 20 years he sacrificed valuable acreage to fund his legal costs and endured raids, seizures, and lost precious time on his farm to attend multiple court trials and hearings.

Ilgert hopes a favorable verdict on his appeal will help him avoid the same fate. “People need access to the foods of their choice from the producer of their choice. Even if those foods include farm fresh milk. I won’t back down. My job is to nourish people,” declares Ilgert.

Our Farms, Our Foods Coop is a 200 member cooperative formed for the purpose of boarding personal cows with a responsible dairyman. The group is just one of the many interested stakeholders in changing Canadian policy on raw milk. For additional information on raw milk realmilk.com For more on this case see The Bovine blog.

Holiday Tips For Dealing With Alzheimer’s

For those who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the thought of holiday get-togethers with family and friends may leave you feeling exhausted, anxious, or just plain overwhelmed. And while it can be a challenging time of year, with some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions.

According to data just released in the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, in Michigan, one in eight of those aged 45 and over report they are experiencing confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or is getting worse. For those with worsening memory problems, 45.5 percent say it created functional difficulties, such as causing them to give up day-to-day, work or social activities. With Alzheimer’s disease becoming more common, it is more likely that someone with Alzheimer’s disease will be in attendance at your holiday gathering and it is important to be prepared.

Here are our top tips for surviving the holiday season with loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia:

1. Let guests know what to expect before they arrive. Sending a letter or email in advance, letting people know about what to expect and how they can help will ease some of the burden when guests arrive. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. In the middle or late stages, make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person. For ideas on how to let others know about changes in your loved one, join ALZConnected, our online support community, where caregivers share tips on what has worked for them.

2. Pare down your responsibilities. The stress of caregiving layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. If you’ve always invited 15 to 20 people to your home, consider paring it down to a few guests for a simple meal. Let others contribute. Have a potluck dinner or ask them to host at their home. You also may want to consider breaking large gatherings up into smaller visits of two or three people at a time to keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired. Make sure everyone understands your situation and has realistic expectations about what you can do.

3. Avoid triggers. If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch. If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit. Make sure that you’re careful with decoration choices — blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will also help keep the holidays from becoming disruptive or confusing. Plan time for breaks and rest.

4. Keep the person involved. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. They may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. As the person’s abilities allow, invite them to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up.

5. Look for helpful gifts. Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Ideas include: an identification bracelet, comfortable clothing, their favorite music, videos and photo albums.

6. Bring the celebration to a care facility. A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. If your loved one isn’t able to celebrate at home, consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities. Bring a favorite holiday food to share. Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in, or read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud.

To learn more ways to make the holidays peaceful and joyous with a loved one with dementia, visit www.alz.org, or call our 24/7 helpline at 800.272.3900.

About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

Hospice Helps Patients and Families Focus on Quality of Life

Harbor Hospice Makes More Meaningful Moments Possible

(West Michigan) – November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and hospices across the country are reaching out to raise awareness about the highest quality care for people coping with life-limiting illness.

“Every year, nearly 1.6 million people living with a life-limiting illness receive care from hospice and palliative care providers in this country,” said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “These highly-trained professionals ensure that patients and families find dignity, respect, and love during life’s most difficult journey.”

Hospice is not a place. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible. These programs combine the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that families need most when facing the end of life. Through this specialized quality care, we see many patients and their families experience more meaningful moments together. Hospice helps them focus on living despite their diagnoses.

“Hospice and palliative care is not about taking care of a disease it is about taking care of people. Our nurses, nurse’s aides, physicians, social workers, spiritual care and volunteers support and care for the patient and family during this difficult time.” Kelly St. Martin LMSW, Clinical Outreach Specialist for Harbor Hospice.

As Kathy Huffman, a Harbor Hospice volunteer noted, “I’m very grateful to be part of this organization. Every time I go on a patient visit to give, I always walk away having received!”

“Many of our volunteers have experienced the benefits of hospice care firsthand. I love to hear their stories of how we helped care for their loved ones. Because of that quality of care, they now want to become a Harbor Hospice volunteer to help provide that same kind of care for our patients” Paula Poel, Harbor Hospice Volunteer Coordinator.

