Weekly health rail, with items on breast cancer screening, how to avoid adding pounds this season, our last flu vaccine tip, and more.

Annual mammograms are strongly recommended and are often the best way to detect breast cancer. However, additional screening methods may sometimes be necessary, especially for women with dense breast tissue, family history or other risk factors.

- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: MRI uses magnets and radio waves to produce very detailed, cross-sectional images of the body, and can be used to look specifically at the breast.

- Digital Mammography: This is similar to standard mammography, but images of the breast are captured electronically and viewed on a computer screen. The magnification, brightness or contrast can be changed to help the doctor see certain areas more clearly.

- Molecular Breast Imaging: MBI begins with an injection of a short-acting, "radioactive tracer" that travels through the body and highlights cancer cells, detected by cameras, that mammograms often miss.

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‘E-cards’ help in STD notification

Traditionally, notifying a person that he or she has been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease is done over the phone, by mail or in person, with the help of a public health worker.

Internet Sexuality Information Services, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, created inSPOT, which uses "e-cards" to help STD patients reach their partners.

According to wire reports, the nonprofit has reported that since it was created in 2004, more than 30,000 people have sent nearly 50,000 e-cards to their sexual partners.

Health Tip

Each year we see it coming. As the holidays head our way, we brace for the weight gain that often results from the traditional sweets of the season. Fortunately, you can avoid those unwanted extra pounds with a common-sense approach to your health.

- Find ways to eat that are both enjoyable and satisfying. Note how much better you feel after a healthy lunch or dinner compared to the typical fast food meal.

- Focus on caloric intake. It’s possible to enjoy dessert if you make room for it by adjusting other meals throughout the day.

- Don’t bypass exercise. Incorporate fitness into your normal routine.

- Don’t go to a party hungry. If you eat a filling, healthy meal before you go out, you can have a small amount of treats, but won’t feel the need to gorge.

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Number to Know: 18

Percent increase of children with food allergies over the last decade.

Four out of every 100 Americans younger than 18 now have food allergies, which doubles their risk of asthma and triples their risk of skin or respiratory allergies.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Children’s Health

A vaccine against rotavirus has led to a drop in hospitalization and emergency room visits since it came on the market two years ago, doctors recently reported at an infectious diseases conference.

Before the vaccine, more than 200,000 U.S. children were taken to emergency rooms and more than 55,000 were hospitalized each year with rotavirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. Worldwide, the virus kills 1,600 young children each day.

According to wire reports, studies by the CDC and several other groups show hospital visits and stays due to the virus have dropped 80 percent since Rotateq came out in 2006.

Senior Health

A recent study shows that enhancing oral hygiene care for nursing home residents can help reduce the odds of the seniors dying from pneumonia.

Researchers with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research say that poor oral hygiene or inadequate oral care are often associated with pneumonia, as the illness in the elderly is often triggered by aspirating saliva or food.

Having a nursing aide assist residents in maintaining good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of pneumonia complications.

Flu Shot Guide

Flu shot season is upon us. Here’s the last tip about getting the flu vaccine this fall and winter.

Different side effects can be associated with the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine.

The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, low-grade fever, and aches.

Nasal spray vaccine: The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. In children, side effects can include runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches and fever. In adults, side effects can include runny nose, headache, sore throat and cough.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

GateHouse News Service