Facebook Effect For Your Health

Is it us, or are news headlines about Facebook’s impact on our health popping up more and more these days? Considering that 51 percent of Americans over age 12 now have profiles on the social networking site compared to 8 percent just three years ago, according to new data from Edison Research, it’s no wonder there are entire scientific journals devoted to the psychology of social networking, and piles of studies analyzing such sites’ effects on our moods, body image, friendships, and marriages.

Negative conditions such as “Facebook depression” or Facebook-fueled divorces bear the brunt of the media blitz, but much of the body of research actually points to positive perks from Facebook use. Here, a deeper look at how all those “likes,” “pokes,” and status updates are really affecting you and your family’s well-being, and how you can outsmart some of the potentially negative side effects.

Health Benefits of Facebook

Research shows that Facebook can:

  1. Fuel self-esteem. In a Cornell University study, students felt better about themselves after they updated their Facebook profiles; a control group of students who didn’t log onto the site didn’t experience

Learn from the Happiest Man

What does the happiest man in America look like? According to a collaboration between The New York Times and Gallup, he’s Alvin Wong: a 69-year-old Chinese-American Jewish man, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. Wong runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year.

Why is Wong so jovial? Because he meets the criteria of what makes for happy living, according to data that Gallup has collected from Americans over the last three years on such factors as emotional health, financial status, stress, healthy habits, and more. Gallup uses the data to create an algorithm called the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index, which provides a daily glimpse into how well Americans feel. When the Times asked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America based on their research, Wong fit the bill.

So what can the rest of us learn from Alvin Wong about our own chances for happiness? Here’s a look at a few factors that may contribute to a more blissful life, according to the Gallup Well-Being Index.

Related: Psst, Here Are

The Reason Group Claims Caramel Coloring

The FDA should ban the use of two compounds widely used in food products, including market giants Coke and Pepsi as well as other soft drinks, because they pose a cancer risk, according to a petition filed by a citizen’s group.

But the American Beverage Association denounced the petition, filed Feb. 16, as “nothing more than another attempt to scare consumers” that is not supported by science.

At issue are caramel colorings that contain 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole.

According to the petition, filed by the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, both have been found by the National Toxicology Program to cause cancer in animals.

Kick the Soda Habit With These 10 Tasty Alternatives

And last month, California regulators added one of them — 4-methylimidazole — to the list of chemicals “known to the state to cause cancer.” The state said the safe limit for consumption of the chemical is 16 micrograms a day.

However, a recent study suggested that 12 ounces of cola would contain up to 130 micrograms of the substance, according to the petition.

The coloring substances are made by treating sugars with ammonium alone or

The most powerful earthquake in Japan

In the aftermath of Japan’s devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and terrifying tsunami, people everywhere are wondering how they can support the numerous relief efforts under way. Many international relief groups are working to relieve suffering in the increasingly dire situation.

The Japanese government has so far confirmed that more than 3,500 people have died and more than 17,000 remain missing. These numbers are likely to rise once emergency service teams are able to reach all of the affected disaster areas. Nearly 530,000 Japanese have been evacuated from their homes so far, and shortages of food, water, and medical supplies are widespread.

Here’s an important way you can contribute to relief efforts: Donate to AmeriCares, a non-profit relief organization that saves lives and restores health in response to natural disasters, conflict, and chronic poverty. Everyday Health is partnering with AmeriCares to support its efforts on the front lines in Japan. For more than 25 years, AmeriCares has been delivering humanitarian aid, medical supplies, medicines, and other relief directly to disaster areas. One of those disasters AmeriCares responded to was the 1995 Kobe earthquake that struck Japan, leaving massive destruction and more than 300,000 homeless.

Related: Seven Questions About the Japan Radiation Scare

How AmeriCares Is

Cancer Risk That You Should Know Before

Does the World Health Organization’s statement that cell phones may cause cancer have you thinking twice about making that phone call?

Of course it’s alarming to think that something that’s become such a can’t-live-without can be linked to brain cancer, but there’s a lot even the most cell phone-addicted people can do to minimize health risks.

Any potential links to cancer stem from the low levels of radiation cell phones emit. Lower your exposure to the radiation, and you’ll reduce the potential links to cancer or other health problems:

  1. Use a headset. Sounds obvious, but headsets emit much less radiation than cell phones do, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and they keep your cell phone away from your head. The farther away you are from a source of radiation, the less damage it can do.
  2. Text when you can. Your constantly texting teens are onto something: Cell phones use less energy (and emit less radiation) when you text than when you talk, says the EWG. Texting also keeps the radiation source farther away from your brain.
  3. Use cell phones for FYI-only calls. Don’t use your cell phone for that long overdue, hour-long catch-up with your sister. Keep calls as short as possible

Take note for beer drinkers

Beer drinkers, take note: Your favorite pint may be healthier than you realize. When it comes to good-for-you happy hour beverages, we tend to think mainly of red wine and its heart-friendly antioxidants. Recent research, however, reveals that beer may also help what ales you, from reducing the risk of osteoporosis to beating brain fog.

