December 23, 2014
The flu is here.
The CDC reported that the flu is widespread in 29 states. (click here to see if your state is one of them). This time last year, it was widespread in only four. Eleven children have died as a result. Earlier this month, we learned that much of the influenza virus circulating in the U.S. has mutated, and that this year’s vaccine is not as effective as we hoped. However, it’s recommended that you get your flu shot as its still the “best way to prevent the flu.”
Surgeon General Murthy.
Last week, the Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as the U.S. Surgeon General. The confirmation took a little longer than expected. Murthy was nominated by President Obama over a year ago in November of 2013, but the NRA is against Murthy as Surgeon General because he has publicly criticized guns and the NRA. They pushed back on the nomination and helped delay it.
Who is Dr. Murthy? The 37 year-old hospitalist practices at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and teaches at Harvard Medical School. He co-founded the group Doctors for America in an effort to organize physicians who support Obamacare. He is also a bachelor who practices yoga and eats carrots.
What does the Surgeon General do? The surgeon general is the nation’s spokesperson on public health issues, like smoking and obesity. Past surgeon generals used their role to draw attention to important issues. For example, the surgeon general’s report on the harms of nicotine in 1960 began a movement for warning labels on cigarettes and tobacco taxes.
Just give me one minute.
I need to work out. A new study found that one minute of intense exercise, embedded within an easy 10-minute workout, can improve fitness and health. Researchers asked 14 overweight, sedentary men and women to complete an interval-training program of three sessions a week for six weeks. Each 10-minute session consisted of three 20-second “all-out” intervals, during which riders pushed the pedals as hard as they could. After six weeks, their bodies changed. The volunteers increased their endurance capacity by an average of 12% and had healthier blood pressures. The male volunteers also improved their blood-sugar control. Ok, so it’s not just one minute. It’s one minute of really pushing and nine minutes of coasting. Give me 10 minutes.
Worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that more than 7,000 people have died from Ebola. More than 19,000 have been infected, with over 99 percent of all infections and deaths in three countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
A long fight. After returning from a weeklong trip to the three affected countries, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said “I’m hopeful about stopping the epidemic, but I remain realistic that this is going to be a long, hard fight.”
Put the Cosmo down.
Why is it that the magazines at your doctor’s office seem a little outdated? After hearing patient complaints about this, the authors of a new study in the British Medical Journal were curious. They placed 87 new and new-ish magazines in a New Zealand waiting room. After 31 days, nearly half of the planted magazines had gone missing, an average of 1.3 magazines disappearing each day. The “gossipy magazines,” defined as periodicals with more than five pictures of celebrities on the cover, were more likely to vanish than news magazines like TIME and The Economist.
Angelina Jolie was forced to skip the premier of the movie Unbroken because she has chicken pox. Adults can get chicken pox, and “it seems to be much more aggressive and severe in adults.” She still looks amazing.
The use of electronic devices before bed can impact your sleep. A new study found that “when individuals use a light-emitting device in the hours before bedtime…it takes them longer to fall asleep. They feel more sleepy the following morning. They have less REM sleep. The light suppresses their melatonin, which is the sleep-promoting hormone, by more than 50 percent. And their melatonin rhythm was more than an hour and a half delayed. So that amount is pretty large.”
‘Tis the season. My favorite season.
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