Published Health Articles
Extensive health writing and editing experience.
Appointed Health Editor of Evolve Magazine launched in July 2010.
Articles written for Warner's publications Park and Holiday Home:
In a recent scientific article I was interested to read that, according to some theories, biologists say that the normal lifespan of a human being is 120 years. But the truth is that in most developed countries, average life expectancy at birth is about 80.7 years for women and about 75.4 years for men (2006 data). Interestingly, this disparity between the sexes has been declining since it peaked at about eight years in 1979.
So why do men die earlier than 120 years? The answer simple: 99.9% die of sickness! This is a significant figure and should be a very important consideration for the male population in particular and for society in general.
The truth is sobering. Men are:
39% more likely to die of diabetes than women,
55% more likely to die of cancer,
64% more likely to die of pneumonia or influenza,
78% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease,
They are four times more likely to commit suicide, two times more likely to die in an accident, and so on. It’s certainly a risky business being a man!
On the other hand, it is often said that most men do not like to admit, even to themselves, that they have a health problem, often because they feel that it is a sign of weakness.
Statistically the case is damning:
· Men make 150 million fewer visits in a year to their doctors than women.
· Male patients are more likely to wait until a problem that could have been easily treated or prevented is severe or life-threatening.
Of course, it’s true that men should be responsible for their own health problems but society must be responsible too. If it is good enough for women to get government assisted education programmes, government assisted research, and government assisted health care for breast cancer, then it should also be good enough for male population to get the same for prostate cancer and other specific conditions and diseases. (March 2011)
HAIR TODAY - GONE TOMORROW? (SEPT. 07)
Its has been the subject of a thousand jokes, and even more bizarre remedies; hair loss is probably the one thing that causes men more anxiety than anything else in their lives. The start of a bald patch or a receding hairline can impact dramatically on mens confidence and self-image....
COLDS FLU AND WHAT TO DO (SEPT. 06)
So we have arrived in September, holidays now over, children back to school and shortly your surgery will be offering flu jabs. For some groups at risk like the elderly, those with conditions like asthma diabetes and heart conditions to name a few are offered jabs as a mater of course. Then there is the old chestnut, how can we tell what is flu and what is a cold? Both colds and the flu are viral infections that exhibit similar symptoms, such as coughing and sore throat. A cold however, is a minor viral infection of the nose and throat. The flu, on the other hand, is usually more severe, with symptoms that include the sudden onset of high fever and the addition of aches and pains......
PAIN IN THE NECK? (SPET. 07)
Hows your back? A few aches and pains? Nothing that the doctor can really give a definitive diagnosis for? Are you now considering taking matters into your own hands and like more and more Britons are you exploring the possibility of visiting a Chiropractor?
The inception of modern chiropractic can be traced back to 1895 when Canadian Daniel David Palmer performed the first Chiropractic adjustment and went on to found The Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 1897.....
LONG LIFE AND HAPPINESS? (MARCH 2006)
Now that we are well and truly into 2006, how are those New Year resolutions going? We all tend to do a bit of a stock take at this time of year, while the media bombard us with promises of lotions and potions to delay the inevitable aging process. You may remember that I went to the Pritikin Longevity Centre in Florida last year. I thought this month that I would look into the study of longevity and how it can be achieved by studying some of the information on this subject......
HEALTH BY POST CODE? (MAY 2006)
Last month I looked at the subject of treatment rationing on the grounds of life style choice. This month I thought I would look at the apparent inequality in the way that drugs are prescribed to patients in some areas but thought to be too expensive for prescription to patients in other areas of the UK. We understand that the NHS cannot, and never has been able to, offer every treatment to everyone who needs it but it is galling when someone in the county next to you has his or her treatment approved when yours is rejected on a cost basis. Raising taxes to pay for every possible need is politically unthinkable; it would require a massive increase in income tax to raise enough revenue to make a significant difference to spending. The British Medical Association wants the government to accept responsibility for rationing decisions and to consult the public over which treatments should be restricted on the NHS......
DENTAL DILEMMAS (JUL 06)
Have you been to the dentist recently? Can you even find an NHS dentist taking on new patients in your area? What do you plan to do if you have an urgent problem? Some dental patients are having to use emergency dental services after one in 10 of England's 21,000 dentists left the NHS at the start of April after rejecting a new government contract. With local health employers struggling to replace them, patients are told to ring help-lines then told of dentists accepting NHS patients - in some areas this is a minority as many as four in five are not accepting new patients - or diverted to services aimed at out-of-hours care.....
