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Healthy Living Newsletter - Volume 1, No. 14

Issue Date: September 1, 2004
Publisher: Mellanie True Hills, The Health & Productivity Revitalizer

The Healthy Living Newsletter brings you health updates and tips for optimizing your life, health, and work.

Welcome, new subscribers. Please share this with those who can benefit from it.

This week we have a guest article, and because it was a busy week for health news, especially with the many research findings that were presented at the European Society of Cardiology in Munich, we'll focus most of this issue on health research updates. But don't miss the Bizarre Story of the Week at the end of this issue.

This week's topics:

  1. Guest Article: The Human View – The Value of Now
  2. Are Ten-Minute Workouts Better?
  3. Chronic Heartburn Can Lead to Cancer
  4. New USDA Food Pyramid Recommendations Coming
  5. More Correlations of Diet and Weight with Diseases
  6. Heart Disease Risks Updates
  7. Bizarre Story of the Week

1. The Human View - The Value of Now

By Mark Head , HR Tech Suite

Suppose you had been told in 2001 what your health plan costs would be today? Would you have believed it?

In 2001, average health plan costs were about $4,600 per employee. This year, that average could top $7,000. Your health plan is spending almost $2,500 more on treatment than it used to, and next year it will spend another $700 - $800.

S'posin '

If you had known then what you know now, would you have done the same things? Will you do the same things again this year? What would your company be experiencing today if it had begun a health promotion program three years ago?

Suppose you had diagnosed the situation and prescribed a company-wide wellness program. Suppose you had targeted simple elements like stress management, exercise and diet. Suppose you had instituted simple measures, that you had offered meaningful rewards and incentives, and that most of your people had gotten on board.

Should you have invested $300? $400? $500 per employee on wellness, on prevention, on early detection, and on encouraging self-care and personal responsibility? Against the $2,000 - $2,500 you invested in after-the-fact medical costs?

Read more

2. Are Ten-Minute Workouts Better?

News on the exercise front: Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that three ten-minute workouts were more effective in lowering triglyceride levels than one thirty-minute workout. However, only triglyceride levels were tested, and this doesn't necessarily apply to other cholesterol components. One physician told me that anything less than 30 minutes at a stretch wouldn't improve my good HDL cholesterol, so longer stints of exercise are still necessary.

3. Chronic Heartburn Can Lead to Cancer

Chronic heartburn and acid reflux may be a precursor to esophageal cancer, so if you've experienced these frequently, and often take antacids, it's worth checking with your doctor. In my own experience, eliminating fat from the diet eliminated the occasional heartburn, so that may be something to try, too.

4. New USDA Food Pyramid Recommendations Coming

The expected revisions to the USDA Food Pyramid got a step closer with the release of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee findings. The big news is that the committee recommended a decrease in grain consumption, and an increase in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and fish.

For active men, this brings the recommendation for grains down from nine servings to seven, and increased the recommended quantities of fruits and vegetables from the old seven servings up to ten now, and increased dairy from two servings to three. The higher fruit, vegetable, and dairy recommendations are to help meet our needs for specific vitamins and minerals. The dairy recommendations are for low-fat or fat-free dairy; one big concern is that we not use the need for increased dairy as an excuse to consume high-fat cheeses and ice cream.

The recommendation for fish, which contains healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, was increased to two servings. Because of concern over heavy metals in fish, pregnant women and children should avoid fish with high mercury content, and others should exercise caution in choosing their fish.

5. More Correlations of Diet and Weight with Diseases

Evidence continues to pile up that excess weight puts us at risk for a host of illnesses. Recent studies have stated that obese men, those who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more (calculate your BMI), have twice the risk of colon cancer, and obese women (BMI =30 or more) face two-to-four times the risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer. Where the fat is located also makes a difference. Fat around the middle seems to be more reactive, leading to faster cell growth, including growth of cancerous cells.

Other recent studies have found correlations between high carbohydrate diets and various cancers. In one of the latest studies, women in Mexico who consumed high-carbohydrate diets, which were particularly high in corn products, were twice as likely to get breast cancer. Researchers theorize that the carbs raise blood sugar and provide an environment favorable for replication of cancer cells. One point worth noting is that American women typically consume diets that are much lower in carbohydrates than the women studied. Women in the study who consumed more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, all of which contain insoluble fiber, had far less breast cancer risk, leading to speculation that diets higher in insoluble fiber put women at less risk of breast cancer.

6. Heart Disease Risks Updates

A study done by McMaster University of Canada that was presented at the European Society of Cardiology this week and is being published in the journal, Lancet, found that heart attack risks throughout the world are universal. While researchers expected significant ethnic variations, they didn't find them.

In the study, fifteen thousand heart patients were paired with others closed matched to them by age and gender. The factors accounting for almost 90 per cent of all heart attacks were isolated. Number one was abnormal cholesterol, as measured by a new test, which accounted for almost half of the heart attack risk. Smoking was next, at thirty-six per cent, followed by diabetes, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity (as opposed to fat that is deposited in hips and thighs).

One of the biggest surprises for the researchers was that stress and depression came in sixth, followed by insufficient fruits and vegetables and inadequate exercise. Thus, we're finally getting research confirmation that stress really is a factor in heart attacks and heart disease.

Interestingly, the study pointed out that getting adequate fruits and vegetables yielded a thirty per cent decrease in heart attack risk, regular exercise lowered the risk by fourteen per cent, and consuming alcohol in moderation decreased the risk by nine per cent.

Worldwide, men generally are about age 57 when they have a heart attack, whereas women are generally about age 65, though heart attacks occurred about ten years earlier in men and women in the Middle East, Africa, and southern Asia.

In other studies presented at the European Society of Cardiology, two studies found that exposure to air and noise pollution significantly increased heart attack risk, largely due to the increase in stress hormones released by the body. Another study found that the risk of heart attacks doubles during cold weather for those with high blood pressure, but no corresponding increase was seen for those with normal blood pressure. Again, stress appears to have been a contributor.

7. Bizarre Story of the Week

There's a move afoot here in Austin called "Keep Austin Weird." One local doctor is doing his part. Last Thursday, plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Ersek, with videotape rolling, performed liposuction surgery on himself, extracting fat cells from his left abdomen. The purpose for the surgery was to promote the use of stem cells from one's own fat tissue. In attendance at the surgery was the inventor of liposuction as well as a representative from the San Diego company that collected Dr. Ersek's tissue for stem cell processing and storage. What could be even weirder than having fat removed today and storing it so it can possibly save your life tomorrow? It seems that Dr. Ersek is leaving his right side "as is" so he can be his own "before and after" ad for liposuction.

That's it for this issue.

Until next time, wishing you health and productivity,


Mellanie True Hills
The Health & Productivity Revitalizer
Speaker, author, consultant, and coach revitalizing health and productivity

PS. If you would like to have Mellanie speak for your organization, or help revitalize your health or your company's productivity, just send me an e-mail. Please check out some of the organizations for whom Mellanie has spoken or with whom Mellanie has worked and read comments from attendees.

PPS. You may reprint this article in your publication or company newsletter by including attribution, copyright, and contact information. Please send us a copy. Thanks.

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