To Your Health

She has very healthy skin, don't you agree?
I quit smoking a while back and, thanks to a young lady who seems to have a future as a drill sergeant or dominatrix, have embarked on an exercise program. Whether or not I wished to so embark is another story and one I’m not exactly sure I could answer in the positive. But, like the legendary juggernaut, once moving it can’t be stopped. And, who knows, assuming I survive this I may end up healthier. Of course, that is a rather rash assumption to make right now. On the other hand, her idea of an exercise program should be taught in schools. I guarantee there would be no fat people any where. Even Santa would be sporting six pack abs in a year. Now, as a newly health conscious American, I figured it would be a good time to see what’s going on in the world of healthy living. First off, some good news, chefs don’t spit in your food. So feel free to eat out.

Some more good news, at least for the pot heads among you, weed may make you stupid but it won’t damage your lungs.

A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that moderate marijuana use (2-3 times per month) is not linked with lung damage. Even more surprising, the study actually found that the moderate use increased lung capacity in a plurality of the study participants.

By comparison, cigarette smokers showed a measurable decrease in health during the same study, which was conducted over 20 years amongst more than 5,000 participants. “FEV1 and FVC both actually increased with moderate and occasional use of marijuana,” says Dr. Mark Pletcher, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and the lead author of the study.

More from the study results:

While tobacco smokers showed the expected drop in lung function over time, the new research found that marijuana smoke had unexpected and apparently positive effects. Low to moderate users actually showed increased lung capacity compared to nonsmokers on two tests, known as FEV1 and FVC. FEV1 is the amount of air someone breathes out in the first second after taking the deepest possible breath; FVC is the total volume of air exhaled after the deepest inhalation.

That was a bit of a surprise, says Pletcher, since “There are clearly adverse effects from tobacco use and marijuana smoke has a lot of the same constituents as tobacco smoke does so we thought it might have some of the same harmful effects. It’s a weird effect to see and we couldn’t make it go away,” he adds, explaining that the researchers used statistical models to look for errors or other factors that could explain the apparent benefit and did not find them.

The study’s conclusion finds, “Occasional and low cumulative marijuana use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.” Research for the study was done by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

They’d better define “occasional and low” because I know people who “wake and bake” who would claim they are only “occasionally” sparking up.

Oh well, speaking of fun with cancer, a mom in the U.K. coughed up a fleshy hairball and cured herself of cancer.

A woman from Coventry, U.K,. has coughed up a three-quarter-inch tumor–and now reports that the shocking incident has left her cancer-free.

Claire Osborn, a 37-year-old mother of six, was driving when she felt a tickle in her throat–and then suddenly expectorated a “heart-shaped lump of liver-colored tissue,” according to the Daily Mail.

“I knew something was very wrong so I went straight to my GP who sent the tissue sample away for tests,” Osborn said.

Osborn reports that she was then taken to the hospital for tests. The attending physicians told her that she’d need a regimen of chemotherapy and surgery to treat her metastatic adenocarcinoma–an aggressive form of cancer. They also sized up her odds of survival at just 50/50.

However, when doctors ran follow-up tests on Osborn to measure how much cancer remained in her body, they couldn’t find any.

“The consultant turned round to me and said, ‘It appears you have coughed up your cancer. Congratulations,’ ” Osborn told the Daily Mail. “I was totally flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe a coughing fit had saved my life.”

Osborn is now recovering after a minor precautionary surgery to remove any cancer cells that might have gone undetected.

Dr. Gary Walton, the surgeon who treated Osborn, said it’s rare for patients to cough up cancer–but not impossible.

“We suspect the tumor grew on a stalk at the back of her mouth which is very difficult to detect,” he told the Daily Mail. “Somehow she dislodged this and the stalk snapped and she coughed up the tumor.”

Well, good for her. God knows I’ve coughed up some wonderful things in my life but none of them cured cancer as far as I know.

Speaking of getting stoned, (just go with me here) scientists all over the world are working with an extract from a Japanese tea that may, just may, cure alcoholism.

A new Chinese tea extract now undergoing tests on rats has shown promise as a remedy for hangovers and may even lead to an eventual cure for alcoholism itself, according to a report in the New Scientist.

Grown primarily in Japan, Havenia dulcis, also known as the oriental raisin tree, has been a folk remedy for 500 years or so in the treatment of hangover symptoms. Scientists are now working on extracting dihydromyricetin (DHM) from the trees in order to determine whether it can mitigate the effects of alcohol on laboratory rats. If the tests continue to yield successful results, comparable testing on humans should begin soon.

Researchers are also suggesting that the chemical may have the potential to treat alcohol addiction itself. So far, the laboratory testing has found that not only do the rats recover more quickly from the alcohol they have consumed–but they also show a lessening desire over time to consume alcohol at all.

“I would give it to problem drinkers who can’t resist going to the pub and drinking,” says pharmacologist Jing Liang of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the research team.

“DHM will reduce the degree of drunkenness for the amount of alcohol drunk and will definitely reduce the hangover symptoms,” Liang said. “In time, it will reduce their desire for alcohol.”

In December 2008, the Korea Food & Drug Administration approved using DHM to help the liver recover from the effects of alcohol. The main ingredient in DHM is something called Quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

Curiously, other extracts from the tree are used in the production of certain types of wine.

