Monday 26 December 2011

Number of Deaths Spike After Christmas - I wonder why?

Here's an extract from an interesting article I just found:-

It's not a myth: death rate spikes during the holidays
Friday, December 31, 2010

Although sometimes dismissed as anecdotal myth, the spike in holiday deaths has long been a stark reality to those who deal with it as their jobs, from funeral home directors to priests and emergency room staffers.
The Rev. Don Breier, pastor at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland, has seen it this season.

"I just had my second funeral this week and I'm doing my third tomorrow," Father Breier, a priest for 41 years, said Tuesday. "I've noticed over the years that it is true" that deaths increase over the holidays.

As for why it happens, Father Breier said: "I'm a firm believer that the Lord gives us our day and there's not a thing we can do to change it."

Matt Schellhaas grew up in the funeral business and noticed the jump in funerals over the holidays in college, when he'd come home for winter break and work nearly nonstop. "But it was never like that during summer vacation," he said.

"For some reason, we do find ourselves busier around the holidays," said Mr. Schellhaas, now supervisor of his family's Bakerstown funeral home, which as of Tuesday had already scheduled eight funerals for the week, about double the normal volume. "There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason ... though people in the industry tend to say it's because of the cold."

A national study published in October in the journal Social Science & Medicine tried to point to possible reasons after concluding that an increase in holiday deaths indeed occurs every year, in all regions of the country, during the two weeks around Christmas and New Year's.

The study, led by University of California at San Diego sociology professor David Phillips, looked at 57.5 million death certificates from 1979 to 2004.

It found 42,325 more people died of natural causes -- which make up about 93 percent of all deaths -- during the two-week Christmas/New Year holiday period than would normally be expected, given the typical winter increase in deaths.

There also were increases in every major disease group of 1 percent to 10 percent and in every demographic group of 3 percent to 9 percent.

In particular, the study looked at deaths from natural causes in which the patient either was dead on arrival at a hospital or died receiving emergency care, and it found significant spikes throughout the holiday period. In fact, the three days when the most people die of natural causes in either a DOA situation or in an emergency setting are Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

"This is not insignificant," Dr. Phillips said. "There is an unusually large number of deaths on Christmas and New Year's. So we can be confident that there is a spike on or around those days. But the explanation of those findings is much less clear and it is probably a bunch of different things."

One emotional explanation Dr. Phillips looked at was whether people fight to stay alive either to die on the day that Jesus Christ's birth is celebrated or because they know family will be around and they can say goodbye.

Dr. Phillips said his data does not contain the kind of information that would describe what people deal with as they approach death, but, "if people were holding on for Christmas, you would expect a significant decrease in deaths before and after Christmas, and we don't see that" and deaths continue to run high throughout the holiday period.

As for Mr. Schellhaas' guess that it's simply colder in the winter, Dr. Phillips said if that were the case, "You would expect fewer deaths in the warmer, southern United States compared to the North, and we don't see that."

In all, Dr. Phillips looked at nine possible explanations -- including that people travel more during the holidays, that there is overcrowding at emergency rooms, and that terminally ill patients try to be home during the holidays -- but could find no data to support any of the explanations.

But considering the data -- and the fact that Dr. Phillips in a prior study found there was an increase in in-hospital accidental deaths related to the traditional changeover in residential staffs in July every year -- he
has his own idea about what is going on over the holidays.

"If I had to guess, I'd say it's probably a degradation of medical care and a 'juniorization' of the medical care," he said.

By that he means that a lot of senior medical staffers take vacations over the Christmas and New Year's holidays in such numbers that it contributes to the increase in deaths.

He doesn't expect that would be well-received information.

"If someone says to the medical staff, 'It's because you're taking vacations that people are dying,' it's not easy to hear," he said.

The administrators overseeing the two busiest hospital emergency operations in Western Pennsylvania -- West Penn Allegheny Health System and UPMC -- both said staffing could be a factor in increased deaths, but not a major factor.

"We certainly do see more serious cases and certainly a larger number of DOAs in the emergency departments this time of year," said Tom Campbell, WPAHS chairman of emergency medicine for 17 years.

"But I really haven't seen the staffing piece of it to be a problem, at least in the emergency medical world."
Everyone in WPAHS shares holiday duties. But, he pointed out, patients don't have regular access to their family doctors over the holidays, either, "so you have someone not as used to dealing with a patient trying to help them." In addition, patients tend to put off care over the holidays, said Donald Yealy, chairman of emergency medicine at UPMC and an emergency doctor for 22 years.

Of course that's not the case with everyone who dies over the holidays. Dorothy Tame of McMurray was a month from her 92nd birthday when she died on Christmas Day.

Mrs. Tame, who ice-skated into her 80s, had Alzheimer's for several years and "her death really occurred over a three-week period," said her son, Charles Jr.

"I don't see it necessarily as providential; she'd been sick a long time," said Mr. Tame, whose late father, Charles Sr., was a well-known pastor in the region because of his Happiness Hour Radio Ministry, which his mother produced.

"She just happened to pass away on Christmas," he said. "But we're a family of faith, and we kind of take delight in the fact that the birth of our lord and savior that we celebrate on Dec. 25 happened to be the day he called her home."
Sean D. Hamill: or 412-263-2579.

