HealthWire for November 13, 2003
“Bits and Bobs*”
to Keep You Sane, Safe, and Healthy on the Go
Marlene R. Fedin, The Wellness Concierge®
OTHER HEALTH NEWS
ON THE FLY
R&R ON THE ROAD
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DVT in the News: New Studies
Low-Risk Doesn't Mean No-Risk;
Can Drinking Guinness Help Prevent DVT?
Weighing the Merits of a New Remedy
URGENT! Hepatitis A
Outbreak: What You Need to Know Now!
Get Fit, Get Miles;
Dengue Fever Outbreak in Queensland;
Toll from Western PA Hepatitis A Outbreak Rises
SARS 'Remedies': Ginger Root
Extract May Prevent Spread of SARS;
Chinese Herbal Soup May Up SARS
Recovery, Lower SARS Death Rate
Airline News: Airline Cabin Crews' Demanding
Schedules and Mental Fatigue, Forgetfulness Linked;
Airline Crews Have Higher Cancer Risk
Supreme Court Case Focuses on What
Constitutes an Airplane Accident
Three Colorado Communities Add
THE LATEST DVT STUDIES: Low-Risk Doesn't
Mean No Risk
For most road warriors, the odds of developing life-threatening deep
vein thrombosis (DVT) are small. A recent Aussie study reports that a
healthy, middle-age traveler has a one in 40,000 chance of developing
DVT on a long-haul flight. And with the risk of death from DVT
estimated at one in two million, a car accident poses a greater risk for
But the study also found that your risk of a blood clot doesn't end
with the flight: It's four times higher during the two weeks
after a long flight. And the preliminary results from an ongoing
Italian study raise other concerns: Flyers developed blood clots on
short flights (as little as three hours)—with most clots
developing in the first two to three hours and growing larger and more
dangerous over time.
Individual risk increases based on a number of factors: age;
taking one long-haul flight a year (a 12% increase); a previous
blood clot; certain medical conditions--varicose veins; being pregnant
or having just given birth; obesity; cardiovascular disease; diabetes;
cancer; recent surgery, injury, or trauma; taking oral contraceptives or
HRT. And vascular surgeons caution that a limited number of studies
can't accurately predict your personal risk. In other words, no
matter your age, physical condition, or fitness level, heed the
precautions and don't rely on the odds to protect you.
Take preventive steps for any trip (car, bus, train, or plane) where
you are sitting for a long time. Drink water; move around; wear
special compression socks; stretch in place; take 150 mg of aspirin
before and three days after a flight; don't drink alcohol before or
Don't ignore a persistent cramp or pain in the legs. Many
cases of DVT are missed or misdiagnosed. Developing even a small,
symptom-less clot ups your risk for a bigger, more dangerous one.
It's got to be a beer-lover's fantasy: A
just-released U.S. study has shown that a pint of stout a day can
help reduce the risk of a heart attack. The same scientists who
brought us the good news about the heart-healthy effects of imbibing a
glass or two of red wine each day, now say that
downing Guinness can reduce the risk of getting life-threatening
blood clots. According to Professor John Folts, who led the study,
you actually need to drink 24 ounces—a bit more than the
traditional Irish pint.
IS NEW DVT REMEDY FLIGHT-WORTHY? Dr.
Richard Dawood, a travel-health specialist and author, believes
exercise caution when it comes to relying on
a new, clot-dissolving natural compound now sold on the Internet, to
In a small, new study in Angiology, a
vascular science journal, 94 passengers who took Flite Tabs™
did not develop blood clots. Flite Tabs™,
which contain Pinokinase, a combination of pine bark extract and
fermented soybean extract, are being sold in the U.S. and U.K. as
nutritional supplements, which means it is not subject to FDA scrutiny
and approval. (They were developed by a Tempe, Arizona-based company, Aidan Group
Before you buy, check out the
WORK OUT FOR 'HEALTHY' MILES: In an
effort to encourage healthier lifestyle choices and improved health and
fitness, a number of health insurance plans are providing points that
can be exchanged for airline miles, hotel discounts, and other
trip-related freebies. Give up smoking, maintain a healthy weight,
and commit to an exercise program, for example, and you can net
free trips and other perks.