But before you go on a beer binge, remember that moderation is key to reap its health perks. That means no more than two 12-ounce beers a day for men and one for women. “If you overdo it, alcohol can take a toll on your health, contributing to liver damage, certain cancers, heart problems, and more,” says Andrea Giancoli, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. People with certain health conditions — including gout, high triglycerides, or breast cancer, for example — should avoid drinking beer or other alcohol because it can exacerbate those health problems, according to Joy Bauer, RD, nutrition and health expert for Everyday Health and The Today Show.

Too much alcohol can also cause weight gain. After multiple rounds, calories can add up quickly (a 12-ounce regular beer can pack up to 150 calories, while a light beer has around 100).

But for

Talk Help Ease Chronic Fatigue

Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome who participated in programs aimed at helping them overcome their symptoms — a combination of exercise and counseling — improved more than those whose treatment was intended to help them adapt to the limitations of the disease, a large randomized trial found.

Mean fatigue scores among patients treated with graded exercise therapy — a tailored program that gradually increases exercise capacity — were 3.2 points lower than scores in patients who received specialist medical care alone, according to Dr. Peter D. White, of Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues.

Furthermore, fatigue scores were lower by 3.4 points among patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy, in which a therapist works with the patient to understand the disease, alleviate fears about activity, and help overcome obstacles to functioning.

In contrast, among patients who were treated with a program known as adaptive pacing therapy, which emphasizes energy limitations and avoidance of excess activity, scores differed by only 0.7 points the researchers reported online in The Lancet.

In a press briefing describing the study findings, co-investigator Dr. Trudie Chalder, of King’s College London, said, “We monitored safety very carefully, because we wanted to be sure we weren’t causing harm to any patients.”

“The

Long and Be Positive For Your Health

Patients with coronary heart disease who have positive expectations about recovery, expressing beliefs such as “I can still live a long and healthy life,” had greater long-term survival, researchers reported.

Among a cohort of almost 3,000 patients undergoing coronary angiography, those with the highest expectations for outcomes actually had the best outcomes, Dr. John C. Barefoot, and colleagues from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

“Patients differ widely in terms of their psychological reactions to major illnesses such as coronary heart disease,” Barefoot’s group explained online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Related: Should I Have an Angiogram?

To explore the specific potential influence of recovery expectations, rather than overall optimistic personality traits, the investigators enrolled 2,818 patients with clinically significant disease and followed them for about 15 years.

Recovery expectations were assessed on the Expectations for Coping Scale, in which patients agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I doubt that I will ever fully recover from my heart problems” and “My heart condition will have little or no effect on my ability to do work.”

Patients were stratified into quartiles according to their expectation scores.

After adjustment for multiple variables, the mortality rate in the highest quartile — the most optimistic group —

Drug Reactions on the Rise

If you’ve ever gotten a rash from taking an antibiotic or gained weight on an antidepressant, you know that taking medicine means balancing the benefit of the drug against the possible risk of unpleasant, and sometimes even dangerous, side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls these unwanted consequences “adverse events,” and once a drug is on the market, watches closely to see if it needs to reevaluate a drug’s safety. FDA does this in part through their MedWatch program, where health professionals and the general public can report any reactions or problems they suspect may have been caused by a medication. Medwatch reports and those submitted by drug manufacturers are combined into a single database for drug safety evaluation, the Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS).

According to a study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the reporting of serious adverse events through AERS (those that can lead to hospitalization, significant health problems, or even death) has increased dramatically in recent years — a 2.6-fold increase in serious events and a 2.7-fold increase in deaths reported between 1998 and 2005 (the last year for which data was available for the study).

In fact, half of the 2.2

Protect Yourself From Medical Identity Theft

A greater concern to the Wisconsin medical community may be the fate of workers — including physicians — who work at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison.

According to Donna Katen-Bahensky, president and CEO of the hospital, the Wisconsin legislature restructured the hospital 17 years ago, creating two entities, “the UW Hospital and Clinical Authority and the UW Hospital and Clinics Board.”

The bill supported by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in the state senate would eliminate the UWHC Board and make all hospital and clinic workers employees of the UW Hospital and Clinic Authority, Katen-Bahensky explained in an e-mail sent last Friday to all UW Hospital and Clinics employees.

She said the governor’s bill would also eliminate collective bargaining for those employees.

In a letter sent to the governor, Katen-Bahensky wrote, “we were surprised to see provisions eliminating collective bargaining for UW Hospital and Clinics Authority (UWHCA) employees. As you know, nearly 5,000 of our 7,500 employees bargain collectively and this has existed since we became a public authority 17 years ago.”