First published on December 31, 2010 at 12:00 am

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Best wishes,

Thursday 10 November 2011


All summer long I've been waiting for them, hoping the summer will last out long enough to taste them.  I was lucky this year as we did find some amazing ones on a local tree which were huge and we did get dozens of them, it's fair to say, but isn't it so nice to eat your own ones.  I bought a white marseilles fig tree last year as I wanted to try white figs aswell as brown turkeys.  Unfortunately our 2 brown turkeys didn't make it over the cold snap we had last winter so they didn't happen this year, but hopefully will again next, but my white marseille did and all summer long I watched them grow in anticipation.

I'd just about given up hope and as the colder weather set in had almost forgotten but when I hung some washing out on Monday I noticed them, looking really good!  They were large and brown but disappointingly hard still.  So, I thought 'I wonder whether anything can be done now?'  Matthew confirmed my ideas and suggested I ring up the supplier which I did.  They were so nice and helpful.  Apparently I could pick them now and place them in a brown paper bag and ripen them up in the airing cupboard!  Wow, what a revelation this was to me as I had read that figs don't ripen up off the tree!

I just ate my first home grown fig today!  It had gone a little mouldy on top which I threw away but I had a little.  The other one I picked on Monday isn't quite ripe yet.  I have just gone out to pick a few more in the hope they will ripen and I will get some more soon.  The rest I shall leave on the tree as they will ripen early next year, and hopefully will be much larger!  They kind of needed a prune as some of them were growing very near to one another.

Soooo, I am looking forward to a few more home-grown figs.  Hopefully I will get loads as I have formed a group about setting up a vegan community in Portugal and have made loads of connections recently with like-minded people.

Best wishes,

Monday 7 November 2011

Cervical Cancer Rate Doubles in 20 somethings

Here's an interesting article about cervical cancer rates in younger ladies:-

Of course, this could be about misdiagnosis, but knowing the diet and lifestyle of majority of younger people in the West, it would hardly be surprising if this were true.

Best wishes,

Thursday 20 October 2011

50% Breast Cancer Misdiagnoses

What the Doctor's Don't Tell You are good at uncovering the dirt from the medical industry.  They say in their book that there are huge numbers of people who are wrongly diagnosed with cancer.  Here's more evidence to suggest this:-

Half of women told they have breast cancer when they don’t

19 October 2011
More than a half of women who don’t have breast cancer are told they do
have the disease because of a false reading from a routine mammogram
screening, new research has found.

Around 8 per cent of the women will also have an unnecessary biopsy –
which can cause permanent scarring - before discovering that they never
had breast cancer.

Researchers have discovered that around 61 per cent of women who have
an annual mammogram test for detecting breast cancer will get a
false-positive result – ‘detecting’ a cancer that isn’t there – at
least once during 10 years of screening.

The research team are suggesting that routine mammogram screening
should be reduced to once every two years and start when a woman
reaches the age of 50. In the US, screening still begins at 40 years.
By following their guidelines, false-positives could be reduced to 42
per cent, say the researchers of the Group Health Research Institute in

Mammogram screening among the under-50s currently picks up two cancers
for every 10,000 women screened – but also produces 170
false-positives, say the researchers.

(Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2011; 155: 481-92).

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Strange Article on AOL News


Even 'Cancer Research' UK (speech marks added on purpose) seem to refute this one!

 Bacteria link to bowel cancer

Jessica Laurence
Filed under: Health & wellbeing
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Bacteria link to bowel cancerAlamy
Scientists have said they believe a bacterium which causes tooth decay and skin ulcers could also be connected with bowel cancer.

The Fusobacterium has been identified in colon tumours by two different studies. Researchers told the Genome Research journal they did not yet know whether the bug's presence meant it was the cause of the cancer or not.

The bug has already been connected with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease which raises the risk of bowel cancer.

Over 100 people a day are diagnosed with bowel cancer every day and it is the third most common cancer in the UK. More than 80% of cases occur in people aged over 60.

Bacteria link to bowel cancerGetty
The first study, headed by Dr Robert Holt from Simon Fraser University in Canada, managed to identify Fusobacterium's signature in RNA (genetic material similar to DNA) found in bowel cancer tumours.

Dr Matthew Meyerson from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the US headed the other team, which discovered microbial sequences of DNA which indicated the presence of Fusobacterium.

Sarah Williams, of Cancer Research UK, told the BBC: "It's early days and we look forward to the results of more specific, in-depth studies."

"In the meantime, people can reduce their risk of bowel cancer by not smoking, cutting down on alcohol, keeping a healthy weight, being active, reducing the amount of red and processed meat in their diet and eating plenty of fibre."

Sunday 16 October 2011

Raw Nuts Have Arrived in England!


Welcome to my blog.  Exciting times are ahead.  At last I am getting to grips with modern technology!  First a Facebook page, now this!

Anyway, I am glad to say that this week, in our local supermarkets in Devon at least, we have seen the return of raw in-shell nuts including raw pecans, raw brazils, raw walnuts, raw hazelnuts, etc.  Do try to check the crop dates if they are on the pack as I know walnuts especially have been known to be last season's being sold!

If you are lucky enough to live/visit any areas where there are cobnuts or walnuts (or if you are even luckier and live in a warmer climate and can get fresh raw pistachios, etc. from trees) these will always be fresh and better.

Best of luck with your nutty adventures!

Best wishes,