Pubdate: Mon, 3 Jan 2011
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Column: The YOU Docs
Copyright: 2011 San Antonio Express-News
Authors: Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D.


Don't let boutique-style dispensaries and a respectable new name - 
medical marijuana - blow smoke in your eyes. Marijuana has solid 
credentials for relieving serious problems such as cancer pain, 
nausea, anorexia and tough-to-ease nerve pain, but it's far from an 
all-purpose healer.

Here are some of its risks:

HEART STRAIN: In the hour after you smoke a joint, the danger of a 
heart attack rises five-fold because pot boosts levels of a compound 
called apolipoprotein III that keeps fats stuck in your bloodstream. 
Plus, pot revs up your heart rate.

BRAIN DRAIN: Plenty of people who use medical marijuana responsibly 
try to keep doses low (or use pills instead) to avoid the highs, 
spaciness and brain fog you get from smoking it. In one study, people 
with multiple sclerosis who smoked marijuana were 50 percent slower 
on a mental-processing test than nonsmokers. They also were more 
depressed and anxious.

WEAKENED IMMUNITY: THC - the ingredient in pot that eases pain and 
makes you high - is also a powerful immune-system downer.

LUNG DAMAGE: Smoking three to four joints a day may cause as much 
lung damage as smoking a pack of cigarettes. Long-term use doubles 
your odds for coughing, wheezing and chronic bronchitis.

So what are the safer alternatives? Start with the prescription pills 
that contain marijuana's active ingredients, particularly synthetic 
THC. And, a prescription mouth spray, already available in Canada and 
Europe, may be on the way.

Also, try eating your medicine instead of smoking it. Mix marijuana 
into baked goods or, if you live in a state where medical marijuana 
is legal, buy your supply at a marijuana bakery. Or consider a 
vaporizer, which in essence releases marijuana "smoke"; if you inhale 
the vapors, you get the active ingredients with fewer toxins, 
research suggests.

Four Ways to Get More Good Cholesterol

Good HDL acts like a plastic bag; it wraps up bits of LDL and totes 
them to your liver for disposal. Every 1-point rise in HDL reduces 
your odds of a fatal heart attack by 6 percent. A great HDL level is 
50 mg/dl and higher. How can you get yours into this range?

1 Eat healthy fats, as in walnuts, avocados, salmon, trout, and olive 
and canola oils. Adding monounsaturated fats to a healthy diet can 
raise your HDL by 12 percent.

2 Walk for 30 minutes a day and raise HDL by 9 percent. Add 20 
minutes of intense exercise three times a week to increase it further.

3 Lose weight if you need to. You'll add 1 HDL point for every 6.6 
pounds you drop.

4 Quit smoking. Besides its other payoffs, this will boost your HDL 
by 4 points.  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake