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Student Education

Pub medic - Warning: Christmas can seriously damage your health

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 01 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:06016
  1. Stephanie Gapper, second year medical student1
  1. 1University of Nottingham

Every year we're inundated with information about the inherent dangers of the festive season—and apparently with good reason. A study in the United States showed a mortality spike on Christmas and New Year's Day due to cardiac and respiratory conditions.1 Oddly, European figures don't show this, and a similar study in the United Kingdom (based in the north east) showed that we have a higher than average mortality on New Year's Day but not on Christmas Day.2 Bizarre as this discrepancy is, over the holiday period, binge drinking goes up, leading to more drink fuelled crimes and road traffic injuries and sparking fresh debates about heart disease, stroke, and liver disease.

We also eat too many mince pies and Yorkshire puddings, piling on the pounds; then we spend January frantically trying to lose them, wreaking havoc with our metabolism and perpetuating the general trend towards obesity. The endless round of present buying, social engagements and visits from the in-laws, not to mention “spouse saturation syndrome,”3 resulting from prolonged overexposure to your nearest and dearest, all lead to increased stress, fatigue, and depression. And that's just if you're healthy.

Is there still a reason to celebrate?

A wide variety of chronic illnesses require careful management around the holiday season. Here are a few snippets with which to while away the hours (and presumably the pints) in the pub on Christmas Eve.

Diabetes: a delicate balancing act

Around Christmas or any other party season, this gets a lot more difficult, partly because there's so much more food around to be tempted with, and, …

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