It’s tempting to go along with your doctor’s advice when you’re in pain and he or she offers the promise of relief in a pill. But studies suggest that physicians are too willing to prescribe powerful painkillers, Men’s Health reported Dec. 8.
According to one recent report, about one in four people hospitalized for reasons other than surgery were prescribed doses of painkillers large enough to pose a serious risk of overdose. In general, about half of such patients were prescribed opioid pain medications such as codeine, morphine, or oxycodone.
Doctors have been instructed to treat pain aggressively, and don’t want to see patients suffer. Plus, patients have a difficult time assessing their own pain level.
To prevent overdoses:
- tell your doctor about other drugs you are taking and behaviors that may raise risk, such as drinking alcohol
- ask for a referral to a pain physician, who has advanced training in pain management
- ask your doctor about alternative treatments, since many assume that if you are in the hospital you must be in severe pain
The European Union is developing new rules governing the sales and use of electronic cigarettes, and government officials in the Netherlands are warning about health hazards associated with the products, often seen as a safer alternative to smoking.
Fox News reported Nov. 29 that the Dutch Institute for Public Health is advising that pregnant women should not use e-cigarettes, and that the products should not be used near children. The agency cited a lack of research on the possible health effects of electronic cigarettes.
Dutch deputy health minister Martin Van Rijn said that because they contain nicotine, e-cigarettes are just as addictive as regular cigarettes. “There is insufficient scientific evidence to be able to say whether the quantities of toxins in the exhaled air are dangerous for bystanders,” says Van Rijn, who announced plans to draft stronger regulation of e-cigarette advertising, safety, quality and labeling.
(Photo © rpavich via Flickr)
If you’re older and don’t get to the gym as often as you like, there’s still some good news: if you simply stay active and avoid sitting around too much, it may prolong your life, Swedish researchers say.
Reuters reported Nov. 29 that a study of 5,000 60-year-olds found that keeping busy and moving most of the day seemed to protect participants from suffering a heart attack or dying from any cause during the 12.5-year study period. While vigorous exercise is encouraged, experts say it’s also important to avoid being sedentary for long periods of time.
“In addition to engaging in regular health enhancing exercise, people should be encouraged to also think what they do during the long periods in the day in which they are not exercising,” says researcher Elin Ekblom-Bak of the Åstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences. “Engaging in regular exercise is still important. We saw that those who exercised regularly and that also had a daily physically active life had the lowest risk profile of all.”
The findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Toxins that your grandparents were exposed to could affect you or your grandchildren, according to research showing that genetic defects can skip some generations but still show up much further down the road.
Smithsonian Magazine reported in its December 2013 issue that researcher Michael Skinner and colleagues found that toxins appeared to cause defects not through inherited genetic malfunctions, but rather by attaching so-called methyl groups like burrs to DNA and affecting its function through multiple generations. The effect was observed in pregnant rats (and their offspring) exposed to bug spray, jet fuel and BPA.
Skinner, a Washington State University researcher, has faced challenges from other geneticists and from producers of toxic chemicals, who worry that they could face increased liability from damage caused by their products across generations.
Skinner’s research was published in the journal PLoS One.
(Photo © Wikipedia)
When you’re compiling your holiday shopping list, be mindful of these naughty and nice gifts for friends and family members who are dieting.
Health.com reported Dec. 7 on some good gifts for dieters, including:
- nutritious gourmet food baskets filled with organic fruit, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, spices, organic tea, or seeds for a garden
- kitchen tools for making healthy food, such as a crock pot, wok, water-filtering pitcher, iced tea maker, zester, oil mister, citrus juicer, vegetable steamer, or avocado slicer
- a healthy cooking class
- fitness or activity gear — but be sure it’s something that supports an activity they already do, so it doesn’t seem like a hint that they need to lose weight
- gift certificates to stores that sell nutritious items
Gifts to avoid giving dieters include:
- unhealthy treats
- a scale
- gym memberships or fitness classes (unless they are specifically requested)
(Photo © Mulad via Flickr)