More information about Harbor Hospice, palliative care, advance care planning and volunteering is available by calling 231.728.3442 or 800.497.9559.

Stories showing the many ways hospice makes more special moments possible can be found at www.momentsoflife.org. See more Harbor Hospice moments at facebook.com/HarborHospice or www.HarborHospiceMI.org

New Report Highlights Health Gaps Among State Counties

New report highlights health gaps among state countiesDetails strategies for improvement – www.countyhealthrankings.org

Ottawa County—There are substantial health differences among Michigan counties, and eliminating those differences could prevent more than 7,800 premature deaths every year, according to a State Health Gaps report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

The report also looked at a total of 30 important factors that contribute to how long and how well people live, and found that in Michigan opportunities for health vary widely from county to county. In 2015, Ottawa County ranked 1st out of 82 counties in Michigan for healthy people, according to the sixth annual County Health Rankings http://bit.ly/1xihJqj

If every county in Michigan did as well as the counties in the state
that performed best on these important health factors, there could be:

•  287,000 fewer adult smokers
•  294,000 fewer adults who are obese
•  259,000 fewer adults who drink excessively
•  167,000 fewer people who are uninsured
•  180,000 more adults, ages 25-44, with some education beyond high school
•  79,000 fewer people who are unemployed
•  186,000 fewer children in poverty
•  34,000 fewer violent crimes
•  181,000 fewer households with severe housing problems

Teenage girl eating dinner with family --- Image by © Laura Doss/Corbis

Teenage girl eating dinner with family — Image by © Laura Doss/Corbis

The Health Gaps report is one of 50 released today. Each identifies significant gaps in opportunities for good health among counties within every state. Each state report details how well the healthiest counties do; the difference that could be made if every county had the same chance to be healthy; and strategies to close the gaps between the healthiest and least healthy places. The full report for the state of Michigan can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org./health-gaps.
The Michigan Health Gaps Report is a product of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. The program offers data, tools, and resources to help communities throughout their journey to build a Culture of Health.

10 Tips to have Sexual Health Conversations

health

10 Tips for Parents:
let's talk month
Be open.
Be the expert.
Be accessible.
Be trusting.
Stay calm.
Ask open-ended questions.
Listen to your teen.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Appeal to common goals.
Show your interest.

The national public education campaign is celebrated in October and coordinated by Advocates for Youth. Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) encourages parents and care givers to continue talking with youth about how to make good decisions about sex, contraception and pregnancy.

Parents are the best sexuality educators for their children.
Teens consistently say that parents most influence their decisions about sex.
Parents want to be good sex educators, but may not always know how.
It is possible to be an ask able adult.
talk
According to the 2013 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey, the average age of students who first had oral sex or sexual intercourse was 15 ½. By 12th grade, 47% of students had engaged in oral sex, 40% in sexual intercourse and 37% in sexting. www.miOttawa.org/2013YAS

In 2013, Ottawa County had 243 teen pregnancies, with only 68% being live births (166 babies born). Of these, 37 were repeat teen pregnancies (26 live births).

The high rate of chlamydia cases
in Ottawa County is also a health issue.
In 2014, there were 704 positive cases of chlamydia.

“We know it can be difficult to have conversations about sensitive topics,
but it is important for parents to talk with their children about abstinence
and sexuality.” Heather Alberda, OCDPH
Sexuality Educator www.miOttawa.org/SexEd

For more information, please contact Heather Alberda, Sexuality Educator
at halberda@miottawa.org or 616-393-5774.

