Does the modern workplace suit us all?

setting the mind freeSitting in the traffic on our way
to where we’ll spend the rest of our day,
(trapped inside while the sun is shining
instead of on the balcony reclining,
happily working at our own pace
away from the office race)
we reflect upon our hectic  life
feeling like we can barely strife.

Why have we so far from nature strolled
all being shaped in the same old mould
made to believe that this is the norm
the only shelter from the storm?

vinna í garðstól

 

Where do our minds work the best
if not when the least stressed?
The ideas come pouring in
while comfortable in our skin
concentrating the best we can
without distractions of a rigid plan.
Maybe we need to rethink it all
as many have had a close call
their precious health taken away
keeping their needs and feelings a bay
trying to cope with all the demands
struggling with a leash on their hands.

What we need is more freedom at work
rejecting the old office clerk
controlling our own time and space
saving our health and grace!
The workplace will gain as well
as productivity numbers tell
more freedom means better health
a basis for producing wealth….

Sleep, are we getting enough?

svefnThese days studies showing the importance of a good nights sleep keep pouring in . Yet most of us treat sleep like something that is trivial; something that we can be without at times. But can we?
An interesting study performed at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) indicates that while we sleep our brain “takes out the trash”. Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the  (URMC) and lead author of the article  puts it this way; “…the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.” The glymphatic system which is the brain’s method of waste removal seems to be highly active during sleep. Also the research showed that the brain’s cells reduce in size up to 60% during sleep which enables the glymphatic system  to remove waste more effectively. Similar to moving the furniture around while vacuuming the house I guess. This comes in handy as some diseases like Alzheimer’s seem to be caused by accumulation of waste products in the brain.

Its time to treat sleep with more respect and make arrangements for a good nights sleep every single night. Lets put away our electrical devices timely before going to sleep, clear our minds of all worries as well as ensuring that neither clocks nor snoring keep us awake!

Sleep tight – don’t let the bed bugs bite!

 

Can we trust scientific findings?

Have You Heard - 3d Words IsolatedEvery single day we hear about new scientific findings that have the potential to affect the way we behave in our daily lives. We hear about what we should eat, how much we should exercise and how stress affects us just to mention a few findings. As great as it is to be well-informed, the problem is that the findings we hear about are often contradictory to what we have heard before. Coffee is a great example since in the last years it has been proclaimed to be anywhere from health inducing to being a health threat. If we ought to act on all the findings we hear about our diets would change from one extreme to the next over a short period of time.

Can we trust what is being published?

After years of being bombarded like that you begin to wonder what is really going on. Could it possibly be that something is wrong with research itself? Can we trust what is presented to us as good research and published in prestigious journals? This is exactly what scholars are beginning to question. One of them is Curt Rice, a professor at the University of Tromso and a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. In an article posted on February 6 2013 he points out that retraction rates of published scientific articles have increased tenfold in the past decade. Rice cites a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that demonstrates that two-thirds of all retractions follow from scientific misconduct like fraud, duplicate publication and plagiarism. As Rice points out “the most prestigious journals have the highest rates of retraction, and that fraud and misconduct are greater sources of retraction in these journals than in less prestigious ones”. There also seems to be “a preference among prestigious journals for results that have more spectacular or novel findings, a phenomenon known as “publication bias”. Rice mentions also what is known as the decline effect; i.e. the effect of getting weaker results when research is repeated possibly because of an earlier statistical fluke being cancelled out.
Another sceptic, Dr. Frank Lipman the founder and director of Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, in his article elaborates on how most medical studies on health can not be trusted. He points out that not only is it “a well-known fact that studies funded by the industry or conducted by researchers with industry ties tend to favor corporate interests,” but also that almost a third of papers published are refuted by other studies in a few years time. Dr. Lipman cites a study in Public Library of Science (PloS) Medicine suggesting “that there are so many scientific papers pursuing very few pages in the most prestigious journals, that the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves—to proclaim impressive results that later turn out to be false”.

Dr. John Ioannidis, a meta-researcher and one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research, has spent most of his career challenging other scientists by exposing their bad science. David H. Freeman writes about Iaonnidis’s work in an article called “Lies, damned lies, and medical science“. Like Freeman puts it Iaonnidis “and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed.”