INTS OFFICIAL DIETS MAKE YOU FAT! (JUL 07)
Its the old problem; summers here and we think we look a fright in our summer clothes, bulges were there should be smooth bare midriffs, cellulite where there should be toned gluts and thighs. Wobbles where there should be tanned and toned upper arms. Unflattering beer bellies slightly overhanging the waistband of those new shorts. So what do we do? A lot of us have, over the years traditionally reached for the diet book, be it Atkins, South Beach or less glamorously maybe the Cabbage or Grapefruit diet, most of us have dabbled with a guaranteed quick fix diet in the past, sure that if we could only stick to it we could be into an itsy bitsy teeny weenie polka dot bikini in a couple of weeks. Did it work? Well yes, some of the time and in the short term diets do work, working on the simple principle that if you put less calories into your body, than it needs for the energy you expend, whatever form those calories come in, you will lose weight. It is a well know and well tried formula. But wait, now we are told that dieting does not work and in the long term can lead not only to the regaining of the weight we have lost but to the addition of more unwanted pounds besides!......
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (MARCH 2007)
Recently, a regular reader of Park and Holiday Home phoned me. Joan who comes from Yeovil wondered if I could do a bit of digging on the current thinking on rheumatoid arthritis. So for Joan and anyone else out there affected by this condition, this is what I have found:
Arthritis is a very common medical condition, affecting about 7-8 million people in the UK. And affects women more than men. In fact it is not a single disease, but comes in about 200 different forms......
LYMPHOEDEMA (MAY 2007)
Lymphoedema - ever heard of it? I thought not. For those who have heard of it, because, they or someone close suffers from it, this can be a very unpleasant and troublesome condition.
In the bad old days when a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, axillary clearance, or removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit was common as a preventative measure, given that breast cancers usually spread to the lymph nodes under the arms first. Sounds sensible, and it was as it gave the patient the best chance of a recovery, and less chance for the disease to spread. The trouble is that these lymph nodes act as a sort of filter and drainage system, an important defence against infection removing excess protein, abnormal and dead cells and bacteria in lymph, which is a colourless fluid, which forms in the body. This normally drains back into the blood circulation through a network of vessels and nodes........
MRSA - SUPERBUG (MAY 2005)
Very often these days, when I am finding consultants or specialising hospitals for patients who contact MedeBook, I am asked for details on MRSA. This is a very real concern; many of us know someone who has had MRSA. People are very acutely aware that although they may be admitted for a routine operation or procedure, infection with MRSA may lead to a far more serious illness. Rarely a day goes by without a news story that touches on the problem from one angle or another. One chilling statistic is that deaths from MRSA between 1993 and 2003 doubled to be slowed in 2004 by the Governments targets. But how much do you actually know about MRSA? What it is, how it spreads, what its symptoms are, how it can be treated or prevented? I thought this month I would get some information together to help better explain and assess the risk of so-called super bugs...
SMOKING (MAY 2005)
In my work with MedeBook, when I am asked to search for specialists by patients or their relatives there are few more tragic cases than those involving terminal cancer. Most of the patients and their families I have helped in this area were looking for second opinions, realizing in their hearts that all that could be done had been done, but nevertheless wanting to be sure they had left no stone unturned. Advances in the treatment of cancer over the last decade have been remarkable but it is still a disease feared by most of us. Many causes of cancer are unknown, but many are well known and communicated to us in no holds barred government ad campaigns. This month I want to tackle an old chestnut, something I have had to grapple with myself giving up the weed! How many of us resolved yet again this year to make our number one New Years resolution to give up smoking? And how many of us are sticking to it now that the New Year has long gone? Sorry folks, I dont want to sound smug, but I am! After an on off love hate relationship with smoking over most of my adult life, and some of my adolescence if you count the sneaky ones behind the bike shed, we have finally parted company, tobacco and I.......
ARE YOU IN GOOD ENOUGH SHAPE TO BE ILL? (AUG 06)
Its bad news. You need an operation. Its worse news. Youre not going to get it unless you change your lifestyle. One of the first Primary Care Trusts to declare itself was in Suffolk who put a block on hip and knee replacements for the overweight and we hear that plans are afoot on a larger scale to get patients to sign a contract with their doctor before surgery or other treatments, promising to change their lifestyle........
NHS CHARGES AND EXEMPTIONS (AUGUST 2007)
Its a confusing business these days. Prescription charges keep creeping up and dental charges dont bear thinking about. There is, however, help available for people with certain illness or other qualifying circumstances. Although your surgery or health provider should let you know if you fall into one of the categories, I thought this month it might be worth just clarifying what is available and to whom......
