Painkiller

  1. The health benefits of music

    Looks like the savage beast isn't the only thing music can soothe: A good tune can also help ease pain.

    Of course, that's not too much of a surprise since many people already use music to soothe both physical and mental pain -- but the latest research shows how there's one group of folks in particular who stand to benefit the most.

    And if you're the type that finds yourself getting anxious at the very thought of pain -- the type who breaks out into a sweat even thinking about a routine dental cleaning, for example -- then get the headphones out and fire up some tunes, because music might be better than a painkiller for you.

    In the new study, researchers sent painful jolts of electricity through the fingertips of 143 volunteers and measured their levels of pain as they listened to music. The volunteers were also told to pay attention to the music by focusing on certain melodies and listening for specific tones.

    And it worked: Pain levels went down as the musical concentration went up for at least some of the patients.

    But it didn't quite work for everyone. In fact, people who didn't have much anxiety over pain didn't get much of a benefit -- and I'm guessing it's because these folks probably don't feel the same levels of pain either.

    Pain, after all, is as much mental as it is physical -- and that's why people who get anxious over it stand to benefit the most.

    And if that's you, the researchers behind the new study say be sure to pick music that will hold your interest. Because, let's face it, that's rarely going to be the sleepy office Muzak and "light FM" droning in the background of most medical clinics.

    So next time you have a medical or dental appointment, bring your own music player and a pair of headphones (as long as it's allowed in the room, of course). Tune in to your tunes... and tune out the pain.

  2. The everyday pill that'll wreck your vision

    An aspirin a day won't do much for your heart, but it can do plenty for your eyes -- and not in a good way.

    The latest research finds that the painkiller-a-day advice pushed by decades of TV commercials -- not to mention docs across the country -- could double your risk of battling the leading cause of blindness in seniors.

    Dutch researchers looked at data on some 4,700 seniors across Europe and found that 4 percent of daily aspirin users suffered late-stage wet advanced macular degeneration, versus 2 percent of those who didn't take the pills.

    The researchers didn't find a link to the dry form of the disease or the earlier stages of it -- but I don't think the 1.6 million American seniors losing their vision to AMD care much: If cutting down on aspirin is a way to avoid the worst of the worst, then be sure to cut down on the aspirin.

    But that's not the advice you'll get from the mainstream. In fact, the researchers behind the study claim the risk of vision loss is perfectly fine next to the supposed benefits of daily aspirin.

    "A healthy eye with full visual capacities is of no use in a dead body," one of the researchers told Reuters.

    Just one little problem here: The idea that aspirin saves lives is a lot of made-for-TV-commercials marketing hype -- not a scientific reality.

    One study I told you about last year looked at 3,350 men and women at high risk of heart disease who were given either a placebo or a daily aspirin, and found absolutely no difference in the rate of heart attacks, stroke, angina or even revascularization surgery.

    Another study, a review of six other studies, found only a tiny reduction in heart attacks among patients taking aspirin for primary prevention -- but a huge leap in the number of side effects such as serious internal bleeding issues.

    If vision loss, internal bleeding and ulcers aren't enough risk, one study even found that daily aspirin use could cause you to lose one of your other senses, too: Researchers say men between the ages of 45 and 50 who take daily aspirin have a higher risk of hearing loss.

    Aspirin has also been linked to tiny "microbleeds" in the brain, tinnitus, allergic reactions, erection problems and more -- but that doesn't mean you can't lower your risk of a heart attack with a single pill every day.

    Just make sure that pill contains fish oil instead of painkillers.

  3. Painkillers linked to penis problems

    Common painkillers may chase the aches away... but they might send something else along for the ride: Your sex life.

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