More from the New Scientist on how DHM has been working with the lab rats:

After she injected rats’ abdomens with a dose of alcohol proportionate to the amount a human would get from downing 15 to 20 beers in 2 hours by a human, they took about 70 minutes, on average, to right themselves. However, when an injection of the same amount of booze included a milligram of DHM per kilogram of rat body weight, the animals recovered their composure within just 5 minutes.

DHM also stopped rats in a maze from behaving in ways resembling anxiety and hangovers. Rats given heavy doses of alcohol cowered away in corners of the maze, whereas those given the extract with their alcohol behaved normally and were as inquisitive as rats given no alcohol at all, exploring the more open corridors of the maze.

Finally, DHM appeared to discourage rats from boozing when they had a free choice between drinking a sweetened solution of alcohol or sweetened water. Over a period of three months, rats will normally get addicted to increasing volumes of the hard stuff. Rats given DHM, though, drank no more than about a quarter of the amount that the “boozers” eventually built up to. Moreover, boozy rats that had worked up to the higher levels suddenly dropped down to a moderate intake when given DHM after seven weeks.

Of course, there are concerns over what effect a so-called cure to hangovers and alcoholism might have on the public. “There was a lot of philosophical worry that an ‘alcohol antidote’ would entice people to consume alcohol and then count on being able to terminate the intoxicating effects on demand,” said Markus Heilig, clinical director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Well, yes, that’s exactly what would happen for a while until people’s livers starting falling out. That’d learn ’em.

But, are all health related stories uplifting? Of course not. For example, a man in Ohio wanted his sick wife to eat an orange. And, despite Anita Bryant’s best efforts to kill the citrus industry, oranges are one of the best fruits going. They can cure scurvy and keep up your immune system. So oranges are good. We can all agree on that. However someone had already given his wife a banana. So, the man did what any rational person would do; he killed his two sisters-in-law, his son and then himself leaving his sick wife with no one to care for her.

Look, I get it, he prefers oranges to bananas. Even so his actions seem, and this might just be me, a tad extreme.

So now she’s going to be put in a hospital. At least she’ll get some quiet, right?

Reuters says you couldn’t be more wrong if you hosted a revival of Oh! Calcutta! in a church.

Everybody knows hospital rooms are noisy, but now a study has confirmed it — with the added finding that noise levels may sometimes spike to nearly that of a chainsaw.

“The hospital environment is certainly not a restful environment,” said Vineet Arora, at the University of Chicago, who led the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In a study of about 100 adult patients at their medical centre, she and her colleagues found that noise levels in patient rooms at night tended to be lower than during the day, but almost always exceeded recommendations for average and maximum noise level.

According to World Health Organization recommendations, noise in hospital rooms generally shouldn’t get above 30 to 40 decibels. But Arora’s team found that the average noise level in patient rooms was close to 50 decibels, and sometimes spiked to as high as 80 decibels — almost as loud as a chainsaw.

Much of the extra noise at night was due to talking between doctors and nurses, but the loudest interruptions were likely from alarms and intercoms, she said.

Higher maximum noise levels in individual rooms were linked to sleep disruptions in their occupants, with patients sleeping over an hour less in the hospital than they’d reported sleeping at home. They often also had restless, poor-quality sleep.

“One of the most common complaint that patients will report is that they had a difficult night sleeping,” Arora said — and that could delay their recovery.

“It could be part of a cycle of: you’re sick, you get bad sleep, and you’re not able to get better as quickly.”

But other medical experts said noise may not be the only culprit for poor patient sleep, noting that the illness for which the patients are hospitalized may also play a part.

More noise may be a reflection of more nurses having to come in and out, checking on patients or giving them medicine — indicating that they may be sicker than those with less noisy rooms.

“That doesn’t mean that … noise is not a factor — noise is certainly a factor,” said Sairam Parthasarathy, who studies patient sleep at the University of Arizona in Tucson but was not involved in the study.

Parthasarathy suggested that patients keep their blinds open during the day to get natural sunlight, wear noise-cancelling headphones if sound on the ward is disturbing them, and walk around during the day if they’re physically able.

Yes, Reuters is hyphen happy.

Okay, this is all getting a little depressing. Let’s end this with a happy thought.

A dying seven year old boy gets his wish to get tons of high explosives so he can take everyone with him.

Gee, thanks Make-A-Wish Foundation.

A 7-year-old boy with cancer was granted his wish to push the detonator and implode a massive grain silo in Ohio. WUPW reports that Maxwell Hinton, who is suffering from Neuroblastoma, was granted the request by the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
“I got cancer, Neuroblastoma, and I went through treatment and they made a wish for me,” Hinton said. “I watch MythBusters, and they inspired me to blow a building up.”

The ConAgra grain mill was already scheduled to be demolished, making way for the sale of 11 acres of property as part of a four-year renovation project. An estimated 30,000 local residents turned out to watch Hinton help blow up the building.

“It’s been a great experience for him, but it’s a great experience for this whole area,” said Doug Studer, who helped to organize the fulfillment of Hinton’s wish.

Oh, watch the video. It’s cute, the kid’s happy and the building goes boom.

Once I’m healthy, I’m going to try some of these moves.


Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!

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