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Woman is addicted to water: drinks 25 litres a day

August 23, 2012 Author: Irene Category: The Mind/Body Connection  0 Comments

I know what you’re thinking, we’re all pretty much addicted to water, but we don’t feel like drinking it every moment of every day, and we certainly don’t consume over six gallons of it, daily. But Sasha Kennedy does, and that definitely makes her a water addict.

Drinking plenty of water is generally regarded as healthy advice, but they say too much of a good think can sometimes be bad for you, and 26-year-old Sasha Kennedy, from Essex, England, is certainly overdoing it. The young mother of two says she drinks about 25 liters of water a day, and can hardly go one hour without water, even at night. Because of her strange addiction, Sasha is forced to carry bottles of water with her, everywhere she goes, and has to use the bathroom up to 40 times a day.
Photo of Sasha Kennedy
Kennedy’s unquenchable thirst began when she was around two years old. She kept asking her parents for more water, which made them take her to a doctor. After examining her, physicians determined there was nothing wrong, but by age six, her mother had to leave a pint of water by Sasha’s bedside, during the night. She began taking bottles of water with her at school, and while all the other kids were playing during breaks, she would spend most of her time close to the water fountain. By the time she turned 13, she was already drinking around 15 liters of water per day, and the nighttime jug was replaced with a 5-liter plastic container.

At 16, Sasha left school and started working in a shoe stop stockroom, where her colleagues decided to move the water cooler next to her desk, after noticing how much water she drank. In her early 20s she reached 20 liters of water a day, but her addiction peaked when she started working from home, for a telecoms company, in 2007. She now consumes between 18 and 25 liters of water every day, which probably makes her the most hydrated person on the planet.

“If I feel my mouth start to get dry I have to get my next fix of water – it’s all I can focus on. People never really think anyone can drink that much until they get to know me – then they just cannot believe their eyes,” Sasha told the Daily Mail. “I feel thirsty pretty much all the time and always have to be sipping water – it’s an addictive habit.” The water addict says the most sleep she has ever had was about an hour and 15 minutes, before getting up to either have a drink or go to the bathroom.

With the average adult drinking around 200ml of water a day, you can say Sasha Kennedy’s case is pretty rare. Although she feels ok physically, experts say this overhydration can lead to all kinds of problems, and can even be fatal, in rare cases. Our body’s cells start swelling up with the excess water, and while most of them can cope with the swelling, those in the brain get pushed against the skull.

This article was first printed at Oddity Central

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Smoking is far worse for your health than obesity

August 23, 2012 Author: Irene Category: Feed Good - Look Good  0 Comments

This is a reprint of an article written by By Daniel Engber|Posted Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 3:54 PM ET

Why are Americans more afraid of gaining weight than smoking cigarettes?

Which is a more serious problem for America, smoking or overeating? According to a Gallup poll released this week, 67 percent of the nation’s adults think of cigarettes as an “extremely serious” or “very serious” social problem, compared with 81 percent who say the same for obesity. Gallup first started asking this question in 2003, and now, for the first time, respondents have shown that they’re more worried about jiggly thighs than blackened lungs.

The idea seems to have made its way to Wall Street and Washington, too. Just this week, a group of equity strategists from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch proclaimed that “global obesity is a mega-investment theme for the next 25 years and beyond,” and the Food and Drug Administration approved a weight-loss drug for the second time in two months—having finally calmed its nerves after the deadly fen-phen scandal of the late 1990s.

The shift in public opinion suggests a dangerous and unintended consequence of the war on obesity. Years of epidemiological work have shown that smoking is far worse for your health than being fat. So much worse, in fact, that any suggestion to the contrary should be taken as a sign that our priorities are getting all mixed up.

Fat is correlated with ill health, of course, and the one-third of the U.S. population who qualify as obese may be subject to some very real and severe consequences. An obese person is up to twice as likely to die of any given cause than someone whose body mass index is in the normal range, controlling for other factors. In medical terms, we would say that his or her relative risk of all-cause mortality is between 1 and 2. What about smoking? The analogous number for those who consume at least one pack of cigarettes per day is 3.7, meaning that heavy smokers are almost four times more likely to perish than nonsmokers, about double the risk associated with obesity. Estimates of avoidable deaths reflect this difference in the odds: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking accounts for an excess mortality of more than 400,000 Americans every year, compared to just 112,000 for obesity. That’s despite the fact that there are many more fat Americans—obesity rates are now 50 percent higher than smoking rates.

