Health & WellnessS


Protecting Yourself (Or a Loved One) in the Hospital

Julia Hallisy recently sent me her book, The Empowered Patient (, 2008). It is at once one of the most pragmatic and one of the most moving healthcare books that I have ever read.

Hallisy's daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with an aggressive eye cancer when she was five months old. Over the next decade, she went through radiation, chemo, reconstructive surgery, an operation to remove her right eye, a hospital-acquired infection that led to toxic-shock syndrome and an above-the-knee amputation. Kate died in 2000. She was eleven years old.

Remarkably, The Empowered Patient is not an angry book. It is not maudlin. To her great credit, Hallisy manages to keep her tone matter-of-fact as she tells her reader what every patient and every patient's advocate needs to know about how to stay safe in a hospital.


More Education Means a Longer Life, Harvard Researcher Says

College-educated people live seven years longer on average than those who never went beyond high school, according to a Harvard University researcher.

Those who were 25 in 2000 and better educated could expect to live to the age of 82, compared with age 75 for those less educated, according to research in the journal Health Affairs. Smoking-related illnesses were more prevalent in the group with less education, accounting for about one-fifth of the mortality difference, the study found.


Third child dies of 'flu' in Hong Kong

A seven-year-old boy died in Hong Kong on Tuesday after being hospitalized late last week with a suspected strain of bird flu, national media said.

Law Ho-ming had had a fever and a persistent cough for about two weeks before being hospitalized on March 6. He was later discharged, but rushed to the emergency department at Tuen Mun Hospital on March 8. The boy lapsed into a coma and was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from swelling of the brain.


One Woman's Astonishing Experiment With Aspartame

Aspartame Rats Tumor Cancer

Victoria Inness-Brown's family was addicted to diet soda. After researching the effects of aspartame, she strongly believed the artificial sweetener might one day lead to their illness or even their early deaths.


Short-term stress as bad as long-term stress

Heated discussions with work colleagues and tight deadlines can undermine memory and learning, according to new research.

Researchers found chemicals released in response to acute stress undermined communication between brain cells involved in the formation and processing of memories.

Comment: Stress shocks the system and wears it down, as well as reducing the ability of the general populace to put two and two together, and thus understand what is being done to them. With bad times around the corner economically, it looks like an awful lot of people are likely to die because of the stress and shocks of the economy melting down.


When It Comes To Red Cabbage, More Is Better

Plant pigments called anthocyanins provide fruits and vegetables with beneficial blue, purple and red coloring. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are learning more about these compounds and their absorption into the human blood stream.

red cabbage
©iStockphoto/Christine Balderas
Anthocyanins are a group of healthful compounds that fall within the flavonoid class of plant nutrients. ARS scientists have identified 36 anthocyanins in red cabbage, including eight that had never before been detected in the cabbage.


Certain Oral Contraceptives May Pose Health Risks, Study Suggests

The widely used synthetic progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) decreased endothelial function in premenopausal women in a study done at the University of Oregon. The finding, researchers said, raises concerns about long-term effects of MPA and possibly other synthetic hormones on vascular health in young women.

©J. Meendering
Jessica Meendering, right, works with a young woman who participating in a study of MPA and its effects on the brachial artery.


How Frequency Of Meals May Affect Health

The health consequences of eating one large meal a day compared with eating three meals a day has not been established. Now two recently published journal articles are among the first to report the effects of meal skipping on key health outcomes, based on a study involving a group of normal-weight, middle-aged adults.

©Peggy Greb
ARS and National Institute on Aging studies looked into health consequences of eating one meal a day, which some people do, compared to the standard recommendation of eating three meals a day.


US: You can get paid to catch malaria

How far would you go to help wipe out one of the world's worst scourges?

Seattle-area residents will soon be able to go all the way: allowing themselves to be bitten by malaria-infected mosquitoes to aid in the quest for new vaccines and drugs.

Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) is announcing plans today for a facility where volunteers will be exposed to the deadliest form of the disease, which kills at least a million people a year. Most victims are African children.

But scientists are quick to point out that participating in the clinical trials won't be a life-threatening experience.


Gulf War illness 'chemical link'

There is evidence linking chronic health problems suffered by Gulf War veterans to exposure to pesticides and nerve agents, US research has found.

A third of veterans of the 1991 war experienced fatigue, muscle or joint pain, sleeping problems, rashes and breathing troubles, the research found.

A US Congress-appointed committee on Gulf War illnesses analysed more than 100 studies in the research.