Study: Working Long Hours Could Hurt Your Heart
Those extra hours at the office may take a toll on your health. People who put in at least 11 hours a day up their risk of a heart attack or dying from heart disease by 67 percent, compared to those who work a standard 7- or 8-hour day, according to a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Those who work 10 to 11 hours a day increase their risk by 45 percent. The findings, based on a 12-year study of more than 7,000 healthy adults in the United Kingdom, suggest work hours should join age, cholesterol, blood pressure, and smoking habits on the list of heart disease risk factors. Still, there's not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship between working long hours and heart problems. Stressed out, type-A people, for example, who already have a heightened risk of heart disease, tend to spend more time at the office. The link could also be explained by a lack of exercise, resorting to fast-food rather than healthy home-cooked meals, high levels of stress, and insufficient sleep. "This study might make us think twice about the old adage 'hard work won't kill you,'" Stephen Holgate of the Medical Research Council, which helped fund the research, told BBC News.
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How Your Personality Affects Your Health
Could your personality kill you—or might it make you live longer? Could it give you heart problems, or protect you from illness? Could it push you toward or away from doctor appointments? Personality traits play a distinct role in determining how healthy we are, psychologists say. "Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style," says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. "And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health." Here's a look at two common personality types and traits and how each can help or hurt your health (sometimes both):
Hostile. One of the aspects of the impatient, hard-charging type-A personality that is known to increase heart disease risk is hostility, U.S. News reports. Hostile people eat and smoke more and exercise less than other personality types, says Redford Williams, head of behavioral medicine at Duke University Medical Center and author of Anger Kills. They're likelier to be overweight in middle age and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure. Williams's past research suggests hostile people are also more likely to develop irregular heart rhythms, and to die before reaching their 50s. Most of these problems can be traced back to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as increased inflammation in the walls of the coronary arteries, which leads to a greater risk of heart attack.
Impulsive. Because type-A personalities are defined by competitiveness, a drive to succeed, and a sense of urgency, they are prone to take risks and act without thinking, neither of which is likely to improve health. Non-type-A's can be impulsive, too. Such people are often not as well-grounded as others, says Robin Belamaric, a clinical psychologist in Bethesda, Md.: "They'll look at an opportunity that comes along and say, 'Hmm, that sounds like fun,' whereas another, more thoughtful person, will say, 'I'm going to pass, because I'm not sure it's the best idea.'" [Read more: How Your Personality Affects Your Health.]
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The Skinny on Fats: What Research Says About What You Should Be Eating
There are plenty of confusing topics in nutrition, but fats may take the cake. Are saturated fats like butter and animal fat terribly harmful? Should you worry about whether you're eating too much of one kind of polyunsaturated fat and not enough of another? What about olive oil? And shouldn't we be eating as little fat as possible, since so many of us are, well, fat? The distinctions are "enormously confusing unless you're a lipid biologist," says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University.
First, toss out the notion that the lower the fat content in your diet, the better. A certain amount of fat , U.S. News reports, is essential to your body's functioning. And as you've probably heard, all fats are not alike in their effects on blood cholesterol levels, which can affect risk of heart problems. Saturated fat, for example, generally increases levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. But while this information was known when the surgeon general issued the first report on nutrition and health in 1988 and the National Academy of Sciences issued its own report in 1989, public health authorities felt that a message to reduce total fat would be best understood by the public. The thought was, says Nestle (who was managing editor of the 1988 report), that since saturated fats from meat and dairy products were the main sources of fat in the American diet, lowering total fat would automatically reduce consumption of saturated fat. That's certainly true, in theory. [Read more: The Skinny on Fats: What Research Says About What You Should Be Eating.]
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