Healthy Living Newsletter - Volume 2, No. 6
Issue Date: April 7, 2005
Publisher: Mellanie True Hills, The Health & Productivity Revitalizer
Escape the hype. The Healthy Living News cuts through the health clutter to bring you reliable news to optimize your life, your health, and your work.
Welcome to hundreds of new subscribers. Many of you came by way of purchasing Dr. Joe Vitale's new book, The Attractor Factor. With your help, it reached #1 at Barnes & Noble, beating out Harry Potter. Congrats to Joe.
I hope you find value here. One subscriber says this newsletter is "Priceless". I'm not trying to sell you (unless you need a copy of "A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life", which has info for all); this newsletter is my way to save you from the train wreck I had, especially if you don't have time to do health research.
In this issue we'll finish exploring gender-based medical differences and also explore ethnic differences. If these first two topics don't apply, there's stuff for you here, too.
- Gender Health Disparities, Part 3: Women Are Not Small Men
- Is Race or Ethnicity a Risk?
- It's No Longer a Double Whammy
- Exploding Myths About Job Stress
- Employers Beware
- Gift For You
It's spring here in Central Texas. All is beautiful and green, and the wildflowers are blooming everywhere. We live in the country, but suburban sprawl is encroaching. As I worked in my office the other day, something out the window caught the corner of my eye. It didn't seem right.
There it was, right outside my windowa cow, munching on the front lawn. There was another one, just a few feet away. Now this is Texas, but we don't own cows. These were short-horn cattleyou don't see those often. It was quite a surprise.
As I contemplated what to do, and watched them move toward my car, I could almost see those horns scraping the paint on my car. Ugh! Or what about those jumbo cow patties I was sure to have to clean up from the front lawn.
I started laughing when I realized that this was probably the mental picture non-Texans have of what it's like living in Texas. But it's far from our reality, at least in the suburbs. I suspect this kind of disruption, and mental models that don't quite match reality, is exactly what's happening with medical researchers who are used to studying men and now, due to funding availability, are studying women's health.
What they have visualized as universaltheir mental modelsdon't apply. It's probably as shocking to them as seeing cattle in my front yard was to me. It didn't agree with my mental model of what our neighborhood looks like.
2) Gender Health Disparities, Part 3: Women Are Not Small Men
As you know from the first two parts of this report (Part 1 and Part 2), until recently, women were vastly underrepresented in medical research studies, but that discrepancy is quickly reversing.
The new aspirin study points out some glaring differences between women and men. Doctors recommend taking baby aspirin (81 mg) daily to ward off heart attacks, but this study found that women have different results.
Where baby aspirin prevents heart attacks in men, but does not prevent strokes, women ages 4564 saw just the oppositeaspirin prevented strokes, but not heart attacks. For women over 65, aspirin decreased both, by about one-third. (These findings do not apply to those with heart disease.)
Do be aware that women taking aspirin in this study had increased risk of bleeding (stomach and intestinal).
What should you do? First, remember that this newsletter is for information onlywe are all different, so please consult your doctor for recommendations.
If you have a family history of heart attack or stroke, that may dictate your strategy. The risk factors for heart attack and stroke are pretty much the same, as a stroke could easily be likened to a "brain attack." To learn more about the risk factors, see my gift at the bottom of this newsletter.
By the way, the gender gap in treating heart disease continuesnew research says that women continue to get far less aggressive treatment for their hearts than men do!
In other women's health research news, hysterectomy has now been vindicatedit's not a cause of heart disease, but is simply associated with it.
Women who had hysterectomies were more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking. They also tended to be more obese, exercised less, and ate more saturated fat. In addition, they tended to be minorities and/or lower-income, and probably had less access to necessary health care.
Key message related to hysterectomy: If you've had one, pay especially close attention to your risk factors. You must eliminate them. You'll find more information about those risk factors in my gift, below.
3) Is Race or Ethnicity a Risk?
We've explored gender differences over the past few issues, but there are also differences by race. We're finally moving beyond medical "political correctness" to recognize that not ferreting out these medical differences by race is just as deadly as ignoring the differences by gender. People are dying needlessly. You'll find some stats about these disparities in the gift below.
We're finally seeing substantive research that will change medical treatment for the better based on race and ethnicity. "One-size fits all" strategies suit no one. We need to personalize medical treatment and intervention.
One of the early good results of differentiated treatment for African Americans was discussed in our December newsletter (See Good News for African Americans ).
