Cell Phones and Cancer: It’s Worse Than We Thought

27 Oct

Jill Provost

Published on iVillage.com, 10/27/10:

If you’re like us, you wake up to your digital alarm clock, listen to the radio or TV while getting ready for work, spend several hours a day in front of a computer at the office and always have your cell phone strapped to your side. And even if you’re not a slave to technology, it’s hard to escape it, with cell phone towers at every turn and Wi-Fi in every bookstore and café.

According to the new book Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution, being so connected comes with a price. Author Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D, who also wrote the New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan, says exposure to all this technology could spell trouble for your health– including a higher risk of brain cancer.

Read more: http://www.ivillage.com/cell-phones-and-cancer-risk-its-worse-we-thought/4-a-293224#ixzz13ayRMcg7

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My name is Jill…

11 Jul

…and I’m a hypochondriac. I became a health editor probably for the same reason some people go vegan, to live a healthier than thou existence: “White rice? Do you really expect me to eat white rice? Why don’t you sprinkle arsenic on my spinach while you’re at it?”

It was always gratifying to read the latest nutrition headlines and be able to say, “oh, yeah, I’ve been doing that for ages.” Blueberries in the morning with flaxseed and Greek yogurt. Salad with chicken, apples and avocado — no dressing — for lunch. Fish, fish and more fish for dinner. You get the point. But lately, every health article I read is scaring the hell out of me.

First there was the article, originally titled A Deadly Twist, in Self magazine that chiropractics can cause arterial tears and strokes. Then, I came across the other article in Self saying the same thing can happen from yoga. Would you care to guess what happened the next time I went to my gym class and overdid it on ab work? I thought I was having a stroke. My stroke triggered a panic attack, which resembled all the signs of a stroke, thus pushing me further and further into the I’m Dying abyss. Good times.

After I finally convinced myself that my symptoms could be caused by nerves (thank you, John Sarno), I looked up panic attacks online. Bad, bad idea. Did you know that panic attacks can actually raise blood pressure and trigger all sorts of cardiac events, like, for instance, a stroke?

So now, I have been carefully monitoring what articles I allow myself to read. Lyme disease? Too fucking scary and impossible to avoid. Basically, if my eye is drawn to the article out of morbid fascination, I have to push myself on to the next article. While it might help my emotional well-being, it really is doing nothing for my job as a health writer. Check back in a year, and please feel free to stab my eyes out if I’m writing about the best way to apply lip gloss (which, fyi, increases your susceptibility to skin cancer. Not that I’m paranoid or anything).

All Part of a Healthy Breakfast

30 Jun

In an attempt to pretend I’m eating a healthy breakfast, I have added almond slices and flaxseed to my Cookie Crisp cereal. It’s kind of like saying “It’s okay that I had sex with a prostitute, honey. I used a condom.”

I am seriously delusional.

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Anatomy of a Workout

29 Jun

Me as I dragged my ass down the street to Crunch yesterday: Dear gym, I hate you. Lovelessly and resentfully, my body.

Me upon entering the gym: Why is there always a line at the counter? Of course the desk girl doesn’t have any towels out. “Can I have a large towel, please?” Instead of handing me one of the nicely folded towels that she has stacked behind the counter, out of reach, she wades through the basket of unfolded ones and pulls out a small one. Whoops. Puts it back. Reaches in again. Pulls out another small one. Puts it back in. Reaches in a third time. Pulls out another small one. Are you for real? Then I realize what she’s doing. Are you so lazy that you can’t give me a towel that’s already folded because it takes away from the work you’ve done? God forbid you have to FOLD AN EXTRA TOWEL on my account. We are at a gym you know. Jesus, burn a calorie or two. Grrr. Fourth time in, she pulls out a large one. Halle-fucking-lujah. I snatch it and storm off. Uh-oh, am I becoming one of those self-important New Yorkers for whom everything is an inconvenience? Fuck.

Oh, hooray. Machines galore. But, damn, those ellipticals are pushed closely together. I’m going to be rubbing sweaty elbows with the girl next to me. I sigh and hop on, hoping the peeps on either side of me don’t reek of b.o.

Four minutes in: Grumble. Booooooring. Is this almost over?

Six minutes in: Okay, this isn’t so bad. Wait, I’ve only been on here for six minutes? Fuck. I’ve got so much stuff to do.

Eight minutes in: Oh, hello, body, is that you? I didn’t recognize you without the couch attached to your ass. I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you.

Ten minutes in: Man, I can do anything.

Twenty minutes in: Fuck you, world, ain’t no one going to hold me back.

Thirty minutes in: Whoo! I am one strong motherfucker! I’m never getting off this machine. Just try and make me. Uh-huh, that’s what I thought. I wouldn’t want to mess with me, either.

Thirty-five minutes in: Take that (gasp, gasp), stress… (gasp). I showed you.

On the way home: God, I love exercise. What would I do without it? Note to self: remember how good it feels to work out.

Next day: I am so not going to the gym today. No, no, no, you can’t make me. I’m in control of my body and I say no, I’m not going.

On the way to gym: I hate you, gym. I. Hate. You.

