Health and Safety

My Asthma Overdiagnosis Story

With great interest I read this CBC article about the fact many Canadians diagnosed with asthma don't in fact have it. This was my experience with my firstborn.

Weeks before his second birthday, my oldest ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. I spent five nights sleeping on that cot while we watched old VHS tapes of Sponge Bob Squarepants. During this stay, an asthma specialist at St. Joseph's Health Center diagnosed my son with asthma and prescribed two inhalers. One of these inhalers was to be taken by my son every morning, so we started him getting used to this new ritual.

Coincidentally, and sadly, his pediatrician at this time died suddenly from an aggressive form of cancer. We switched him to a new pediatrician and I'll never forget the convo I had with him, only a few months after James's asthma diagnosis.

Doc: He only had pneumonia the once?
Me: Yes
Doc: And there's no other difficulty breathing?
Me: Correct
Doc: And the doctor diagnosed him with asthma and prescribed this puffer to be taken daily?
me: Yes
Doc: He doesn't have asthma (proceeds to throw inhaler in garbage). He doesn't need this treatment.

This was about 12 years ago, and there hasn't been a symptom of asthma since. The doc who made the original diagnosis was well regarded in his field but time has proven him wrong. I'm not at all surprised to read about studies like this Dutch one. More than 600 children diagnosed as having asthma were examined and it was found nearly 54 per cent likely did not have it.

I am not a doctor, but if your child has been diagnosed with asthma, you may want to get a second opinion. And then, if it's all tied up, a third opinion. Inhalers have negative side-effects. You don't want your kid taking one every day if they don't have to.

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The Processed Meat Cancer Panic

You've likely heard by now that the WHO announced that eating processed meats leads to cancer. The media is having a field day with this confirmation, pointing out that eating bacon is now in the same classification bucket as smoking. Scary!

The fact is, the WHO classifies carcinogens by how sure they are that it causes cancer. They're certain about processed meat, hence the link to cigarettes. The media keeps forgetting to mention this detail.

Usually at the very end of the "hot dogs cause cancer" report, the media will mention that eating hot dogs isn't akin to smoking. If you dive into the IARC's report, you'll realize that panic isn't really necessary.

Taken crudely, the IARC’s report suggests that eating 50g of bacon every day would raise your risk from 64 in 100,000 to 72 in 100,000, or from 0.064% to 0.072%. Over a lifetime, your risk is about 5%, according to the NHS; eating 50g of processed meat a day will raise that to about 6%.

For comparison, research on smoking and cancer found that men who smoked 25 cigarettes a day were 24 times higher risk of developing lung cancer, or a 2,400% increase.

There are actually few things in this world that do not lead to cancer. So relax, and remember moderation is the key.


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Easier Isn't Always Better

I discovered this video by Dr. Mike Evans via Twitter. He wants us to make our day harder, and it's music to my ears. Here's the video... I'll share more of my thoughts after the jump.

I really like this video because it jives with most of what I already practice. Before going anywhere, I ask myself if I can walk or bike it. If I can, that's exactly what I do. It's non-negotiable.

I also use a push mower, manual snow shovel and stairs whenever possible. It's a decision I've made to make some things harder because easier isn't always better. All of these examples show up in the video.

I haven't gone to the extreme, I still own a car and drive it when necessary, but I've made a concerted effort to "tweak my week". Let's make our day harder.

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What is This Gym You Speak Of?

What is This Gym You Speak Of?Lots of people go to the gym. I'll bet many of you have a gym membership and go regularly. I have never been to the gym. Not even once.

Feel free to insert your jokes about my tiny muscles here. It's true, I don't lift. I probably should, but if I start weight lifting, it'll likely be something I do at home. Because I know myself, and I know I'm not a gym guy.

I exercise daily, for at least 45 minutes, and I live an active life. If I can walk somewhere, I'll walk. If I can bike somewhere, I'll bike. I'm always playing catch with the kids or soccer in the backyard. I think I'm in pretty good shape, but it's all gym-free.

Do you have a gym membership? Do you use it regularly?

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Don't Worry About Ebola, Worry About the Flu

Flu ShotsThere's lots of chatter about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and if social media is to be believed, even many North Americans feel threatened.

I'm not your doctor, or your dad (unless your name is James, Michelle or Jarvis in which case I might be your dad), but I care about you and the herd immunity. I'd like you to stop worrying about Ebola and get a flu shot instead.

Here's Dr. Agus on Howard Stern telling him what he should do to live a longer life. As you'll hear in this 23-second clip, it's a no-brainer. It won't just help prevent you from getting the flu today, it will reduce your chance of getting cancer and heart disease in the future.

Direct MP3 link

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Why Haven't You Registered to Donate Your Organs and Tissue?

trilliumOnly 2.96 million out of an eligible 11.74 million people in Ontario have registered to donate their organs. That sucks.

I wrote this entry over 8 years ago so there's no doubt as to my wishes when I die. My family knows that my organs and tissue are available to anyone who needs them once I pass. I certainly won't be needing them.

If you haven't yet registered to donate your organs because you don't want to, I'm curious as to why? Why wouldn't someone want to donate their organs and tissue upon their death?

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Do You Smoke?

Do You Smoke?I just read that 40 million Americans still smoke. I was surprised the number was that large.

Do you smoke?

If you still smoke, have you ever tried to quit?

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Dementia: When Loved Ones Die Twice

Dementia: When Loved Ones Die TwiceI touched on this briefly during episode 78 of Toronto Mike'd, but after burying my grandmother yesterday, I'm in the mood to elaborate.

My grandmother died on Saturday, but I didn't shed a tear. After all, I had said my goodbyes years earlier.

In a sense, my grandmother died twice. First we lost her person, and this weekend we lost her body. My grandmother had dementia.

In her mid-80s, she completely lost her short-term memory. She'd literally call me, talk to me, and call back 5 minutes later as if she never called in the first place. This could result in dozens and dozens of calls in the span of an hour or two. At least when you spoke to her, she knew who you were and where she was.

About eight or nine years ago, her dementia advanced to a point where she didn't know who I was or where she was. She was in a long-term care facility, and my visits caused her such anxiety and distress I started going less often. At some point, I said my final goodbyes and mourned the loss of Grandma. Although her heart continued to beat, the woman we knew and loved was gone.

So yesterday, during the visitation, funeral and burial, I didn't feel sadness. I already experienced that emotion years ago when we lost her the first time.

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How I'm Eating My Greens

How I'm Eating My GreensIt's always been a challenge for me to eat my vegetables. I've always loved fruits and hated veggies. I wish I were a salad guy, but I'm not, so I've found a new way to eat green vegetables every day.

I throw them in a smoothie. My wife started doing this when she became pregnant, and I finally decided to join her. Now I love it and it's become a daily ritual.

First, everything goes in the blender. Yesterday we had kale, spinach, mango, blueberries, oranges, banana, greek yogurt and flax seed. And ice, adding ice at the end makes it better.


Then, we blend it.


Then, we drink it. It's yummy!


Kale is a staple of our smoothies, because of its many health benefits, but we'll add different vegetables depending upon what's in the fridge. The other day we added broccoli. If you're like me and you just don't like broccoli, this is definitely the way to go.

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Steve Anthony + Monster Truck Tire = Hip Replacement Surgery

Steve Anthony + Monster Truck Tire = Hip Replacement SurgeryFormer MuchMusic VJ Steve Anthony is now a host on CP24. This past weekend, while promoting the monster truck show at the dome, he decided to drop-kick a monster truck tire live on the air.

Here's the footage:

If Steve looked like he was in some pain, that's because he was. He's since had to have hip replacement surgery.

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