Evidence suggests that giving blood has health benefits

April 26, 2000

Heres why. Each time you give blood, you remove some of the iron it contains. High blood iron levels, Sullivan believes, can increase the risk of heart disease. Iron has been shown to speed the oxidation of cholesterol, a process thought to increase the damage to arteries that ultimately leads to cardiovascular disease.

Sullivan has long suspected that blood iron levels help explain why a mans risk of heart disease begins earlier than a womans. Women lose blood and lower their iron levels each time they menstruate. Men, on the other hand, begin storing iron in body tissues starting in their twenties, which is just about the time their heart attack danger begins to climb.

According to Victor Herbert, M.D., a hematologist at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, there are normally about 1,000 milligrams of iron stored in the average adult mans body but only about 300 milligrams in a premenopausal womans. Once women stop menstruating, however, their iron levels and their heart disease risk begin to climb, eventually matching that of men.

Not everyones convinced by Sullivans notion. I do not believe there is proof of an association between iron level and the risk of heart disease in men with normal iron metabolism, says Peter Tomasulo, M.D., a director at the International Federation of Red Cross Societies. The data is preliminary at best. Most scientists, in fact, still think estrogen is probably the most important reason why women are protected from heart disease until they reach menopause.

But several recent findings lend support to the possibility that iron levels play a role. In research reported last year in the journal Circulation, Swedish scientists found that men with a genetic abnormality that causes slightly elevated blood iron levels had a 2.3fold increase in heart attack risk. A second study published in the same journal found that women with the abnormal gene were also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Together, Sullivan believes, those studies offer new support for his iron hypothesis.

Proof wont come until researchers conduct large and wellcontrolled studies that compare the heart disease risk of men who regularly give blood with that of men who dont. Already several small studies have been done, however, offering tantalizing evidence that donating blood might be a very good idea.

Take, for example, a study of 2,682 men in Finland reported in the September 1998 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Men who donated blood at least once a year had an 88 percent lower risk of heart attacks than nondonors. Another study published in the August 1997 issue of Heart found that men who donated blood were less likely than nondonors to show signs of cardiovascular disease.

Critics are quick to point out that people who donate blood may simply be healthier to start with. Yet a 1995 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that the use of bleeding to lower iron levels in a group of 14 patients did reduce cholesterol oxidation. Its another small piece of evidence in support of the benefits of donating blood. By now, Sullivan insists, there is abundant evidence that favors a public health recommendation to lower iron stores. Whats more, he says, there is no risk to a healthy person donating blood, and potentially significant benefit.


Should you and your doctor be face book friends?

You, your doctor and the Internet

Should a caregiver ever Google a patient? Would you ask your physician to be a Facebook ‘friend’? Ethical questions abound, and the doctor-patient relationship is at stake.

April 26, 2010|
By Judy Foreman | Special to the Los Angeles Times

You’ve just started treatment with a new psychiatrist, whom you like very much. Should you “friend” her on Facebook?

If she says yes, what if she finds those pictures of you dancing drunkenly with the lampshade on your head — after you told her you don’t drink anymore? Or what if you discover pictures of her snuggled up with her husband and two adorable kids, when the reason you went into therapy in the first place was that you’re sad about being single and childless?

If she doesn’t respond, will you feel rejected, distanced, hurt?

And what about using search engines such as Google and Yahoo? What if your shrink Googles you to see if you’re delusional or if you really are that famous astronaut you claim to be? What if she discovers that you have a posh address even though you pleaded for reduced fees? If she does Google you, should she tell you? If so, before or after? Should the search results go into your medical record?

One of the newest medical ethics dilemmas is the collision between the Internet and the traditionally strict boundaries between patients and doctors. Caregivers, especially psychiatrists and therapists, have historically disclosed personal information only when it might benefit a patient — as when a patient is struggling with the loss of a child and the therapist discloses that he, too, has experienced such a loss.

Likewise, patients have typically disclosed personal details in their own time, as therapy continues and trust develops. The Web challenges that model head-on.

Facebook, founded in February 2004, now has more than 400 million active users. MySpace, founded a month earlier, has 100 million. Google.com, the search engine founded in 1998, currently handles 100 billion searches per day.

There’s no question that Internet searches can be an important tool for healthcare consumers. “Patients should Google their doctors, to check on credentials, training, scholarly articles and the like,” says Dr. Daniel Sands, the senior medical director of clinical informatics for the Internet Business Solutions Group at networking giant Cisco Systems.

But what about the reverse — doctors searching patients? “Why would they ever want to?” asks Sands, also a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

When it’s OK to search

There may be times when it’s appropriate for doctors to Google patients, says psychiatrist Benjamin Silverman, chief resident of the McLean Hospital adult outpatient clinic.

Silverman has a patient who stopped going to therapy without explanation. “I was concerned,” he says. “I Googled her.”

The patient was not upset, but Silverman felt he had crossed some kind of boundary. So he told her. “If we were going to continue treatment,” he says, “I thought it was necessary for her to know that I had done this.”

Other situations may justify an Internet search or a visit to the patient’s social networking site as well, says Dr. David H. Brendel, an assistant professor of psychiatry at McLean. Maybe a psychiatrist suspects a patient has suicide plans, for example.

But doctors should ask themselves some hard questions before doing so, to be sure they are not just being voyeuristic.

“There are huge benefits to social networking,” says Sands, but once you put information on such a site, “you are letting someone into your kimono, so you’ve got to be mindful about what’s there.”

