Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Huffing, and puffing along tobacco road


As we journey we look for the wondrous benefits of sugar-sweetened beverages, junk food, and tobacco, and have as companion a question, ‘Why should they be allowed to, if it is…’ A country, still developing and lacking in resources and institutions, and with pressing social and economic issues to address. Worse, an impoverished country. (more…)

Some lights just go out; others flicker – but only for a while


Smiles, then laughter, a certainty. Reflecting, reminiscing – alone or with loved ones – and we discover the richness that other lives add to our own, and how much who we are is shaped by such experiences.

Then one day, not death, but dementia knocks.A light starts to flicker, then does so between long pauses, then goes out. And it is traumatic enough when a parent (or older relative) is afflicted. From The Guardian, which has presented a commendable series, a son reflects on his father, Buona notte Papa: the long goodbye to a parent with dementia

‘Somehow along the way, he and Mum (mostly Mum) raised four healthy boys in a remote country town.

‘But now, three years from that first diagnosis, all this is lost to him.

‘He struggles to remember our names. Once loquacious, he is reduced to a muddle between English and Italian. He has no road sense, is usually unaware of his surroundings, and requires constant supervision.’

Some of Mark Brandi’s recounting is very familiar, and does strike that emotional chord with some resonance.

And the thing about it. For the younger set, that trauma turns to nagging anxiety when the disease strikes one of the previously ‘immortal’ group of ‘wastrels’, and that one is even younger.

Which is why, all along the way, so many of us continue that quaint habit of engaging, of socialising, of staying in touch. At a distance, or even closer, no better advice than this classic bit. If as they say, ‘Vita brevis est’, then ‘amor aeternus est’?

A book of verse, some fresh air, some water?


Essentials of life: air and water and nourishment (and social and physical activity). Given today’s precarious environment Omar Khayyam would certainly not disagree – once we keep as personal his other two recommendations.

It was ironic that on the day of the commencement of COP21 in Paris, 30Nov, China would have issued a smog, health hazard, alert for its capital, Beijing. While that and the ensuing ‘red’ alert occupy the headlines, The Guardian fills in some more disquieting details. As bad as it is, Beijing is not so bad, which says how bad it is. Where is the world’s most polluted city? The constant is the likelihood of severe health problems (and range of costs to individual, family and society) to those continually exposed to such hazards.  (more…)

A long read – power, persuasion and avoidable obesity


No joke this. Coca Cola and McDonald’s are two of the companies that had demanded that Sepp Blatter resign his post at Fifa. Purveyors of sugary drinks and processed fast food, these two who flog their sales especially to the economically vulnerable, especially in developing countries, and we know what these offerings can do to a body. Obscene profits from peddling an impending health disaster for individuals, communities and countries. No, that is not Fifa.

A tragic example of the costs of those sugary drinks and action taken to address the health crisis is Mexico, where an avoidable crisis was allowed to balloon out of control. As The Guardian reports, How one of the most obese countries on earth took on the soda giants

As will be recalled Coca Cola had spent some US$119M on healthcare ‘research’ that would show that, no worries, mere exercise would deal with that obesity thing. The Guardian gets to the point: democracy restored and a businessman becomes President, and.., (more…)

Black gold, black hearts, and benighted populations


The gods of the environment and depleting resources must be at wit’s end. This time, an oil gush (‘spill’ is such a tidy, innocous word) in California, which brings back earlier memories of California and more recent one in the Gulf of Mexico. Would that those fishies, dolphins and fisher folk had the ducats, the guita to persuade their political representatives to preserve and protect their health, environment and livelihood.

The Guardian does the honour with the report, California oil spill despoils coastline in tar-blackened reprise of 1960s disaster. Three brief paragraphs sketch the context.

Mark Massara was eight years old in 1969, when a blowout at a Union Oil well off the California coast spilled more than three million gallons of crude along the beaches of Santa Barbara and devastated one of the northern hemisphere’s most prized ecosystems.

He remembers going to the beach with his family and throwing hay on the oil as it washed ashore – a frustratingly inadequate gesture that stayed with him as he later built a career as one of California’s top environmental lawyers.

Last week, Massara was back in Santa Barbara, surveying the damage of the latest of many spills along California’s staggeringly beautiful central coast and lamenting how little has changed in the past 46 years. An oil slick stretching for miles is once again choking fish and wildlife, and again local residents are flocking to foul-smelling, blackened beaches to do what little they can to help with the cleanup.

Clearly, a traumatic experience that inspires a career should not have deserved an encore?

Of course, we are reminded of the Lago Agrio of Ecuador and the Niger Delta of Nigeria, environmental, health and welfare disasters that remain, barely treated or resolved. The power (and impunity) of the multinational corporation?