How Prolonged Sitting Can Harm Your Health

Whether you’re sitting at work, at school, or live a sedentary lifestyle, research has shown that sitting for extended amounts of time has been linked to a number of health concerns, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. According to a series of studies, those who sat for longer than 8 hours per day without any kind of physical activity were at as high a risk of dying compared to those who died from obesity and smoking-related illness (such as lung cancer.) Data from that same study, however, also showed that getting as little as 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day actually countered the effects of prolonged sitting and improved health. In addition to some of the aforementioned health concerns, which can be quite serious, too much sitting can also have an impact on your back and posture.

If you’re someone who does happen to sit for long periods of time, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, says that you should get up and move around as much as possible. If you are able, you should take a break from sitting at least every 30 to 60 minutes. Some offices may also be able to accommodate their staff by allowing use of standing desks. If you have a business meeting to attend, recommend that it be held while going for a walk instead of sitting in a conference room. At home, instead of sitting while watching television or talking on the phone, stand while doing so. If you have an at-home gym, position things like bikes and treadmills in front of your television…this wat you can still watch your favourite shows and be in motion at the same time. Physical activity such as this can work wonders; it can help maintain muscle tone and improve mobility.

As mentioned, sitting can also have an impact on your back…so if you suffer from a sore, stiff back after a long day at work or school, your chair/sitting is likely the reason why. The reason your back might hurt after sitting is because sitting puts quite a bit of pressure on your spine as opposed to standing. When we sit, the disks in our back, which are meant to expand and contract as we move, actually become compressed. Over time, these disks will eventually lose their flexibility, which can also then increase the risk of developing herniated disks. The back isn’t the only part of your body that can be affected, either. Your neck and shoulders can, too. Because it’s not uncommon to hold your neck and/or head forward while sitting doing computer work, this can lead to the cervical vertebrae becoming strained, thus causing the neck and shoulders to become sore. Sometimes this pain can even become permanent. Muscle degeneration can also occur due to prolonged sitting, and you may notice this in the hips especially. Prolonged sitting can cause the hips to become tight, as well as reduce your range of motion in the hips. Decreased hip mobility is also the leading cause of falls in individuals who are elderly, leading to hospitalization.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, sitting also equals poor leg circulation. This can cause swelling, which is typically reduced by keeping your legs and feet elevated and by applying ice to the swollen areas. However, prolonged sitting can also lead to a condition known as DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis.) DVT is the development of blood clots in the legs; and, if left untreated, can be deadly.

More information on how sitting all day can be damaging to your health (and how to counteract it) can be found by clicking here.


World Health Organization Recognizes Compulsive Sexual Behaviour as Mental Disorder


For the first time, the World Health Organization is recognizing compulsive sexual behaviour as a mental disorder – referring to it as Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder or CSBD.

According to ICD-11 criteria, CSBD is characterized as a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses (see Impulse Control Disorders), urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour, and those repetitive sexual activities becoming the focal point of a person’s life to the point where they begin to neglect their health and personal care, as well as have a lack of responsibility and initiative, and continued repetitive sexual behaviour despite any adverse consequences. In order for an individual to be recognized as having CSBD, they must exhibit the aforementioned behaviours for a period of 6 months or more, as well as have problems with personal relationships, such as family and friendships, as well as educational and occupational problems (i.e. poor grades and/or decreased work performance, failure to meet deadlines, etc.)

Behaviours that are commonly associated with CSBD include practicing unsafe sex, having multiple sexual partners, exhibitionism and voyeurism. Individuals with CSBD will have an inability to contain their sexual urges as well as an inability to respect the boundaries of other, feel emotional detachment to their sexual partners, and even feelings of guilt and shame. Many people with CSBD will be aware of their urges and the fact that they are uncontrollable.

As mentioned above, there are also many consequences that can arise as a result of compulsive sexual behaviour, such as dissolution of marriage, financial problems, legal problems, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases or infections. While the terms sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections are often interchangeable, they technically mean different things. An individual that has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection means that it has not yet developed into a disease. For example, Human Papillomavirus – also known as HPV. A woman can be a carrier of the virus without any symptoms. If a woman develops cervical cancer as a result of HPV, it is then that she has an STD (as cancer is a disease.) The same goes for conditions like gonorrhea or chlamydia if they develop into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID.) To break it down more easily, a sexually transmitted infection occurs when microbes, viruses or bacteria enter into the body and multiply, and it is considered a sexually transmitted infection when the body function or structure begins to disrupt and when signs or symptoms are present. In short, a sexually transmitted infection is typically the first step of a sexually transmitted disease. Because many sexually transmitted infections often begin with no symptoms at all, individuals may not even be aware that they have one, which is why getting tested for an STI is so crucial. If an STI is cause by a bacterial infection and detected early enough, they can usually be cured with antibiotics.

