DEAR DR. DONOHUE: How much stress does sex put on the heart? I don’t have a heart problem. I know two fellow workers, who, according to scuttlebutt, died while having sex. They were about my age. — R.L.
ANSWER: Scuttlebutt isn’t a reliable source of information.
Blood pressure and heart rate rise during sexual relations, but not so much as to be a source of concern for most men and women, even those who have had a heart attack. The energy expenditure is approximately the same as climbing two flights of stairs. That is, walking, not running, up those flights.
Most people who have had a heart attack can resume an active sex life within three to six weeks of having the attack. The exact amount of time has to be determined by the person’s physician, who takes into account the magnitude of the heart attack and how well the heart is currently performing.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: am thoroughly confused. Several months ago, I read of the benefit of wine for women. The conclusion was that it reduced a woman’s chances of heart attack and stroke by 30 percent. My husband and I have started to drink one glass of wine a day. Now comes a new report that says just one glass of wine a day increases the chances for breast cancer. Should I be concerned? — M.T.
ANSWER: Welcome to the army of nutrition confusion. What’s good one day might be life-threatening the next. I don’t rely on one report. I stick to what the majority says. If the majority changes its mind, then I change.
Wine and other alcoholic drinks lower the incidence of heart disease and, apparently, strokes. That’s the current majority thinking. Moderate drinkers of alcohol — wine in particular — have a lower overall mortality rate than do alcohol abstainers and heavy drinkers. “Moderate” drinking is one glass of wine, one 12-ounce can of beer or 1.5 ounces of whiskey for women; it’s two for men.
The role of wine (or alcohol) in promoting breast cancer is less clear. Analysis of 40 studies shows an increase in breast cancer for women downing three or more drinks a day. The same studies suggest that even one or two daily drinks might pose a slight danger.
Other studies show an increase in lobular breast cancer with one drink a day, but no increase in ductal breast cancer. Ductal cancer is the most common kind of breast cancer.
I am positive that equally confusing information will be forthcoming.
The best advice I have read is this: If a woman truly savors drinking wine, one glass a day is relatively safe in regard to breast cancer. The benefits of heart health and prevention of stroke are not so great that they should induce anyone to change from being a nondrinker to a drinker.
The booklet on breast cancer explains this illness in detail. To obtain a copy, write to: Dr. Donohue — No. 1101W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. ©2011 North America Synd.