Clarifying Health Myth-Understandings

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This is Reform?

Posted by rwzenk on April 1, 2010

Myth #10: The new Health Care Reform Bill is ‘Reform’

New regulations and taxes do not count as reform.  Where’s the patent law changes for lowered cost of pharmaceutical products?  Where’s tort reform to lower the cost of malpractice insurance?  Where is any change to the health care system that lowers the cost of health care?

One of the most absurd claims is that by forcing chain restaurants to post caloric content on all menu items, people will make healthier decisions when ordering food.  That sounds great in theory, but what about the new mindset of those relying on the government to make basic decisions.  I’m talking about those who now say to themselves, “I don’t have to worry about my health anymore.  I have insurance.  Obama will give me a pill.”  This squashes any gains made by the bill.  This bill removes incentive to make wise decisions and be healthy.  Do not underestimate the stupidity of the weak minded masses.

As some of  you may suspect, parts of the 2000 page bill have nothing to do with health care at all.  Please explain to me what the government taking control of student loans has to do with health care-aside from taking work and quality health insurance away from bank employees who will be laid off by the thousands in coming years.

This bill instead is a written plan on how we’ll use tax money to pay for our record spending on health care.  It’s a change in the distribution of funds, but not a change health care itself.  It’s time to stop the lies.  The only certainty about this health care bill is that it was never about health reform.

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Posted in Political | 1 Comment »

Are you 9 Digits from Cognitive Impairment?

Posted by rwzenk on April 1, 2010

Can playing Sudoku decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?  The answer is: sometimes.

Brain exercises like Sudoku require certain neural pathways to communicate in order to solve.  As the brain works to solve the puzzle, new connections are formed between neurons, however, while Sudoku and even crossword puzzles can exercise the brain, if it’s done frequently the brain is no longer challenged and the activity loses its potential ability to delay or even prevent the loss of mental function because new connections are not developed.

For this and other methods for preventing Alzheimer’s disease visit Healthy Place.

If you don’t know how to play Sudoku and you want to learn, click here.

Posted in Disease | 8 Comments »

I don’t SEE any hair on it…

Posted by rwzenk on April 1, 2010

Who doesn’t practice the five second rule? Certainly no one in my circle of friends. How reliable is it though? Could dangerous pathogens really hop onto my food if it hits the floor for a brief moment in time? Is food poisoning even common? Let’s find out…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, food poisoning causes about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year. One of the most common bacterial forms of infection, the salmonellae organisms, account for $1 billion in medical costs and lost work time.

A study by food scientists recently dropped food (pieces of bologna and slices of bread) on the floor for intervals of 5-60 seconds. The 5 second samples contained an alarming 1,800 types of bacteria! Without frequent sterilization of surfaces, you’re probably better off not eating food fallen for only one second.

If you don’t have time to sterilize your floors on an hourly basis, check out these tips on effective, but quick cleaning.

Posted in Food Related | 9 Comments »

Keep it cool hot head…

Posted by rwzenk on April 1, 2010

If you’ve bundled up for cold weather in the past have probably heard the following: You lose 85% of your body heat through your head.

Are you kidding me? If that was true, I could throw on a ski-mask and run around the frosty winter wonderland all day in my birthday suit.

After a bit of research, I traced this myth back to a military study on uniformed soldiers in cold weather.  Yes, 85% of their heat loss was through the head but that was because the rest of their bodies were well protected.  If you were covered head to ankle, the majority of your heat would be lost from the feet.  At least the head has thick hair to keep it warm.

If you are going to be spending extended amounts of time in cold climates, here is a simplified list of recommendations for dressing the part:

  • avoid wearing cotton, linen, or any absorbent material against your skin
  • have a second layer for warmth (wool or fleece)
  • bulky outer layers
  • protect extremities (nose, fingers, ears, etc.)
  • warm, dry socks
  • waterproof shoes

The detailed list is available at eHow.

Posted in Weather | 2 Comments »

Danger Dogs…

Posted by rwzenk on April 1, 2010

If you ask people how rabies is transmitted, 9 times out of 10, the answer is dogbite. In reality your chances of getting rabies from a domesticated dog in the US is only slightly more likely than becoming a werewolf.
Because of successful vaccination programs, dogs are no longer the primary carriers of the rabies virus.  Rabies among coyotes is also in decline since rabies innoculated food sources have been dropped into coyote habitats with some success.

As you can see on the map provided, much more likely is zoonotic transmission of rabies from raccoons (number one culprit), skunks (second most common transmitter of the virus), foxes, coyotes, and bats (rarely).

For this and more information contact the Humane Society.