These numbers are just for the extremes. Even at the shallow end of the pool, smokers are at greater risk. If we limit the analysis to light tobacco users—those who consume a handful of cigarettes per day—then the relative risk of mortality turns up at 1.5, roughly the same as it would be for people with full-blown obesity. What about the folks who aren’t huge but merely overweight? CDC research suggests they have a relative risk of less than 1, in which case carrying a bit of extra weight could even provide some kind of protective effect on your health.

Yet this disparity in outcomes has become ever harder for the public to grasp. The intensifying rhetoric about obesity—from the White House, from HBO, from Michael Bloomberg—has obscured some truisms of the war on smoking. The Gallup poll tells us that Americans are 20 percent more likely to label obesity as a grave social problem, a national misconception that’s only made more dispiriting by recent news on the tendency of those who quit smoking to gain weight. For a paper published last week, researchers in France and England reviewed the data from more than 60 studies of this effect. It’s long been known that tobacco keeps you thin: Nicotine increases metabolism while suppressing appetite. But these factors have a greater effect than was previously thought. In the year after people quit smoking cigarettes, they gain about 10 pounds on average.

How might this affect smoking rates? Earlier work has shown that concerns over weight gain do indeed hamper efforts to quit. A study of women who stopped smoking cigarettes when they became pregnant found that two-thirds relapsed within six months of giving birth, with the ones who were most worried about getting fat being the most at risk. Another survey showed that women who quit smoking ended up feeling worse about their bodies, on average, than they did before—an effect that almost certainly increases their odds of falling off the wagon. (Poor body image is itself a major risk factor for smoking.)

It’s telling that the prospect of gaining a few pounds can lead to the resumption of such a deadly behavior. The marginal health risk of this shift on the BMI scales is slight or nonexistent, but the social stigma is more severe. That’s why spurious weight concerns are among the most common reasons why women quit using birth-control pills and put themselves at risk for unwanted pregnancies and all the complications (including weight gain) that come with it. Discrimination against fat people has real effects, too, in terms of income, quality of health care, relationship status, and even rates of heart disease and diabetes.

Some of the respondents in the Gallup poll may be well aware that smoking is the deadlier problem. It’s possible they’re more concerned about obesity than smoking because they know that smoking rates have dropped in recent decades, while obesity rates are increasing or at best leveling off. But if we could reduce the number of smokers by another five or 10 percentage points, it might yield the same net improvement for public health as the invention of a magic pill that could turn every fat person thin.

It’s remarkable, when you think about it, that the war on smoking has been as successful as it has been, considering all the superficial excuses there are to maintain the habit. Nicotine is addictive in a way that food, as a category, isn’t. Smoking is less shameful for most people than overeating, and it keeps you thin. There’s evidence that it prevents teenagers from getting acne—one recent study found a dose-dependent, inverse relationship with cigarette consumption among a sample of 27,000 soldiers in the Israeli army—and that men who quit smoking experience rapid drops in testosterone. In other words (as we all suspected) tobacco use can improve your social status.

The fact that we’ve managed to cut smoking rates in spite of these factors doesn’t make tobacco any less of a scourge, or obesity any more dangerous in comparison. If anything, the paradox suggests that stigma is not in itself a solution to social ills. If Americans are more worried about obesity than smoking, it’s because they’ve let the shame of being fat cloud their judgment with second-hand smoke.
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A Very Modern Trauma .. is PSTD only found in the modern world?

August 23, 2012 Author: Irene Category: The Mind/Body Connection  0 Comments

This article was originally written by vaughanbell for MindHacks and posted on August 11, 2012.

A synposis is that in looking back through historical documents and accounts, the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder don’t appear to be found. So is it a modern disorder? Read the original article:

A very modern trauma

Posttraumatic stress disorder is one of the defining disorders of modern psychiatry. Although first officially accepted as a diagnosis in the early 1980s, many believe that it has always been with us, but two new studies suggest that this unlikely to be the case – it may be a genuinely modern reaction to trauma.

The diagnosis of PTSD involves having a traumatic experience and then being affected by a month of symptoms of three main groups: intrusive memories, hyper-arousal, and avoidance of reminders or emotional numbing.

It was originally called ‘post-Vietnam syndrome’ and was promoted by anti-war psychiatrists who felt that the Vietnam war was having a unique effect on the mental health of American soldiers, but the concept was demilitarised and turned into a civilian diagnosis concerning the chronic effects of trauma.

Since then there has been a popular belief that PTSD has been experienced throughout history but simply wasn’t properly recognised. Previous labels, it is claimed, like ‘shell shock’ or ‘combat fatigue’, were just early descriptions of the same universal reaction.

But until now, few studies have systematically looked for PTSD or post-trauma reactions in the older historical record. Two recent studies have done exactly this, however, and found no evidence for a historical syndrome equivalent to PTSD.

