The people you live with, work with, talk to, email, chatter with on Twitter and Facebook—your social network—can be good medicine, or bad.
The intriguing new science of social networks is demonstrating how personal interconnections can affect our health. Ideas and habits that influence health for better or for worse can spread through social networks in much the same way that germs spread through communities. In social networks, though, transmission can happen even though the people may be hundreds of miles apart.
An article in the December issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch explores how social networks can affect weight and mood.
A study of people taking part in the landmark Framingham Heart Study found that Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
How do companies curb health care costs?
Do healthier employees lead to increased productivity? Several progressive companies believe so and have committed to providing employees with programs to help engage them in a healthier lifestyle.
As part of the incentives to lead a healthier lifestyle some employers have instituted a penalty and reward system tied to the companies’ benefits. For example, smokers may incur a significant surcharge to the cost of their health insurance plan while nonsmokers could see a reduction in cost.
According to an article in The New York Times, a growing numbers of companies including Home Depot, PepsiCo, Safeway, Lowe’s and General Mills are seeking higher premiums from some workers who smoke, similar to Wal-Mart’s addition of a $2,000-a-year surcharge for some smokers.
Escalating health care costs Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*
Last week I wrote a simple post on eating yogurt with fresh fruit for lunch. It wasn’t until later that I realized why it’s a medical lesson.
It happens that yesterday morning I was up and out early. I saw a former colleague walking along the street. He’d gained weight, and walked slowly. I thought about how hard he works, and what a good doctor I know him to be. And yet any citizen or patient might size him up as heavy, maybe even unhealthy.
The problem is not that he’s uneducated or can’t afford nutritious foods. He knows fully about the health benefits of losing weight and exercise. The problem is the stress and long hours of a busy, conscientious physician’s lifestyle.
When I worked as a practicing doctor and researcher at the hospital, I rarely ate a nutritious breakfast or lunch. My morning meal, too often, consisted of Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*
Campaigns against public spitting in the 19th century were largely driven by concerns about the spread of tuberculosis. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, spitting seems to be making a comeback. Over the past few years, several companies have begun offering personal genomic tests online to the public. There have been famous images of “spit parties”, where celebrities are seen filling tubes with saliva to ship for DNA testing. Getting information on one’s genes has been promoted as fun, as part of social networking, and as a basis for improving health and preventing disease.
When it comes to spitting to improve one’s health, we say: think before you spit. Our knowledge of the potential benefits and harms of these tests is incomplete at best. Despite exciting research advances in genomics of common diseases, there is still much to learn about what this information means and how to use it to prevent disease. A little bit of incomplete or inaccurate information may even be harmful.
There are at least 2 key questions to consider when deciding whether personal genomic tests are worth your spit. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Genomics and Health Impact Blog*
Way back in 1946, the chartering documents for a new agency of the UN—the World Health Organization—defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
We have made astounding progress in medicine and public health since the WHO charter was crafted, yet we have actualized only part of its comprehensive vision for health. What we call health care today is really just illness care. Even our disease prevention and health promotion programs focus on reducing risk factors for disease. It is the rare initiative indeed that encourages good health for its own sake. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*