Posted in Animals, Disease | Leave a Comment »

Stomach Bugs…

Posted by rwzenk on April 1, 2010

For decades people believed that peptic ulcers were caused by stress, alcohol, and spicy foods.  It wasn’t until 1982 that Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren discovered a bacterium that can inhabit the acidic human stomach.  It is called Helicobacter pylori and it is the cause of the vast majority of peptic ulcers.  H. pylori buries itself in the mucus lining of the stomach where the immune system cannot touch it.  It then secretes protective enzymes as well as a toxin that kills the cells in the wall of the stomach.  This is the actual cause of the ulcer.  Increased stomach acid and even stress can further irritate the ulcer, but thanks to Nobel Prize winning doctors Marshall and Warren, we know the real offender is H. pylori.

Posted in Disease, Food Related | 3 Comments »

Don’t touch that toad!

Posted by rwzenk on March 31, 2010

Of the many myths my mother propagates, perhaps the one that deterred me the least was “If you pick up that toad, you’ll get warts.”  Now, for a rambunctious, young, midwestern boy such as myself, a toad was much too interesting to leave alone.  Just look at that little guy below!  I caught them all the time.  I kept them in my pockets, used them for fish bait, and I even released them on the school bus to scare girls.  These days, warts will scare girls far worse so let’s look at the myth.

Though some toads such as the Australian Cane Toad can secrete toxins from their skin, no toad actually secretes the causal agent of warts in humans:  Human Papiloma Virus or HPV.  That’s right…warts result from a virus-not toads and not from any fungi (such as a toadstool).  For those who remain worried about warts even after this blogpost, Gardasil-a vaccine for HPV-is available and affordable. For more information, contact your local health care provider or see the CDC’s HPV webpage.

Posted in Animals, Disease | Leave a Comment »

Pacify Please…

Posted by rwzenk on March 31, 2010

Myth: Pacifiers should not be given to infants who are breastfed.

Many parents who wish to breastfeed their newborns live in fear of a phenomenon known as “Nipple Confusion.”  This refers to the differences in both shape and feel of things going into the infant’s mouth.  In order to avoid nipple confusion, parents try to avoid bottles and pacifiers.  Bottles aside, there exists one huge reason to use pacifiers-more important than the difficulties with colic:  SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

While the exact cause remains unknown, there are several practices parents can utilize to reduce the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome occuring.  The most commonly recognized one is to lay the infant on their back rather than their stomach when the baby sleeps.  Other steps recommended include putting the infant at the foot of the crib, avoid excessive bedding and clothing to prevent high temperatures, avoiding any exposure to second-hand smoke, and giving the infant a pacifier whenever he or she sleeps.  This is thought to stimulate the baby’s nervous system to continue breathing.  While researchers are unsure for the exact relationship, the link is undeniable: pacifier use protects and prevents.

There is no 100% prevention for SIDS but by using these tips, you statistically give your child the best chance for survival and that’s what matters most.

PS…isn’t Sudden Infant Death Syndrome the scariest sounding syndrome?  It sounds like something from Thunderdome.

Posted in Disease | 1 Comment »

Gum…to swallow or not to swallow…

Posted by rwzenk on March 31, 2010

Now who hasn’t heard that if you swallow your chewing gum it will stay in your intestines for 7 years?  Well, by my calculations that means I should have about 6 pieces still in me.  Myth-understandings is now happy to report that the gum indeed does NOT stay in your system for years.  It will only be with you for hours-days at most-just like any other food you happen to ingest.

Wrigley recently commented on the subject: “Chewing gum has five basic ingredients – sweeteners, corn syrup, softeners, flavors and gum base (the part that puts the “chew” in chewing gum). The first four ingredients are soluble, meaning they dissolve in your mouth as you chew. Gum base doesn’t. And although it isn’t meant to be swallowed, if it is, it simply passes through your system, just like popcorn or any other form of roughage.” It starts traveling down your esophagus, into your stomach, enters the small intestine, and makes its way to the large intestine. This normally takes only a few days.”

If you are the experimenting type, don’t think you’re going to see the gum once it’s been…uh…processed.  The color of gum base is not the pink, green, or blues you might expect to see.

So don’t be afraid to chew!  Wrigley lists the following as benefits of chewing gum:

  • Fights plaque
  • Stress relief
  • Helps curb cravings (weight loss, quitting tobacco use)
  • Improves focus, concentration, alertness, etc.

The only question that remains is who started the rumor and why did they choose seven years as opposed to one year or the rest of your life?

Posted in Food Related | 3 Comments »

Facial Freezing!

Posted by rwzenk on March 29, 2010

Did your mother ever tell you to stop making faces because your face will freeze that way?  Did her warning carry weight?  Well, the answer happens to be yes and no…

Flexed muscles will eventually stiffen if held for long enough periods of time.  This is called contracture.  Contractures are a serious problem, but they occur primarily in the elderly–not rambunctious young children. It is caused by the actual shortening of the affected muscle or tendon’s constant flexion.  Muscular contracture correction involves a combination of therapies that may include physical therapy, braces (as seen below for calf contracture), medications, and even surgery.  For more information or to learn how to prevent contractures in your aged loved ones, visit Aging Care.

If you were to attempt to freeze your face muscles, you would fall asleep and relax long before your muscles had time to shorten and fix.

Posted in Disease | 4 Comments »