Good protection predicted for 2008 flu shots
Though October is the recommended month for flu
shots, November and even December can provide protection. January is the
peak month for influenza, but cases continue to appear as late as May,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 2008 formula protects against three new strains
of the influenza virus. It includes the two Australian strains that
showed up late last year and the type B virus first seen in Florida in
Each year, up to 35,000 Americans die from the flu
and its complications. Getting a flu shot significantly reduces the risk
of being infected.
Everyone who wants to avoid one to two weeks of
misery should get a shot. Children under age 5 and adults with chronic
medical conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or heart disease
are at high risk for complications. Immunization is especially important
for them and for people who work in hospitals, nursing homes and
The flu shot usually causes no reaction. Some people
experience tenderness at the injection site. A few report traces of
flu-like symptoms for a day or two, but you can't get the flu from a flu
More demand for defibrillators
The most effective emergency treatment is a
defibrillator. It increases the odds of survival from 2 percent to 50
percent. The odds are even better if the device is used within three to
four minutes of a heart attack.
In the near future,
many will have a defibrillator in their own homes or offices. They cost
about $1,200 and are easy to use. According to an American Heart
Association study, even an untrained sixth grader can operate one.
Everyone should know CPR.
When someone is in
cardiac arrest, and there is no defibrillator, he or she needs prompt
resuscitation by someone using CPR chest compressions.
Doctors at UCLA School of Medicine say CPR is the only thing that will
keep a patient alive long enough for the paramedics to arrive and
defibrillate. The window of opportunity is tiny, only five to seven
minutes before brain damage begins.
A drink a day may not be good for all
Moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk for heart disease, according to
the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. And it could reduce
the risk of diabetes, dementia, stroke and inflammation.
These conclusions are generally true, but a review of hundreds of
studies also shows that alcohol creates a risk for certain types of
An analysis of studies done by the World
Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research
revealed that even moderate drinking increased the risk of mouth, larynx
and esophageal cancers, particularly when combined with smoking.
Other data they assembled showed that two drinks a day every day was
associated with up to a 10 percent higher risk of colon cancer in men
and a 5 percent to 7 percent increase in breast cancer risk among women.
Alcohol was also linked to liver cancer.
Johns Hopkins Medical Centers caution, however, that how risk is
reported may make it sound more serious than it really is. In one colon
cancer study, only 56 of more than 10,418 study participants drank at
least one drink per day and developed the disease.
Additionally, some data in studies is self-reported and people may not
remember very well. Additionally, people who drink very much may not
have a healthy diet, may have other health problems or a family history
of a certain type of disease.
While these studies do
not disprove the benefits of moderate drinking, they do provide a basis
for discussion with a doctor. Other risk factors for certain diseases
can help the doctor determine whether a drink a day should be advised
for an individual.
Never start drinking to take
advantage of its benefits because they can be achieved in risk-free
ways, such as exercise and diet. But if you enjoy an occasional drink,
it probably does you more good than harm.