Moreover, Katen-Bahensky added, the hospital has “a long history of collective bargaining and strong relationships with our labor unions. Eliminating collective bargaining for UWHCA has no fiscal effect

Bubonic Plague Knowladge

Widely known as the disease that caused the “Black Death” of the European Middle Ages, bubonic plague is still around today — although cases are relatively rare.

Between 1900 and 2012, there were about 1,000 confirmed cases of plague in the United States.

More than 80 percent of these U.S. cases were bubonic plague, according to a 2015 report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Plague can affect people of any age, but 50 percent of reported cases occur in people between ages 12 and 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Types of Plague

There are three forms of plague:

  • Bubonic
  • Septicemic
  • Pneumonic

Bubonic plague, the most common type, cannot be transmitted directly between people. It is instead spread through the bite of a flea that carries Y. pestis bacteria from an infected rodent.

The bacteria travels from the bite wound to the nearest lymph node, where it spreads to the lymphatic system and causes inflammation in the tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and thymus.

Septicemic plague, an infection of the bloodstream, accounts for about 10 percent of plague cases and is usually also transmitted through the bite of an infected flea.

But you can also get septicemic plague from direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone

Ambulance is not an easy decision

On the other hand, almost 50 percent thought a woman in labor deserved such a ride to the hospital — just one of many scenarios found to be illustrative of inappropriate use of ambulances, Helen Kirkby, BS, and Dr. Lesley Roberts, of the University of Birmingham in England, reported online in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

“Most people would call for an ambulance appropriately when a real emergency occurred, but there are high levels of inappropriate calls when emergencies are not present,” they wrote.

Those also include a toddler bumping its head, a child with Lego blocks stuffed up the nose, or a drunk friend who is conscious but ill.

 

Abuse of ambulance services is high, the researchers said, with previous work suggesting that between 16 percent and 52 percent of calls to request one are inappropriate.

So Roberts and Kirkby conducted an online survey listing 12 common scenarios that may require medical attention, and asked participants to identify when they would request an ambulance.

Seven of those situations did not require an ambulance, while five did. Among the 150 respondents who completed the questionnaire, 66 percent were women and 96 percent were white.

Because the researchers sent it to family, friends, and colleagues, 25 percent

Affect Brain Activity

Holding a cell phone to your ear for a long period of time increases activity in parts of the brain close to the antenna, researchers have found.

Glucose metabolism — that’s a measurement of how the brain uses energy — in these areas increased significantly when the phone was turned on and muted, compared with when it was off, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Although we cannot determine the clinical significance, our results give evidence that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields from acute cell phone exposures,” co-author Dr. Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, where the study was conducted, told MedPage Today.


What We Know About Cell Phones and Cancer


 

Although the study can’t draw conclusions about long-term implications, other researchers are calling the findings significant.

“Clearly there is an acute effect, and the important question is whether this acute effect is associated with events that may be damaging to the brain or predispose to the development of future problems such as cancer as suggested by recent epidemiological studies,” Dr. Santosh Kesari, director of

How to make stressed out

Stressed-out mice may have serendipitiously cued researchers in to a treatment for hair loss.

The mutant mice bred to overproduce a stress hormone called “corticotrophin-releasing factor” became bald on their backs as they aged. But after a week of daily injections with a compound to block CRF — called astressin-B — developed by the group to treat gastrointestinal disease, the mice unexpectedly regrew their missing hair and were indistinguishable from controls.

The effect remained for up to four months, which the researchers pointed out in a press release is a long time in a mouse’s less than two-year life span. It far exceeded the mild regrowth produced by minoxidil (Rogaine) in the same mouse model, the group reported in the journal PLoS One.

Since CRF is also expressed in human skin, the researchers expressed optimism that a similar approach could be a “breakthrough therapy for alopecia.”

– C.P.

Bone Hormone Has Effects on Testosterone

The interaction between the skeletal system and reproduction was thought to be a one-way street running from the gonads to the bones.

But now, studies by Dr. Gerard Karsenty of Columbia University and colleagues show that bones may have a say in male fertility, at least in mice.

The team had previously observed

How to Make Good on Promises

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a bill to continue funding government programs in 2011, but cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The debate over HR 1, a bill that would continue appropriating 2011 funds, lasted five grueling days, ending with final passage early Saturday morning by a vote of 235 to 189. No Democrats voted in favor of the appropriations bill, but three Republicans crossed the aisle to vote against it.

Health Insurance Resource Center

Last week was filled with emotional debate on the House floor over what the government should fund, and what programs should have funding cut or eliminated.

One of the most contentious items wrapped up in the budget bill was an amendment by Mike Pence (R-Ind.) to cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which passed by a vote of 240-185.

During debate over that measure, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calf.) took to the floor and delivered an angry and impassioned speech that revealed she’d had an abortion, and to denounce amendment that would take away funding for family planning, sexual health services, and abortions.

Other amendments offered ranged from space exploration to NASCAR, to studying Asian carp, and served to highlight the