Keep talking! @advocates4youth Parent & youth sexual health talks http://bit.ly/1wJ1sHJ www.miOttawa.org/SexEd @miOCDPH

Sources
OCDPH Parent’s Guide to Engaging in a Sexual Health Conversation http://www.miottawa.org/Health/OCHD/pdf/FamilyGuide.pdf

Let’s Talk Resources
http://thenationalcampaign.org/event/let%E2%80%99s-talk-month

Five Reasons Why Michigan Law Requires Child Hearing and Vision Screenings

Ottawa County Michigan’s Public Health Code requires children 3 – 5 years of age to have a hearing and vision screening prior to kindergarten entry. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health’s (OCDPH) Hearing & Vision program focuses on the importance of early detection and offers free screening services to school aged children. Comprehensive screenings are conducted by fully trained hearing and vision technicians. Last year, OCDPH referred 8% of all children vision screened and nearly 3% hearing screened to a specialist. Parents registering their child in kindergarten or first grade must supply their school with a testing certificate. Failing to do so, will result in exclusion from school. www.miottawa.org/hearingvision

1.        Hearing and vision loss can impede a child’s development and performance.
2.        Early detection may lead to better care and treatment.
3.        Hearing and vision are vital to learning, working and socialization.
4.        Proper hearing and vision enables children to reach their full potential.
5.        Every dollar invested in screenings saves Michigan $112 in hearing and $162 in vision costs. (Values are based on health care costs and future productivity loss.)

“After your vision referral to an eye doctor, our daughter received her first pair of glasses. Thank you so much for letting us know about her difficulties, as it was not something she had previously expressed. We appreciate it!”
– OCDPH Hearing & Vision client

Suggested Tweet:
Hearing & vision loss can hinder child development. Call 616-396-5266
for appt.- mandatory for Pre-K & K @miOCDPH miOttawa.org/hearingvision

Kristina Wieghmink, M.Ed.
Communications Specialist
Public Information Officer
616-494-5597
dph

 

Centering Pregnancy at Hackley Community Care

Hackley Community Care is excited to offer Centering Pregnancy at their health center. Centering Pregnancy is a model of care developed by the Centering Healthcare Institute that integrates three components of prenatal care within a group setting: health assessment, education and support.

The model brings together women that are in the same trimester of their pregnancy in a group setting where they will learn care skills for themselves and their infants during their pregnancy, their births and the postpartum period.  All Centering Pregnancy groups are facilitated by an OB provider. The group consists of 8-12 pregnant women expected to deliver around the same time, and they have the opportunity to develop a support network with other group members. 

Centering is unique in that the expectant mother receives her assessments through self-care activities within the group with other moms.  The group also has the opportunity to discuss and problem-solve topics and concerns related to their pregnancy, nutrition, and the opportunity to motivate and empower each other. This creates a safe, trusting environment that establishes sustained relationships and support. Centering Pregnancy sessions are ten weeks in duration and each session lasts about two hours. Expectant mothers can also bring their support person if they like. After delivery, new mothers also receive post-partum care counseling and breastfeeding support if they choose to do so.

Implementing the Centering Pregnancy model allows Hackley Community Care to impact the health status of pregnant women by providing learning skills to ensure the expectant mom has a healthy baby. When expectant moms have healthy babies, this also improves the county overall health status of low birth weight babies, and increases breastfeeding rates.

Hackley Community Care will begin their Centering Pregnancy sessions in June of 2015 and they are currently registering expectant moms. If you are an expectant mother and interested in participating in Centering Pregnancy, please call our OB and Women’s Health Services Department at 231.737.1335 Ext. 6655 to register and obtain more information.

To learn more about Hackley Community Care, please visit our website at www.hackleycommnitycare.org . You can learn more about the Centering Healthcare Institute at www.CenteringHealthcare.org .

California Medical Association Abandons Opposition to Assisted Suicide

The California Medical Association (CMA) recently dropped their decades-long opposition to assisted suicide after a bill to legalize assisted suicide was introduced in California.

In their announcement the CMA says they are changing their position on assisted suicide to “neutral,” but the reasoning behind their statement uses the rhetoric of organization’s that promote the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The CMA press release announcing their decision is filled with absurd attempts to gloss over their disregard for the lives of those considering suicide. Their arguments sound eerily like the rhetoric and euphemisms used to defend abortion-on-demand. Assisted suicide is called “physician aid-in-dying” or “end of life options.” The relationship between doctor and patient is exalted. Helping someone kill themselves is equated with methods of “treatment.”