A study just published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders looked at the extensive medical records for soldiers in the American Civil War, whose mortality rate was about 50-80 greater than modern soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other words, there would have been many more having terrifying experiences but despite the higher rates of trauma and mentions of other mental problems, there is virtually no mention of anything like the intrusive thoughts or flashbacks of PTSD.

In a commentary, psychologist Richard McNally makes the point that often these symptoms have to be asked about specifically to be detected, but even so, he too admits that the fact that PTSD-like symptoms virtually make no appearance in hundreds of thousands of medical records suggests that PTSD is unlikely to be a ‘universal timeless disorder’.

Taking an even longer view, a study published in Stress and Health looked at historical accounts of traumatic experiences from antiquity to the 16th century.

The researchers found that although psychological trauma has been recognised throughout history, with difficult events potentially leading to mental disorder in some, there were no consistent effects that resembled the classic PTSD syndrome.

Various symptoms would be mentioned at various times, some now associated with the modern diagnosis, some not, but it was simply not possible to find ‘historical accounts of PTSD’.

The concept of PTSD is clearly grounded in a particular time and culture, but even from a modern diagnostic perspective it is important to recognise that we tend to over-focus on PTSD as the outcome of horrendous events.

Perhaps the best scientific paper yet published on the diversity of trauma was an article authored by George Bonanno and colleagues in 2011. You can read the full-text online as a pdf.

It notes that the single most common outcome after a traumatic event is recovery without intervention, and for those who do remain affected, depression and substance abuse problems are equally, if not more likely, than a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Beware the Nocebo Effect

August 23, 2012 Author: Irene Category: The Mind/Body Connection  1 Comment
By PAUL ENCK and WINFRIED HÄUSER
Originally Published: August 10, 2012

EVERYONE knows that a placebo — a fake medication or sham procedure, typically used as a control in a medical trial — can nonetheless have a positive effect, relieving real symptoms like pain, bloating or a depressed mood. The placebo effect is a result of the patient’s expectation that the treatment will help.

But expectations can also do harm. When a patient anticipates a pill’s possible side effects, he can suffer them even if the pill is fake. This “nocebo” effect has been largely overlooked by researchers, clinicians and patients. In an article recently published in the journal Deutsche Ärzteblatt International, we and our colleague Ernil Hansen reviewed 31 studies, conducted by us and other researchers, that demonstrated the nocebo effect. We urge doctors and nurses to be more mindful of its dangers, particularly when informing patients about a treatment’s potential complications.

Consider the number of people in medical trials who, though receiving placebos, stop participating because of side effects. We found that 11 percent of people in fibromyalgia drug trials who were taking fake medication dropped out of the studies because of side effects like dizziness or nausea. Other researchers reported that the discontinuation rates because of side effects in placebo groups in migraine or tension drug trials were as much as 5 percent. Discontinuation rates in trials for statins ranged from 4 percent to 26 percent.

In a curious study, a team of Italian gastroenterologists asked people with and without diagnosed lactose intolerance to take lactose for an experiment on its effects on bowel symptoms. But in reality the participants received glucose, which does not harm the gut. Nonetheless, 44 percent of people with known lactose intolerance and 26 percent of those without lactose intolerance complained of gastrointestinal symptoms.

In one remarkable case, a participant in an antidepressant drug trial was given placebo tablets — and then swallowed 26 of them in a suicide attempt. Even though the tablets were harmless, the participant’s blood pressure dropped perilously low.

The nocebo effect can be observed even when people take real, non-placebo drugs. When medical professionals inform patients of possible side effects, the risk of experiencing those side effects can increase. In one trial, the drug finasteride was administered to men to relieve symptoms of prostate enlargement. Half of the patients were told that the drug could cause erectile dysfunction, while the other half were not informed of this possible side effect. In the informed group, 44 percent of the participants reported that they experienced erectile dysfunction; in the uninformed group, that figure was only 15 percent.

In a similar experiment, a group of German psychologists took patients with chronic lower back pain and divided them into two groups for a leg flexion test. One group was told that the test could lead to a slight increase in pain, while the other group was told that the test had no effect on pain level. The first group reported stronger pain and performed fewer leg flexions than the second group did.

A doctor’s choice of words matters. A team of American anesthesiologists studied women about to give birth who were given an injection of local anesthetic before being administered an epidural. For some women, the injection was prefaced by the statement, “We are going to give you a local anesthetic that will numb the area so that you will be comfortable during the procedure.” For others, the statement was, “You are going to feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure.” The perceived pain was significantly greater after the latter statement, which emphasized the downside of the injection.

