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Smoking More Common Among the Mentally Ill

Adults with mental illness are seventy percent more likely to smoke than emotionally healthy people.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the United States, causing 443,000 U.S. deaths each year. 36.1 percent of people with serious mental illness smoke, compared to 21.4 percent of the rest of the population (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news release, Feb. 5, 2013). Only 34 percent of mentally ill people can quit smoking, compared to more than 50 percent of those who do not have mental disease. Furthermore, 30.9 percent of all cigarettes consumed in the U.S. are smoked by the mentally ill. According to the CDC report, twenty percent of the population have serious mental disease.


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Calcium Pills May Increase Heart Attack Risk in Men

A prospective study of 600,000 adults, ages 50 to 71, followed 12 years from 1995, found that taking calcium pills is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and cardiac deaths in men, but not women (JAMA Internal Medicine, published online February 4, 2013;3283:1-8). Taking calcium-rich foods was not associated with increased heart attack risk. The best sources of calcium are low-fat dairy, beans, and green leafy vegetables.

Men who took more than 1000 mg per day of calcium pills had a 20 percent higher risk of dying from heart attacks. Extra calcium increases risk for irregular heart beats and calcium plaques in arteries.

WHO TAKES CALCIUM PILLS? Among the 388,229 participants included in the analysis, 56 percent of women and 23 percent of men reported using calcium supplements. Those taking calcium pills were more likely to be college-educated, and physically active, and less likely to be smokers or to eat a lot of red meat and dietary fat.

WOMEN MAY BE AT INCREASED RISK FOR HEART ATTACKS ALSO. The increased risk for men, but not women, may be because the men began taking supplements later in life. The authors state that "women who tend to use calcium for longer periods may have achieved calcium balance and stable calcium levels long before the study, and the effect of calcium supplement became less profound".

OTHER STUDIES SHOW CALCIUM PILLS INCREASE HEART ATTACK RISK: In 2010, researchers published a meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal showing that the use of calcium supplements without co-administered vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. This was confirmed in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC).


High Blood Sugar Linked to Enlarged Prostate

A review of 18 medical studies shows that metabolic syndrome increases risk of a man developing benign prostatic enlargement (European Urology, Feb 5, 2013;61:560). Men with three or more components of metabolic syndrome have an 80 percent increased risk of benign prostatic hypertrophy. Metabolic syndrome means that you already have cell damage that is caused by high blood sugar levels and are at increased risk for heart attacks, certain cancers and premature death.

YOU HAVE METABOLIC SYNDROME if you have any three of the following:
• storing fat primarily in your belly
• having small hips
• being overweight
• having blood triglycerides (>150)
• having blood HDL cholesterol (<40) • having a fatty liver • having a fasting blood sugar >100 (HbA1c> 5.7)
• having high insulin levels
• having high blood pressure

BENIGN ENLARGED PROSTATE: Fifty percent of men over age 50 and 80 percent over 80 suffer from benign prostatic hypertrophy. You probably have benign prostatic hypertrophy if you are a man who gets up more than once a night to urinate, have difficulty starting your stream, cannot fully empty your bladder, feel like you still have to urinate after you finish urinating, or urinate frequently during the day.

1) Avoid overweight.
2) Do not take sugared drinks in any form, including fruit juices, except during prolonged intense exercise.
3) Avoid foods with added sugar.
4) Avoid fried foods.
5) Eat large amounts of fruits & vegetables.
6) Do not eat red meat (blocks insulin receptors).
7) Exercise.
8) Grow muscle.
9) Reduce body fat.
10) Keep blood levels of hydroxy-vitamin D over 75 nmol/L.


High Glycemic Load Foods Increase Diabetes, Heart Attack Risk

A review of 24 prospective studies shows that people who eat foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar (Glycemic Load) are at significantly increased risk for becoming diabetic (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan 30, 2013). A review of 14 studies shows that a high-sugar diet is also associated with increased risk for heart attacks (Atherosclerosis. August, 2012;223(2):491-6).

• All drinks with added sugar
• All fruit juices
• Snack foods and desserts that contain sugar
• Most foods made from flour (bakery products, pastas, cookies and crackers)
• Refined grains such as white rice
• Starchy root vegetables such as potatoes and yams

• Most vegetables, whole fruits, beans, nuts and animal products have a low Glycemic Load.


This week's medical history:
President Eisenhower Changed the Way Doctors Treat Heart Attacks

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries


Recipe of the Week:

Quickest Rice Pudding

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book
- it's FREE


February 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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