Friday, January 11, 2008

Staying Healthy in the Spotlight

Let's talk about health, baby. Let's talk about you and me. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.

That's the message being sent by rapper Emimem's mother. Eminem, had he been taken in DP 2008, would have fit into the Anna Nicole Smith Corollary. It seems to us that celebrities are more likely to have mental breakdowns that lead to long-term health concerns and, at times, their untimely deaths.

[Eminem's] family and friends fear his massive weight gain is causing him long-term health woes but the deeply depressed star refuses to stop binge eating. His mother Debbie Nelson, who has just written a book "My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem" about her son, says he is barely recognisable nowadays.

Debbie, whose book was published last month, says: "I fear for him every waking moment. I worry about his health all the time." Eminem's mother fears he is also heading for an early grave if he doesn't totally change his life style.
Nelson compares Eminem's recent struggles with those of the late Elvis Presley. Presley's family can take some consolation in knowing that Presley was the top dead celebrity money earner in 2007. Although Eminem's death won't leave his mom with as much as $49 million a year, Nelson's bound to be well-off for the rest of her life if her son were to die.

Yet, it's evident that Nelson sees this economic stability as coming with a certain cost. When a young person is considering entering a career in the spotlight, it's important for him or her to understand the drawbacks to the lifestyle. For Eminem, a long history of physical illness - dating back to his childhood - has only been complicated by his recent struggles with mental and emotional difficulties.

But even for those celebrities who are more averse to mental breakdowns, the physical burdens on their bodies can take their toll. More and more stories - celebrities and non-celebrities - have been surfacing about young athletes who die suddenly from silent heart disease. Studies are under way to determine who is at risk.
It's not known precisely how many athletes are at risk for sudden death from heart problems like these — or how many actually die each year. Most deaths aren't publicized because they happen in young athletes who are just beginning their high school or college sports careers.

To gather more information, Dr. Barry Maron, of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, established a registry of sudden deaths in young athletes. Since 1985, the registry has collected almost 1,900 reports of sudden deaths in young athletes who participated in competitive sports. The most frequent cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition where the muscles of the left lower chamber of the heart thicken and enlarge.
Even though actor Michael Conrad has been dead since 1983, his character Phil Esterhaus' words on Hill Street Blues remain just as relevant today: "Hey, let's be careful out there."

[Allentown Morning Call]

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