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Alcohol Cuts Risk of Arthritis: Study

Thursday, July 29, 2010

by Iona Craig
Bloomberg News

LONDON (Jul 29, 2010)
Regular alcohol consumption provided protection against rheumatoid arthritis and its painful effects, British researchers found in the first study to show the link in humans.

Nondrinkers were four times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who drank alcohol on more than 10 days a month, according to the research published online this week by the journal Rheumatology. Arthritis patients who drank regularly had less severe symptoms than non-drinkers, the study found.

There is no known cause or cure for rheumatoid arthritis. The disease occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and swelling and potentially leading to severe disability and early death.

"Alcohol may also have a mild painkilling effect," said James Maxwell, a rheumatologist and author of the study. "X-rays showed there was less damage to joints, blood tests showed lower levels of inflammation and there was less joint pain, swelling and disability" among drinkers.

His report cited previous research using ethanol and mice, which pointed to testosterone as a potential link to the inflammation-fighting effects, as levels of the hormone rose in line with increased ethanol consumption. Ethanol is the intoxicating component of alcoholic beverages.

The findings supported Scandinavian research published in June 2008 showing that alcohol consumption reduced the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by 40 to 50 per cent.

More research is needed to determine how that process works, the researchers said.

from The Hamilton Spectator on Thursday, July 29, 2010

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CEGRUBE 1/2/2011 10:55AM

    Hmmmm? I'll drink to that! emoticon

I'm going to make sure I bring this information to my rheumatologist. emoticon

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JHADZHIA 7/29/2010 8:27PM

    Maybe why men don't get the disease as much as women because they have testosterone.
Alcohol also can lead to obesity as inhibitions are lowered and people eat more.
I have never liked alcohol and never will, rates right up there with coffee for tasting gross.
Thanks for sharing this article with us!

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BKWERM 7/29/2010 12:50PM

    Well, I hardly ever drink so maybe that's why I got rheumatoid arthritis! Who knew that alcohol might have prevented it...

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CLYN204 7/29/2010 12:11PM

I read that using wine was good for you, but this is the first positive response I have heard about hard liquor.

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BALLOUZOO 7/29/2010 12:00PM

    Interesting. Did you know a lot of the people who live to be over 100 drink in moderation?

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Good stretching DVD for people w/mobility issues

Friday, July 16, 2010

David Carradine's Shaolin Cardio Kick Boxing - I got this one out of the library and the "cardio" is a misnomer. I only burned 145 calories in 40 minutes. I was really looking forward to another kickboxing DVD because I really enjoy kickboxing.

On the over hand, I've been looking for a good standing stretching DVD and this one was good for that so if you want a DVD that's more like Tai Chi/standing yoga then this is a good one (there's no floorwork and no dumbbells used).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JHADZHIA 7/16/2010 10:51AM

    It doesn't help that Carradine is just a TV and movie star that has had basic training for his shows and not a real martial artist. I love high intensity kick boxing videos and so far Kathy Smith's Cardio Knockout beats anything.
I do like Weight Loss Cardio kick with Violet Zaki as she does use weights in her program.
I would have tried Sharon Mann's kickboxing as I really like her circuit training video, but it was given poor reviews as being too short and just a patchwork of her TV shows, too bad..
Thanks for the review! Hope you have a great Friday!

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1888MICHELLE 7/16/2010 7:29AM

    Thanks!! I love stretching!!

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An Ode to My Mum

Sunday, May 09, 2010

My mother was born in 1929 in Windsor, Ontario where she lived until she was 9 years old. On the day that she was born, her identical twin sister, Barbara was also born. And, interestingly enough, they were symmetrical. They were each born blind in one eye. My mum was blind in her left eye and Aunt Barbara was born blind in her right eye. When they got older (over 50), they both became deaf in opposing ears. And, there was something symmetrical about their ovaries, too, but I don't remember what.

When they were school age, teachers often accused them of cheating on tests because they always wrote the exact same words for their answers but even when they were put in separate rooms to write, this happened so it was finally concluded that they weren't cheating.

When my mum was 9, they moved to Toronto because my Grandpa needed to find work and there was more work to be had in Toronto.

