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Smoking During Pregnancy Associated with Tobacco Dependence Among Offspring

An interesting study recently reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry asks the critical question of whether smoking during pregnancy is linked with smoking behaviors among children born to smoking mothers. There is already an abundance of research highlighting the problems faced by  the babies of smoking mothers; this is a new twist.

"Wow! I Can See Again"

"My kitchen curtains really are white! I thought they were dirty and yellow and I've been washing them every week for the last year trying to get them clean." This is a typical comment of a patient who has just had the cataracts removed from their eyes. For those who could not see well enough to get a driver's license renewed, cataract removal is a necessity. For those who were almost blind, it seems like a miracle. 

The colored ring of muscle fibers in the human eye, called the iris, opens and closes to admit more or less light. In the middle of the iris is a dark circle, which is really a hole, called the pupil. Behind this light hole is the lens of the eye. This lens is a bag or envelope of clear, gelatinous protein that becomes fatter or thinner to focus the light on the back of the eye. When the lens becomes cloudy, discolored to grey or yellow, and will not admit sufficient light, it is called a cataract.

Beware of Internet Gambling in Your Home

With the availability of online games of chance, gambling is on the rise in the U.S. Gambling on the Internet is largely an unregulated industry. According to the U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission, established by Congress in 1997, more than 1,300 online casinos rake in more than US $650 million dollars a year. The gambling industry currently estimates the total at about US $2 billion.

Computer gambling e-businesses typically operate on servers outside the US, allowing them to fold and run practically overnight in case of suspected fraud. Hackers have been known to steal funds by accessing credit card numbers and manipulate game outcomes.

Smoking Makes You Foolish

Most people know that it is foolish to smoke cigarettes. Smoking causes heart attacks, emphysema, and several kinds of cancer. Now it is known that smoking also makes you stupid.

Studies in the past have indicated that smoking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and dementia caused by small strokes. Now, a new study on the effects of smoking on mental decline has revealed the effects of smoking on the brain.

This study enrolled 5099 men and 2137 women who were employees of the British Civil Service in London, England. The average age at the beginning of the study was 56. The number of cigarettes smoked was recorded over the 10 years of the study. 

Before It's Too Late

A woman in her late sixties was recently told by her physician that she could not have her total hip replacement until she lost at least 100 pounds. According to her doctor, her morbidly obese condition would make her surgery more risky, make her recovery more hazardous, and likely negate any positive outcomes the surgeon could create with the new knee joint replacement. The problem? In her current condition, she can barely walk with a cane, so calorie-burning exercise of any type is unlikely. She has no conscious control of, or rational guidelines for, her eating habits. At her age and body size and mental attitude, she is not likely to be able to lose the weight. Is it too late for her?

Sick and Tired

Bobby! How’s it going, dude?” Josh leaned over the cubicle wall. “Great Super Bowl, huh?”

“Yeah. Great game.” Robert did not look up from his computer key board.

“Whoa, man, what happened?” Josh came around the cubicle wall to get a closer look at his friend. “Did your team lose you a lot of money?”

“Nah. The game was fine. It’s the commercials. They make me sick and tired.” Josh banged his “enter” key with a flourish and looked up.

“What!? You didn’t like the polar bears?” Josh said half-jokingly. He knew his friend didn’t get upset easily over trivial matters. “What gives, man?” He could see the fire in Robert’s eyes.

Breast Cancer

“The incidence of breast cancer is decreasing in the United States.”  This was the lead sentence in a recent newspaper article, only one of many that have been written recently.  With the recent release of cancer statistics showing a decrease in breast cancer, the nation-wide fund raiser walk-a-thons for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, an entire issue of Time Magazine given to a discussion of the topic and a diplomatic trip through four Middle East countries by First Lady Laura Bush, breast cancer is the hot topic of the day.

The good news is that breast cancer is on the decline in the United States, so much so that many are wanting to share the prevention, diagnosis and treatment information with those in other parts of the world where breast cancer is steeply on the rise and where diagnosis and treatment are severely delayed or non-existent.

Beware of Excessive Computer Use by Your Chrildren

Over the past year I have been conducting statistical analysis on many different items that are related to the health of youth. One area of interest to me has been whether excessive internet use might be associated with the mental health of young people.

I obtained a database from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Idaho, 2009. In that questionnaire there were several different items that interested me such as how much high school students use the internet for three hours or more on school days for activities other than school use. We found that when students use the internet in such excessive amounts they are 1.5 times more likely to feel sad or hopeless, 1.6 times more likely to consider suicide, 1.8 times more likely to attempt suicide, twice as likely to purposefully hurt themselves by cutting or otherwise injuring themselves, and half as likely to talk to a parent or teacher when they are feeling low or having problem.

TV, Exercise and Depression

There are many studies that have demonstrated that the more you exercise the less likely you are to be depressed. A large study recently took a look at TV viewing and exercise in relationship to depression. 

The study followed nearly 50,000 nurses, ages 30-55, for a period of ten years. During this time they were periodically questioned regarding exercise levels, TV viewing, and the presence or absence of clinical depression. No one in this group was depressed at the beginning of the study. 

Depression was documented by a physician’s diagnosis of depression, the taking of anti-depressant medication, or depression diagnosed on a standardized questionnaire designed to pick up severe clinical depression. 

Humble Helpers

Humility is a human social characteristic that hasn’t been extensively studied. Studies recently conducted at Baylor University in Texas have shown that the presence of humility in a person’s life is a marker for being especially helpful to other people.

College students were evaluated by several psychological measures that included specific tools to identify the humble. Next, all subjects were asked to volunteer to help another student with studies because an injury prevented him from attending class.

The humble students offered to be of assistance more sessions per week and longer hours than any other group. The least likely to be helpful were those who were identified as being arrogant, immodest, egotistical and conceited.