What to do?

I have to say that I was happy what to doto find that prestigious scientists are questioning research findings. When I was working on my masters thesis in 2007 I couldn’t help having the feeling that almost no matter what the research question had been in the beginning the results would somehow have supported that question. I honestly think that most scientists are inspired by good intentions and set out to do high quality research. It just seems to be so easy to sway the results in the correct direction when looking for the answers you set out to find.

It seems to me that we need to be more critical of research findings and use our common sense before altering our habits too quickly in the light of new research. Research that might be refuted in the near future.

 

 

 

When will all women enjoy the freedom they deserve?

Flying ButterflyWhen will the world become a place
where all humans are treated with grace
and girls wont vanish without a trace
to be sold into slavery’s mace?

When will we be from ignorance safe
remembering what got us out of the cave;
a brave heart and an open mind
combined with the will to be man-kind

When will women be allowed to choose
and from enforcement let loose?
When will the pouring of acid stop

and taken away the bitter cup
of having to serve the abuser

while no one listens to the accuser?

Lets hope that all women one day
will leave behind the horrific dismay
and breathe the fresh air of freedoms glory;
the start of a new chapter in man kinds’ story

 

Prevention – how can we influence people’s choices?

preventionPrevention, prevention
it’s not a new invention
but we haven’t succeeded yet
in changing people’s’ mind set
The message is out there
and it seems so unfair
that no matter how much we nag
and put up yet another red flag
people’s bodies take up more space
at an alarming pace
still too many around the world smoke
leading to cancer, emphysema and stroke
couch potatoes in abundance are
and making it all worse is the car.

Most of the measures taken so far
reached only the ones that well off are
not the ones that need it the most
and even of their lifestyles boast
We need to find new avenues
based on changing attitudes
working together as a team
creating a whole new theme
starting with the local parks
making sure they light a spark
especially in the slums of town
so desperately needing a new “gown”
getting people to go out and play
will help keep diseases away
easy access to cheap healthy food
will change the local mood
maybe even crime will decrease
and with time altogether cease
Making sure the school’s top-notch are
will make the students all a star
These measures outshine any campaign
now lets not do any more work in vain

 

 

Mammograms – have women been misinformed?

Some topics are holier than others. It seems that breast cancer screening is one of them. Although studies are pouring in showing that this type of screening could be at the best useless and at the worst harmful we still receive invitations in the mail for our “life saving” breast exams.

screeningIn March 2010 the renowned British Medical Journal published a Danish study showing that the Danish breast screening programme had no effect on breast cancer mortality. Another study published in the same journal in 2009 showed that one in three breast cancers detected in a population offered organised screening is overdiagnosed (over diagnosis referring to the detection of cancers that will not cause death or symptoms). One in three is a lot! What about all the women that undergo treatment for their overdiagnosed breast cancer? Adding to all these cases of overdiagnosis is the sad fact that breast cancer screening seems to only save limited number of lives as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 shows and Dr. David Newman, an emergency room physician in New York City, articulates brilliantly on in an article published in The New York Times in 2012.

In April 2014 an astonishing article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine reporting on a review of mammography screening conducted by the Swiss Medical Board in January 2013. (The Swiss Medical Board is an independent health technology assessment initiative under the auspices of the Conference of Health Ministers of the Swiss Cantons, the Swiss Medical Association, and the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences). Their conclusion is very clear: “It is easy to promote mammography screening if the majority of women believe that it prevents or reduces the risk of getting breast cancer and saves many lives through early detection of aggressive tumors. We would be in favor of mammography screening if these beliefs were valid. Unfortunately, they are not, and we believe that women need to be told so. From an ethical perspective, a public health program that does not clearly produce more benefits than harms is hard to justify. Providing clear, unbiased information, promoting appropriate care, and preventing overdiagnosis and overtreatment would be a better choice”.

What will it take? Why are we still being told to have our routine mammograms and made to feel like we are irresponsible if we don’t? Should health authorities not be looking at implementing other options for prevention of breast cancer by now?

 

 

 

 

Can we have it all without it taking its toll?

