Higher Rates of Stroke for Blacks 45-54 Years Old — Know and Reduce Your Risks

Over the past 50 years, death rates from strokes have gone down almost 70%.  However, a recent study indicates that long-time racial disparities in stroke rates and deaths still persist.

Attractive Happy African American Couple

Researchers at the University of Alabama reviewed data for 30,000 black and white study participants and discovered that Black participants 45-54 years old suffered more deadly strokes than white participants the same age.  A higher percentage of Black study participants also had more existing stroke risk factors than white participants like diabetes (31% vs 16%) and high blood pressure (71% vs 51%).

Researchers also found that once a participant suffered a stroke — Black and white stroke victims died at the same rates.  This finding indicates that the disparity in stroke deaths for people 45-54 year old arises from a higher incidence of stroke and not lower rates of stroke survival.  This difference in stroke rates disappears for older participants — with Black and white participants over 75 years suffering strokes at similar rates.Concerned Woman With Spouse

In order to reduce the increased stroke rates among Black people in this age range it is important to know and reduce your risk factors for stroke.  You can read about ways to reduce your stroke risks here.



–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2016 by Living Well Black, Inc.®


[1] Racial Disparities in Stroke Incidence and Death, NIH Research Matters, National Institutes of Health, June 21, 2016. (viewed June 24, 2016)

[2]  Where to Focus Efforts to Reduce the Black-White Disparity in Stroke Mortality: Incidence Versus Case Fatality? Howard G, Moy CS, Howard VJ, McClure LA, Kleindorfer DO, Kissela BM, Judd SE, Unverzagt FW, Soliman EZ, Safford MM, Cushman M, Flaherty ML, Wadley VG; REGARDS Investigators. Stroke. 2016 Jun 2. pii: STROKEAHA.115.012631. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27256672.  Funding: NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Bicycle Helmet Safety

A bicycle helmet protects best when you wear it correctly.  At a recent cycling event in New York, Consumer Reports Magazine observed 570 adults and 55 children.  Most of the adults (84%) and nearly all of the children were wearing helmets.  However, about 10% of the adults’ helmets were on lopsided (worn too far back on their heads) and over one-third of the children had loose chin straps or their helmets were crooked.

When wearing a helmet make sure that:  Bicycle Helmet In Font View

  • it fits snugly
  • it sits straight (level) on the head with the front edge about an inch above your eyebrows
  • it is not gouged, cracked, or damaged
  • it has not been involved in an accident (even if it looks fine)

happy young boy riding a bike outdoorsWhat’s wrong with this picture? The boy’s helmet sits too far back on his head…..

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

Source:  “What’s your bike helmet habit?Consumer Reports, May 9, 2015 (Viewed 5/26/2015)

Is This Food Safe to Eat??

Summer is coming — and with it heat and possibly storms and power outages — so it’s a good time to think about food safety.  Below are some recommendations for keeping food safe in your refrigerator and freezer.

Refrigerator Dos:

  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40 °F or below
  • Go through your fridge once a week and throw out perishable foods
  • For raw meats like poultry, ground meats, and seafood refrigerate only 1-2 days
  • For raw steaks, roasts, and chops (pork, veal, lamb and beef) refrigerate only 3 to 5 days
  • For cooked meats, like seafood and poultry, refrigerate only 3-4 days
  • Store milk and egg cartons on the shelf inside the fridge, and not in the door where temperatures can vary

Refrigerator Don’ts:

  • Do not store perishable food in the refrigerator door because the temperature may vary too much
  • Do not eat foods that have been at temperatures above 40 °F for more than 2 hours (such as after a power outage)

Freezer Dos:

  • Make sure your freezer remains at 0 °F
  • Freeze foods as soon as possible to maintain quality
  • Thaw foods only in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water
  • Re-freeze uncooked food thawed in the refrigerator
  • Cook food immediately that has been thawed in the microwave
  • For raw ground meats and seafood freeze only 3-4 months
  • For fresh poultry like a whole chicken or turkey freeze up to 1 year and for pieces freeze up to 9 months
  • Use your refrigerator’s freezer section for short-term storage
  • If possible, use a free-standing freezer for longer storage times
  • Freeze meat and poultry in its original packaging but — for longer storage times — place additional wrapping over the package
  • After a power outage keep the refrigerator door closed to allow food to stay cold (up to 2 days for a full freezer and 1 day for a half-full freezer)

Freezer Don’ts:

  • Do not freeze canned food or eggs in shells
  • Avoid freezing mayonnaise, cream sauce, or lettuce
  • Do not thaw foods on the kitchen counter or outdoors
  • Do not eat foods in the freezer after a power outage or if the door is left open there are no ice crystals left

For a printable refrigerator and freezer food safety chart from Foodsafety.gov click here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.


