Monday, November 5, 1:30 Tuberculosis, a colorful history of the White Plague. Carlsbad-by-the-Sea Retirement Community, 2855 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad. Tuberculosis was a leading cause of death for millennia. Its victims included famous artists, writers, actors, composers and politicians. Learn what made it so devastating and why the medical community is worried about its resurgence. Sponsored by Osher – to register see their website http://www.csusm.edu/el/olli.
In the news
Second hand smoke: the picture worsens.
A recent study by a group of Canadian pediatricians reported that children that are exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression. That prompted me to review the medical literature on second hand smoke and the results are – well, depressing!
It has been known for decades that non-smokers who are exposed to tobacco smoke in their homes or workplaces are much more likely to develop lung cancer. More recently it has been found that they are more likely to develop COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), heart disease, stroke and hearing loss.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a heart-wrenching tragedy, is more common in the households of smokers. The risks to children whose parents smoke are especially concerning because they only appear later in life: asthma, obesity, COPD and heart disease. Before they get to high school the children that are exposed to second hand smoke experience more infections, including meningitis, and are more likely to experience complications of influenza. They also have slower language development and poorer cognitive development.
Fewer than half as many Americans smoke today than a generation ago but one in five – the current estimate – is still too many, especially when that figure includes pregnant women and teenagers. Besides encouraging ditching the habit, we should ensure that persons who do smoke should not do so when children are in the home or the car.
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – another step
Keep your blood vessels healthy. After all, brain cells need a steady supply of nutrients and a way to whisk away waste products. Regular exercise sends pulses of blood into every part of the body and that keeps blood vessels open and flexible.
Trans fats and saturated fats damage the lining of blood vessels and so does cooking oil that has been heated over and over. (Like those French fry vats at your local fast food place.) Blood vessels whose lining is damaged form scars and deposits of fat and calcium, limiting blood flow and resulting in the death of brain cells.
Blood vessels undergo constant renovation so the replacement materials need to be perfect. However if blood sugar levels are repeatedly elevated those excess sugar molecules attach themselves to and distort the protein building blocks of blood vessels. The result? Blood vessels that are narrow, distorted and leaky. Organs that are rich in blood vessels, the eye, the kidney – and the brain, become unable to function properly. That’s why blindness, kidney failure, stroke and dementia are so common among persons with diabetes. As the brain shrinks, so does memory. The solution is simple: keep blood sugar low and physical activity high.