Can we have it allhomeless
without it taking its toll?
Can we in our luxury splash
while others search the trash?
Passing them on the street averting our eyes
we can’t help but hear the cries
of the ones that have no roof
the ones that have gone aloof.
They stretch out a hand for a cent
but trained to ignore we keep our heads bent.
We donate them our worn out shirts
and our last seasons’ ugly skirts
all to keep our conscience clean
even better if we’re donating seen.

Why is this problem so hard to fix?
when will we find the right tricks
and governments learn to put what matters first?
Quenching all their citizens thirst
not just the thirst of the ones with power
but also the ones the streets in vain hover.
How much could it cost to self empower
feed, house and even shower
treat for addiction and diseases
until all the wailing ceases?

Just a fraction of what’s spent on war
war that makes the number of the homeless soar.

Is the sun good for you after all?

In the last decades we have been warned D vítamín, grein SÍBSagain and again about the damaging rays of the sun. The results of these warnings are now becoming evident as new research is starting to show harmful effects of not getting enough sun exposure. A new study in Sweden performed by scientists at the Karolinska and Lund University in Sweden shows that women who avoid sun exposure have a two-fold higher mortality rate compared to the ones that enjoy the highest sun exposure. The study followed 30.000 women over a 20 year period.
We all know that our bodies get vitamin D from the sun, but recent research by dermatologist Richard Weller and his team suggests that sunlight may confer another surprising benefit. The research shows that nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in huge reserves in the skin, can be released by UV light. This chemical transmitter seems to be of great benefit for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. The team goes as far as to say that they even suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight outweigh the risk of skin cancer.
In April 2012 a Norwegian study lead by Johan Moan was published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition . The conclusions of that study were that the overall health benefits of an improved vitamin D status gained from moderate sun exposure may be more important than the possibly increased skin cancer (CMM) risk. To use the words of Johan Moan herself; “It can be estimated that increased sun exposure to the Norwegian population might at worst result in 200-300 more CMM deaths per year, but it would elevate the vitamin D status by about 25 nmol/l (nanomoles per liter) and might result in 4,000 fewer internal cancers and about 3,000 fewer cancer deaths overall.”
Once again we are reminded of the fact that extremes are to be avoided and that sun exposure is like most things beneficial in moderation. We all know that sunburn can be harmful but allowing the skin to be exposed to the sun in moderate levels seems to be essential for our health. This should not come as a surprise since most living creatures need some amount of sunlight for survival. Are we also forgetting another possible culprit for skin cancer, i.e. the chemicals contained in sunscreen that we lather on our skin to protect us from the damaging rays of the sun? Isn’t the sun good for you in modesty like everything else?

 

 

 

 

The precious gift of time

One by one the wrinkles arrive
as we for youths’ beauty still strive.
We should welcome the gift of years
given so freely instead of tears
tears that are shed for the ones we lose
still young and bereft of the chance to choose

Life is a gift to be treasuredSnæfellsjökull
and not in wrinkles measured
and the further we travel on
our fears of failure almost gone
what does it matter what others say
or how many golden eggs we lay?
As long as we’re true to ourselves
and find our fitting shelves

Time being so precious
a word for the cautious;
there’s still time we think
to take it all in and blink
but what do we know of the path ahead
maybe we should hurry and make our bed
where we long to be the most
and say farewell to the old ghost;
that daily routine of ours
shortening our lives in hours
hours that could be better spent
with our backs less for others bent

It’s time to take the plunge
follow your whispering hunch
and without further dismay
go to wherever it lead you may

Looking for happiness?

WP_000175We search for it high and low
longing to find its glow
because when found all is well
and we’ll be able to dwell
under the moonlit sky
having reached our optimum high

Until found, all is on hold
¨keep searching¨ we’re told.
Running up and down the hills
paying the mounting bills
until we exhausted fall apart
with blood pressure off the chart

While all along we could have stopped
and off the ¨wagon¨ hopped
to take in the beauty around
listen to natures’ sound
enjoyed our loved ones more
not making daily life a chore

Happiness is all around
and right now to be found
in the moments if we only look;
when reading the plainest book,
having dinner with the candles lit.
Learn to enjoy it bit by bit
relax and take it all in
as you happiness on your side win