Refrigeration and Food Safety,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

Van, Diane, “Meat in the Refrigerator: How Long Does it Last,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

mackerel fish on a white background

Check Your Shelves — Kraft Foods Recalls Mac & Cheese Boxed Dinners

Kraft Foods Group has voluntarily recalled select code dates and manufacturing codes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese boxed dinners due to the possible presence of metal pieces.

The recalled products are limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the original flavor of boxed dinner with the ““Best When Used By”” dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code “C2” directly below the date on each individual box (as shown in graphic to left).

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese 3, 4, and 5 box multi-packs of the 7.25-oz. sized original flavor have been recalled too.  You can see these listed here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

Stronger EPA Ozone Standards are Good for Our Health

Outdoor Portrait Of A Teenage Black Girl Jumping Over A Blue SkyIn December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule designed to reduce the amount of ground-level ozone (O3), also known as “smog.”[1] The proposed rule would reduce the concentration of ozone pollution in the air from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 65-70 ppb.  The agency also has asked for comments from the public on lowering levels to 60 ppb.[2]

High levels of air pollution (fine particles, ozone, acidic aerosols, and nitrogen oxides) are associated with making asthma symptoms worse.[3]  The short-term health impacts of Oinclude “decreased lung function, increased respiratory symptoms and pulmonary inflammation.”  Longterm exposures can cause respiratory symptoms, diseases, and death. Decreasing Olevels is expected to better protect children, the elderly, and people with asthma.[4]

African Americans suffer disproportionately from asthma and other diseases and conditions made worse by air pollution. The rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma are both 3 times higher among African Americans than among whites.[5] Black children visited the emergency department for asthma at a rate 260% higher that white children, had a 250% higher hospitalization rate, and had a 500% higher death rate from asthma, than white children.[6]

For the Final Rule, we urge the EPA to revise the standard to 60 ppb for O3.  We believe that this lower limit will better protect vulnerable populations, and reduce the disproportionate health burden suffered by African Americans from asthma.

You can see the comments filed with the EPA by Living Well Black here:  LWB EPA O3 Comments

–Janell Mayo Duncan

[1] “National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone,” 79 Fed. Reg. 72234, 75236 (December 17, 2014).

[2] McCarthy, Gina, EPA Administrator, “U.S. EPA: We need tougher ozone standards,” CNN Money, November 26, 2014.  http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/26/news/economy/epa-stronger-ozone-standard/

[3] “Children’s Environmental Health Disparities: Black and African American Children and Asthma,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/epahome/sciencenb/asthma/HD_AA_Asthma.pdf. (viewed 3/17/2014)

[4] 79 Fed. Reg. at 75236 (December 17, 2014).

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma prevalence, health care use and mortality: United States, 2003-05 and Heron MP, Hoyert DL, Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final Data for 2006. National vital statistics reports; vol 57 no 14. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.

[6] “Asthma and African-Americans,” http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=3&lvlID=532&ID=6170.

State Seat Belt and Child Restraint Laws

Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of death for people 1-54 years old.  Using adult seat belts, booster seats, and car seats appropriate for a child’s age is best way to reduce risks of injury. Safety Belt

Every state (but New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia require safety belt use in the front seat. Most states and the District of Columbia require riders to wear seat belts in the rear seat too. For children, all states and the District of Columbia have child restraint requirements mandating the use of car seats and booster seats.  Some laws require older children to use adult safety belts.

Ever wonder what the law is in your state?  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has information on the laws in all states and the District of Columbia that you can read here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.


“Safety Belts,” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (viewed 1/26/2015)

“Seat Belts: Get the Facts,” Center for Disease Control (Viewed 1/26/2015)


Holiday Toy Buying Tips

Toy Buying Tips for the HolidaysChristmas Wreath

The holiday season is in full swing. As you scour the shelves to find the best presents for the kids you should follow some simple rules to avoid toy hazards. Here are some “dos” and “don’ts”:


Little African American Baby Boy Pushing Toy School Bus on WhiteBuy Toys Appropriate for Your Child’s Age.  Children’s toys often have a recommended age range on the label called “age grading.” It is best to buy a toy for which your child’s age falls into range on the label because it is matched to their developmental stage and safety needs.  For example, toys for children under 3 years old are tested to make sure they can withstand tough treatment by an infant or toddler without breaking and creating small choking hazards, sharp edges, or other dangers. Recommended age ranges for older children also take into account safety issues, as well as their developmental stages.