Check your company's health insurance plan
to see what's available. And if you're responsible for your firm's
healthcare package, consider adding such perks. Business travelers need
incentives they can get to tread the healthy and fit road.
AUSTRALIA REPORTS DENGUE FEVER OUTBREAK:
reported cases of deadly dengue fever in Cairns, Queensland health
officials are attempting to stop the Torres Strait outbreak from
spreading to Thursday Island and the mainland of North Queensland.
As the recent, serious Hepatitis A outbreak
in Pennsylvania, the largest in U.S. history, has shown, Hepatitis A
is a serious concern even if you don't leave the country or eat exotic
or foreign foods.
CONSUMER DINING &
PURCHASING ADVICE: The
has advised that raw green scallions (green onions) may pose a
health risk of Hepatitis A. To decrease your risk, only eat
scallions that have been thoroughly cooked (boiled, baked, or sautéed)
or will be cooked (if used as part of another food item or mixed
with another item). Exercise caution about where you choose to eat
and purchase food items.
When purchasing prepared foods or dining
out, check carefully that any items do not contain raw or lightly
cooked scallions. Ask if items contain scallions or green onions.
When in doubt, don't eat an item.
Questions? Check out the
on the current outbreak.
IF YOU THINK YOU
MIGHT BE AT RISK NOW...
Concerned that you have ingested
contaminated items--or have been exposed to people who have been
involved in an identified outbreak? Check with local health
authorities to get an antibody inoculation, which must be given
within two weeks of exposure.
► Monitor your health and consult a
physician if symptoms (see below) appear.
► If symptoms appear, get an IgM anti-HAV
blood test. (Do not get the test if you have eaten raw scallions
but do not have symptoms.)
INCUBATION PERIOD, SYMPTOMS
► The incubation period for Hepatitis A
ranges from 15 to 50 days.
► The onset of symptoms may be delayed: The
early, flu-like symptoms may take as long as 28 to 30 days to appear.
► Infected individuals may have no signs or
symptoms of the disease.
► Symptoms may occur suddenly and without
warning. Symptoms include: loss of appetite, nausea, fever, fatigue,
diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (eyes or skin
may appear yellowed).
If you travel to areas with questionable
hygiene and sanitation standards (in or out of the United States),
you should consult with your physician about getting a Hepatitis A
you have not eaten potentially contaminated items, but have a
health condition that may put you at additional or serious risk if you
should contract Hepatitis A, contact a physician and discuss whether
you should get a Hepatitis A vaccine shot. (Note: The vaccine is
designed to work before you are exposed to a potential
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & RESOURCES:
CDC Hepatitis A
Risk Factors from WebMD
TOLL FROM PA
HEPATITIS A OUTBREAK RISES: The FDA, CDC, and local health
departments are conducting ongoing investigations into the source
Hepatitis A outbreak in western Pennsylvania that is
believed to have originated at a Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant
near Pittsburgh. The Chi-Chi's chain is removing green onions
from all of its outlets and the unit where the outbreak was
believed to have started is closed until January.
has halted the import of Mexican green onions while it continues its
investigations into the outbreak's source.
Outbreaks associated with raw or
undercooked green onions (scallions) also occurred in September
in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. (If you've traveled
to these areas and ingested possibly contaminated scallions,
symptoms would have presented by now, November 20, 2003.)
An estimated 540 people (as of
November 20, 2003) have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A in the
spreading outbreak with a number of deaths. Since the incubation
period can be as long as 50 days, more cases are likely to be
Japanese researchers believe that ginger
root extracts in traditional Chinese medicines may prevent the
spread of the SARS virus. ...Chinese doctors believe preliminary
test results show that a Chinese herbal soup ("qing
fei jiy du tang" aka a soup for clearing the lungs), which contains the
chemical compound baicalin, could be an effective SARS treatment.
The Chinese, known for their traditional herbal remedies, are exploring
cheaper alternatives to traditional drugs, including steroids, used in
SARS treatments, which some believe may have contributed to SARS-related
DEMANDING SCHEDULES LINKED TO CABIN
CREWS' MENTAL FATIGUE, FORGETFULNESS: The results of a U.K.
study of cabin crews from international and English-speaking
carriers show that the intense, 24/7 lifestyle imposed on
in-flight professionals by their work has some disturbing fallout.
