Saturday, December 29, 2012

When Drinking is a Problem

It’s the season of celebrating and many people will usher in the new year with the pop of a champagne cork or a glass of wine with dinner. Before long, we will be watching the bowl games with a beer in hand. Alcohol can be a fun part of celebrating but can be a problem for many people.

Alcohol intake is a problem when it affects one’s personal or professional life. If someone has told you that you drink too much, you probably do. Alcohol use and dependence runs in families. Problem drinking can affect women and men of all ages and backgrounds but it’s more common among men. Alcohol abuse is common over the age of 65 and causes many fall-related injuries. Alcohol also interacts with medications.

Over the long term, alcoholics can develop diseases of the liver, pancreas, brain and heart. Alcohol can destroy families and careers.

One drink is 12 oz of beer, 9 oz of malt liquor, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of 80 proof liquor. Moderate drinking is less than 2 drinks per day for men and less than one drink per day for women or anyone older than 65 years. Binge drinking is more than 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men at a single occasion.

If you think that alcohol is a problem in your life or a problem for someone you love, there is effective treatment. The gold standard is Alcoholics Anonymous for the drinker and Al-Anon for those suffering collateral damage.

More information:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Public Health Crisis

It is time to change the Constitution and abolish the Second Amendment. I cannot think of even one reason for an ordinary citizen to own a gun, let alone an assault weapon.

Injuries and death from weapons is a public health crisis. Petty arguments are being settled with gunfire. Casual owners are not sharpshooters and are more likely to injure/kill bystanders than hit their intended target. Domestic disturbances turn deadly when there is a weapon in the house. There is no need to defend one’s castle with artillery – exactly what do you possess that is so valuable?

Drive-by shootings is an important subset of this problem, leading to both injury and death. The shooter is often inexperienced in handling a gun and the intended or unintended victims may be slow to react to an unanticipated attack.

Our standards of behavior have changed since the eighteenth century. It is no longer acceptable to use religious slurs or exhibit other hateful behavior. One can no longer own another human being.

Our laws codify accepted standards of behavior. Stop at the red light. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you. It’s time to stop owning weapons.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Dark Side of the Sun

As the number of hours of sunlight dwindle, few people are thinking about the damage that the sun can inflict upon the skin. Truth be told, we need to worry about sun even in the winter. The incidence of melanoma of the skin, the most commonly fatal form of skin cancer, is increasing faster than any other potentially preventable cancer in the United States. Five-year survival rates for people with melanoma depend upon the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Survival rates decline steadily as the tumor thickness and disease stage increase. Most people with thin stage I lesions can expect prolonged disease-free survival and even cure, while those with thicker, later stage lesions (eg, >2.0 mm) are more likely to die from metastatic disease.

Practice Safe Sun is the message of Mollie Fund, an organization dedicated to increasing melanoma prevention. The excellent website has tips on self-examination, a video on the “Dark Side of the Sun” as well as a link for iPhone and Android.