And that goes both ways. Without revealing specifics, Brendel recalls a case in which a patient found information on a social networking site that “led to significant discomfort for the physician and the breakdown of their relationship to the point where the patient had to see another doctor.”

Of course, Internet users can sign up for varying levels of privacy protection. Doctors can also simply refuse to accept requests from patients to be online friends. But many don’t. A study of medical students and residents at the University of Florida in Gainesville, for instance, showed that only 37.5% made their Facebook sites private.

Sawalla Guseh, 25, a third-year student at Harvard Medical School and a Facebook user, says his view of social networking is changing as he goes through school. Two years ago, he says, “I was more, like, it’s completely fine, not a big deal” to put his personal information on Facebook.

But when a fellow male medical student was “Facebooked” by a female patient who seemed interested in becoming involved in his personal life, Guseh became more conservative. “Nothing came of [the exchange],” he says, but it made him think. “As we accrue more responsibility… it’s more important for us to be a bit more careful about who we friend and who we don’t friend,” he says.

It’s about boundaries

Ultimately, issues of Internet searching and connecting must be judged by the fact that the relationship between a patient and a doctor should be “professional,” says Jeffrey E. Barnett, a psychologist at Loyola University Marylandin Baltimore.


How does lying affect your health?

Everyone knows that telling lies can get you into trouble. Most of us learned that as a kid. When Mom or Dad found out it was you, not the dog, who ate the last piece of chocolatecake, you were in for it. But what if you got away with it? Chances are, if youdid get away with it, you tried it again and if it continued to work for you, lying became a useful tool in life. The thing is, sooner or later that kind of antisocial behavior catches up with you. It starts to affect yourrelationships and it can most assuredly affect your health.

The Mind Body Connection

Our nervous systems are connected to our immune systems so it makes sense that our brain and our emotions can send out messages that affect our health. To put it simply, your body responds to the way you think. When we think happy thoughts our bodies produce endorphins; hormones that make us feel good. Those chemicals also contribute to a stronger, healthier immune system. Conversely, when we are worried, anxious or generally stressed out, our bodies produce different kinds of hormones such ascortisol, and norepinephrine.

Cortisol increases blood sugar and suppresses the immune system. Norepinephrine kick starts the “flight or fight” response meaning our heart rate accelerates and our blood pressure goes up.
Modern medical doctors as well as holistic practitioners agree that a person who lies continuously will eventually face anxiety, depression, physical illness and even psychological illness.

Why Do We Lie?

Psychologists tell us that we lie because we are fearful of the consequences of telling the truth. Guilt bears a heavy burden on those who live into it, so people lie to avoid looking stupid, or incompetent, or so someone won’t get angry at them.

There are other reasons why people lie. People are afraid of being punished. They may feel embarrassed, they may lose face, status, or they might not get what they want, as many liars lie to manipulate people.
Liars think they are protecting themselves, but that kind of  payoffobliterates the meager benefits listed above and it can be devastating to one’s health and happiness.

First off, it takes a lot more effort to tell a lie than to tell the truth. 

To be a believable liar, you have to live into the lie, which often means believing in the lie yourself. Deluding yourself is stressful work because it’s a lot easier to remember the truth than it is to remember details of a lie. If you’re questioned about the situation that led to the lie, you have to stick with it even if someone challenges your lie with proof that you’re lying. It takes a smooth operator to gloss over every challenge and it takes a sharp memory to defend every lie with conviction. Even the most convincing liar constantly worries that his or her lies will be exposed. It’s that kind of anxiety that brings on ulcers, headaches, sleepless nights and paranoia.

Lying is not only an anti-social behavior, liars often become anti-social themselves. If they hang around people they’ve lied to, they begin to dislike those people. They may even blame them for their problems. It’s no wonder that lies can ruin work relationships, marriages and friendships. If you’re caught in a lie, your credibility drops to zero. Without credibility or friends it’s easy to understand why liars are prone to self-criticism and depression.

Don’t Worry About Choosing the Truth

If you are tempted to lie, relax. Remember that the repercussions of telling the truth are really much easier on the mind and body than are the repercussions of telling a lie. There are a lot of benefits in choosing to tell the truth, including saving your sanity and physical health.

Simply by saying you’re sorry (if you did something wrong) and offering to make up for your error may end the ordeal quickly and you won’t be plagued with having to constantly substantiate the charade of the lie.

Simply by telling the truth about an embarrassing situation and taking responsibility for your actions can win you respect and perhaps even the support of others.

You’ll also gain a reputation for being an honest person. True, you may be known for making mistakes, but honesty is still the best policy and you’ll avoid that stomach ulcer.

People may just become more truthful to you and that has lots of advantages. You’ll worry less about whether others are telling you lies.

By being a truthful person, you’ll become more persuasive. People will trust you more. It’s ironic, but truthful people get more of what they want in life and if you get what you want you have less to stress about.

By being truthful, you’ll sleep better, eat healthier and consequently, you’ll look better.

To Stay Healthy, Stay Honest

Remember, whether you call them fibs, white lies, or exaggerations, if it isn’t the whole truth..it’s a lie.

We don’t often realize that something as simple as the words we chose, can make us ill, but it’s true. Lies will eventually eat you alive; the truth will support and nourish your mind, body and spirit.

So don’t jeopardize your mental and physical well-being by letting fear rule your actions and choice of words. Lies will enslave you…and as the saying goes, “The truth will set you free”.

© Copyright Green Lotus, 2011. All rights reserved


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