Health

Survey: Americans Spend Nearly Half Their Waking Hours Looking At Screens

For all the studies that tell us how important it is to limit screen time, does it sometimes feel that no matter where we are or what we do, there’s a screen in front of us one way or another? Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours looking at screens, according to a survey of 2,000 adults. More specifically, the survey found that 42% of the time Americans are awake, their eyes are fixated on a television, smartphone, computer, tablet, or other device. Supposing the average American slept eight hours a night (not even close to the case for most adults), the researchers calculated that people spend about six hours and 43 minutes a day staring at a screen. Over a typical lifespan, that’s 7,956 days. And the problem is only getting worse. Of those surveyed, 79% said their screen time has increased over the past five years, with four in ten admitting it’s grown “a lot.” Three in four participants believe they simply spend too much time in front of screens. In fact, 53% take breaks from the computer — by checking their phone. Another 27% admits to watching TV and looking at their phone at the same time. “We live in a digitally-connected world and these survey results show how digital devices have completely transformed our lives, no matter our age,” said Dr. Michele Andrews, an optometrist with contact lens manufacturer CooperVision, the company that commissioned the survey. “Digital eye fatigue is faced by millions of Americans every day because of this non-stop screen time.” Researchers found that the respondents were generally able to last about four hours before dealing with eye discomfort and requiring a break, but the average person still takes three breaks a day for relief. Of course, many people don’t have a choice, with three-quarters of respondents required to use a computer at the office. Yet despite the growing problem, only half of those surveyed felt that society as a whole has become more digitized and screen-focused over the past five years. The survey also found, likely to no one’s surprise, that millennials were most attached to their digital devices. Age plays a substantial role in the amount of time people spend on digital devices, with millennials being more screen-oriented than other generations. A whopping 92% of the 18 to 35 age group checks their phone immediately after waking up, compared to just 51% of those over 55. About three in five millennials also admit feeling “anxious and irritated” if they can’t check their phone, while only one in five baby boomers feel the same way. Meanwhile, as a whole, 73% say that all the screen time they log makes them feel lethargic, and 64% feel happier after getting a significant break from a screen. The survey was conducted by market research firm OnePoll.

A sign of the times…

Dr. Marc Siegel: Pot and your health – Here’s what a physician wants you to know about marijuana

Alex Berenson’s new book, “Tell Your Children; the truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence,” is coming out at the right time, as more and more states are legalizing marijuana. Currently marijuana recreational use is legal in ten states (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, Mass, Maine, and Wash D.C.) Medical marijuana is now legal here and in an additional 23 states. There is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before. The latest polls show that more than 50 percent of people favor marijuana legalization while at the same time the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) believes marijuana should be decriminalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco. Berenson himself is not in favor of recreational use, in part because of links to mental illness and violence that he explores in the book, though he is in favor of decriminalization. As a physician, I want marijuana users and addicts to be treated as patients – and not criminals – while at the same time I am very aware that regular marijuana use carries significant health risks. I believe we should treat habitual users aggressively and warn them of the associated risks. My job is to let you know that there is no free lunch medically with marijuana or any drug. Even if a state or a society decides that it is wise economically and politically to make marijuana legal, at the same time we must be prepared for the health consequences even more than the legal ones. It’s clear to me that there is enough scientific evidence out there for me to discourage regular marijuana use for most people. Legal marijuana (both medical and recreational) is turning into a multibillion-dollar industry. Sales were expected to hit $10 billion nationwide in 2017 and grow with the legalization of marijuana in California at the start of this year. In a report issued before Sessions’ announcement of a change in federal policy – the effect of which is not yet determined – BDS Analytics forecast that marijuana sales in California alone could total $3.7 billion in 2018 and $5.1 billion in 2019. In addition, states stand to collect billions of dollars in tax revenue from legalized marijuana sales, and much governmental money will be saved by not prosecuting sales and use of the drug. Colorado has already collected over $500 million from taxing legal marijuana. But what about the associated medical risks from increasing usage? This is a critical question we must not ignore. My first concern is traffic accidents, since marijuana is known to impair judgement. Statistics from Colorado since recreational marijuana was legalized show a doubling of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the substance in marijuana that gets users high – in the blood of those involved in fatal car accidents. This is concerning. And though alcohol impairs a driver much more, THC stays in the bloodstream longer. If the two are combined, as they sometimes are, the risk is magnified. A recent study from the Columbia University School of Public Health found that while alcohol increased the risk of causing a fatal car crash five times, testing positive for pot increased it by 62 percent. Those drivers who had both pot and alcohol in their blood at the time of a fatal crash were six times more likely to have caused the accident. Another area of concern is pregnancy. Many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. But the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends against using marijuana while pregnant – no matter what. And the Centers for Disease Control warns that “marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health.” Why? The CDC points to research showing low birth weight in infants, along with developmental and attention problems in children born to mothers who smoke pot regularly during pregnancy. Unfortunately, pot smoking among pregnant women is on the rise and it is bound to rise even more. A study released from Kaiser Permanente in California in 2018 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 7 percent of pregnant women surveyed smoked pot, including almost 20 percent of those below the age of 24. The number of pregnant women using marijuana will only increase now that recreational marijuana is legal in California. Berenson focuses on mental health in his book and in fact, when it comes to adolescents and adults, long-term marijuana use has been associated with decreased school and job performance, memory loss, and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. With the increase in edible marijuana comes a dramatic increase in Emergency Room visits from overuse, especially among adolescents, who may be getting more THC than they realize. Symptoms include acute anxiety, rapid heart rate and paranoia.

