Friday, May 21, 2010

Of medicines, music, murder and mayhem

Sounds like a strange combination, doesn't it? But three news articles kinda melded together in my mind, in a weird sort of mental mish-mash, and that headline was the result.

It began with a Swedish report that headache pills can actually cause chronic headaches.

Overuse of common over-the-counter painkillers can cause chronic headaches, according to an ongoing Swedish study.

Women are shown to be the worst hit by the problem with the chronic headaches three times as likely than among men.

"We usually call this a paradox. We don't know for certain what the reason is, but taking medicine more that ten days per month over at least three months carries a greater risk of being afflicted," said Pernilla Jonsson, a researcher at Gothenburg University, to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

. . .

According to the results of the study so-called triptans, used for the treatment of migraine headaches [since] the 1980s, tend to cause the most rapid onset of chronic headaches, while regular medicines such as Alvedon are the most common cause.

The researchers, at the Department of Social Medicine at Gothenburg University, warn that the phenomenon could develop into a public health issue and cause significant costs to society.

. . .

Jonsson explained that the most commonly suggested treatment for the condition is to scale down the use of painkillers which in turn prompts a short-term side effect of increased headaches and pain.

There's more at the link.

Interesting . . . but on the same Web site, there was another medical report that made my eyebrows rise into my (receding) hairline.

Singing is a popular pursuit in the Nordic countries and while it is often associated with alcohol consumption it can also have positive health effects - such as easing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Swedish research suggests.

Previous studies have demonstrated the beneficial psychological and biological effects of singing, with associated feelings of relaxation, energy and joy. An inter-university Swedish study has set out to test whether there were any additional stress-related benefits from choir singing in comparison with other group activities.

Singing has been found to stimulate elevated oxytocin concentration in serum, and the study hoped to shed light on whether choir singing can aid anabolic regeneration, measured from saliva testosterone, and ease the symptoms of IBS, whose sufferers typically register low levels of oxytocin.

. . .

The issue of cultural activities and health has attracted increasing attention in Swedish and international research circles in recent years.

A study by Karolinska Institute has shown that choir singers have heightened levels of the feelgood hormone oxytocin and Nobel prize winner Arvid Carlsson's discovery of dopamine laid the groundwork for research into how the brain's reward system works and thus, for example, the effects of music on stress levels.

Carlsson joined forces with the molecular biologist Gunnar Bjursell in 2007 to found a project entitled Culture and Health which has now led to the founding a new research centre at Gothenburg's Univerisity.

"The health situation in modern western society is alarming. We have never had greater possibilities to treat sickness than we have today at the same time as we have never been sicker," Bjursell said at the launch of the project.

"We know why this is - we become sicker by how we eat and live. We have to find a way back to a healthier life and higher state of well-being. One such way is culture and the arts," he said.

Again, more at the link.

Y'know, if I got a group of singers together, all suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, I'd expect their singing to be just that - irritable! I'd never have thought of singing as an anodyne for inflamed intestines!

That led me to reflect on the rising casualty rate among karaoke singers. Could irritable bowel syndrome be playing an as yet undiagnosed part in this problem?

There have been many attacks on karaoke singers over the last few years, suggesting that the office-party pastime is more dangerous than many assume. Here are some of the worst.

• A 24-year-old Wisconsin man with the possibly apposite name of Kyle Drinkwine was sentenced to 60 days in jail after attacking two men over their performance of one of his favourite heavy metal songs in November last year.

• Stadium rockers Coldplay inspire many different emotions in fans and detractors, but ... a Seattle, Washington, man’s performance of Chris Martin and co’s breakthrough single Yellow allegedly triggered an attack by a 21-year-old woman. Lindsay Lawrence, described by a witness as a “little hippie girl”, is said to have assaulted the unnamed victim after reportedly saying: "Oh, no, not that song. I can't stand that song." She allegedly went on to inform the singer that his "singing sucked" and that the song "f---ing sucked," before punching him twice in the face. According to a witness in her rage it took three people to hold her down, and she is said to have headbutted a police officer several times before being handcuffed.

• An unnamed British tourist in Bulgaria is said to have become enraged at a local duo’s “tuneless” version of We Are The Champions by Queen. The man, 40, attacked the pair, and started smashing up the bar around him. His karaoke-induced rage was so powerful that local police required backup to restrain him.

• A 58-year-old Thai man apparently became so enraged by karaoke parties at a local house that he broke in and shot eight people dead. He said: “I warned these people about their noisy karaoke parties. I said if they carried on I would shoot them.”

• Staying in south-east Asia, more than one shooting incident has taken place in Cambodian karaoke bars over renditions of Frank Sinatra’s My Way. The country’s premier is said to have tried to shut down the country’s karaoke bars after an outbreak of violence.

My Way seems to be a dangerous choice of song in some parts of the world. A singer in a bar in San Mateo in the Philippines was reportedly shot dead for performing it off-key. The Philippine Star said that Romy Baligula, 29, was mid-way through the song when another man, Robilito Ortega, told him he was out of tune. Mr Baligula ignored the heckle, so Mr Ortega allegedly pulled out a .38 calibre pistol and shot the singer in the chest, killing him instantly. Also in the Philippines, a singer apparently shot two members of the audience, killing one, after they jeered his performance of the song. And a Sinatra-loving crowd is said to have beaten a singer to death over a substandard performance. So many fights have broken out in Manila over My Way that the tune has been taken off the machines at many karaoke bars to prevent further outbreaks.

More at the link.

Definitely sounds like the music caused irritable bowels . . . and minds, and moods! Perhaps they should have taken a headache pill?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If someone was singing a Coldplay song and they were doing a bad job of it... how would anyone know?