“The Hangover” series took in over $1.4 billion worldwide; apparently people love to watch guys who drink too much too quickly and make horrible decisions. So perhaps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent announcement that 38 million American adults binge-drink around four times a month (downing eight drinks per binge) shouldn’t surprise us. But it does worry us. While a sip o’ the grape may be good for you, too much alcohol is toxic.
Just recently, the CDC reported that six Americans die every day from alcohol poisoning. Seventy-five percent of them are white guys 34-65 years old. Only around 30 percent of those who die are alcoholics; the rest are bingers who got too far over the line.
Alcohol is a poison that the liver must filter out of the blood. Take in too much, too quickly, and the liver cannot do its job. Then areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate and body temperature can be seriously depressed.
So here’s what to do if you see one of your friends binging, acting confused, passing in and out of awareness, having difficulty breathing, vomiting and has cold clammy skin: Try to keep them awake; if your pal passes out, position the person on his or her side, not the back; then call 911. Don’t think, “Hey, they’ll sleep it off.”
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Remember: Drinking one glass of wine a day for women and one to two for men protects the heart and increases longevity. Drink moderately, and you’ll stick around to enjoy more good times with friends.
Healing from heartbreak
When Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) watched their live-in relationship decay in “The Breakup,” they got it half-right: Each one spent time reflecting on what happened, kvetched to their friends and thought about where they were headed as a single person. The half that was wrong? They both insisted on remaining in the apartment they owned together, not wanting the other to get it. A new University of Arizona study points out that in real life, such behavior interferes with the “self-concept reorganization” you have to go through to separate yourself from your ex and the relationship.
Breakups are difficult and take a toll physically and emotionally. For most folks, they trigger an almost to-the-max stress response. Brain centers that respond to physical pain are activated when you feel heartbreak. And “broken heart syndrome” is a condition than can cause physical chest pain and shortness of breath that seem like a heart attack. But it isn’t.
That’s why if you’re dealing with a breakup, you should acknowledge what’s lousy and hurts. But take the opportunity to manage the stress and start fresh. Make an effort to spend more time with friends and family. Do one adventurous act a week, volunteer at a soup kitchen (think more of others than yourself); take a class (pottery? history? Italian?). Go for a new look: Get a new hairstyle, grow a beard (guys). Expect to feel sad sometimes, but don’t let it define you. Remember you are the captain of your life ship.
The power of smells
Pepe Le Pew, the amorous French skunk who cavorted through Looney Tunes cartoons from 1945 to 1962, was not particularly scent-sative. Little did he know – and neither did scientists then – that some scent-sations (although not Le Pew’s) have healing powers.
Aromatherapy advocates have long claimed that essential oils relieve stress and ease aches, depression and digestive problems, but there’s been little hard evidence that the effects come from more than a pleasing placebo (placebos do work 30 percent of the time). Recently, however, researchers have been sniffing around the science of smell and have made some pretty sweet discoveries.
Turns out the aroma of sandalwood activates smell receptors in the skin. Once stimulated, smell receptors trigger signals that cause proliferation and migration of skin cells that speed up wound healing. So, perhaps smelling sandalwood incense can help repair a scrape or cut. That’s a pleasing thought.
Plus, scent-sational scents (and tastes) from food stimulate saliva – and spit contains immunoglobulin A, the body’s natural antibiotic that keeps harmful bacteria at bay. So bye-bye bland, and hello super-smelly spices and herbs like turmeric, allspice, clove, rosemary, thyme and basil.
Harnessing scents’ health-boosting powers makes good sense. But lab experiments show that a high-fat diet and obesity can KO 50 percent of the brain’s ability to register smells. One more reason why it’s es-scential to maintain a healthy weight.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.