Important issues that previously led the California Medical Association to oppose assisted suicide are not mentioned or refuted. Those issues include the potentials for abuse, the recognition that desire for suicide is not a rational decision, fears that legalizing assisted suicide could undermine hospice care, the uncertainly of medical diagnoses, and how assisted suicide violates the fundamental “do no harm” medical ethos.

On June 4, the California Senate voted in favor of a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in California for terminally-ill patients. If it passes the California State Assembly and is signed by Governor Jerry Brown, California would join the small group of states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In Montana, a judicial ruling prevents doctors from being prosecuted under state law if they help a patient kill themselves.

In 2012, 85 individuals in Oregon used lethal doses of prescription drugs to legally kill themselves. This number has risen nearly every year. The population of Oregon is roughly a tenth of California, meaning if California approves the assisted suicide law and individuals in California seek to kill themselves at the same rate as individuals in Oregon, then nearly 1000 assisted suicides a year could take place in California.

While the California Medical Association is the first state medical association group to announce they are “neutral” on physicians helping to kill patients, only time will time if they are the last as our society grows in its comfort with embracing suicide as an acceptable way to treat the weak and vulnerable.

Learn more about the dangers of assisted suicide and euthanasia at www.rtl.org.
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rtl

A Baby Dies Every Three Days in Michigan

SIDS is the leading cause of deaths for babies less than one year of age.

Ottawa County –According to the Michigan Department of Human Services, a baby dies every three days in Michigan and these deaths are 100% preventable. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of deaths for babies less than one year of age. Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, proclaimed September as Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Michigan. 

 
“We are raising awareness about how we can keep our babies safe and healthy; because losing one baby to unsafe sleep is one baby too many!”
 Dawn Dotson, MIHP Supervisor at Ottawa County Department of Public Health

The Michigan Department of Community Health, Education and Human Services and local agencies, such as the Ottawa County Department of Public Health Maternal & Infant Health & Prenatal Education (MIHP) program and Pathways, MI are working together to raise awareness and educate parents about safe sleep practices. “Infants do not have enough strength to pull themselves out of places where they might get wedged,” said Leigh Moerdyke, Community Youth Development Program Director at Pathways, MI. She said when babies are placed on their stomachs to sleep it tips their chin and neck, closing off the airway and potentially causing asphyxiation.

Safe Babies
1. Always place your baby on his or her back for naps and at night.
2. Babies should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or in a chair with anyone.
3. Use a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib with a fitted sheet.
4. Keep soft objects, toys, crib bumpers and loose bedding out of sleeping environments.
5. Babies need tummy time when he or she is awake with someone watching.

Healthy Babies
1. Women should receive regular healthcare during their pregnancy.
2. Do not smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy or after your baby is born.
3. Breast-feed your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS.
4. Do not let your baby get too warm during sleep.
5. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on child immunizations.

Dawn Dotson, Community Health Supervisor
Maternal & Infant Health & Prenatal Education
Ottawa County Department of Public Health
616-393-5737 ddotson@miottawa.org

 

 

 

Heart Attack Prevention

(Condensed from an article in the February, 2014 Reader’s Digest Magazine by Dr. Joel K. Kahn, author of the Holistic Heart Book)

• Have five cups of fruit and vegetables per day.
• Drink three cups of green, black or oolong tea a day
• Don’t eat processed meat
• Don’t eat much meat
• Eat sardines, mackeral, anchovies, salmon and herring
• Love a pet
• Sit in a sauna (preferably infrared)
• List something you are grateful for every day and read the list once a week
• Men: Have sex twice a week
• Open windows to air our your house regularly
• Clean your kitchen with items you would cook with (i.e. white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, cornstarch)
• Cook and store food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel.

Read the whole article here: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/how-to-prevent-heart-disease/

Unpasteurized Milk Products Hazardous To Your Health

Two cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in West Michigan have been traced back to consumption of raw milk products from an Ottawa County cow share program. In March, a 31 year old Muskegon County woman became ill after drinking raw milk, and in April, a 6 year old child from Kent County became ill after possible consumption of the raw milk product.