By this time, my mum and Aunt Barbara also had a younger brother, Bob who could do no wrong in his mother's eyes!

Both my mum and my aunt had very poor vision. Their parents weren't well off and couldn't afford to get them glasses. So, they always sat at the front of the classroom and did their best. When they played baseball in gym class and it was their turn at bat, the outfielders sat down. That must have been really humiliating.

When they turned 18, my grandparents were finally able to afford to get them glasses and my mum said that she was most amazed by the sight of leaves on the trees. She had never known they were separate; she thought they were just green blobs on the top of trees!

My mum wanted to be a teacher so when she was old enough, she enrolled at the University of Toronto and studied to be a teacher. Along the way, she started smoking and in her 4th year, she met my dad and decided that he would be her husband one day.

My mum and dad got married on December 21, 1957, which as some people might recall is the longest night of the year and they got a lot of ribbing about that. They went to New Liskeard, Ontario for their honeymoon because my dad had a friend there who was out of town and was willing to lend his apartment to them.

My mum's first teaching job was at Parkdale Collegiate in Toronto teaching high school English. One of her students was named Bonnie Dobson who later recorded an album that included the song that she wrote called "Morning Dew", which was made famous by The Grateful Dead. Here's a link to her singing it:


Unfortunately, in 1960, she had to leave her job here when she got pregnant with me because pregnant women weren't allowed to teach in those days.

Another job that my mum had as teacher was in Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario teaching high school English and weirdly enough, women's hockey. My mum who had never played an organised sport in her life had to learn how to skate in order to coach the women's hockey team.

She was a high school English teacher for most of her life ending her career teaching at Hillfield-Strathallan, a private school here in Hamilton, Ontario.

She also taught English at night school at both Mohawk College and McMaster University.

Over the years, she had 4 more daughters in 1962, 1963 and 1968. The ones born in 1968 were the deciding factor that a son wasn't meant to be since she thought she WAS having a son because when the ultrasound was done, they doctor only heard one heartbeat and because it was so strong, they figured it had to be a boy. But on April Fools Day, 1968, identical twin girls were born and it was deduced that they must have been cocooned together and it was their two heartbeats heard in conjunction that the doctor had heard.

I loved it when the twins were born. It was like having real, live dolls to play with. My mum sometimes kept me home from school so that I could help her and often during the night when they woke up to be fed, it was me who got up with my mum and not my dad because he slept through their crying.

From about 1968 to 1974, my parents co-authored some English textbooks called Wish and Nightmare, Circle of Stories One and Circle of Stories Two, The Garden and the Wilderness, The Temple and the Ruin and The Peaceable Kingdom that were published by Harcourt-Brace.

When I was in high school was not a good time for me and my mother. We fought about everything. It's a time in my life when I'd prefer to forget how I treated her. And, it must have been a hard time for her, too for other reasons like the fact that her mum died in 1975 and that my dad's career as an English professor and academic at McMaster University was taking off and the fact that he had a new best friend who treated my mum like crap and my dad let him get away with it and even though, I didn't treat my mum very well at that point in time, I didn't let this friend get away with talking to my mum the way he did and I never liked him because of it. Thank god, he's long gone.

I started smoking at 15 and my dad blamed my mum and said it was because she smoked that I started smoking but it wasn't although it did make it easier to hide but my mum ended up quitting smoking when I was 18 to encourage me to quit but unfortunately, I didn't manage to quit until 10 years later.

When my grandma died in 1975, I was 15 and had just started smoking. My mum told me that if I quit smoking, she would use her inheritance from her mum to take me to Scotland (where her parents were from), England and France and because I really wanted to go, I told her that I had quit but I hadn't (bad me). I'd like to say that we had a great time but I'm not sure it was but it certainly was memorable.

Her twin sister lived in London, England so that's where we went first. I was appalled at how her sons and husband treated her. It made the way I treated my mum look a whole lot better. Her kids and husband called her a "f*cking cow" to her face and no one said anything. It was awful. I felt so much better about my life and my mum after that. It was weird to see how much the two sisters still looked alike except that Aunt Barbara was heavier and spoke with a British accent.

