Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Is working overtime hazardous to your health?

The Los Angeles Times posted a blog about an interesting European study which suggests working extra hours on the job can be detrimental to one’s health. Specifically, the damage in working overtime seemed to center around the health of the heart. One of the more sobering statistics that the report provides is that for people who worked at least three hours beyond the normal work day, they had on average a 60% higher rate of angina, nonfatal heart attacks and death from heart-related conditions. You can read the entire study (PDF) in the European Heart Journal.

Chris Hunt/AJC Special

Chris Hunt/AJC Special

The study focused on London office workers, but considering the reputation that Americans have for working long hours, we can assume to be carrying the same health risks every time we burn the midnight oil. The study even concludes that America is well above average when it comes to employees working overtime.

The Los Angeles Times does make an intriguing point, as the study found that the people …

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Would banning logos on cigarette packs reduce smoking rates?

Australia is considering legislation to remove all brand logos from cigarette packs, instead replacing the colorful designs with a graphic warning about the dangers of smoking. The brand name would appear in small print at the bottom of the cigarette pack. The Australian government is also raising the cigarette tax by 25 percent.

A mock-up of a cigarette package with the banding removed and graphic health warnings displayed. AP Photo/Dept. of Health and Ageing

A mock-up of a cigarette package with the banding removed and graphic health warnings displayed. AP Photo/Dept. of Health and Ageing

Health advocates support the move as another way to devalue individual brands of cigarettes and the act of smoking entirely, as well as making cigarettes less attractive to young people, who may choose a certain brand because it has a “hip” factor attached to it.

The tobacco industry has vowed to fight the legislation in court if it passes under a provision in Australia’s constitution regarding intellectual property rights. Those opposed to the legislation want to see evidence that plain packaging will deter people from …

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Do you support the salt police?

Recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended the FDA set maximum sodium levels for a variety of foods. The IOM says people need just 1,500 mg a day for good health, less if they’re over 50. Yet the average adult American consumes more than 3,400 mg daily.


While some may balk at more government intervention into their daily lives, proponents say the intentions of any government regulations would be to improve the health of citizens. The American Medical Association has said 150,000 lives a year could be saved by cutting sodium levels in half in processed and restaurant food. Take a look at some of the nutritional changes America’s favorite foods are undergoing to make them healthier.

Some corporations have already jumped on board to lower the sodium levels in their food products. ConAgra Foods Inc. says consumers will see a 20 percent reduction of sodium in its food lines by 2015. The IOM would rather see mandatory reductions in sodium levels, because they feel that …

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Will government intervention make you eat less junk food?

Part of the health care reform legislation that was recently signed into law includes a requirement for chain restaurants to post calorie counts on the menu boards and drive-throughs at all of their locations. Panera Bread was the first chain to post calorie counts, and while they haven’t seen a huge change in consumer choice, they do see people opting for 1/2 sandwich with soup option instead of ordering a whole sandwich, some of which contain over 1,000 calories.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

New York City was the first city to require chain restaurants to post calorie counts, back in 2008. So far, research suggests that the Big Apple’s battle against obesity has not had a huge impact. In fact, a Health Affairs study found that only half of the customers living in lower class New York City neighborhoods with high rates of obesity and diabetes even noticed the posted calorie counts.

Junk food taxes already exist in some parts of the country, and there are new initiatives to …

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Are you plagued by insomnia?

If you have trouble sleeping, you are not alone. According to the latest poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, many Americans have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. The results cut across all racial and gender lines, with researchers determining that collectively we sleep almost two hours less per night than we did 40 years ago.

CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special; Styling by Sarah Cox

CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special; Styling by Sarah Cox

The 2010 Sleep in America poll indicates that we are indeed a sleepy nation. While insomnia is accepted as a fact of life by many Americans, it can be detrimental to our health. Research suggests that adequate sleep plays a vital role in cardiovascular health. There’s also a connection between insomnia and obesity.

There are other consequences to a poor night’s sleep. The study suggests that always being tired can impact our personal relationships, with over 25 percent of poll respondents indicating they were frequently too tired to have sex with their partners.

Looking for relief from …

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Time to talk about eating disorders

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The theme this year is, “It’s Time to Talk About It.” A few points to consider from the National Eating Disorders Association:

In the United States, up to 10 million females are battling an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Photo credit: HBO

In the United States, up to 10 million females are battling an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Photo credit: HBO

  1. Eating disorders are illnesses, not choices: While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. Recent research has shown that genetic factors create vulnerabilities (anxiety, obsessions, perfectionism) that place individuals at risk for acting on cultural pressures and messages and triggering behaviors such as dieting or obsessive exercise. In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 15 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder.
  2. Prevention, education and access to care …

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Is ‘drinking your way sober’ the cure for alcoholism?

This week’s People’s Pharmacy column mentions an alternative treatment for alcoholism that has had great success in other parts of the world but is not widely used in the U.S. yet.

Rich Mahan/AJC Special

Rich Mahan/AJC Special

Called the Sinclair Method, patients take a prescription drug, naltrexone, that help block the receptors for endorphins. This in turn reduces the patient’s craving for alcohol and the enjoyment he/she gets from drinking. In the book that discusses this form of treatment in detail, “The Cure for Alcoholism: Drink Your Way Sober Without Willpower, Abstinence or Discomfort,” the author explores studies and research on the Sinclair Method, which claims to have up to a 75% cure rate. (This is not an exact comparison because the methods are so different, but a 1992 study conducted by Alcoholics Anonymous indicated a 35% sober rate after 5 years in their program.)

There’s one element of the Sinclair Method that may surprise some people. The patient must continue drinking alcohol for …

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Have you had a near-death experience?

I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of Carole A. Travis-Henikoff’s latest book, “Passings: Death, Dying, and Unexplained Phenomena.” The book explores pre-cognitive dreams, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences and strange occurrences that can happen as one is dying, based upon events that have happened in the author’s own life. I personally approach these subjects with a skeptical, yet open mind.

Travis-Henikoff opens up and shares with readers some of the most painful moments of her life, involving the illnesses and deaths of loved ones. I found her examples of pre-cognitive dreams, near death experiences and phenomena that took place upon one’s passing from this life to be compelling and unsettling. She also investigates these experiences from a metaphysical angle, such as the light that so many people claim to see in near-death experiences . Travis-Henikoff not only explores the moment of death itself, but the events and processes …

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Has cancer impacted your life?

Today is World Cancer Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes this day to bring about greater global awareness about cancer. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and WHO projects cancer deaths to continue rising, with an estimated 12 million deaths in 2030. This year’s theme is “Cancer can be prevented too.” This report states that 40 percent of cancers are preventable.

Take a look at these common causes of cancer. Do you engage in any of these behaviors?

Has your life been impacted by cancer? Are you a cancer survivor or do you know someone who is? We’d like to hear your stories.

Also, if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer, please honor them on this day. Sharing how your life has been impacted by cancer with others may inspire those needing to make crucial lifestyle chances that will lower their cancer risk.

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Are you joining the Great American Smokeout?

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to encourage people to quit smoking.

AJC Special

AJC Special

While a recent survey shows that Georgians are smoking less than a year ago, our state is still one of the unhealthiest in the nation, with a tobacco consumption rate 1.2 percent higher than the national average.

If you are a smoker, are you trying to quit? For those of you who have successfully kicked the tobacco habit, what worked for you?

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