Like many Americans, you probably lead a life of contradiction. Maybe you hope to dedicate yourself to a diet low in carbohydrates, but instead you find yourself getting heavier and heavier. Perhaps you ponder the possibility of contracting SARS, but you refuse to be vaccinated or wash up after using the bathroom. Possibly you have access to all the health information you could ever want, but you're not exactly sure how to apply it to your daily life. To simplify things, we've accumulated a list of the most significant health issues to take the world by storm. These topics were chosen based upon relevance and value to you.
There was probably a time when you couldn't have your meat without the potatoes. But now, if you're like a rapidly rising part of the population, chances are you're skipping the potatoes because most low-carb diets prohibit the consumption of them. The Atkins and South Beach diets are leading the charge of low-carb diets to take the nation by storm over the past year. Beer manufacturers and fast food chains have even jumped onto the low-carb bandwagon.
Everyone wants to know if these low-carb diets really work and just how healthy they actually are. Substantial research suggests people on low-carb plans reduce their cholesterol and weight more rapidly than those eating low fat meals. Simultaneously, doctors are worried diets high in fat may lead to long-term damage of the heart and coronary arteries.
Watch out for diets promising that you will shed pounds quickly or that seem to be highly unrealistic. Try to set yourself up on a long-term plan that with an abundance of proven strategy that has withstood the test of time. Although typical solutions for weight management like daily vegetable, fruit, and grain intake and physical activity are normally lengthy processes, they have a track record of producing lasting health and weight loss effects.
Recently, celebrity drug abuse has been all over the news. The tabloids catch Hollywood stars to and from rehab. However, as comical as they make it seem, this is no laughing matter. Average families struggle with drug and alcohol addiction every day.
As we all know, substance abuse is responsible for serious health conditions. For example, one episode of cocaine use can result in a fatal heart attack, and long-term cigarette smoking triggers cancer of the lungs. Additional long-term effects of drug and alcohol usage include memory loss, irreversible damage to vital organs (i.e. liver, brain, heart), hearing loss, and mental disorders.
Approximately 22 million Americans suffer from substance abuse and dependency beginning as early as age 12. If you or a loved one feel an intervention is necessary, do not wait to get help.
Who would've thought that between 5 and ten percent of Major League Baseball players tested positive for steroid use in November 2003? In early 2004, these "role models" forced MLB to begin a randomized drug testing program. NFL and Olympic-caliber track and field athletes have also been mentioned in the mix of users. As testing becomes more precise, steroids are becoming harder and harder to detect. For instance, tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) is a man-made designer steroid that was uncovered when an honest track coach anonymously alerted the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
What's scary is young athletes are pursuing their dreams to land a spot in the pros someday, and they are doing it at all costs. Following in the footsteps of some of their idols who make it seem acceptable, competitors as young preadolescents are looking to enhance their performance through pill-popping and injections.
Steroid use is not just limited to athletes; baby boomers getting up in age seeking the fountain of youth are turning to human growth hormone and testosterone shots, patches, and gels.
Allowing naivety to supersede their common sense, people do not realize all of these concoctions are capable of causing severe health problems such as developmental abnormalities in children, heart damage, psychological disorders, liver toxicity, and more.
It was first reported that some types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be detrimental to your health by increasing your odds of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Recent claims state that HRT might make detection of cancerous breast tumors more difficult and could be a contributor to dementia.
Facts like these make it seem as though ceasing HRT is the rational solution. However, since the 1940s, the medication has relieved a massive amount of women of many symptoms associated with menopause like hot flashes, sleep interruption, night sweats, and osteoporosis. The outlook is not so bleak though; alternatives like changes in lifestyle, vitamin supplements, and antidepressants won't disrupt your day-to-day living.
What if public health officials warned the public that a smallpox or SARS outbreak would be responsible for 50,000 to 70,000 deaths? There would be a mass exodus as people rush to get vaccinated or other forms of protection. Well, there's no need to imagine a scenario such as this; 36,000 Americans die from the flu annually, and as this flu season looks to be the worst in the past 30 years. Experts predict the death toll could rise to approximately double the yearly average.
People tend to fuss over West Nile virus, cruise ship bugs, monkeypox, and food-borne hepatitis epidemics, but in reality, we should be more concerned with coming into contact with common bacteria and viruses. These are more likely to pose a health threat, so take the necessary steps to protect yourself and others; always wash your hands, and be sure to receive any precautionary inoculations.
In 2003, a summer blackout that affected the Northeast United States had everybody thinking we were experiencing another terrorist attack. The events of 9/11 are still on everyone's minds, and world violence and acts of terrorism certainly don't help ease this tension. Compound this with the daily grind of work, childcare, and other unexpected difficulties, and it's not hard to fathom that you may be consumed by anxiety, stress, and depression. Just like you take care of your physical health, dedicate some time and energy to keeping yourself mentally fit as well.
Your heart is unlike other organs in that there are very few warning signs that you are on the verge of disaster. You can check for a breast lump, but it's impossible to feel for any blockage in your coronary arteries. In turn, many people put their heart health on the back burner, but heart disease is still the most frequent cause of death for men and women.
New studies are indicating that there are early warning signs in children that, if not treated, can eventually lead to heart failure. These include harmful triglyceride levels, obesity, insulin, and high blood pressure. Currently, stem cell use, drug-coated stents, heart muscle growth, and heart repair are all under investigation.
Don't get a false sense of security simply because you believe there will be a cure for any heart illness you may encounter. The majority of heart disease is a direct result of how you lead your life, so take the reins, and take the steps essential to keeping you and your loved one's hearts going strong.
There's probably no medical term that strikes more fear in than "breast cancer" although heart disease is actually the leading cause of death. Making matters worse, early detection methods are not really reliable, and it's often a tossup when it comes to choosing a treatment. Adding to that are the newly realized dangers associated with hormone replacement therapy and the increasing rate of large breast cancers.
However, some strides were made this year in breast cancer prevention with the release of the drug letrozole. This medication helps prevent breast cancer recurrence in previous patients. This day in age, breast cancer is nothing to take lightly. Discuss with your doctor which screening method suits you best - clinical breast exam, self-examination, or mammogram.
Do contradictory medical tips and conflicting health studies have you up in arms? It may be wise to start managing your stress because you may have to lower your blood pressure more than you expected. In 2003, the medical community suggested stricter guidelines for normal blood pressure levels. In other words, 120/80 millimeters of mercury is no longer acceptable, but keep in mind that doctors are now aware that serious complications such as stroke, heart attack, loss of eyesight, and kidney damage happen at a lower blood pressure than experts originally thought. 115/70 could even trigger these problems.
Americans are fascinated by extreme weight loss plans, but fast food still seems to be everyone's favorite dish. An astounding 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese and staring in the face of major health hurdles. In October 2003, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that obesity had become our number one health threat. The following month, the Food and Drug Administration declared that its Obesity Working Group project would focus on the link between weight management and nutritional labels on food packaging.
Meanwhile, many children are taking after their parents and picking up lazy physical traits and poor eating habits. As a result, they're being diagnosed with adult diseases, even exhibiting signs of early heart disease. If you feel you fall into the category of being overweight, consider making some changes in terms of what you eat and how you live.
Now that you've learned about the most important health issues we face, take the time to figure out which ones affect you. Are you making strides to better yourself and improve your lifestyle, or will it require more dedication? Try to prioritize your health goals. Some of them may be easier to manage than others in which you may need the assistance of a medical professional to accomplish. Getting your health priorities in order is the first step on the path to being well.