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Hmm, Maybe Heroin Will Increase My Lifespan

26 Jun

Found on the clinical trials site, Centerwatch.org:
Trial Information
Summary: Healthy users of heroin (men and women, age 21-45 yrs) needed for 4-8 week inpatient study of medication effects at the NY State Psychiatric Institute.

Earn between $2100 and $4280. Call the Substance Use Research Center at (212) 543 6243.

Contact: New York State Psychiatric Institute

Does anyone else find this puzzling? Maybe even, oh, I don’t know, oxymoronic? Last time I checked, heroin users aren’t exactly the picture of health. Either all of those after-school specials were wrong, or this is the Dept. of Psychiatry’s polite way of saying, “We’d like users who aren’t going to drop dead before the eight-week study is up, and fuck up all of our research. But, please, feel free to feed your habit at our expense, and then promptly keel over when we’re done with you.”

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“Your Genes Are Not Your Destiny”

20 Jun

So says Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and author of a ridiculous number of not-at-all ridiculous diet and nutrition books. If you’re worried that all of the ailments that plagued your parents will be your fate as well, there’s some good news: we can alter our genes by adopting a healthy lifestyle. In as little as three months, people can deactivate genes that cause a host of diseases, like cancer, inflammation, and heart disease, and activate protective ones. Kinda makes you wonder why we don’t all throw away our doughnuts already, doesn’t it?

In the study, Ornish and his colleagues put 30 men with prostate cancer on a stringent health regimen that consisted of:

  • A plant-based diet (fruits, veggies, soy, whole grains), supplemented with soy, fish oil (three grams/day), vitamin E (100 units/day), selenium (200 mg/day), and vitamin C (2 grams/day)
  • Moderate exercise (walking 30 minutes per day)
  • Stress management techniques (yoga-based stretching, breathing techniques, meditation, and guided imagery for one hour per day)
  • Weekly one-hour support group

Why can’t I be the subject of a healthy lifestyle study? Please, somebody force me to do all the things I know are good for me but can’t for the life of me seem to stick with. At least I’m getting 30 minutes of walking in each day, just from living in New York. And, like most New Yorkers, I’m in therapy, so that would probably count as my support group. I take 1 gram of fish oil, and try to eat one salad a day. But the rest I most definitely need to work on.

Last week’s New York magazine detailed the story of a man, Kevin Baker, whose mother came down with Huntington’s Disease, which pretty much devours the brain whole. Since it’s so rare, pharmaceutical companies don’t see any reason to put money behind something that won’t bring them serious profit. Cancer makes money. Huntington’s does not. Anyway, the author found out that he had a 50/50 chance of coming down with the disease, so he decided to get tested, even though there was nothing he could do about it. He figured, I’m so paranoid about it now, I might as well get the test so that I might have some peace of mind. Turns out, he’s got it. It’s just a matter of time before symptoms start to show and the disease ravages his brain.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of effect lifestyle changes might have on diseases like this. Is there any hope for him? What if we could avoid all diseases just by exercising, eating healthfully, and avoiding stress and toxins? It’s like rubbing a genie lamp and asking it to eradicate all diseases, and being told we already have that power. Crazy.

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So Long, Buzzkill. Vices Are Goooood

17 Jun

What a glorious, glorious day. “Why?” you ask. Well, as I was sitting in the living room sipping my mega-strong coffee that, as of last night, was freaking me the fuck out, Regis mentioned today’s news that coffee may help you live longer. LONGER. That’s right. And the benefits are even higher for women. Those heart palpitations it gives me? Pshaw, what do I care? According to the HealthDay story in the Washington Post, “The researchers found that women who drank two or three cups of caffeinated coffee daily had a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease…than non-drinkers.”

So, take that, livingto100.com! How dare you suggest I cut back on my coffee consumption to add years to my life. So it temporarily heightens my blood pressure and makes me anxious and, all right, maybe a bit combative. It’s what I live for, all right? And apparently, coffee is going to let me live for it even longer. That’s right — the thing I live for is what’s keeping me alive. What a deliciously symbiotic relationship we share. Am I getting hard to follow? Sorry, I’m on a roll. My caffeine is kicking in hard CORE.

But that isn’t even the entire reason why I’m celebrating this morning. Tara Parker-Pope is my new best friend for reporting in her New York Times Well blog that Red Wine May Curb Fat Cells. Really? Oh, say it’s so, Tara. Is there anything red wine can’t do for me? It protects the liver, may prolong life, improves good cholesterol, decreases chances of heart disease and now has “anti-obesity properties?” I think red wine deserves Lucky Charms’ tag line of being “magically delicious.”

Hilarious that TPP, a New York Times journalist, feels the need to report the obvious:

“Whether to add red wine to your daily diet must be balanced against other health risks. For people with alcohol dependency problems, the health benefits of red wine are far offset by the risks of drinking to excess. Excessive use of alcohol can lead to addiction, traffic accidents and potentially fatal medical problems.”

Ohhh. So you mean I shouldn’t stand outside of A.A. meetings and offer people bottles of red wine? There go my plans for this evening. Talk about a buzzkill.

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