With high physical demands, heavy workloads, and low control, the
airline crews experience stress and psychological problems such as
mental exhaustion, forgetfulness, difficulty making up their
minds (!), and rash behavior (!!!). Given the maxi-mileage
that's been logged by some truly frequent flyers, this could
explain the equally problematic behavior—and attitude—of some
NEW STUDIES SAY AIRLINE CREWS HAVE
HIGHER CANCER RISK:
Three different studies conclude that working high in the
sky for long periods of time can up an individual's risk of
cancer. Researchers believe in-flight crews are routinely
exposed to cosmic radiation while on jet aircraft, which fly at
high altitudes for longer periods of time.
The studies are not conclusive,
however, with the debate continuing over whether the increased
risk is linked to occupational or lifestyle factors such as
on-the-ground sun exposure and irregular working hours. Although
prolonged exposure during flights may not be the direct cause,
scientists believe that the increased risk for specific types
of cancer among cabin crews represents a legitimate occupational
Study findings appear in the November
Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
WHEN IT'S NOT JUST SEMANTICS: It's
gotten little press but the outcome of a case now before the
Supreme Court could pose problems for air carriers. The U.S. Supreme
court heard arguments on Wednesday (November 12) on whether an air
carrier is liable for the death of Abid M. Hanson, a passenger on an
Olympic Airways flight from Athens to New York City in 1998.
Although seated in the non-smoking section,
Hanson, an asthmatic, was exposed to second-hand smoke from the smoking
section, only a few rows away. Despite requests to be moved away from
the smoke, the airlines did not allow him to change seats. Hanson
reportedly moved away from the smoke and was even given a shot of
epinephrine. A friend (and allergist) also on the flight provided
additional care, including CPR, but Hanson died.
The case revolves around the definition of
"accident." Under the Warsaw Convention, which governs liability for a
death during an international flight, an air carrier is liable if a
death is caused by an "accident."
The family brought suit against Olympic
Airways and a California district court awarded $1.4 in damages when the
U.S. District judge ruled that Hanson's death was an accident, one that
resulted when a flight attendant failed to move Hanson's seat after he
complained. The verdict was upheld in a San Francisco federal appeals
court in December, 2002. Olympic Airways countered that it held no
liability because the death was not the result of an accident but
stemmed from "internal reactions to the usual, normal, and expected
operation of the aircraft."
The Air Transport Association (ATA), an air
carrier trade group, filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that
second-hand smoke in an aircraft is both normal and expected on flights
that allow smoking. The ATA is clearly concerned about the repercussions
for airlines, who might have to take preventive measures to protect
flyers from becoming ill during a flight. These measures could include
pre-boarding health questionnaires and what the airlines view as pesky
paperwork and procedures to ensure that passengers are not exposed to
health risks such as smoke or certain foods.
The Supreme Court ruling is expected in
several months. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick gives you the
backstory and updates from
Wednesday's session with some biting—and appropriate—commentary
on the airlines actions, or rather, lack of action.
SMOKING BANS PASS IN COLORADO:
Election day saw voters opting for smoking bans in public places in
three Colorado communities—Greeley, Pueblo, and Summit County. Nine
counties and 37 municipalities have either full or partial smoking bans
in effect in restaurants and bars.◄
If You Don't Know You're Stressed
Risk in Unexpected Venues
(MORE) BAD NEWS FROM THE STRESS FRONT:
Mental stress, even the kind you're unaware of, can up your risk of a
heart attack or other cardiac-related health problem. Mental stress
that leads to a rise in blood pressure, according to a recent study, is
six times more likely to lead to angina, heart attack, or coronary
artery blockage. If you've already got other risk factors such
as diabetes, high cholesterol, and you smoke, you should seriously
consider starting a stress-reduction program now! Local hospitals and
health centers offer such programs as do many company-sponsored wellness
AIRPLANE CABINS COULD POSE LATEX-ALLERGY RISK: If you're allergic to
latex—and many people don't find out until they find themselves gasping
for breath—take note. You may be aware of the obvious risks in
healthcare settings (hospitals, during dental work and surgery, etc.)
