About Health, Healthcare, Medical Science, ...

Note I'm slowly merging these notes to healthreading.blogspot.com, where mostly I post comments on medical journal articles and health related newsletters that I read.

Quit smoking? Male smokers won't like this

Tobacco smokers won't listen to your talk about health risks, lung cancer, heart disease, etc. Doing math about financial cost for them due to smoking doesn't help either. What do we do to persuade them to quit? How about talk about their family members' health? The smoker's wife (or husband), and especially their kids. Kids suffer the most from secondary smoking as they do from other toxic sources. If he loves his kids, keep talking about the diseases or cancers his kids would get even by breathing the air contaminated by his disgusting breath.

There're many ways to dismiss the ostensible pride of being fashionable or sophisticated. How about impotence? If men think smoking makes them feel manly, mature, experienced, especially when they put on the expression of a little frown with eyes half closed to avoid the obnoxious smoke, tell them, "The Marlboro Man needs Viagra" and "What Viagra may give, tobacco taketh away.", as the California newspaper ads read. Thailand, Canada and Brazil have impotence warnings and pictures on cigarette labeling, although UK and US have not caught up. [note]

I don't believe the theory that many smokers are addicted. I believe few cigarette smokers are truly biologically addicted, unlike marijuana addiction. If the environment they live in changes, or there's compelling reason they must quit, they quit without agony. Instead many smokers smoke because they stupidly thought it was cool, and it was a good way to kill time.

Body temperature micro-management

Somewhere I heard the health advice that you should slowly take off your clothing when winter changes to spring and slowly put on more when fall changes to winter. But I think ambient temperature change should be immediately responded with more or less clothing. If you feel hot, take off clothes now, find the shade, an air conditioned area (not too cold area, not directly under strong wind). If you feel cold, put on more clothes without delay. This was actually advised in "Huangdi Neijing", a Chinese medical book written about 500 B.C. Yumi Ishihara, a Japanese doctor, wrote a book titled "Warm Your Body to Cure Disease". It offers support on one of the two ends. Anyway, I call it body temperature micro-management (BTM). Doing this makes your body keep the immune system strong.

However, BTM is the practice you follow during normal working hours, not during exercise. It's essential you do exercise everyday. During that time, you can and probably should violate BTM by going to the cold end. That is, if you feel chilly, so be it, keep running, or doing whatever exercise you're doing. Some people can even push to the extreme by swimming in icy water. That's all good to your immune system. But keep BTM violation to exercise only, and only on the cold end, i.e., intentionally practice how cold your body can stand, not how hot!

Any relationship between a good heart and insomnia, or sub-optimal cardiovascular performance and good sleep?

Suspicion: People with low blood pressure, able to walk or run a long distance tirelessly suffer insomnia more than those that have suboptimal cardiovascular performance. I have anecdotal evidence on a number of people. [to be continued]

Reading contradictory medical advice

Many times you read articles in newspaper or even research articles that have opposite claims. What should you do? Well, there're two major reasons for these contradictions. Newspaper articles targeted at the general public may well be written without thorough literature search or scientific study. One article claims eating fruits before a meal is better and the other suggests the other way, neither giving source of control studies (if any). That's a salient example of this type of contradiction. To overcome this problem, you as a reader has no way other than try to accumulate your knowledge and use your own brain. These articles generally have a minimal amount of medical explanation. While others may skimp on that part, you may try to remember what it says so you can use it in your own study later, proving or disproving the author. If you've done this for a while, these superficial contraditions won't bother you any more.

On the other hand, genuine contraditory advice does arise due to the nature of science. It's not uncommon to find one study linking, for instance, drinking coffee, with lower incidents of liver cancer, yet another finding no such correlation. The same rule applies here: the health literature reading needs your own brain and knowledge. In this case, there's more for you to judge on, number of people in the cohort, some details of the studies (e.g., they both counted caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee or not?), levels of the journal the article was published in (e.g. JAMA vs Archive of ...), and the suggested plausible explanation of their findings. Again, after you've done this for some months and years, you'll learn to have a good judgement and fairly unbiased opinion on the issues you've kept an eye on.

[note] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/550618?src=mp

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