From London, we went to Oxford to visit with a friend of my mum's and her two teenage sons with whom, I immediately got crushes on. They were soooo cute... AND they had British accents. What more could a girl want?

From Oxford, we took the train to Glasgow, Scotland. When we passed Loch Ness, my mum despaired of me because I wouldn't look out the window to try and see the monster because I was engrossed in reading "Gone With the Wind".

In Glasgow, we were met at the train by my mum's Uncle Arthur and Aunt Bessie (Uncle Arthur was my Grandma's brother). They took us to their house in Campbeltown, which was quite close to Paul McCartney's house in the Mull of Kintyre. Aunt Bessie fed us scones and cookies and cakes like she thought we were starving to death!

After Glasgow, we travelled to Edinburgh and went to Edinburgh Castle and saw the Edinburgh Tattoo! I don't remember any specifics but I remember that it was quite impressive and I LOVED the castle.

From Edinburgh, we travelled back down to London in order to catch the plane to Paris, France.

The only things I remember about France were the cool airport that looked futuristic with its moving sidewalks (which are quite common now but weren't back then), the fact that we didn't go to the Louvre because I thought I hated art and a guy who looked like Cannon (from the TV show) who tried to pick up my mum.

Fortunately, my the time I hit my 20s, my mum and I started to get along better. After I got married, we did a lot of things together.

She once took me and my two youngest sisters to Barbados for a week. And, I took her to Cuba for a week. She took me to Ste. Anne's Spa (where I'm going this week for my 50th birthday) and I took her to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. We often met for lunch or dinner and she was always my biggest supporter.

She was a voracious reader. She read two newspapers daily (The Globe & Mail and The Hamilton Spectator) and she also had a subscription to The New Yorker and she read one book every two days. She loved reading.

In regards to her career, not only was she a high school English teacher but when I was 16, she became a trustee on the Wentworth County Board of Education and when I was 17, she became Chair.

She and my dad both loved travelling and did quite a lot of it even after she was diagnosed with lung cancer (ironic since she had quit smoking almost 20 years earlier). She and my dad travelled to St. Lucia and Barbados and Italy during the last two years of her life.

I vividly remember the day that she called to tell me that the doctor had found a spot on her lung and it might be cancer. I had just had a huge argument with my husband and he had gone upstairs to sulk. And, after I got off the phone, I was crying and I went upstairs to tell him and without even looking up, he asked me what the hell I wanted and I didn't say anything just kept crying and he finally looked up and was immediately all contrition wondering what was wrong and I told him and he just held me.

The next day, I needed to see my mum. I needed to hug her and tell her I loved her so I called my boss and told him that a personal emergency had come up and I wouldn't be in that day and I drove to my parents' house and spent the day with my mum.

My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 1996. She decided that Jake (DH) and I needed to live closer to her so she gave us our inheritance from her early in order to buy a house closer to her. She actually found our first house for us. It went up for sale on the Monday and she called to tell me and that night we did a drive-by and the next day, we saw inside and that night we put our offer in on it, which was accepted. In April 1997, we moved in and now we were 3 doors down from my parents house on the opposite side of the road.

My mum lasted until November 1998. It was a long, hard battle and we all hoped that she would beat it but she didn't. I still miss her everyday especially on Mothers Day, which we often shared since I was born on May 12. She was my best friend and my biggest supporter and I loved her more than anyone in the whole wide world.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAINOF4 5/15/2010 5:13PM

    I loved reading about your mom & your childhood. How fun and interesting. Are the books your parents wrote still in circulation? I'd love to read them. It's always fascinating to learn about other peoples' families.

