Cli­mate change ups men­tal health risk

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Health - Drs. Oz and Roizen

Q. I know that air pol­lu­tion and ris­ing tem­per­a­tures put us at a higher risk for asthma and heart dis­ease, but is it true that there’s also a height­ened risk for men­tal health prob­lems? — Jerome Q., Bronx, New York

A. Yes, ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and air pol­lu­tion ramp up the risks to your men­tal health and well­be­ing. Phys­i­cally, ris­ing temps put you at greater risk for dis­eases trans­mit­ted by ticks and mos­qui­toes, res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, heart dis­ease and stroke, Type 2 di­a­betes and bac­te­rial in­fec­tions from con­tam­i­nated water. That’s a big dent in phys­i­cal health and emo­tional well-be­ing. But that’s not all. The in­ci­dence of de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and other men­tal health is­sues is in­creased by ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, ac­cord­ing to a new study. Re­searchers at Ari­zona State Univer­sity looked at daily me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal data cou­pled with in­for­ma­tion from nearly 2 mil­lion Amer­i­cans from 2002-2012, and found that liv­ing in hot­ter tem­per­a­tures wors­ens men­tal health; mul­ti­year warm­ing and ex­po­sure to hur­ri­canes (and over­all in­creased pre­cip­i­ta­tion) is also linked to wors­en­ing emo­tional well-be­ing. In fact, warm­ing of 1.8 de­grees Fahrenheit over five years is as­so­ci­ated with a 2 per­cent in­crease in the preva­lence of men­tal health is­sues. Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, for ex­am­ple, was as­so­ci­ated with a 4 per­cent in­crease in men­tal health prob­lems. Women and low-in­come Amer­i­cans are es­pe­cially af­fected.

So how can YOU pro­tect your­self and your fam­ily from the ef­fects of some­thing you can’t do any­thing about on a na­tional level right now? Well, you can con­trol much in your lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment, and you can pro­tect your health by fol­low­ing these tips:

1. Get reg­u­lar check­ups .If you or your chil­dren de­velop short­ness of breath (bad air will do that), it could be from asthma, which can be ef­fec­tively treated if caught early. In adults, it also might sig­nal car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, which can be con­trolled with early in­ter­ven­tion.

2. Eat be­tween seven and nine serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles daily, and say “no” to pro­cessed foods, added sug­ars and red meats. A healthy im­mune sys­tem, stress man­age­ment and a nur­tured gut biome help main­tain a healthy body and mind.

3. Ex­er­cise reg­u­larly —60 min­utes most days. Get­ting your ac­tiv­ity in a tree-filled park of­fers cleaner air and is nat­u­rally de­stress­ing. It’s ever more im­por­tant, men­tally and phys­i­cally, to go to such places to get your

10,000 daily steps.

Q. My brother was on a wait list for a liver trans­plant, and was lucky to re­ceive one. But the donor was an opi­oid over- dose vic­tim. He seems OK so far, but isn’t get­ting a liver from some­one who over­dosed a big risk? — Scott M., Or­lando

A. It may not be as risky as you think. Yes, there is a dis­ease risk as­so­ci­ated with this or­gan do­na­tion pool, but they are tested for HIV/AIDS and other com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, and there’s some very re­as­sur­ing new re­search on the safety of this.

Just re­cently, the med­i­cal di­rec­tor at the Univer­sity of Utah Heart Trans­plant Pro­gram re­searched heart and lung trans­plan­ta­tions and found that af­ter one year (when com­pli­ca­tions are most likely to show up), there was no dif­fer­ence in the sur­vival rates of peo­ple who re­ceived heart and lungs from ca­dav­ers of opi­oid over­dose vic­tims and those who re­ceived them from donors who died from blunt force trauma.

This bodes well for trans­plan­ta­tion of other or­gans from peo­ple who have OD’d. When some­one dies from an opi­oid over­dose, the lungs and heart are the or­gans ini­tially af­fected by the loss of oxy­gen. If they’re still healthy enough to be trans­planted then, say the re­searchers, they ex­pect that liver and kid­ney trans­plants from peo­ple who’ve OD’d also will be safe.

More than 13 per­cent of all or­gans trans­planted in the U.S. now come from peo­ple who died of a drug over­dose, up from about 1 per­cent in 2000. And there’s been a ten­fold (some re­ports say twenty-four­fold) in­crease in avail­able donor or­gans. That’s im­por­tant news for the 11,000 peo­ple who die ev­ery year while wait­ing for an or­gan trans­plant.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Well­ness Of­fi­cer and Chair of Well­ness In­sti­tute at Cleve­land Clinic.

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