but you may have overlooked some other potential landmines. Food
handlers in many restaurants wear latex gloves while preparing meals
and some flight attendants may also wear such gloves as they
serve passengers and clean up the cabins. The residue on foods you
eat and surfaces you touch can trigger a potentially life-threatening
allergic reaction. To avoid problems, notify the airline when
booking and call restaurants in advance. Make sure you speak to a
restaurant manager and emphasize the seriousness of the problem. Many food
purveyors are unaware of the danger although states such as Arizona,
Rhode Island, and Oregon have banned the use of latex gloves in
restaurants to head off potential problems.◄
Hilton Survey: Biz Travelers Lose Sleep,
Westin Study: Hotel Fitness Centers Need to
Westin Teams With Reebok on New Fitness
ARE YOU DOING? The
Hilton Hotels' recent (June through September) Personal
Performance Study of 3,500 travelers pretty much confirmed
what road warriors already know (though they may not admit it):
They're a sleep-deprived bunch whose performance is compromised
by a lack of sleep. Survey participants, who were monitored
for seven days, logged only five hours of sleep the night
before a trip—an hour less than the minimum six hours needed
before performance erodes. Essentially, the researchers found,
these travelers started out at less-than-optimum performance
Participants logged less sleep (an hour) each day than they believed and
lost a total of almost eight hours sleep over the course of a trip—a
significant sleep deficit of almost a single-night's shuteye. Two-thirds
of the participants said they countered fatigue via exercise—the
best antidote—while others used less-healthful methods such as drinking
alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, etc.) and caffeinated sodas and coffee.
Hilton says it will use the survey results to develop "new programs and
services...to enhance (travelers) productivity." The first initiative is
scheduled for January 2004.
AND THEIR SURVEY SAYS: WE WANT TO EXERCISE, BUT...While
Hilton was monitoring performance, Westin Hotels was querying 300
business travelers as part of its "Road Runners: Working Out on
the Road" survey. The news in a nutshell? Working out is
apparently a "consideration" for many biz travelers (62% said
they check out the availability of a workout room during the
reservation process while 69% said that the presence of a
state-of-the-art fitness facility would positively influence
their choice of a hotel)—despite the many obstacles hotels
The surveyed travelers indicated that hotel fitness centers and
work-out rooms, where available, needed to shape up before they'd meet
their needs. A majority of travelers cited the lack of a
fitness/workout room along with the poor quality and condition of such
rooms and equipment as major deterrents. Also drawing negative
reviews: Overcrowding and limited hours of operation.
Despite a bunch of other stats, only one item appeared to address a key
question: Just how many of those road warriors actually work out on
the road—and how often? The study reported that 50% of surveyed
travelers worked out in their rooms "on occasion."
A bit over a quarter (26%) said that working out was a good way to meet
people while close to a third (30%) of apparently dedicated exercisers
said they skipped business social events to work out!
THAT WE KNOW BETTER, WE'LL DO BETTER!: Fueled by the "Road
Runners" survey results (see above items) that confirmed biz
travelers' dissatisfaction with hotel fitness options, Westin has teamed
with sports giant, Reebok, to offer a series of new fitness
It features specially designed fitness rooms (to be rolled
out into all North American Westin properties) that include:
LifeFitness and Precor strength and cardio equipment; flat-screen
TVs and individual viewing screens on cardio equipment; digital
music options; and a Reebok Core Training Zone that includes
equipment such as Core Boards, medicine and stability balls,
resistance bands, and timed workout programs.
Westin is also offering an in-room workout routine, The Heavenly Bed
Yoga, which combines yoga and Pilates moves and is available via
in-room TV. (FYI: Yoga instructor Carol Dickman pioneered
bed-top yoga in her
audio- and videotapes some eight years ago, when hotel chains were
anything but interested in such amenities for fitness-oriented guests.
