Medical troubles, job troublesAlmost any employer...

Healthwatch

February 11, 1992|By Universal Press Syndicate

Medical troubles, job troubles

Almost any employer interested in hiring you would probably like to know your medical history. But a survey shows why it's important to keep that information to yourself. A survey designed by researchers at the University of Chicago's Hypertension Clinic was sent to 323 doctors who work for private companies. It asked doctors whether any of the companies they worked for had hiring policies on people with high blood pressure. Thirty percent of those who replied said their companies will not hire someone whom they know has high blood pressure. Of these companies, one-third refuse to hire people with diastolic blood pressures (the lower of the two readings) of 90 millimeters of mercury or above. Most doctors would tell you that only readings of 105 and above really warrant concern.

Baby's IQ and labor:

Doctors tend to believe that the longer a woman labors to give birth, the more likely her baby will suffer permanent damage. Though often used to justify a Caesarean section, this theory had never really been tested until now. Intrigued by the finding that a third of the children at Cleveland's Sunbeam School for Impaired Children had experienced abnormal deliveries, a group of doctors decided to monitor the development of 122 Caesarean babies delivered at the Huron Road Hospital. Roughly half were delivered by Caesarean only after their mothers had first tried to deliver the baby vaginally. The rest were scheduled C-sections. Nine years later, the children whose mothers labored more than 12 hours scored an average of 10 points lower on IQ tests than children whose mothers hadn't gone through labor.

Music to your stomach:

The music you choose and how loudly you play it can affect how much you eat, drink and enjoy your meal, according to a new study. Psychologists at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland decided to test whether exposing people to stressful stimuli in the form of loud music would increase their drinking. They divided 30 students into three groups and assigned each for a 25-minute period to small rooms that had been supplied with soft drinks and cassette players. In the first room, students were told that the tape player was broken, and they passed their time quietly without once reaching for a soft drink. Meanwhile, students behind door No. 2 were being bombarded with pop music played at a volume of 70 decibels -- roughly the level of a noisy restaurant -- and each drank on average 8 ounces of the soda. The last group worked up a fierce thirst -- chugging about 16 ounces of soda apiece -- while listening to music played at 90 decibels, or the equivalent of a ride on a subway. Researchers speculate that the music increased drink consumption by heightening arousal.

* A related study at Johns Hopkins University found that people who listened to soft, slow flute sonatas at dinner were more inclined to eat slowly, refuse seconds and feel full. They even claimed that their food tasted better. People who dined accompanied by spirited tunes, such as "The Stars and Stripes Forever," took only half as much time to finish their meals; a full third of them requested seconds; and a few even reported digestive problems.

Cholesterol and aging:

According to researchers at Stanford University, a nationwide cholesterol program to screen and treat the elderly could cost a minimum of $1.6 billion to $6.8 billion a year, depending on the effectiveness of diet and the cost of cholesterol-lowering medications. Worse, there's no evidence that it would have any beneficial effect. The few cholesterol studies that have been done on Americans over age 65 found no connection between lower cholesterol and a longer life. This suggests that elderly patients may not benefit much from the cholesterol reductions gained at such enormous cost. The most sensible thing to do if you're over 65 is to forget about your cholesterol number and try eating a healthy, varied diet. If you're a middle-aged male, however, studies prove -- over and over again -- that you would indeed benefit if you tried to keep your level of LDL (the bad cholesterol) nice and low.

Filter the fat in coffee:

It appears that coffee might not be the health hazard some make it out to be. Recently, a number of reports have linked coffee with high cholesterol levels. These studies tell only half the story, say researchers at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. While it is true that boiled or percolated coffee can raise your cholesterol level, there's an easy way to prevent this: Pour your brew through a coffee filter before drinking. Paper filters trap the cholesterol-raising substance, which is a type of fat, and give you a steaming cup of fat-free brew.

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