Organisms that make people sick are found in the intestines of animals. Contamination of milk occurs when fecal matter is present on the udder of an animal or in the equipment used to process the milk. Enough bacteria to cause illness can be present and not be visibly dirty upon inspection. Pasteurizing is the process of heating the milk to high temperatures to kill the harmful bacteria that make you sick. Raw or unpasteurized milk (sometimes called fresh milk or fresh unprocessed milk) is milk that comes directly from a cow, goat, sheep or other animal’s udder and is not heat treated (pasteurized) to kill bacteria. Raw milk carries a much higher risk of causing serious illness than pasteurized milk, and you cannot see or smell the germs in raw milk that make you sick.

Some believe drinking raw milk products is more nutritious and provides the body with “good bacteria”. The pasteurizing process does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk, and due to the risk of serious illness, there are far safer sources of good bacteria than raw milk. Pasteurized probiotic yogurts, kefir, and other products are a great source of probiotics.

The CDC reports that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness, and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products. Due to poorly developed immune systems, infants and children are at greater risk for becoming sick and are more likely to suffer from long term damage from diseases linked to drinking raw milk.

Due to the health risk of consuming raw milk, it is not legal to sell raw milk or raw milk products in the State of Michigan. Because of this, raw milk is obtained through herd share programs. In a herd share program, consumers purchase a share of a cow and, as the owner of the cow, are provided raw milk from the farmer. These herd share dairy programs are not licensed or inspected by state or local agencies.

If you or someone you know has become ill in the days following consumption of a raw milk product, seek medical attention. Symptoms of illness include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain along with fever, headache, and body ache. Pregnant women, infants, small children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses should never consume raw milk products.

For more information on the pasteurization process:
http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/consumers/ucm079516.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/features/rawmilk/
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/05/raw-milk-is-ongoing-hazard-cdc-warns-public-health-workers/#.U3N_bXabXm4

Passive Smoke Affects The Long-Term Health Of Kids

By Dr. E. Kirsten Peters

Years ago I was a light smoker. Back in the day I thought nicotine did good things for my ability to think and learn. I was a serious student at the time, studying intensively seven days a week, so a powerful complement to black coffee was welcome in my life.

I both sympathize and empathize with smokers around me today. But I’m awfully glad I quit long ago, and I know many other former smokers who feel the same way. Quitting is worth all the short-term distress it can entail.

Some recent scientific news got me thinking again about smoking and how it affects both smokers and those around them. In short, there’s plenty of evidence that passive or second-hand smoke is detrimental to people living with smokers. That means that quitting helps not just smokers, but those who share homes (and cars) with them.

Recently the European Heart Journal published a study about the effects of parental smoking on kids. The research focused on some 2400 children in a cohort in Finland and over 1300 in a group in Australia. Researchers noted the smoking behavior of parents — whether the adults were non-smokers, or if one or both of them smoked. When the kids grew up, the researchers examined the kids’ arteries via ultrasound exams.

The study found that artery walls were thicker in kids who had grown up in homes where both parents smoked. Thicker arteries are bad news, making for greater risk of strokes or heart attacks. On average, the kids who grew up in homes where both parents smoked had arteries that were 3.3 years “older” than those who grew up in smoke-free homes. These changes were permanent — a sobering fact to contemplate for any parent (and I might add, any grandparent around the grandkids).

Dr. Seana Gall, lead author of the study, told ScienceDaily, “Parents…should quit smoking. This will not only restore their own health but also protect the health of their children into the future.”

There was further bad news for kids who had two parents who smoked.

“Those with both parents smoking were more likely, as adults, to be smokers or overweight than those whose parents didn’t smoke,” Gall said.

Once again, the news from the world of medical research suggests it’s time for people to quit smoking. If you smoke and you have kids (or grandkids) to consider, please talk with your health care provider about an approach to help you kick the habit. Even if you’ve tried in the past to quit but have failed, this next effort could set you free. It took me more than one attempt to quit, but it was one of the best things I did back in the day.

I know first-hand it ain’t easy to stop smoking. But the life you save might be your own — and you could also be helping the next generation avoid permanent and harmful changes to their young bodies.

I’m pulling for both you and your family.

Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.