Stop Brain Shrinkage

Did you resolve to eat healthier this year? If so, SRxA’s Word on Health brings you a couple of very good reasons to stick with it.

According to a study published in the December 28, issue of Neurology, people with diets high in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids are less likely to have the brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

People who ate diets high in omega 3 fatty acids and in vitamins B, C, D, E also had higher scores on mental thinking tests than people with diets low in those nutrients.  Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in oily fish. The B vitamins and antioxidants C and E are primarily found in fruits and vegetables.

Conversely, the study showed that people with diets high in trans fats were more likely to have brain shrinkage and lower scores on the thinking and memory tests than people with diets low in trans fats. Trans fats are primarily found in packaged, fast, fried and frozen food, baked goods and margarine spreads.

The study included over 104 people, with very few risk factors for memory and thinking problems. Blood tests were used to determine the levels of various nutrients in the blood of each participant. Participants also took tests of their memory and thinking skills and underwent MRI scans to measure their brain volume.

The nutrient biomarkers in the blood accounted for a significant amount of the variation in both brain volume and thinking and memory scores. For the thinking and memory scores, the nutrient biomarkers accounted for 17% of the variation in the scores. Other factors such as age, number of years of education and high blood pressure accounted for 46% of the variation and, the nutrient biomarkers accounted for 37% of the variation seen in brain volume.

These results need to be confirmed, but obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” said study author Gene Bowman, ND, MPH, of Oregon Health & Science University.

Although the average age of study participants was 87, we’re going to start heeding this advice now. Salmon salad anyone?

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Finding it hard to get back into your work groove after the holidays?  Take heart!  At least you haven’t just been named one of AOL’s 11 Stupidest Employees Of 2011.

To help you avoid ending up on the 2012 list, SRxA’s Word on Health would like to share with you the worst of last years’ faux pas.  Yes, we know they’re not all health related, but we hope these 11 stories of employee stupidity will make you laugh enough to improve your mental health!

#1  On day, elementary school gym teacher Jennifer Gomes just didn’t want to go to work. Rather than call out sick she opted to leave a note warning of a bomb at the main entrance of the school where she worked.  Her plan certainly worked.  Not only did she get to skip work that day, she was suspended from her job and charged with a felony count of false reporting of explosives.

#2 Staying with the education theme, high school teacher Jeff Spires was suspended in October for soliciting money from his students. According to a school investigation, Spires told his class to staple or paperclip cash to the back of their quizzes if they wanted to sweeten their grades. After it was revealed that one junior paid $70 to boost his grade to a B from a C, Spires was forced to resign.

#3 At a Boeing Co. plant near Philadelphia, more than three dozen employees were arrested for illegally selling prescription drugs, including oxycodone and Xanax. Federal authorities were tipped off to the unlawful activity after an internal investigation.  Seems that making helicopters wasn’t enough to get them high!

#4 Doralinda Vargas, a Taco Bell manager in California may have been trying to “think outside the bun,” but she got herself into legal hot water after an employee accused her of running a Ponzi scheme. The plan required employees to surrender $100 each payday. However, when assistant manager Jeorgina Cervantes De Gomez grew tired of the scheme and refused to pay up she soon found herself out of work. Gomez then sued the manager, seeking back wages and damages.

#5 Wisconsin cemetery worker Steven Conard was accused of stealing a guitar from a casket, Conard, a musician at first denied stealing the prized Fender Telecaster after a co-worker spotted it “in plain view” in Conard’s house. When pressed by police, Conard relented and handed the stolen instrument over saying “This isn’t something I normally do, I just have a respect for fine musical instruments.”  Sounds to us like he needs a tune up on his morals!

#6 Jill Filipovic, a lawyer and feminist blogger flew from Newark, N.J. to Dublin.  Upon arrival recently, she discovered an inspection tag in her luggage left by a Transportation Security Administration agent. Frequent travelers amongst us know there’s nothing unusual about this.  However, on this one the agent had scrawled along its side: “GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL.” Apparently she had discovered the author’s vibrator in the suitcase. Filipovic, filed a complaint with the TSA, who responded in a statement that it “takes all allegations of inappropriate conduct seriously and is investigating the claim” and promised “appropriate disciplinary action.”

#7  Many people likely give little thought about where postal delivery workers relieve themselves on their daily routes. But Portland resident Don Derfler became very aware last spring after he witnessed a postal worker defecating on a neighbor’s lawn. Derfler, who said that he noticed the postal worker acting strangely, took photos of the incident. The Postal Service conducted a probe and determined the offending employee could keep his job but would be assigned a different route. We can only hope it’s one with a porta-john along the way.