The nocebo effect presents doctors and nurses with an ethical dilemma: on one hand, they are required to tell patients about the potential complications of a treatment; on the other hand, they want to minimize the likelihood of side effects. But if merely telling patients about side effects increases their likelihood, what is to be done?

Better communication is the answer. When talking with patients, doctors and nurses often say things with unintended negative suggestions, like “it’s just going to bleed a bit” or “you must avoid lifting heavy objects — you don’t want to end up paralyzed.” We recommend more extensive training in communication for doctors and nurses, to help them use the power of their words appropriately. As the great cardiologist Bernard Lown once said, “Words are the most powerful tool a doctor possesses, but words, like a two-edged sword, can maim as well as heal.”

Paul Enck is a professor of psychology at the University of Tübingen. Winfried Häuser is an associate professor of psychosomatic medicine at the University of Munich.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 12, 2012, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: Beware the Nocebo Effect.

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The Simple Trick that Strengthens Your Brain

August 23, 2012 Author: Irene Category: Feed Good - Look Good  0 Comments

This excellent article really explains how science is discovering that meditation can have huge positive effect on the health of your brain.

The Simple Trick That Strengthens Your Brain

By Isaac Eliaz, MD, integrative health expert

Meditating actually improves the structure of your brain.

As a holistic physician and meditation practitioner with more than 25 years of experience, I have always believed strongly in the mental and emotional benefits of regular mindful meditation practice.

The practice of regular meditation has been found to increase brain density, boost the connections between neurons, decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety, provide clarity of thought, and increase positive mood endorphins. Other published studies have shown that meditation can improve physical functioning, decrease chronic disease risks, and enhance overall quality of life.

These studies demonstrate that regular meditation effectively supports mental, emotional, and physical health in numerous tangible ways. In building upon this strong body of evidence, researchers are continuing to deepen our understanding of the profound and inspiring benefits of regular meditation practice in everyday life.

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6 Surprising Benefits of Meditation

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Meditation literally changes your brain
Most recently, neuroscientists at UCLA have shown another fascinating neural effect of regular meditation: improvement of the brain’s ability to process information quickly. Meditation actually causes the cerebral cortex—the layer of neural tissue that serves an important role in controlling memory, consciousness, thought processing, decision-making, attention, and awareness—to fold, creating indented fissures and creases that increase neural processing and neurotransmitter communication. The technical term for this is “cortical folding.”

The neuroscientists at UCLA compared meditators of different experience levels to people who never meditated. In those who meditated, the scientists found significant increases in cortical folding across a wide area of the brain, and not just in the cortex. They saw changes in areas of the brain responsible for emotional and mental health, influencing processes of emotional control and heightening awareness and introspection. This falls directly in line with some of the more noticeable results of regular meditation, which often include increased compassion for one’s self and others and greater emotional stability.

Your body benefits, too
Meditation’s physical payoffs are equally impressive. We all know that reducing stress can dramatically improve health on a number of levels. The proven beneficial effects of regular mindful meditation are protection against and reversal of DNA damage, a boost in immune function, reduction of cardiovascular disease risks, decreased inflammation, improved outcomes in cancer, reduced side effects of conventional treatment, and increased vital energy and physical capacity.

As regular meditation practice becomes better understood and more widely practiced, more and more doctors and health practitioners are recommending these ancient disciplines to their patients. If you are looking for some extra healing energy to improve your health, regular meditation can provide just the solution.

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Soothe Chronic Pain—Meditate

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Want to get started?
Meditation is most effective when practiced regularly. Just 10 minutes a day can offer significant and noticeable benefits over a short period of time.

While there are countless styles of meditation practice, one of the most profound is the ancient Tibetan practice of Shamatha Meditation (shamatha means “calm abiding” in Sanskrit). It’s intended to help people access their mind’s natural state of tranquility and clarity. The technique involves focusing the breath on a specific object, letting go of all other thoughts, and consistently training the attention on the process of breathing.

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit, and pick a small object such as a rock to place on the ground in front of you. Focus your eyes and your breathing on the rock, and as thoughts inevitably arise, simply acknowledge and then release them, letting them slip away with each outward breath. When your mind wanders off, gently bring your attention back to your breathing and the rock, visualizing each inhalation and exhalation going to and from the rock.

As you become more practiced at meditation, you will likely notice significant improvements in your energy, health, and mental/emotional balance. You may find that as distractions and obscurities are peeled away during mindful meditation practice, the space between thoughts becomes greater and more profound. As we slowly turn down the constant chatter of our minds, we can begin to access deeper aspects of consciousness for growth and healing.

To me, one of the most beautiful and profound aspects of meditation is that this process of growth and unfolding (figuratively and literally) can continue throughout our lives. After all, we can never have too much love, compassion, and clarity.

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