Don’t Stress Out
Barack Obama is inaugurated today and begins his journey as President of the United States, which considered one of the
most stressful jobs in America. A study found that for every one year in office, the president ages two full years on average. “The stress hormones, the cortisol especially, increase your blood sugar, which causes the vessel damage which can lead to an increase in heart attack and stroke risks,” Dr. Jim says. “I like a nice, relaxing job myself.”
Obama does try to stay healthy, which can ease the stress that builds up in the Oval Office. “He seems to be on the right track with those things we can do well,” Dr. Ordon says. “They exercise, they’re getting a pet, he plays basketball with the boys, he’s a sports fan. That’s all good stuff for your stress.
“But we, as doctors, we’re up there too in that list, because we’re in a profession where a lot of times we have to hide our true emotions,” he adds.
Stress at work can cause long-term health problems. A study found that “chronic stress can damage your DNA at the cellular level, and that is what can cause you to prematurely age,” Dr. Travis says. “We’re all stressed out, and the things that you need to do to maintain your stress at an acceptable level is stay active, exercise, eat healthy foods, surround yourself with a good social network and laugh. Those will help your stress level.”
Working late is sometimes called the graveyard shift. But could there be a kernel of truth to the expression?
About one in five workers do night-shift work, and it may harm their health. A study of more than 78,000 women by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that night-shift workers have a 35 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer, 60 percent increased risk of breast cancer and 70 percent of the late workers suffer from insomnia, headaches and excessive sleepiness. “This is disturbing, because this is 20 percent of our country,” Dr. Travis says. “This is a serious problem.”
The hormone melatonin helps suppress tumors and cancer, and it is usually released by the body at night. “When you don’t sleep, you don’t have as much melatonin,” Dr. Jim says. “And that’s one of the big reasons, probably, why you have that increased risk of cancer.”
“This is more like being constantly jet-lagged,” Dr. Ordon says, remembering when he had to work nights. “There was a feeling in your body. I don’t know what it was, but you just felt sick. Then you worked through it, you were able to function, but then you just crash.”
Dr. Travis advises night-shift workers to make sure that when they do sleep, the room is extremely dark. Building to the night shift by gradually changing your schedule will make it easier for the body to acclimate to the later hours, as well.
A new study shows that having orgasms can actually prevent catching a cold. “So Marvin Gaye had it right,” Dr. Lisa says. “You need to do some sexual healing.”
“A little bit of exercise actually will increase your white blood cell count, help fight infections, and what better exercise than sex?” Dr. Jim says.
Josie from Belleville, Illinois e-mails The Doctors because she believes she caught pinworms from her son. She says they are both constantly itching “down there” and need relief.
Pinworms are small, threadlike roundworms that can infect the digestive system and are most common in children between the ages of 5 and 10. Pinworms live in the intestines and survive by eating nutrients from the person’s food. Symptoms include mild itching around the anus and restless sleep when the itching is bad at night. They are spread when someone who is infected scratches their anus and gets eggs on their hands or under their nails then touches another person or object. Pinworms can easily be treated with albendazole.
“They’re not really dangerous,” Dr. Travis says. “They’re just bothersome.”
Christina in Kentwood, Louisiana is newly divorced and just getting back in the dating scene. She e-mails The Doctors because she is confused by all the different types of condoms and wants to know which are best to use.
Condoms are made of latex, polyurethane or sheep intestine. Only the latex and polyurethane condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases, however. Condoms also come in many different varieties, such vibrating, flavored and lubricated. Dr. Lisa stresses the importance of using a condom during oral sex, because STD’s can be passed orally, as well.
Jared says he hits his funny bone often but doesn’t find the pain so humorous. He wants to know why his elbow hurts so much if it’s supposed to be a laugh!
The funny bone is actually not a bone at all. It is the ulnar nerve, which runs down the inside part of the elbow under the humerus bone. The ulnar nerve signals the brain about feelings in the fourth and fifth fingers, and controls some of the movement in the hand. So, when you hit your elbow, the ulnar nerve is bumped against the humerus, and that is what causes a tingling feeling and pain in the arm.
“It’s such a distracting discomfort that it almost makes you laugh,” Dr. Ordon says.
Who is the Surgeon General?
A new president means a new surgeon general. But what exactly does the position entail? The surgeon general is the leading spokesperson for health in the federal government. “It’s really a figurehead position,” Dr. Ordon says. “He basically oversees the public health of the country and addresses anything that is a big issue, health-wise.”
CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, 39, has been mentioned as a frontrunner for the position. “He’s young, he’s practicing medicine, he’s in the trenches right now, he’s comfortable being a public spokesman. I think he has it all going on to be a good surgeon general,” Dr. Ordon says. “I’m just hurt they didn’t ask me!”
“The surgeon general has the exact same goal that the four of us have every day,” Dr. Travis says. “We want to make America healthier, and that’s what it’s all about.”