#8 Last, but by certainly no means, least, we have Englishman Stuart Keen. The 54-year-old carpenter apparently mistook his penis for a piece of wood and accidentally cut it off while working with a saw. Fortunately for Keen, surgeons were able to reattach the severed member. No word yet on whether Keen has since changed professions!

So there we have it…unless of course you know of someone stupider…

After-Hours Email?

SRxA’s Word on Health was interested to learn that German car-maker Volkswagen is shutting down its BlackBerry email server 30 minutes after the workday ends.  For now, this policy is limited to its German workforce and does not include senior management.

Is this the start of a new trend towards better work life balance?  Or is it a case of “be careful what you wish for”?

Proponents argue that the email shut down is a baby step attempt to solve the growing problem of a 24/7 work culture.  While most of us know that it’s neither healthy nor sustainable to be on call all the time, we just can’t seem to help ourselves.  And although most after-hours email is non-essential, we perceive it as equally important.  When’s the last time you went out for a date/ dinner/drinks and you didn’t pull out your cell phone, at least once to check your messages?  Be honest!

The VW email shut down was negotiated by the German Trade Union as a working-condition improvement for its members.  Although some workers argued that it should be up to each individual to decide what is best for them, others felt they had to maintain after hours connectivity or be fired.   Shutting down the email server, they argue, levels the playing field for all employees.

But does this move provide more flexibility or less?  Night owls and early risers, may be at their most productive outside of traditional working hours.

Or, does the ban provide an opportunity for people to look at their own values and begin to chart a healthier and more balanced life for themselves.  Could an email blackout lead to greater productivity and less wasted effort?

We’re not sure.  Although preventing people from checking and sending email at night may decrease stress for some, it could equally increase stress for those already addicted.  In our “company first” culture, will employees comply with the letter of the rule, or find ways to work around it?  Will people just stay at work later, or switch to texting?

Or, are people ready to step back and re-engage with values that put themselves ahead of the company.  Let us know what you think by participating in the poll.

Smashing Pumpkins and Other Stories

CNN just came out with its New Year’s Honors List of the best health stories of 2011.

Topping their list: the deadly cantaloupe listeria outbreak, radiation threats following the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the inspiring recovery of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who suffered life-threatening brain injuries following an assassination attempt.   Head-injuries, Health Reform and HIV  also made the list.

While SRxA’s Word on Health has covered many of these stories, our Top 10 list, looks a little different.  In 2011,  more than 70,000people viewed the blog. Hemophilia came in at number 1, with three times more views than any other post, pushing last years winner, Pac-Man, into third place. Also up there, Alzheimer’s Disease, asthma and hepatitis A.

 Blog Title Views*
High Hopes for long-term Hemophilia B Therapy 9,841
Differentiating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lyme Disease 3,197
Pac-Man Physiology 3,152
Alzheimer’s Disease could be Reversed by Rheumatoid Arthritis Protein 2,553
Taking the Ouch out of Diabetes 1,033
Mysterious Hep A Immune Response 1,021
You Can Control Your Asthma 865
Eye injection that could save the sight of the over 30’s 851
Falling for Pumpkins 845
Prescription Abandonment 794

2011 SRxA’s Word on Health stats.

*Excludes views on the day posted as the lead story

Just making it into the top ten, our Halloween blog on pumpkins, viewed that day by a record 1,500 people.

What were your favorite posts of the year? What would you like to see more of in 2012? We look forward to hearing from you.

And don’t forget…SRxA can help you with your blog, social media strategy or any other communications need. Find out more by contacting us today.

Scientific Breakthrough of the Year

Happy New Year!

Earlier this month Hollywood announced it’s nominations for the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Among the movies in the running for best motion picture are The Descendants, The Help and War Horse.

While we will have to wait until January 15th to learn the actual winner, we already know who won the 2011 ScienceBreakthrough of the Year”.   This title went to a team of researchers, who demonstrated that HIV treatment with antiretroviral drugs  can actually prevent transmission of the virus from an infected person to his or her uninfected partner.

Their clinical research showed that early initiation of antiretroviral  therapy in people infected with HIV reduces transmission of the virus to their partners by 96%. The findings end a longstanding debate over whether treatment of HIV-infected individuals can provide a double benefit by treating the virus in individual patients while simultaneously cutting transmission rates.

The results were called “astounding” by Anthony Fauci, the government’s top HIV researcher. Others have called them a “game changer” because of the near 100 percent efficacy of the intervention.

It’s wonderful for this trial to be recognized,” says Susan H. Eshleman, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and head of the HIV Prevention Trials Network, which supported the trial. “This research moves the field of HIV prevention science forward, leading us on a path toward curbing the HIV epidemic. It provides a new direction for HIV prevention research and is beginning to shape public health policy.”

SRxA’s Word on Health is delighted to bring you such great news to start the New Year. If you have any health related stories you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you.