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JHADZHIA 5/9/2010 9:24PM

    Your Mom has had an interesting life! Unfortunately, it always seems the teen years are hardest on relationships with the parents. At least you were able to mend fences later on and enjoy going on some trips together. That was just awful your Mom's sister's family being like that toward her (and here I always thought the British were all about manners) Glad it opened your eyes!!
At least you were close in her final years. You have memories to cherish, even as it makes you sad on this special day for Moms.. I don't take any day I have with my Mom for granted.. Your birthday is one day before my brother's!
emoticon emoticon

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CONNIELEE54 5/9/2010 4:33PM

    This was BEAUTIFUL! I was so enamoured as your Mom's eyesight and mine were quite similar, and there were also several other interesting parallels.
When I first got my glasses at aged 7, the first things I remember delighting in were the pebbles on the ground, blades of grass and the leaves in the trees! (Believe me, when U discover them for the first time they are so exciting, lovely and awesome!!!)
I was a teacher, too,and am just retired.
My daughter and I were enjoying reading this blog, about you, your Mom, and your travels, as we also wish to see at least, England, Ireland. Scotland and Wales...and any other places we can eventually get to...!!!!
I loved my Mom dearly and shared a little about her on one of the Idaho Team's Discussion Boards, just today.
I feel like I didn't respect her as much as I should have during some of my teenage years, so I hear what you are saying, there.
My siblings and I share similar birthdays with yours,except I am a bit older as I was born in '54.
My daughter and I were both saying how it was a good thing that you moved close to your Mum when she became ill--you got to be close to her in her last year. Good, God's blessings on you for being there for her!!
Thank you for this very lovely and interesting tribute. Here's wishing a Happy Mother's Day to YOU!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Calorie Range According to SparkPeople

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I know that I have struggled to understand why SparkPeople has given me the range that they did especially since I find it so hard to lose weight with that range. But, that said, I do more or less try to stick with it and in the last 2-1/2 years, I've lost 11 pounds. Do I wish that I was the type of person who could lose 50 pounds a year? Absolutely! But, is that realistic for me seeing that I have a chronic disease (rheumatoid arthritis) for which I take several drugs that may cause weight gain and since I'm in menopause and my metabolism has slowed down considerably? So, I should be happy with what I have.

But, I do have concerns about some of my team members and their calorie range. I have one member on my team who appears to regularly eat less than 1200 calories. Research shows that people who regularly eat less than 1200 calories daily may initially lose a lot of weight but soon their bodies will enter starvation mode and the weight loss will slow down or completely stop because their bodies are storing fat so that they don't die. Here's what SparkPeople says:

The SparkPeople program will NOT allow any female to eat less than 1,200 calories daily or any male to eat less than 1,500 calories daily.

When calories drop too low (usually below 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men), your body’s protection mechanism switches on because the body thinks it is starving. In order to conserve energy, the body lowers your metabolism and you will not burn calories as quickly. This results in a slower weight loss rate, or sometimes prohibits any weight loss from occurring.

At SparkPeople we call this “Starvation Mode”. When your caloric intake falls below these levels, it is also extremely difficult to obtain all the nutrients that your body needs for health and survival. These very low calorie intakes can also lead to other health problems such as eating disorders, gout, gallstones, and heart complications.

So, I hope that the team members that are doing this have a look at this complete article from SparkPeople and figure out what they should really be eating:


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAINOF4 5/3/2010 1:30AM

    It is indeed very hard to make those big changes to our bodies when we're already battling chronic disease.

I'm guilty of not eating enough on a daily basis. And it's my meds that do it - I often have no appetite or feel too sick to eat. And sometimes when I DO eat I end up throwing up anyway. It's really hard to get those calories in & I know it's what's slowing down my own weight loss.

Thank you for reminding us ofthe importance of FOOD!

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LDAWSON61 5/2/2010 9:29PM

  Congratulations on what you have accomplished! Yes, like you, it seems like the weight is coming off slowly, but it is coming off and should stay off. Best of luck continuing your journey!

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JHADZHIA 5/2/2010 4:50PM

    I know where you are coming from Joanna. My weight went off slowly too. The people who are going too low in calories justify it by saying they are really short, fine boned etc. Time will tell. I am really quite rigid staying in the range. If I see I am under, I will eat something to make it up, even if I don't feel like it! 1440 -1790 is fairly easy to stay in.

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JACOBSS914 5/2/2010 3:24PM

    Way to go Joanna call us out on the carpet, LOL. No in reality you are correct and I love your concern about your team members. So way to go for being a caring and compassionate team leader. emoticon

I have fought with this, also, and am now at 1950-2300 which seems like a lot but I think it is closer to where I needed to be. I had my calorie burn rate tested about a year ago, and it was at 2750 to support my body, so the 500 down, is 2250. Now if it would just let me break the 240 lbs., mark I have been fighting for 3 months I would be happy. Mentally this 240 thing is really getting to me.

