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Having Friends Is Good For The Health, Says US Study

Posted: August 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

Not having any social bonds or friends can cause severe health problems in the long term.

According to researchers from the Brigham Young University, having and keeping friends over a long period of time actually contributes to a longer, healthier life.  Julianne Holt-Lunstad, one of the key researchers of the study, states that having no friends translated to the stress and potential damage created by smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes per day.

The study

Holt-Lunstad and other researchers analyzed existing data from over 140 studies and attempted to create a causal pathway between health and social bonds.  The data involved in the study were from more than 300,000 individual test subjects.  The study was published in the scientific journal PLoS Medicine.

Based on their analysis, having no strong social bonds with other people produced the following harmful effects on a person:

1. Having no friends to talk to and bond with meant a person was almost like an alcoholic.

2. Having no social bonds was also measured as being more harmful than not exercising regularly.

3. According to the study, obesity’s effects on the human body paled in comparison to having no friends at all.

What is a real friend?

To make friends and keep the good ones, you have to know what a real friend does.

1. A real friend trusts you for who you are and respects you for your  identity and practices.

2. Growing and changing doesn’t mean that you will lose a real friend.  Real friends understand that people are always in a state of change – but they do not lose sight of the reason why they became friends with you in the first place.

3. Real friends do not stifle you or make you feel that you have to be somebody you are not.  Real friends give people the necessary to grow and establish their own identity, separate from friends and peer groups.

4. Privacy and confidentiality is important in a real friendship – and real friends know how to keep to themselves the things they hear from a confiding friend.

5. Real friends are able to absorb or accept how people express what they think and what they feel.

6. Real friends are a joy to be with when you are facing personal challenges, because they can provide a certain measure of support so you can beat these obstacles in life.

7. A real friend does not drive away people who want to help.

8. Being with a real friend produces happiness – there is no pressure to be with the person, but a genuine desire drives you to bond with each other.

9. A real friend never takes advantage of another person, no matter what the circumstances are.

10. A real friend creates and nurtures an emotional bond that allows both of you to grow and reach your full potentials as a human being.

How do you make friends?

If you haven’t been socializing lately, you may feel that your social skills are quite rusty.  You may feel that no one would be interested in talking to you and being friends with you.

This is not true.  While the world is a hard place to live in, people are often very open and happy to accept newcomers and new friends.  You just have to leave your shell of elusiveness and isolation to make new friends.

Do you want to make new friends? Try the following places and events:

1. Identify other issues in your life and try finding a support group that fits your needs.  Support groups exist in every city and state in the United States, and many of these support groups have online presence, which means they won’t be hard to find.

2. Watched any good theatrical productions lately?  The theater is a good place to find good people to chat with and make friends with.

3. Love rock n’ roll music or country tunes?  Then go to a concert – we’re pretty sure that concerts are packed with enough people for you to find at least one or two people to connect with.  You just have to start a good conversation.

4. Other places that you can visit include art shows, book launches, poetry reading shows, etc.  Visit events that interest you – so you can meet and talk to like-minded people.

Having trouble reaching out to new people? Try the following:

1. Make good conversation with the new acquaintance and focus on listening rather than going on and on about yourself.  People generally love good listeners and they will warm up to you faster if you show that you genuinely want to know more about them.

2. After warming up to the new acquaintance, you may want to invite the other person to lunch or another event that he or she may be interested in.

3. If you’ve learned enough about your new acquaintance, watch out for news or updates in his field of interest.  Then you can call or drop him an email about the news – this is a great way to create a two-way channel of communication between budding friends.

4. If the person is doing something (like building a model airplane), offer your assistance – but don’t be too pushy, as this will make the other person avoid you.

How do you keep good friends?

Once you have made a good friend (or good friends), you have to make sure that your friendship does not die out – like a candle left out too long outside.  Here are some steps to maintain a good friendship for the long term:

1. A good friend is interested and participates in the interests and passions of his own friend.  Make sure that you join your friend in activities that he likes, and vice versa.

2. Small things like playing video games or even sharing a tasty meal can mean a lot to friends.  Talking and listening is a also an excellent way to show that you care for another person.

3. Keep the lines of communication open with your new friends.  Do not isolate yourself for no reason or cut them off when you feel frustrated or depressed.  Instead, keep an open line and talk to them about your problems . You might be surprised how efficient friends are in cheering other people up.  You have to be there for them too, when they need someone to lean on or listen to them.

4. The effort to maintain the friendship should not be one sided.  The  effort and responsibility should be shared equally by both parties, so make sure that you do your part and you remind your friend that he should exert effort as well.

5. Show your home to your friend – this act alone will tell your friend that you are comfortable with him and you trust him as a friend.

Sources:
newsmaxhealth.com
download.ncadi.samhsa.gov

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Smoking Cessation Drug Chantix May Cause Violent Behavior, Experts Say

Posted: August 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

The FDA-approved drug Chantix may be causing more problems by producing adverse side effects like aggression, experts say.

Smoking cessation is a big problem for dependent smokers. Withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings are two of the top reasons why many cannot stop smoking.

A few years ago, the US FDA approved a drug, Chantix, that was touted as the prescription drug to help people kick the smoking habit.  According the drug’s medical literature, Chantix works by acting on the specific brain receptors associated with the chemical nicotine.

Nicotine is an active ingredient in tobacco products that produces a feeling of well-being and relief.  In the long term, the body loses its ability to produce similar chemicals that provide stress relief and the feeling of satisfaction.

This is the reason why smokers become dependent on tobacco products.  It is possible to normalize the brain chemical production again, but it takes time and the withdrawal symptoms are painful.

The story of Chantix

When a smoker is prescribed Chantix to help kick the smoking habit, he can continue smoking until the 8th day of active treatment.  After this point in time, the patient must stop smoking so the drug can perform in its full capacity.  A patient can be prescribed the drug from 12 to 24 full weeks.

