Sure old Saint Nick is jolly, but honestly, with his lifestyle, the old guy should be six feet under by now. Just look at him! He’s a walking advertisement for almost every health crisis in the news – plus a few you might not even know about.
10. Probably an alcoholic. He’s got rosy cheeks and nose, right? Santa must be slamming back something in that sleigh. Alcohol use and abuse affect many organs in the body, and on the skin, it causes dilation of surface capillaries (tiny blood vessels), resulting in facial flushing and a pinkish-red hue to the cheeks. With chronic alcohol abuse of alcohol, the flushing never goes away. Think about it. Ever seen a picture of Santa without rosy cheeks? I thought so! But Santa may soon have a new drug to treat his drinking problem. A drug used to treat epileptic seizures seems to hold promise as a treatment for alcoholism.
A new study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the drug topiramate proved to be measurably better than a placebo at helping alcoholics stay away from heavy drinking. In the study of 371 alcoholics over 14 weeks, the percentage of heavy-drinking days per week dropped from 81.9 percent to 43.8 percent among those who took topiramate, but from 82 percent to only 51.8 percent among those who took a placebo. The drug isn’t cheap, and of course, there are side effects, but it doesn’t require you to go to rehab. Handy for Santa AND Lindsay. And Britney. And Mel. And God bless them, everyone.
9. Black lung disease. Think of how much coal dust Santa has inhaled over the years. Forget about all the lumps he has to pack up and deliver to naughty kids. It can’t be healthy to inhale all the junk inside chimneys. The inhalation and accumulation of coal dust into the lungs increases the risk of developing emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Coal dust can also increase the risk of developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Today it’s estimated that 1,500 former miners die of the black lung each year in the U.S. There’s no cure for it, and the only way to prevent black lung disease is to stop inhaling coal dust. Santa should think about wearing a face mask during his chimney time.
8) He’s STILL smoking that pipe. Let’s just assume all he puts in there is tobacco (of course that would explain why he’s so jolly…). A study by the American Cancer Society found that pipe smokers have higher death rates than nonsmokers, including higher death rates from lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The only good news is pipe smoking is a little bit better than cigarettes but about as bad as cigars.
7. He has to be diabetic. I know all the legions of little children mean well, but all those plates of cookies in every single household! Just think of Santa’s sugar numbers! And staying up all night doesn’t help either. A new Columbia University study published in the journal Sleep shows that too little sleep may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Sleeping an average of five hours or less increased the odds for diabetes onset by about 50% and the findings are consistent with evidence suggesting that short sleep duration increases insulin resistance and decreases glucose tolerance.
6. Lyme Disease from Donner and Blitzen. Or maybe Dasher and Dancer. No doubt the reindeer are carriers of the sheep tick, castor bean tick, European castor bean tick, black-legged tick or deer tick – all known carriers of Lyme Disease. Untreated or persistent cases of Lyme Disease may progress to a chronic form most commonly characterized by meningoencephalitis, cardiac inflammation and arthritis. How long will Santa be able to slide down that chimney easily? Oh, and thanks big guy, for driving your tick-covered reindeer all around the globe.
7. Morbidly obese. What is Mrs. Claus feeding this guy during the off-season? Sure he’s cuddly, but that belly like a bowl full of jelly needs to go. All that weight he’s carting around increases his risk of high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, high total cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, and some cancers. And poor Mrs. Claus – most likely chubby Santa suffers from sleep apnea and snores like a chainsaw. But there’s even more bad news: Santa could be suffering from prostrate cancer and not even know it.
6. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that obesity affects cancer screening and detection in obese men because the large volumes of plasma associated with being overweight dilute the circulation of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). If it’s not detected, it can’t be treated in time, because, according to researchers, “cancer is generally a progressive process, some of these undetected cancers will continue to grow and may present at a later point, when they are larger and more difficult to treat.” Santa, YOU better watch out.
5. Exposure to extreme cold and altitude. He can barely climb a roof – let alone Everest, but Santa is exposed to conditions that would make Tenzing Norgay shiver. Wind-chill on that sleigh exposes Santa to the dangers of hypothermia – a serious condition often accompanied by mental confusion where the sufferer doesn’t realize what is happening. Extreme hypothermia can lead to death in just a few hours. Somehow Santa manages to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) as well when he’s zipping around in the air. The most common symptoms of AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, vomiting, and insomnia. If the symptoms are ignored, life-threatening conditions such as High Altitude Cerebral and/or Pulmonary Edema can result.
4. Hordes of snotty-nosed kids in shopping malls. How many kids can Santa see each hour? Now multiply that by how many shopping malls across the globe? You just know a pretty high percentage of those little rug rats have drippy noses and slimy little fingers covered in cold and flu virus. And he hugs every single one.
3. According to internist Dr Kathleen Blair from the Great Falls Clinic in Montana, those little kids are probably contagious as long as they’re sniffling and sneezing. In fact, children with the flu are contagious for the first seven days they have symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the US up to 20% of the population will get the flu this season and about 36,000 will die. Let’s hope Santa isn’t one of them.
2. Sedentary 364 days of the year. When he’s active, he’s really active. But the fact is, Santa spends most of the year sitting in a big overstuffed Barcalounger. Either that or he’s riding a parade float, or sitting on his chair in the shopping mall. Not exactly regular exercise. But Santa isn’t alone. From 1950 to 2000, the number of Americans employed in low-activity occupations grew by 42.2 million. Studies show that for every two hours spent sitting at work, those workers increase their obesity risk by as much as 7 percent. Even changes as little as spending two minutes each hour sending e-mails to colleagues rather than two minutes walking to their offices can translate into more than a pound gained each year.
What happens when Santa Crashes his sleighWhat happens when Santa Crashes his sleigh
1. Macular degeneration. What really causes the twinkle in Santa’s eyes? Maybe he’s squinting. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Americans 65 years of age or older. In the worst cases, it causes a complete loss of central vision, making reading or driving impossible. Santa needs to start taking a vitamin with antioxidants and zinc to halt the progression of macular degeneration. Or pretty soon he won’t be able to make that list OR check it twice, much less drive the sleigh.