To friends on my Email list: Please refrain from forwarding health related messages to your friends (including me)--especially if it's not been possible to take the time to remove ALL the email addresses for an Email forwarded to you. These Email addresses are a dream come true for anyone who has anything to sell (they are easily captured) or who is lacking the scruples to use it for SPAM.
I've already digressed. My real concern is for Emails that contain erroneous or mostly erroneous information.
Several times a week, I receive a well-intentioned Email from someone who is attempting to do a good thing-share information they believe to be critical to living well and long. Most of them are compelling, but NOT true.
Examples I've received in the last month include:
--Obamacare (which is, in fact, the Affordable Health Care Act) requires U. S. citizens be implanted with a chip containing their personal record. (The irony of this "false" Email, started in 2010, is that it says this will be enforced by March 23, 2013.)
--Raspberry ketones, "an organic compound found in many fruits which can also be produced synthetically" as a $12-$20 dietary supplement is filled with " fat burning ingredients" that can cause weight loss and detox your body! (NOT TRUE) When I responded to the friend who sent this to me I learned his email address book had been, somehow, compromised-he had not sent the Email.
--A special compound added to the water in swimming pools will reveal the presence of urine. (NOT TRUE) and the most recent,
--Drinking four glasses of water at specific times each day will cure various diseases.
This last Email, which often arrives with a subject line, "Drink Water on Empty Stomach" has been circulating the Internet for more than ten years. Originally it purported to contribute to the cure of tuberculosis, diabetes and cancer. By 2010 it evolved to advice "From a Cardiac Specialist" to drink water 30 minutes before a meal to help digestion, before taking a bath to help lower blood pressure and before going to bed to avoid a stroke or heart attack. Later that year it further evolved to the version I received which included advice for using a baby aspirin at the first sign of a heart attack (I'll deal with this later.) This iteration (which I've received several times) included erroneous information that most heart attacks generally occur between 6 A. M. and noon. "Having one during the night, when the heart should be most at rest, means that something unusual happened." The Email added that the advice was from Mayo Clinic Cardiologist, Dr. Virend Somers who had been "working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is to blame." Mayo Clinic quickly attempted to stem the tide that the Clinic was behind the email. "Neither Dr. Somers nor Mayo Clinic contributed to this email, which contains some information that is inaccurate and potentially harmful."
This most recent version included advice to use crystal aspirin to dissolve under the tongue at the first sign of a heart attack because "they work much faster than aspirin tablets." Actually, crystal aspirin are extra-strength crystals that are not appropriate for use in case of heart attack as they contain approximately ten times the dose recommended by the FDA for this use. Additionally this aspirin version also contains 65 milligrams of caffeine-not a good thing to take because caffeine increases heart rate.
Because the potential for having a heart attack (myocardial infarction or death of a portion of heart muscle) is of concern to many of us at Leisure World let's look at what aspirin can and cannot do for heart attack. Aspirin is a mild painkiller, anti-inflammatory and blood thinner. In the latter case it works by interfering with your blood's clotting action so it can prevent the sticky blood platelets from forming a clot. A low dose (baby aspirin/81 mgs a day) has been approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce the risk of death in (some) patients with suspected acute heart attacks and to help prevent recurrent heart attacks. It’s also been known to counter myocardial infarctions although when a heart attack is suspected taking a couple regular strength aspirin may better help prevent a heart muscle blocking clot from getting bigger. However, aspirin is not a harmless medication. It interacts with more than 400 drugs and is especially dangerous for people who take blood thinners or who bruise easily. (Google aspirin + drug interactions for a comprehensive list.) Taking a daily baby aspirin should never become a daily regimen without advice from your physician.
Many of the health-related Emails I've received lately say they've been endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the former Oprah Winfrey show consultant who now has his own popular health-oriented TV show. Oz is a Harvard medical school graduate who also has a business degree from the respected Wharton School. According to his web site he is "mad as hell" that his name and image is actively being used by unscrupulous businesses to market products that may have been mentioned (but not endorsed) on his TV show. For example, he has not endorsed green coffee beans or Garcinia Cambogia or the raspberry ketones (mentioned above) for weight loss. The misuse of his name is another column in itself. For example, when his name is googled options include "green drink, weight loss, detox, juice cleanse, and more. I strongly urge readers to, instead, google "Dr. Oz + name misused" for a series of segments launched May 6, 2013 as part of this effort.
If you receive an Email encouraging you to pass along health information please take the time to check it out at one of the respected fact-checking web sites including www.snopes.com, www.truthorfiction.com and www.factcheck.org before sending the Email along.
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