Aneurysms

  1. Have a hot dog

    Cured meats don't cause cancer after all

    Don't eat that! You'll get CANCER!

    How many times have you heard that irritating bit of naggery over hot dogs, bacon, ham, and other cured (and delicious) meats?

    Next time you hear someone repeat that tired old myth, take your hot dog and shove it right in his mouth -- like a cork, to keep it shut.

    I'm half kidding here because I don't advocate wasting hot dogs -- especially since they may be in more demand than ever now that a new study lets them off the hook as far as cancer risk is concerned.

    Researchers tracked more than 300,000 volunteers for a decade, using a 124-item food questionnaire to calculate how much nitrate and nitrite they had in their diets.

    Those are the demonized preservatives used in hot dogs and cured meats that have been "linked" to pancreatic cancer. But don't believe the hype, because the researchers found absolutely no difference in risk among women. Among men, the difference was so small the researchers chalked it up to chance.

    Now, I'll be the first to say a food questionnaire isn't the best way conduct research -- but all the supposed evidence linking nitrates and nitrites to cancer is even weaker than a wet bun.

    And if you think that goes against everything you've heard, consider this: Those same nitrates and nitrites the mainstream has accused of causing cancer are actually GOOD for you!

    Nitrites can form nitric oxide after you ingest it -- and nitric oxide in your body can save your life during a heart attack.

    One study found that mice fed extra nitrates and nitrates had 48 percent less cell death after a heart attack. What's more, 77 percent of these mice survived the attack -- versus just 58 percent of mice on a low-nitrate/nitrite diet.

    That's not all.

    Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have been testing sodium nitrite as a treatment for everything from anemia to aneurysms, and the early word is promising -- which means they'll probably be shut down any day now.

    I doubt we'll reach a point where disease victims walk around with emergency hot dogs in their pockets -- but it's increasingly clear that the only bad rap on cured meats is the wrap.

    Eat the dog -- but skip the bun.

  2. Top 8 activities linked to aneurysm ruptures

    Silent but deadly -- I can't think of any better way to describe an aneurysm. You can go your entire life without even knowing the aneurysm is there -- or one day, without any warning, it can burst and kill you in a matter of minutes.

    Aneurysms don't discriminate based on age, either. Just about a month ago, I know of a healthy, vibrant 14-year-old who had an aneurysm that ruptured. He died.

    So when I came across a study in the journal Stroke that discussed the top eight activities linked to a ruptured aneurysm, I had to look into it. After all, if there were steps to take to avoid this silent killer, I wanted to know about them.

    I should have known better than to get my hopes up.

    The top eight activities include drinking coffee, exercising, blowing your nose, having sex, bowel movements, drinking soda, getting angry, and being startled.

    Is this some kind of joke? Do you think these activities could have topped the list because EVERYONE does them -- or most of them, anyway -- to some degree or another?

    The reality is that the overall risk of an aneurysm event is incredibly small. Only about 2 percent of Americans have the condition in the first place, most never know it, and very few will ever experience a rupture.

    Bottom line: You have my permission to keep having sex, drinking coffee, blowing your nose and pooping, no matter what the study in Stroke says.

    But I'd lay off the exercise and soda anyway, just the same.

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