And Hilton offered yoga gur Rodney Yee's videotapes in its special
fitness guestrooms when they debuted in 1999.) ◄
FOOD ON THE FLY
Smoothie King Goes Low-Carb; Au Bon
Pain Axes Trans Fats
Kimchi Unwrapped; How to Clear 'Carbo Confusion'
LIVING THE LOW-CARB LIFE: If you're counting carbs (and don't
forget to count calories, too), check out Smoothie King's
Carb/High Protein Smoothie. A 20-ounce ($4.25 SRP) smoothie
breaks out to 6 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of impact carbs, 35
grams of whey protein, 225 calories and six grams of fat according to
the chain. Available in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and banana
flavors in 20, 32, and 40-ounce sizes,
version includes its patented Gladiator Protein Powder with
Aminogen® protein digestive enzymes. TIP:
Snacking on smoothies or drinking them regularly in addition to meals
can add calories. Drink with care unless you're trying to gain weight.
OUT, OUT NASTY TRANS FATS!: First, there were the Nutrition
Kiosks that detailed
nutritional info for
menu items (for those of us who want to make informed choises). Then
came a trio of healthier wraps (less calories and cholesterol,
more protein). Now the
230-unit Au Bon Pain
chain of bakery cafes is
totally axing unhealthy trans
fats from its
new muffins. But no trans fat doesn't mean low fat. The regular
versions feature high calorie (420 to 590 per muffin) and fat
(23% to 41%) counts. If you want to indulge, opt for their
low-fat, triple-berry muffin. At 290 calories and 3% fat for
a 4.35 oz. muffin, it's a less- weighty choice. If you crave
low-fat chocolate cake muffin weighs in at 320 calories and 3%
KIMCHI UNWRAPPED: If you're a foodie who is headed to Seoul,
Korea, consider a visit to the
Kimchi Field Museum, which is sequestered away on one of the
lower levels of the COEX Mall. The
seven sections are devoted to every aspect of this epicurean favorite
including its history, preparation and storage, and resources. And yes,
there are scheduled tastings for museum visitors.
If you love the many varieties of kimchi, you need no excuse to indulge
in this fiery Korean delicacy. For those who need some incentive,
consider its reported health benefits: The pickled vegetable is
rich in vitamin C and other critical vitamins and is believed
to aid intestinal health and to prevent cancer. That's in addition
to its cholesterol-lowering properties. (And some believe it can
help you loose weight, too!)
GET THE 411 ON CARBS: Confused by all the rhetoric on
carbohydrate counts and low-carb diets that's filling the news these
days? Check out Weight Watchers' free 15-page booklet to end
your "carbo confusion." The "Carbs Scorecard" ranks 10 types of
carbs based on their nutrition and health benefits.
Download online or call 877-234-4321.◄
A new holistic, Japanese spa debuts in
Salt Lake City;
Get 'Stoned' at Hyatt Regency's new
Stillwater Spa in Lake Tahoe;
Cruise and sleep in SFO; Go spa-ing at
the top of Manhattan
Sign up for an Atkins 'Retreat' at Auberge
NEW SPA DEBUTS IN SALT LAKE CITY: The
Kura Door Spa, a holistic Japanese spa modeled
after Japanese bathhouses, has opened in Salt Lake City. In addition
to the spruce sauna and eucalyptus steam rooms, it features oversized
Japanese soaking tubs; organic products; an all-natural,
eco-friendly decor; a variety of massages, body wraps and treatments
(Akasuri Rice Milk Body Scrub and the traditional Javanese Lulur Body
treatment are two of its specialties); and facials.
Don't have time or desire for the full-body
ultra-relaxing Thai or Kura massage? Treat your tired feet to the
55-minute Ikasu Japanese foot treatment, which includes a soothing
soak with essential oils; a massage that incorporates lymphatic-drainage
techniques, pressure-point therapy, and foot reflexology; and ends with
an exfoliating scrub, mask, and a moisturizing treatment ($55). You can also de-stress with tai chi, yoga,
Pilates, and meditation
classes. 1136 East 3rd Avenue, Salt Lake City; 801-364-2400
SPA-ING AT THE TOP OF MANHATTAN: The
Mandarin Oriental hotel, located in the Time Warner complex at
Columbus Circle in Manhattan, opens November 15th. The luxury
property includes a
14,500-square-foot spa on its 35th floor and a fitness center
and 75-foot lap pool with floor-to-ceiling windows on the 36th floor.
