Saturday, April 11, 2009

Research shows sex can lead to good health and a longer life

What! It more likely shows that people in poor health are less likely to have sex. The usual Godlike certainty below that they just somehow KNOW the causal path

SEX can help fight flab, ward off colds and make you live longer. “There is definitely a correlation between health and sex. If you are healthier, you are going to have more sex," Jennifer Bass, of the British sex research centre The Kinsey Institute, said. “Making love provides a cardiovascular workout and floods the body with feel-good chemicals.”

A survey by the American Association Of Retired Persons has revealed that sex is associated with good health and a longer life, The Sun reports. Almost half of over-50s - 44 per cent - who described their health as excellent or very good had intercourse at least once a week. But just 20 per cent of those with only fair or poor health made love this often.

Also, men who have sex less than once a month are twice as likely to have a fatal heart attack than men who make love at least twice a week. “Sex is great for the cardiovascular system but how much you get out depends on how much effort you put in," The Sun's Dr Carol Cooper said. “If it’s not getting your heart racing, you’re doing it wrong. “Patients with heart problems sometimes worry about dying on the job, but that’s very rare. If you can manage two flights of stairs you are probably fit enough for sex.”

Because it boosts circulation, sex increases the supply of oxygen to cells and stimulates the activity of various organs and systems within the body. And a regular dose of sex is just as good as a trip to the gym or a session with a personal trainer. “Just 30 minutes of sex will burn around 200 calories, so if you have sex five days a week, that’s equivalent to two-and-a-half hours in the gym," The Sun's fitness expert Nicki Waterman said.


CA-MRSA - the killer in our midst


Sean Fisher couldn’t see the armies of toxic bacteria deep inside his right thigh, killing off wave upon wave of white blood cells sent forth to defend him; he didn’t know that a battalion of invaders was charging straight for his lungs, but the 10-year-old felt so ill he probably wouldn’t have cared. He’d spent the night before vomiting violently and enduring painful cramps, cradled in the arms of his mother, Vicky, until dawn.

Only the afternoon before, this normally strong and fit boy had been shifting rocks on the family’s idyllic rainforest enclave in Wondecla, 90km southwest of Cairns, with his older brother, Jack, mum and older sister, Terri. Just a couple of hours afterwards he complained of a tingling and burning sensation in his leg, upon which Vicky noticed a mysterious red rash rising up. Perhaps an insect bite, she thought. But as the night advanced, she suspected it was something far more troubling.

Once daylight broke, the 41-year-old mother, whose husband was away working in the mines in Papua New Guinea, wasted no time. She helped her son, now limping badly and deathly pale, into the family wagon for the 30-minute drive to the nearest hospital at Atherton. By the time he was admitted he was complaining of chest pain, had a fever of 40.3 degrees and his skin was breaking out in dark red, swollen pustules. Meningococcal disease, Vicky fretted. But a battery of blood tests revealed little more than an infection running out of control, and with Sean’s condition deteriorating, baffled doctors transferred him to Cairns Base Hospital. There a doctor took a photograph of the rash engulfing his torso, scalp, face and ears.

After almost three days, with the microbe still unknown and medical options running out, Sean was airlifted to Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane where he was immediately wheeled to intensive care, hooked up to a ventilator and drip-fed the antibiotic of last resort, vancomycin. Doctors put his chance of survival at 30 per cent. “There was so much infection in his lungs,” says Vicky, “that his X-rays were white.” With hope draining away she fell to her knees in the hospital chapel, “pleading with God not to take my baby away.”

The head of intensive care, after receiving the results from a CT scan and further blood tests, rolled Sean on to his side to examine an abscess on his pelvis. Sean yelled in agony but the specialist had a diagnosis consisting of six strange letters: CA-MRSA, or community acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a new super-bug that lives not in hospital wards but in the outside world.

“I’d never heard of it,” says Vicky. “I’d read about golden staph, but not MRSA or CA-MRSA.” After continuing on high-dosage vancomycin, Sean began to make a slow but steady recovery. When he was discharged from hospital five weeks later, he had only 30 per cent lung capacity and was learning to walk again. Only now, four months later, is Sean anywhere near being the active boy he once was.

It turns out Sean is one of the lucky ones. Sydney teenager Reis Gray wasn’t so fortunate. The strapping 190cm 17-year-old returned home from guitar lessons one Tuesday evening sniffling and feeling lethargic. The next day his mother, Julie, drove him to the local GP, who prescribed a course of antibiotics. When his colour didn’t improve over the next 24 hours, a worried Julie phoned her mother, a retired nurse, but Reis insisted, “I’m fine, Mum. I don’t feel any pain.”

But he wasn’t fine and on Friday morning Julie dragged him out of bed (“I just need to sleep,” he moaned) and drove him to the GP, who took his pulse and immediately called an ambulance. Just before Reis was intubated in accident and emergency at Westmead Hospital, he asked, “Am I going to be all right, mum?”

“Of course you are, sweetheart,” Julie replied without hesitation, genuinely believing that in a Sydney hospital in the 21st century, brimming with cutting-edge technology, that her healthy, outdoorsy son, who hadn’t been in a hospital since he was born, would make a swift recovery. But it was to be the last time she heard Reis’s voice.

Astonished doctors took one look at his X-rays and scheduled a double lung transplant – three-quarters of Reis’s lung tissue was missing, eaten away by the bug. But before any transplant they had to halt the runaway infection in its tracks. They launched a barrage of antibiotics against it but the infection shook them all off like confetti.

This bright, gregarious young man – who enjoyed footy, fishing, and jamming with his dad, Warren, in the garage – never regained consciousness. Which didn’t stop him battling his insidious assailant for 24 more days, until his heart finally gave out. “He was the baby of the family, the one who always made us laugh,” says Julie, who has two older children, Josh, 20 and Jessica, 23. “He had his whole life ahead of him.”

In the middle of the dining table where we are talking, Reis smiles back at us from a white-framed photograph, a handsome young man with a lick of chestnut hair tumbling over his forehead. On a mantelpiece opposite stands a shiny wooden box. Inside rest his ashes.


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