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Health line

Briefs: Layoffs breed illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes

Losing a job is bad for your health

One might think the economic downturn would make us healthier since we can't afford vices like rich food and alcohol. But a new study indicates that losing your job, even briefly, can lead to new health problems. A researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health studied employment and health data from 8,125 individuals surveyed in 1999, 2001 and 2003 by the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Workers who lost a job through no fault of their own, she found, were twice as likely to report developing a new ailment like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease in the next year and a half, compared with people who were continuously employed. And the risk was just as high for those who found new jobs quickly as it was for those who remained unemployed. Only 6 percent of people with steady jobs developed a new health condition during each survey period of about a year and a half, compared with 10 percent of those who had lost a job during the same period.

Births to single moms keep rising

A new government report shows that though the rate of births to unmarried women in the United States has been rising sharply, it's way behind Northern European countries. About 4 in 10 U.S. births occur among unmarried women. Iceland is the leader with 6 in 10 births to unwed moms, and more than half of all births in Sweden and Norway are. The United States and at least 13 other industrialized nations have seen rates of unmarried births double and even triple since 1980, said Stephanie Ventura of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "The values surrounding family formation are changing," said Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C.

However it works, acupuncture helps

People experiencing chronic lower back pain who received acupuncture treatments fared better than those receiving only conventional care, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. And people receiving simulated acupuncture — toothpicks were used instead of needles — also fared better than those receiving conventional care. Western-style clinical trials (initially designed to test drugs) still can't explain how acupuncture actually works. What is known is that both acupuncture and sham acupuncture have been shown to elicit a positive effect. "This adds to the growing body of evidence that there is something meaningful taking place during acupuncture treatments outside of actual needling," said Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.

Compiled from Times wires

Briefs: Layoffs breed illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes 05/13/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 5:15pm]
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