RA is a tough one as you know, but way to go on sticking with the program. emoticon

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P0KERS0PH 5/2/2010 3:03PM

    I too would be concerned if I knew anyone that ate that low. It's unhealthy, and will ultimately do more harm than good over a long period.

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Pyjama Party!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So, my sister is having a pyjama party on Saturday night for a few of her friends and me. Here's what the invitation says:

"What you need to know:

No boys allowed!!!!
Anyone who arrives without pjs will either be sent home or forced bodily into a pair of my old pjs (which are really ugly). Pjs compulsory!!!

Please also bring a bedroom pillow (for the pillow fight), teddy bear or other stuffed animal, sleeping bag to lounge on, and your favourite pj party paraphernalia from your youth (the mid to late 70s for me and the late 70s to early 80s for the rest of them) -- possibilities include chips, chocolate, glittery nail polish, pictures of cute boys, cheesy magazines, hair accessories, make-up kits, haagen daaz, ouija boards, sissy drinks, retro greatest hits CDs, tapes or LPs and party games.

I don't expect you to sleep over, but we should spend time lounging around on sleeping bags where we'll talk about our first periods, play truth or dare, practise our levitation and hypnosis skills, make prank phone calls to the loved ones we left at home, have tickle fights, tell ghost stories, do silhouette tracings of each other's hands and feet on paper and then colour them, and indulge in any other especially giggly pj past-times. Other possible activities include giving each other back or foot rubs, fixing each other's hair, painting each other's toe or fingernails, and choreographing our favourite songs. (Does anyone have a karaoke machine?) All activities optional. You're only young once, but you can be immature forever."

So, I don't have a sleeping bag and I'm really not the frivolous/silly kind of person so I'm not planning on bringing a pillow for the pillow fight but I am planning on bringing some music that I liked in the 70s and maybe some quasi-junk food (I'm thinking popcorn and chocolate milk), maybe a Tiger Beat magazine and I used to love True Confessions magazine and a stuffed animal but I can't decide which one so I'm going to post my choices and maybe, you can help me decide. This is Hyacinth, my Barbadian female rabbit:

And, this one is Aristotle and Aristotle Junior (Gund):

And, this one is Fozzie Bear:

And, here's a group photo:

Any help would be appreciated.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BSKTCON 4/17/2010 12:46PM

    I'd take Fozzie. He just looks like he's ready for a party. I've had these parties with my two sisters, my three teen-age nieces and my three grown daughters. We laugh until we're weak! You will have a BLAST. You say that you have never been frivolous or silly...well I think it's time that you turn over a new leaf and BECOME frivolous and silly! Come out of your shell...let yourself go...do things you've never done before. Obviously, since you are on this site, you are making positive changes in your life. Some of the most positive experiences I have ever had have been while being "silly" with my besties. Get your "silly" self to that party, and ROCK THE HOUSE! You deserve to let go and enjoy yourself and your friends. You ARE worth it! You'll be so glad you did! I can't wait to hear about the party. Please post about it!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    "You're only young once, but you can be immature forever" I love that line.

Have a great time, and I vote for Fozzie too.

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JHADZHIA 4/13/2010 10:04PM

    2nd that Fozzie bear!! He is so cute! I would bring the pillow! I am not into silly stuff either (I don't even own a stuffed animal!) but every once in a while, you do have to let your hair down and act freely and wildly (its the best stress reliever!!).
Wow I remember doing levitation, and it really worked! We also did hypnosis and that worked as well! Our PJ party got kiboshed however, when the glass candle jar exploded :( That was my first and last party lol. I used to do Tiger Beat, that is still around?? 70's is my music! Would enjoy being there very much! Its a wonderful idea, and you should just relax and enjoy it!
Good for your sister! Acting young and having a youthful attitude will keep your spirit young!

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CINDYMCD1 4/13/2010 6:33PM

    Fozzie Bear! Have a great time! That sounds like so much fun!

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