An article in the April issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association (JNMA), which supports minority doctors and patients, elaborates on the higher susceptibility of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and South Asians to cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke). South Asians are now becoming recognized as having a higher cardiovascular risk, both in the US and their home countries.
We're finally seeing increased medical research on these three groups, with four prominent research studies currently underway. Look for more information coming soon on how these three populations can improve their cardiovascular results. Could race or ethnicity be considered an independent risk factor for heart disease? Hopefully we'll soon know as these studies unravel this mystery.
A recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also found good news and bad news specifically for minority womenwhile they have lower breast cancer risk than white women, they are actually more likely to die from breast cancer. This is largely due to delayed diagnosis and treatment as well as having more aggressive cancers.
4) It's No Longer a Double Whammy
Women with breast cancer have been more susceptible to heart disease if they were treated with radiation. Great newsthat's no longer the case. Radiation has improved to target exactly the area to be treated and not impact the surrounding area. A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) reported that heart risk from radiation has mostly been eliminated. In comparing women treated on the left sidenear the heartwith those treated on the right, differences in heart disease rates have fallen over the years and now are virtually the same.
It's hard enough to face this diseaseat least there's no more double whammy.
5) Exploding Myths About Job Stress
Many of you know that overwork and job stress are among my favorite topics.
Did you read "Extreme Jobs (and the people who love them" in Fast Company magazine this month? Check it out.
Long-time readers can guess my reaction, but in case you've just joined us, read my reply to Fast Company.
I saw myself in that articleat least what life was like two years ago, before my wake-up call. All of those folks are setting themselves up for heart attacks, strokes, or other stress-related illnesses. I hope you're not one of them.
Fifty-two per cent of executives will die from stress-related illnesses, and stressed-out employees cost companies fifty per cent more in medical costs. If you're an employer, you must find ways to address stress and allow your employees to be more productive.
You also know from part one of this gender-based disparities series that women tend to experience more stress than men, and there appears to be a physiological component to it.
There was a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (May 15, 2004) that turned the previous theory about job stress on its head. The prevailing philosophy was that those most at risk had high job demands, but low control or authority. This study says that's not a risk factor for either men or women.
It found that men with higher income and prestige had lower heart disease and death risk. Among men, laborers had the highest risk and professional and managerial men had the lowest.
However, among women, those with high job demands, along with high autonomy or authority, were THREE TIMES as likely to develop heart disease as those with little autonomy. This is shocking.
I believe that the 24x7, always-on lifestyle that keeps us tethered to jobs puts us all at risk. However, the circumstances may be different by gender.
When males are under stress, they respond with the "fight or flight" response. A stressed male may want to get away by himself for a few minutes.
It's only been recently that we've learned that females respond differentlywe're more likely to "tend and befriend," caring for family and seeking out female friends.
I believe one of the reasons that stressful jobs impact women so much more is that they crowd out our time with female friends. Females that are stressed should consider reaching out to friendsput time on your calendar to do so.
The other afternoon, one of my girlfriends, whom I hadn't seen in a while, and I took a wonderful break from our meetings. We sat on the patio at Central Market, a local grocery store that has become a family gathering spot, and talked and had a glass of wine while her daughter played on the Playscape. It was lovely, and so de-stressing.
6) Employers Beware
One final noteemployers may be in for some surprises. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that an employer was liable for an employee's heart attack, even though it happened after he left work. The court ruled that his work was a cause of the heart attack. Boy, does this potentially open up some cans of worms.
7) Gift For You
There is a lot of information that I've alluded to here that you can find in my latest e-book, "What Every Woman Needs to Know About Weight and Stress," which is excerpted from "A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life."
I'd like for subscribers to have a copy, which you can download with my compliments. Tell your friends about it. If they sign up for the Healthy Living News, they are also eligible for this gift.
I hope you've found lots of information of value for you in this newsletter.
Wishing you all health and happiness,
Mellanie True Hills
PS. Invite Mellanie to speak to your company, organization, or association. Her latest speaking topic is Getting More Done Without Killing Yourself. See some organizations for whom she has spoken or with whom she has worked at and view comments from attendees at her speeches.
The Health & Productivity Revitalizer...improving lives & productivity
Speaker and Author of A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life
Read the first two chapters
PPS. Feel free to reprint this or any of my articles in your publication, company newsletter, or on your intranet. Please include attribution, copyright, and contact information (http://www.saveherlife.com and http://www.mellaniehills.com) and please send us a copy. Thanks.
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