Lighten up a little

I subscribe to some medical websites, and occasionally one of their emails contains some information I feel I should share with others. Most of the time the juicy articles are picked up by CNN or other news networks, but this one wasn’t. It’s all about overwork and stress, and how it is bad for you. Wow! That’s no surprise is it? But this is the first time that I’ve seen quantification of the threat.

I’m posting this because those of us who are trying to have writing careers in addition to our normal work typically work more hours per week than we’d like to, but it’s part of getting ahead. How many hours is too many? Keep reading.

The article from The Lancet (British medical journal and website) has the daunting title “Long working hours and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data for 603838 individuals.” Say that fast three times. The authors of this article didn’t do the studies, but they found all kinds of studies and correlated the information.

The result of their effort was summarized in this line: “Our findings show that individuals who work 55 hr or more per week have a 1.3-times higher risk of incident stroke than those working standard hours.”

OMG. How many of you have worked 70-hr weeks for months on end? I know I have, and all of my friends who are in IT have also. It’s expected of you when management says “Do whatever it takes to get the job done.” Add to that the time we spend on our second career of writing, and it’s scary. Lack of exercise and heavy drinking exacerbate the problem.

The researchers stated that the correlation between long hours and coronary heart disease was “less persuasive”. Well, I know of at least one individual on a project I worked who walked out of a stressful meeting with the government customer and dropped dead of a heart attack in the hall. That’s enough evidence for me.

So I guess I’m telling you to get more exercise, drink less alcohol, spend more time with your loved ones. You’re not going to die if you don’t get that special project done, but you might hasten your death if you push yourself too hard.

If you want to read the full article click here.


Posted under Other Medical

This post was written by Dan Ferry on August 31, 2015


Arthroscopic surgery for degenerative knees — not so great?

The British Medical Journal (aka BMJ) has published a report from doctors who dug through all the studies available on whether or not knee surgery really helps middle aged or older patients with knee pain and degenerative knee disease (This is NOT about traumatic knee injury).

Their conclusions: The small inconsequential benefit seen from interventions that include arthroscopy for the degenerative knee is limited in time and absent at one to two years after surgery. Knee arthroscopy is associated with harms. Taken together, these findings do not support the practise of arthroscopic surgery for middle aged or older patients with knee pain with or without signs of osteoarthritis.

Of course, I’m just a layman, but my guess is that the physical therapy required after knee surgery is what helped these patients, and when they stopped doing the therapy and stopped moving around so much, their knee pain came back.

Source: Arthroscopic surgery for degenerative knee: systematic review and meta-analysis of benefits and harms

(Again, this is not about vertigo, but many people have more problems than solely vertigo, and I like to pass along what I find on other health problems.)


Posted under Other Medical

This post was written by Dan Ferry on June 21, 2015


B Vitamin Helps Prevent Some Skin Cancer (unfortunately not vertigo)

I’ve had one instance of basal cell carcinoma on my head, and I wasn’t happy about it. This study in Australia, which has one of the highest rates of skin cancers in the world, says one B vitamin can help prevent certain types of cancer. I’m not so sure this stuff is “almost obscenely inexpensive,” because it wasn’t when I just checked, but what price can we place on avoiding cancer?

And sure, this has nothing to do with vertigo, but I thought it important enough to bring to your attention.

An inexpensive vitamin can help reduce the occurrence of common skin cancers in people prone to that disease, researchers reported on Wednesday.

In a clinical trial, people who took two pills a day of nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3 available as a nutritional supplement, had a 23 percent lower risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer than those who took placebo pills.

“It’s safe, it’s almost obscenely inexpensive and it’s widely available,” Dr. Diona Damian, the lead investigator of the study, said in a news conference organized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who said the findings could be put into practice right away.

“This one’s ready to go straight into the clinic,” said Dr. Damian, a dermatology professor at the University of Sydney in Australia. However, she said [Dan:  my italics]  the vitamin should be used only by people who get frequent skin cancers, not by everyone.

The skin cancer prevention study focused on non-melanoma skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Together, these are the most common form of cancer in the United States, with the most recent study estimating that in 2006 there were 3.5 million cases in 2.2 million Americans. Most of these are curable through surgery or other techniques, though the surgery can leave scars and in some cases the cancers do become more serious.

Dr. Damian said the effect of the vitamin seemed to disappear once people stopped taking it. She said that nicotinamide did not have the side effects, like headache and flushing, of niacin, another form of vitamin B3.

Two experts not involved in the study said the results were “interesting and potentially important,” in part because nicotinamide had fewer side effects than the pharmaceutical alternatives for skin cancer prevention.

The experts, Dr. Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, clinical director of the Skin Cancer Institute at the University of Arizona, and Steven Stratton, a pharmacologist there, said in a joint email that patients should nonetheless talk to their doctors before taking the vitamin.

Read the entire article at The New York Times.


Posted under Other Medical

This post was written by Dan Ferry on May 15, 2015