According to researcher Thomas Moore from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Chantix is actually a dangerous drug because it causes patients to feel aggression, violence and even suicidal thoughts.

Moore states that there should be regulation in the prescription of the drug.  According to him, military personnel and other similar armed professionals should not be given the drug given the adverse reports of its side effects since its approval in 2006.

The first documented, adverse side effect of the drug was made in the year 2007 when a musician from Dallas was shot down for displaying violent behavior toward his girlfriend’s neighbor.

Moore and fellow researchers were able to gather a total of 78 adverse cases of side effects from various sources, including reports sent to the US FDA.  Among the 78 adverse side effects, the researchers noted that ten cases involved serious assault, nine cases involved thoughts of committing homicide and seven cases involved other types of violent thoughts.  The FDA advises anyone on the drug Chantix to stop treatment if such feelings of aggression manifest during treatment.  It is also advised that you visit your physician if ever such side effects do occur during treatment.

Natural smoking cessation strategies

You don’t have to be dependent on smoking cessating drugs like Chantix or nicotine patches to kick the smoking habit.  Below are natural strategies that can help you quit the habit.  But the most important tool in your arsenal will still be the genuine desire to quit smoking because you want your health back.

1. A common withdrawal symptom when a person stops smoking is hunger.  This hunger is in part psychological and part physiological.  The body is sending out a signal that it needs its next dose of nicotine.  The body doesn’t need nicotine because it can produce its own natural chemicals to reward the body after a hard day’s work.  If you feel hungry after quitting smoking for a few hours, try drinking some water or eating a small, healthy snack.  Avoid over-eating though, as this doesn’t help the overall effort of keeping yourself healthy throughout the quitting process.

2. Deal with the emotional stress associated with smoking properly.  The first step is to reach out to those who are closest to you, like friends and loved ones.  It’s okay to tell them that you feel angry or frustrated.  Listen to them and allow them to provide you comfort and emotional relief.  Also, learn how to de-stress properly. Remove yourself form isolation, start exercising and keep yourself busy with doing something you like.

3. Reach out to other people like you who are also attempting to kick the habit for good.  Online forums on smoking cessation are free of charge and are full of folks who are in various stages of quitting.  Simply joining the forums can provide immense benefits because you can heart their stories and you will not feel as if you are loneliest person in the world.

4. Do you feel fatigued or physically tired because you’ve quit smoking?  Instead of getting a cigarette, try resting. If you need to adjust your bedtime to sleep earlier, then that’s a good idea. Sleep is much better than bringing yourself back to square 1 of your efforts.

5. Gradually reduce your number of cigarette sticks per day. Start with small steps and gradually reduce your tobacco consumption by half.   Then halve your current number of sticks again, until you’re down to two or one stick a day.  By doing this, you are giving your body time to readjust its chemical balance.  Going cold turkey rarely works, especially for first-time ‘quitters’.

Sources:
webmd.com
quitsmoking.about.com
quitsmoking.about.com

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Kidney Transplant Overview – Mayo Clinic Video

Posted: August 5, 2010 at 8:20 am

Mayo Clinic emphasizes living donor kidney transplants as the best option for patients. Martin Mai, M.D., nephrologist at Mayo Clinic offers information about living donation, statistics, including the fact that living donor kidneys last longer. Half of living donor kidneys transplanted today will still be functioning 25 years from now, whereas half of cadaveric kidneys will fail in the first 10 years.

Candy and Ellen's Story.

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Using the Internet for health purposes was associated with increased depression

Posted: August 5, 2010 at 8:20 am

The rapid expansion of the Internet has increased the ease with which the public can obtain medical information. Most research on the utility of the Internet for health purposes has evaluated the quality of the information or examined its impact on clinical populations. Little is known about the consequences of its use by the general population.

Health-related Internet use was associated with small but reliable increases in depression (i.e., increasing use of the Internet for health purposes from 3 to 5 days per week to once a day was associated with 0.11 standard deviations more symptoms of depression, P = 0.002).

Using the Internet for health purposes was associated with increased depression. The increase may be due to increased rumination, unnecessary alarm, or over-attention to health problems.

In contrast, using the Internet to communicate with friends and family was associated with declines in depression.

References:

Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Victor Rodriguez Paintings

Posted: August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

Victor Rodriguez

Victor Rodriguez

Victor Rodriguez

I am in love with Victor Rodriguez’s work. He’s a master at hyperrealistic painting and has the most amazing portfolio. His work has been all over the world, and hopefully one day in my own house.  Take a look at the master’s work here!

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"Bugging Out," Cityscape Radio Show, WFUV

Posted: August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am




They’re all around us…in our homes, in our places of work, in our backyards, and in the air…what are we talking about? Insects. On this week's Cityscape, we're exploring the world of bugs. We'll talk with the author of a new book called Insectopedia, visit a Manhattan eatery that serves grasshoppers (and eat them too), talk with a Brooklyn artist who dabbles in insect photography and meet a pair of professional "insect-pinners" in SoHo.

The recent Cityscapes radio show "Bugging Out" plumbs the fascinating world of insects, as described above; one segment--that about the "Brooklyn artist who dabbles in insect photography"--features an interview with me about my insect photographs as shown in the recent Entomologia exhibition at Observatory.

You can give the show--which is interesting from start to finish!-- a listen by clicking here. You can find out more by clicking here. All images are mine, from Observatory's recent Entomologia exhibition; you can find out more about the show, which was brilliantly curated by Michelle Enemark, by clicking here. More about the book Insectopedia by clicking here.

Please note: The photographs you see above from the Entomologia exhibition are still available for sale; if interested, please contact me.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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