stress hormones

  1. Drug-tainted pork on the menu

    The feds are ticked off at nations around the world that refuse to buy U.S. pork -- but if you knew what was really in "the other white meat," you wouldn't go near it either.

    Up to 80 percent of U.S. pigs are given a drug called ractopamine hydrochloride, a beta antagonist that mimics stress hormones, to help make them up to 10 percent meatier.

    It even works, too -- when it doesn't kill them first. This drug is the number two cause of death on factory farms, second only to the slaughterhouse blade itself.

    Since 1999, at least 218,000 pigs have been killed by the drug... that we know of. The factories count themselves lucky if they can catch the sick pigs before they actually die--even if it means dragging pigs that are so sick they can't even walk into the slaughterhouse.

    And before you go thinking, "poor pigs," think about what this means for YOU! Not only are you unknowingly eating the meat of sick and dying animals, you're also eating traces of the drug that nearly killed them.

    The feds say not to worry, a little ractopamine won't cripple you the way it does the pigs. But what do they know? It's not like there are actual studies proving it's safe. And even though the company that makes the drug did include one whole human study in its safety assessment, it involved just six people, and one of them suffered such severe heart symptoms he had to withdraw!

    And we expect to sell this junk to other nations? It's a crime we're feeding it to ourselves! Any country that refuses U.S. pork isn't being difficult or even anti-American. They're being SMART.

    You don't have to give up chops and ribs if you want to be smart yourself -- just make sure your pork is organic.

  2. Affection beats infection

    Affection beats infection

    I've written in the past about the healing power of love and close relationships, but some new studies point to an even more dramatic effect these kinds of intimacies can have on your health. Here's the first bit of news: According to research conducted by scientists from Ohio State University, a happy, low-conflict marriage can speed the healing of injuries and wounds by as much as 40%!

    The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, focused on 84 married subjects whose ages ranged from 22 to 77. In each, identical blisters were raised on their arms using a vacuum pump. The researchers found that couples with higher levels of marital hostility healed from these wounds at an average rate of 60% as quickly as those who enjoyed smoother matrimonial sailing.

    The study also measured higher levels of residual cytokines - proteins produced by white blood cells that initially spur healing, but can become harmful if systemically prevalent in the blood - in couples that were feuding instead of canoodling. These cytokines have been linked to a host of age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and even certain cancers.

    In further news that love is a life-and-death boon to your health, UK scientists from the University of Birmingham claim they've found evidence suggesting that happily married folks - especially couples in their golden years - fight flu better than their lovelorn counterparts. According to a BBCNews.com article, the British research focused on 180 volunteers over age 65. Their findings revealed that higher levels of flu-fighting antibodies were present in the blood of the matrimonially blissful than in those who were widowed, divorced, or unhappily married. Looks like all we need instead of the worthless, hazardous flu vaccine they dole out every year is a good dose of marital harmony.

    But this isn't all that's new on the affection-as-medicine front

    Cuddling your way to heart health

    Have you ever noticed that "huggy" couples seem happier and healthier?

    Well, there's a reason for that, according to some University of North Carolina researchers. They studied the stress response and hormone levels of 38 couples before and after having them watch an excerpt from a romance film and share a 20-second hug.

    As it turns out, this scientist-induced "happy moment" resulted in a lowering of stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine and a spike in oxytocin, a hormone associated with love (especially the motherly, nurturing kind). The result of these combined reactions lowered blood pressure and reduced stress in the test's subjects.

    According to the study's authors, these hormonal benefits to cardiac health are likely what's responsible for the statistical boost in longevity and overall health that longtime marriage confers - and also the root of why divorce is linked to higher mortality rates.

    So if you want a healthy ticker for yourself and your spouse, scoop her up (or him, for you ladies) and dole out a big old dose of "snuggle medicine" every day. This type of "prescription" is the kind you can safely take multiple times a day, all year 'round.

    Prescribing "snugs" over drugs,

    William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

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