A BLUE CHRISTMAS? (DEC 06)
Yes it is Christmas once again, that magical time of year when everyone seems happier, more generous, and more loving. This time of year offers so much hope and joy, so why arent you feeling it? Why do the incessant carols played in stores and supermarkets leave you cold rather than make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
After all this is the season for giving and receiving gifts for decorating your home to celebrate Christmas. It is the season for watching the joy and magic in children's eyes, for singing Christmas carols, and trying to get that special person under the mistletoe. Sadly though, among all the joys of this season, among all the smiles and happiness there are a growing number of people who find this time of year painful.
Some of the depression found at this time of year is caused by a physiological reaction some people have to low levels of light. If you experience depression every year at this time for no apparent reason, do see your doctor to check if you may be suffering some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (I covered this in an earlier issue)........
WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU? (MARCH 2008)
I dont know about you but I am getting more and more confused. Every day seems to bring a new health warning, which a couple of months later is reversed. Is anyone taking any notice anymore? I know that although I read advice and warnings, I tend to think that if I wait long enough whatever dietary sin I am committing will turn out to be a huge advantage to me, and I am pretty sure Im not alone. So how does it help make people more responsible about their lifestyles when we cannot take anything we read seriously? The answer surely is that it does a huge disservice to those trying to tread the straight and narrow. Those providing us with such confusing and conflicting information would argue that it is their duty to report when they discover this super food or that carcinogen, but if people have no confidence in what you are telling them, what is the point?
I thought I would just round up a few of the popular reversals of recent months so that we can see what is advised and what is not, at the moment!...........
ARTICLES FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH TODAY, NHS MAGAZINE CIRCULATED THROUGHOUT THE UK TO DOCTOR'S SURGERIES AND HOSPITALS.
GETTING TREATMENT ABROAD (MARCH 2007)
So thats it, holiday chosen, wardrobe planned, dog in the kennels and kids beside themselves with excitement. Paper and milk stopped and neighbour purloined to water plants and feed cat. Anything else? No need for holiday insurance because you are going to the EU for a holiday. And youll be covered, wont you? In general yes, but there are a few facts worth knowing about our reciprocal health arrangements with EU member states before you book this years big European adventure!
As a national of an EU Member State you and members of your family are entitled to free or reduced cost emergency medical treatment in any EU country as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. However it is worth noting that only publicly funded treatment is included in the European Health Insurance Card scheme each country operates its own rules for medical provision. In some countries, medical treatment is free, in others you pay part of the cost; in others you pay the total cost and then claim a refund.
A European Health Insurance Card (replacing the old E111) is available and you can apply for this in advance of your trip on line at www.ehic.ie if you already have either a medical card or a Drugs Payment Scheme card (DPS)......
MEDICAL TOURISM IN POLAND (OCT 07)
I have just returned from a week in Poland.
The first thing you notice about Poland is it is so clean! No litter and although it seems that every other Pole has at least one dog, I saw no dogs mess anywhere! I did wonder if their time under communist oppression had acted as a sort of national service for the whole population. The Poles I met were all very disciplined and focused on whatever job they were doing. Their professionalism was unquestioned and their attention to detail in whatever field they were working was admirable. On one occasion as we drew up at a clinic the attendant who raised the barrier for us to enter the car park also politely requested, before we went into the clinic that we adjust our parking position to perfectly align the car with the parking space!
I dont know about you but I have not always had good experiences on foreign roads. This is not helped by the fact that I am a nervous car passenger at the best of times. In Poland the roads are orderly, it is rare to hear a car horn sounded in anger, and in the considerable time I spent being drive across Poland I did not see even the slightest hint of road rage. For the first time in many years I actually fell asleep in the back of the car as I was being driven across country!
In the time I was in Poland I visited dental clinics, plastic surgery clinics, centres for ophthalmology and laser eye surgery, general clinics and, one very memorable fertility clinic. As I said I will deal with these individually over the coming months with price comparisons for the most common procedures. Prices may be extremely reasonable in Poland but there is certainly nothing cut price about the equipment being used, which is top of the range and the last word in, high-tech. The cleanliness of the clinics is superb and MRSA virtually unheard of. In one dental clinic I visited their patients were asked to wear covers over their shoes before entering.
For recovery, Poland offers a selection of Spas. I visited one The Magellan (www.hotelmagellan.pl) in the picturesque Sulejow National Park in central Poland (A picture of one of the spa rooms above). This place was the last word in relaxation. I loved it, and the lake that is nearby. I could think of few better places to unwind than this tranquil forest retreat. I was so well looked after and when I complimented them on the room I had been allocated their delight and pride was not disguised.
This is a country where people do not know the meaning of the words jaded, apathetic or mediocre. If you cant wait to hear more about any of the specialties do contact me or StatMedica (www.statmedica.com/ Alison Hope - StatMedicas UK director is on 07805715527) for more help or information.
editor Park and Holiday Home
editor of women's health today