Sunday Topic: Reversing Damage to Mind and Body

Undoing The Damage You Did
Dr. Mallika Marshall Offers Some Tips:

NEW YORK (CBS) Almost everyone has done things in the past they later come to regret.

Maybe you smoked, drank too much on occasion or spent countless hours baking in the sun.

Dr. Mallika Marshall has some tips on what you can do to reverse or prevent further damage.

"If you're young, quit while you're ahead," Marshall says. "But if you've made some unhealthy choices in the past, it isn't too late to stop, and you may be able to repair some of the damage and prevent further injury from occurring."

On The Saturday Early Show, she offers the following tips:

Excess Sun Exposure: You have to remember that most of the sun damage we suffer occurs before the age of 18. So if you tended to lay out until you were a crispy critter, or you spent endless hours in the tanning salon as a young person, chances are you've already sustained some sun damage.

What to do: Catch any potential problems early. That means checking your skin on a regular basis for unusual spots or suspicious moles and getting in to see a dermatologist right away. If you detect skin cancer early, it can be treated and even cured, so don't hesitate to be seen.

To prevent further damage, avoid excessive sun exposure and wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Smoking: We know that smoking can lead to a whole host of medical problems, including cancer, lung disease, heart disease and problems with circulation.

What to do: If you quit smoking, even if you've smoked for a long time or heavily in the past, you can reduce that increased risk of disease considerably. For example, one year after quitting, people can cut their risk of heart disease in half, and after 15 years of not smoking, the risk approaches that of someone who never smoked at all. That said, however, it's best not to start in the first place.

Binge Drinking: Unfortunately, a lot of people have binged at some point in their lives, especially in their youth. And binge drinking cannot only impair your judgment and cause car accidents, but it can also lead to alcohol dependence, can cause liver damage, and can also lead to memory and cognitive impairment.

What to do: If you quit drinking before too much damage is done, you may be able to reverse some of the liver damage and memory problems.

Loud Music: About 28 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, with an increasing number of baby boomers and young people. Many people are guilty of listening to music too loudly, whether it's with our Walkman or iPods, in the car, or at rock concerts.

Loud music can cause lasting damage to the sensitive hair cells in your ears. You may first notice loss of middle-frequency sounds, such as the human voice; then, high-frequency sounds, such as alarm buzzers or telephone rings.

What to do: While you cannot repair hearing loss, you can prevent further loss by turning down the volume. If you do a job that involves loud noises (like jackhammers or airplane engines), always wear earplugs to prevent hearing loss. If you have unexplained hearing loss, especially in only one ear, see your doctor right away.

Yo-Yo Dieting: Yo-Yo dieting is defined as repeatedly losing and then gaining the weight back. Sometimes, you end up gaining back more weight than you lost in the first place.

What to do: Instead of fad dieting, however, you should consider a weight maintenance program where you maintain contact with nutritionists and dietitians who can help you safely and effectively keep the weight off.

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