Get the picture?  Thanks to Dr. Marc Siegel, M.D. for this sobering, fact-based, report.  Dr. Siegel is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center.   For more, click on the text above.

Elizabeth Warren on Drugs

Elizabeth Warren is grasping. Having failed in her gambit to establish minority status, the 2020 presidential contender is now following the path of her competition. As Kamala Harris did with the housing crisis, Warren has picked a very real issue — the expense of generic drugs — and decided to address it with a bill that is unlikely to achieve much except gain her personal accolades for “doing something.” And should it pass, it could inhibit efforts to actually resolve the problem, because “something has been done.” Senator Warren debuted her plan before the holidays in the Washington Post, with the title “It’s time to let the government manufacture generic drugs.” Perhaps the senator thought this would generate buzz and capture attention before she officially launched her bid for the presidency on New Year’s Eve. Given that she followed this announcement with a botched attempt to out-Millennial Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an online video, though, perhaps it isn’t going as she desired. Here’s the real problem Warren is trying to address: There were 356 drug shortages in 2012, up from 154 in 2007 — and strikingly, most of these drugs are no longer under patent. That tells us that the critical problem is not one of manufacturing capacity, for any medical company with the capability to produce these medicines could simply do so, using the relevant formulas. The normal behavior of the market, when there is a shortage of a product, is for a new entrepreneur to start providing that product. The fact that this is not happening suggests there must be some barrier in the way of it. For each new generic drug, the manufacturer must submit an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA), whose very name reveals that it is itself an improvement on an older process. Before 1984’s Hatch-Waxman Act, new generics had to go through the full clinical trials required of a new medicine, even though they were simply a new source of the very drug that had already been chemically approved. The ANDA pathway is quicker and cheaper, requiring a manufacturer to show that the generic is “bioequivalent” to the brand-name product and that it meets manufacturing standards. Even so, the ANDA pathway is an expensive process, and its cost has increased from about $1–2 million in 2005 to $15 million in 2015. The process isn’t limited to new providers, either. Should an existing manufacturer want to supply more of its approved medicine, it must go through the approval process again for any new production lines or factories. As a result, it can be too costly to make up the shortfall in supply. The issues don’t end there. Sometimes, even if a generic manufacturer is willing and able to take on all the costs of this process, brand-name manufacturers can effectively put a stay on generics by preventing generic manufacturers from obtaining samples. In other cases, brand-name drug manufacturers will pay generic manufacturers to stay out of the market. The fact that some critical yet out-of-patent drugs have only a single generic manufacturer has created an opening for speculators who buy decades-old basic medicines and raise the prices dramatically — most infamously in the case of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which purchased the rights to a $13 pill and immediately raised its price to $750. This behavior is not the market in action; it is the manipulation of a regulatory regime for financial gain. Clearly, something is very wrong. A solution is necessary. But rather than tackle the dense and boring problems that are holding back access to essential drugs, which can’t really be boiled down to a stump-speech line, Warren proposes that the United States government start producing generic drugs under the auspices of a new “Office of Drug Manufacturing,” which would pass off its products to cooperating private companies. In effect, assuming that the office operates at least as well as the average private manufacturer (unlikely though that is), this would simply mean the creation of a new drug company, albeit one with a public imprimatur. This new company, however, would run into the same hurdles that are faced by private actors — the text of the bill does not lay out a regulatory exemption for this new state-run firm, after all.

Do you have Netflix face? How the blue light from your phone, laptop and iPad is ruining your skin

Look away now, because blue light from your mobile phone, laptop and other devices could be causing damage, premature aging and hyperpigmentation to your skin. According to experts, spending hours each day online could be having a drastic impact on the health of our skin – and it’s all to do with blue light. How long do you spend each day looking at a screen? From mobile phones to staring at our computer screens and tablets, we’re clocking up hours upon hours of time exposing our skin to blue light (otherwise known as high-energy visible light). According to Glamour, it’s having a detrimental impact on our skin, with 79 percent of us checking our smartphones before bed. Added to that, 28 percent of us will reach for our phones in the five minutes before we turn out the lights and over half of us check our devices within 15 minutes of waking up. According to Dr. Sweta Rai, a spokeswoman for the British Association of Dermatologists, light from your screens can “cause some pigmentation problems.” “They can give you a falsely aged appearance, we see that often in darker skin people,” she explained. “If you look at a pristine face and put brown spots on it it will look aged from sun damage. “There is some truth to the fact that blue light penetrates deeper into the skin compared to UV light. “And that is being studied at the moment as to what effect it does have.” The effect of blue light on our skin has led to several beauty brands launching blue light-fighting products. Earlier this year, dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University Shari Marchbein, told Allure: “Visible light, especially in the blue wavelength, has become a hot topic in skin care, as there is mounting evidence that supports its contribution to photo-aging, including wrinkles, worsening skin laxity, and hyperpigmentation.” And it seems other practicing dermatologists have noticed a growing trend in accelerated hyperpigmentation. Dr. Engelman, consulting dermatologist for Elizabeth Arden told Glamour: “Women in their early twenties come into my office with heightened pigmentation.

