Thursday, May 13, 2010

Staying late in the office could cause heart attacks and early death

It's more likely to be the associated stress than the hours themseves. Stress is undoubtedly disabling in various ways

Staying late in the office or working overtime is bad for the heart, researchers warned yesterday. A large study of British civil servants found that those who regularly worked 10 or 11-hour days were up to 60 per cent more likely to suffer heart disease or die younger than those who worked shorter hours.

The research, which is published online in the European Heart Journal, found that people who worked three or more hours longer than a normal, seven-hour day, put their health at risk, possibly as a result of being more stressed and having less time to unwind.

More than 6,000 men and women aged between 39 and 61 took part in the study. They were followed for an average of 11 years, with checks on whether they had suffered a heart attack or angina, or developed fatal heart disease.

All had healthy hearts at the start of the research in the early 1990s, but during the course of the study, 369 people either died from heart disease, had a non-fatal heart attack or developed angina — chest pain related to blocked blood vessels.

Researchers found that even when factors such as age and whether people were overweight or smoked were taken into account, overtime was linked to a 56 per cent to 60 per cent increased risk of heart disease or dying compared with people who did not work extra hours.

Marianna Virtanen, who led the study at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki and University College London, said that possible explanations for the link included “hidden” high blood pressure that is not always picked up, stress, anxiety or depression, and being a “Type A” personality who is highly driven, aggressive or irritable.

Those working overtime were more likely to be men, those in younger age groups, and higher occupational grades than those who did not.

Dr Virtanen added: “Our findings suggest a link between working long hours and increased coronary heart disease (CHD) risk,” she said. “But more research is needed before we can be confident that overtime work would cause CHD.”

People who had trouble sleeping or had “insufficient time” for winding down after work before bed may also see their risk increased. “Employees who work overtime may also be likely to work while ill — that is, be reluctant to be absent from work despite illness,” the researchers said.

Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: “This study raises further questions about how our working lives can influence our risk of heart disease. “Although the researchers showed a link between working more than three hours overtime every day and heart problems, the reasons for the increased risk weren’t clear.

“The researchers suggest a number of reasons — ‘hidden’ high blood pressure, reduced sleeping hours and psychological stress. “These may affect the mechanisms that cause heart disease, but it could simply be that working long hours means we’ve less time to look after ourselves.


Government and obesity: Because it does everything else so well

Read the first sentence of the story carefully – the rest flows from there:
A White House report warns, “The childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis.”

An “epidemic”.  A “national health crisis“.  Got it?  We have a climate crisis.  Solution: Big government.   We have a financial crisis.  Solution: Big government.  We have a health care crisis.  Solution: Big government.  We have an childhood obesity crisis. Create a “crisis” and then create the solution. Any guess what the solution might be?  If you’ve been paying attention lately, you do:
The review by the Task Force on Childhood Obesity says one out of every three children is overweight or obese. The task force is a key part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to solve the problem of obesity within a generation. President Obama ordered the comprehensive review of the issue.
The report includes familiar themes, emphasizing the importance of improved nutrition and physical activity. It also calls for some new and dramatic controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods.

It doesn’t require an advanced college degree to understand the thrust of those two paragraphs. “Solve the problem” is short-hand for enact the necessary controls to achieve the desired government goal “within a generation”.

You’re certainly not going to accomplish that by “suggesting” things be done, are you? And of course, the task force makes that quite clear with its “new and dramatic controls” on the marketing of whatever it or government decides are “unhealthy” foods. Here’s what that means:
The task force wants junk food makers and marketers to go on what amounts to an advertising diet. It says media characters that are often popular with kids should only be used to promote healthy products. If voluntary efforts fail to limit marketing of less healthy products to young viewers, the task force suggests the FCC should consider new rules on commercials in children’s programming. It also challenges food retailers to stop using in-store displays to sell unhealthy food items to children.

More intrusion, more restrictions, less freedom. And, of course, if they get away with it with children, will the same sorts of restrictions be far behind with adults?
The advisory panel proposes better food content labeling on products and vending machines. Restaurants and vending machine companies are urged to display calorie counts. The experts say the FDA and USDA should cooperate with the food and beverage industries to develop a standard system of nutrition labeling on the front of packages. The study also suggests that restaurants should re-evaluate portion sizes, improve kids’ menus and list more healthy food choices.

Of course the task force is only “suggesting” these “improvements” now, but don’t forget that bold line above, “if voluntary efforts fail …”, well the implication is clear isn’t it? The same agency which has now undertaken to limit your salt intake by fiat is certainly up for dictating portion sizes, what should be on a kids menu and what is and isn’t “unhealthy” don’t you think?

And if you’re still not quite getting it yet, this should drive the point home:
The task force also sees a potential pocketbook approach to keep people from buying unhealthy foods. It calls for analyzing the effect of imposing state and local sales taxes on less healthy products.

Heh … well of course they do. And they’d not be averse to a federal tax either.
So where do they get the idea they have the right to pursue this? We’ll maybe “right” isn’t the proper word, but “power” works.  I think you might have already figured that out by now:
The report found one out of every three children is overweight or obese, conditions that increase their risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer in their lifetimes. The cost of treating obesity-related ailments is estimated to be $150 billion per year.

And the government has put itself in charge of containing health care cost, hasn’t it?
It was that “health care crisis” they just “solved”, remember?


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