With a spa concierge (who develops a custom
treatment program), tea lounge, separate men's and women's Relaxation
Lounges, an underwater massage bed, and private Spa Suite, it's the
ultimate in relaxation for hotel guests and spa-goers (who must book a
minimum of two hours worth of what the hotel calls its "time rituals.").
The massage and body treatments are a global melange with their origins
in Chinese, Ayurvedic, European, Thai, and Balinese cultures.
Looking to splurge? Book the 650-square-foot Spa
Suite with its fireplace, bath, and dual massage beds. Including a
two-hour spa treatment, the tab is $975 for two—for a total of three hours
(two-hour treatment, one hour of relaxation). 80
Columbus Circle at 60th Street; 212-805-8800; spa hours: Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday: 10 a. m. to 7 p.m.
GET 'STONED' IN TAHOE: The
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort's
new 20,000-square-foot destination spa, part of the
property's recent $60 million renovation, has opened. The Stillwater
Spa is offering a special "Stones for Sale" promotion that
includes an 80-minute signature spa treatment, a therapeutic Sierra
stone, and a room for one night for $299.00. (Does not include taxes
or other fees. Based on availability, through May 27, 2004.)
Spa Rejuvenation Packages start at
$175 per person, per night.
treatments include the Mountain Berry Body Scrub and the
High-Altitude Body treatment.
The property features a Spa Terrace wing
with 138 guestrooms and special Stillwater Suites that include
in-room Life Fitness cycles. Info: 775-832-1234; spa reservations:
800-510-0579; 111 Country Club Dr., Incline Village, Nevada 89451
FIRST YOU CRUISE... THEN YOU SNOOZE:
Joie de Vivre, the San
Francisco-based boutique hotel group, and
Hornblower Cruises & Events
are teaming up to offer an unusual combo package. Their new "Snooze
and Cruise" promotion pairs a brunch or dinner dance cruise with
a stay at one of Joie de Vivre's properties. The package, available
through December 31, starts at $179 and includes accommodations; cruise;
port fees; meal service; coffee, tea, juice; tax and gratuity. More
A LOW-CARB RETREAT: Need help easing into a low-carb lifestyle?
Consider Auberge Mendocino's "Get a Weigh" package. The
five-night promo includes accommodations; guided walks and tours; low-carb
meals (a daily gourmet breakfast, two dinners, two lunches); five
lectures; and eight hikes. The French-style country bed-and-breakfast
inn's promotion is offered on Sundays beginning December 7 and 14;
January 11, 18, and 25; February 1, 8, and 29; and March 7, 14, and 21.
Five-day packages begin at $674 (PP, DO); seven-day packages with
additional events are also available. 800-347-9252
Coming Soon! Special Holiday Gift Guide
The Wellness Concierge®
Healthy Travel &
Living Products Page
Keeping up with a seemingly endless array of new products is time-consuming. E-mails touting the latest gadgets arrive 24/7 from around
the globe and I'm an admittedly receptive audience. But it's worth it when I find something I believe can help a
traveler on the go.
In addition to the product reviews included in the monthly HealthWire
columns, I'm now adding products on the fly as I review them. If you're
looking for something specific, check the
page regularly or e-mail me and let me know what you're searching for.
Products are grouped by category (exercise/fitness, jet lag, DVT,
stress, etc.) and items are included in multiple categories, where
applicable. If you don't find an item in one place, you're likely to
land on it elsewhere.
page is also great resource for those seeking gifts for road
warriors--and a good starting point if you want to drop hints about your
favorites and create your own wishlist.
If you've used the products, I welcome your feedback and questions. And
if you've got something you'd like to recommend,
drop me a note. Just do
me one favor: Let me know if you're a traveler or if you're someone
who is working on behalf of the product (PR, manufacturer, etc.). I'm
open to all suggestions but I have a thing about folks who are paid to
pitch posing as unbiased purchasers. (FYI: I don't respond to product
pitch e-mails that don't include a name and contact info. I don't have a
staff to vet products so if I can't reach a real person, I can't
consider a product for inclusion.)
FYI: These listings are my personal selections. No manufacturer or
supplier has paid to be listed and I have no financial investment in, or
financial relationship with, any noted company or product.
is compiled from medical and scientific journals and related
professional publications, which have vetted the research data
that they present.