Wow..  I guess we’re all screwed.  For more on this depressing article, click on the text above.

This Is the Right Time to Drink Your Coffee, Scientists Say

We love coffee. And what’s not to love? It perks us up in the morning, tastes heavenly and even has health benefits (plus a few extra benefits if you try it “bulletproof”-style). But as much as we love a hot cuppa as soon as we roll out of bed, it turns out that might not be the best time to take advantage of all coffee has to offer. In fact, scientists have found that there’s a better time to get your morning caffeine fix. Turns out the best time to drink coffee might not be first thing in the morning, but an hour after you wake up. This is because in the hour after you wake up, your body’s production of cortisol is at one of its three daily peaks, according to researchers who published a small but intriguing clinical study. We tend to think of cortisol as the “stress hormone” because it’s secreted in higher amounts when feel strain or tension from circumstances we perceive as demanding (and decreases when we eat yummy chocolate). But another way of thinking of cortisol is as the “alertness hormone,” because the reason our bodies produce more cortisol when we’re under stress is that it increases alertness (which supports our “fight or flight” response when we’re faced with stressful situations). Consuming caffeine while our bodies are already at peak cortisol-production teaches the body to produce less cortisol, according to chronopharmacologists who study the way drugs (such as caffeine) interact with our body’s natural biological rhythms. Not only does this undermine the effect of the caffeine, it also works against cortisol’s alertness effect. Perhaps even worse, it may contribute to developing a tolerance for coffee (meaning that it takes more and more just to get to the same place — yikes)! So to get the biggest jolt from your morning coffee, try to wait an hour after waking to brew that first cup (I know it can be hard!). And when you’re looking to follow up with another caffeine fix, try to do it outside the other peak cortisol production times — typically between noon and 1:00 p.m. and between 5:50 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. This will definitely help you kick any of those afternoon lull feelings and will power you into a productive evening.

Good to know!    🙂

Apple Watch can now detect your irregular heart rhythms and other problems: Here’s how it works

Apple Watch users can now take a reading of their heart’s electrical signal by holding a finger on the crown of the device. On Thursday, customers with the Apple Watch Series 4 who install the latest software update can access a new feature to identify atrial fibrillation, a common form of an irregular heart rhythm, as well as opt in to more passive monitoring. Anyone over age 22 can use these new heart health features, although not all them are designed for people who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or AFib, by their doctor. All of this has been in the works for years. Apple got a first-of-its-kind clearance for its electrocardiogram app from federal regulators in September after conducting a preclinical study with 2,000 people. It also did a clinical trial with 600 other participants to ensure it could distinguish between a normal heartbeat, or sinus rhythm, and atrial fibrillation. The company released data on its new features in a white paper, published on Thursday, as well as a physician-facing website. Click here for more

If you’re an Apple Watch Series 4 owner, and have heart concerns, you really need to read this article.  Just click on the text above for more.   This is excellent!    🙂

Trying to lose weight? Stepping on a scale each day could help, study finds

Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows how difficult reaching your weight loss goals can be. But a new study found those who stepped on a scale on a daily basis were more likely to shed weight than those who did not. The study — which was conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and is slated to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago later this week — analyzed 1,042 adults with an average age of 47 over 12 months. During this time, participants — using scales that were either WiFi or Bluetooth enabled, according to Health magazine — weighed themselves “at home as they normally would, without interventions, guidance or weight-loss incentives from researchers,” according to the American Heart Association’s news release regarding the study. The data was then sent back to researchers. By the year’s end, researchers concluded those who never weighed themselves or only did so once a week “did not lose weight in the following year.” But those who stepped on the scale six or seven days a week “had significant weight loss,” shedding roughly 1.7 percent of their body weight, according to the study. “Monitoring your behavior or body weight may increase your awareness of how changing behaviors can affect weight loss. These findings support the central role of self-monitoring in changing behavior and increasing success in any attempt to better manage weight,” according to the study’s authors. That said, using a scale on the daily may not be for everyone. In fact, it could be a negative experience for those with body image issues, health expert Cynthia Sass told Health magazine. “Some of my clients view weight simply as a data point. Others experience an emotional connection to that number that can trigger a great deal of anxiety, and even depression, or other unhealthy patterns, like under-eating and rebound binge eating,” Sass said.