Provide Safety Equipment with Recreational Toys. When buying presents like tricycles, bicycles, in-line skates and scooters, make sure to buy the necessary protective equipment like helmets, wrist guards and knee pads.


Buy Toys That Are Too loud.

Some toys are loud enough to cause hearing damage. Make sure the toys you purchase are not too loud. Toys reaching the 90 decibel level are as loud as a lawn mower – and if held close to the ear the they can expose a child to even louder and more painful volumes.

Buy Toys with Small Powerful Magnets.

If swallowed, small powerful magnets like those found in Buckeyballs™ and other toys can attract each other inside a child’s intestines and cause serious tissue damage requiring surgery. These magnets can be dangerous for infants to teenagers. Babies who find them like to put them in their mouths, and older children have been known to put them on their noses on their mouths to imitate a body piercing.  Cube Of Magnetic Balls


Buy Strangulation Hazards.

For older children, avoid toys like yo-yo balls, which when children swing around, have been known to and wrap around a child’s neck and tighten up.

For infants, avoid toys with strings or cords longer than 7 inches long.

Buy Certain Toys That Might Cause Eye Damage.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates lasers, including those in toys. Lasers in toys like “light sabers,” toy gun sights, and spinning tops can cause eye damage if it shines into the eyes. If you purchase this type of toy look for a label saying that it complies with FDA regulation “21 C.F.R. Subchapter J” and make sure your children do not shine the laser in anyone’s eyes.

Take care when purchasing toys that fire bullets and other items – even made out of foam. If necessary, make sure your children’s eyes are protected.

–Janell Mayo Duncan


COPYRIGHT©2014 by Living Well Black, Inc.  (an earlier version of my article is featured in All American Parents at www.allamericanparents.com)


Magnets: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Magnet Information Center  (viewed 10/13/14)

Laser Toys: “Laser Toys: Not Always Child’s Play,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration,  (viewed 10/13/14)

Noisy Toys:  American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Noisy Toys”  (viewed 10/13/14)

Nutek Disposables Inc. Recalls Several Brands of Baby Wipes

container of diaper wipes openedBecause some packages may be contaminated with the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia), the company Nutek Disposables, Inc. is recalling all baby wipes sold under the brand names Femtex, Fred’s, Tender Touch, Well Beginnings, Simply Right, Cuties, Diapers.com, Kidgets, Member’s Mark, and Sunny Smiles. These wipes were sold at Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Family Dollar, Diapers.com, and Fred’s. You can see a picture of these brands here.

The FDA says that B. cepacia should not pose a “medical risk” to most people, but may pose an infection risk to children and adults with weakened immune systems or lung diseases like cystic fibrosis.

If you have this brand of baby wipe stop using it immediately. You can call the company with any questions at (855) 646-4351, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET.

Source:  FDA Consumer Update, “Baby Wipes May Contain Bacteria” (viewed 11/16/2014)

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2014 by Living Well Black, Inc.

Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide DetectorDuring the winter months, make sure your family is safe from Carbon Monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that kills over 400 people a year.  CO is produced by fuel like coal, natural gas, oil, charcoal, kerosene and propane.  Equipment and appliances — like room heaters, water heaters, portable generators, lawn mowers, power washers, and cars — can produce CO.  Most CO deaths unrelated to fires occur during November, December, January and February when people use furnaces and turn to gas generators for back-up power. [1][2]

The symptoms for CO exposure may feel like the flu, and include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatiguebigstock-Modern-stove-isolated-on-white-20435762
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath [2][3]

Symptoms of poisoning by high levels of CO may occur without experiencing the above symptoms, and include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death [3]

Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Install battery-powered or plug-in CO alarms with a battery back-up on every floor, in the hallway near bedrooms, and in each sleeping area
  • Before turning on the furnace or using the chimney, have them checked by a professional to ensure they are working properly
  • Make sure all appliances are installed correctly and working properly
  • Do not use gas appliances like a stove, oven, or dryer to heat your house
  • Do not run a generator in the house or in the garage or in a crawl space
  • Keep generators outside and away from open windows or doors and don’t run them on a porch or close to the house
  • Never leave a car on in the garage, even if the garage door is open
  • Never burn charcoal inside a tent, house, or car [1],[2]

Portable Generator


[1] “Protect Your Family from Deadly Carbon Monoxide This Winter,” CPSC Blogger, October 30, 2014 (viewed 11/10/14)

[2] “Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers,”  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (viewed 11/10/14)

[3] “The ‘Invisible’ Killer,” U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (viewed 11/10/14)


–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2014 by Living Well Black, Inc.