While what causes compulsive sexual behaviour and other impulse disorders (i.e. gambling) remains unclear, it is thought that they may be a combination of changes in the brain’s pathways, an imbalance of natural brain chemicals, as well as certain conditions that affect the brain. When it comes to treating compulsive sexual behaviour, patients can benefit from seeking therapy – whether it’s in group sessions (such as Sex Addicts Anonymous) or one on one with a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. In addition, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has also been known to be quite helpful in the treatment of CSBD. SSRI medications (such as Prozac, Paxil and Celexa) have also been shown to decrease compulsive urges. While this can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing subject of conversation, one should never feel ashamed to reach out for help if they need it.

Common Causes of Chills

Do you find yourself feeling cold all the time, even during warmer weather? While some people have a natural tendency to feel cold more than others, there are a few different health conditions that Dr. Ali Ghahary says can cause a drop in body temperature.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is something that is common in many individuals, especially women with their periods. In order for our red blood cells to be able to function properly and carry oxygen around the body, iron is required. However, being iron deficient can have a significant impact on this process, which can cause symptoms such as chills, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pale skin.

Iron deficiency is usually diagnosed via a blood test. If it’s confirmed that you are iron deficient, you will need to increase your iron intake. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate more iron-rich foods into your diet, such as leafy green vegetables, lean meats, and eggs. Sometimes food isn’t enough, however, and you may need to take an iron supplement. They can, however, be hard on the stomach.

Lack of Circulation

In a recent article, Dr. Ali Ghahary touched on the importance of circulation. Lack of circulation can not only cause chills, but it can also impact many other aspects of our health and cause things like dizziness, hair loss and dry skin.

The human body can be lacking in circulation as a result of decreased physical activity/obesity, poor diet, tobacco use, blood clots, and even stress. The best way to get the body circulating as it should be is to make healthy lifestyle changes – including exercising regularly and breaking bad habits like smoking.

Poor Sleeping Habits

Getting a good night’s rest is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing. If you don’t get enough sleep, feeling chilled is one of the most telltale signs. Dr. Ghahary recommends patients get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, if possible. To avoid sleep disruptions, you should also shut down devices such as televisions and smartphones at least 2 hours prior to going to bed. It’s also a good idea to try and go to sleep and wake up the same time every day; this way your body gets used to the routine.

Being Underweight

While it might come as a surprise, being underweight can also cause the body to feel colder – particularly in those with a low BMI of 18.5 or under. Those who are underweight tend to lack muscle mass, which is important when It comes to maintaining body temperature, producing heat and speeding up our metabolism. Should you go out and eat a bunch of unhealthy food so that you can try to gain weight? No. You can, however, try to build more muscle by lifting weights.

It is important to note that there are certain health conditions, such as eating disorders, that can also cause low BMI levels – the most common being anorexia. If you or someone you know suffers from this type of eating disorder, it’s important to speak to your family physician.

The Role of a Radiologist

The Role of a Radiologist | Dr. Ali Ghahary

As a family physician, it’s not uncommon for Dr. Ali Ghahary to refer patients for different types of tests. Blood work, for example, is something that Dr. Ghahary often requests patients have done as a part of their yearly examination to ensure that their cholesterol levels are where they should be, as well as to check for and rule out other common health conditions such as thyroid disease. Blood testing can also detect more serious health issues, too, such as cancer. In addition to having blood tests done, medical screening is also done on patients of a certain age. For example, it’s recommended that men in their 50’s should go for regular prostate cancer screening, while women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have breast cancer screening done every 2 years. Seniors should also have certain preventive testing done for things like colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and high blood pressure.

While blood work is commonly done by nurses, things like x-rays and cancer screening is typically done by someone known as a radiologist. A radiologist is an important part of the healthcare system as they help in the diagnosing of certain illnesses and injury, as well as aiding your physician in determining which examination is best suited for you. For example, would the patient benefit from an X-ray or will they need to have a more in-depth scan such as an MRI or CT scan.

A radiologist is much more than someone who simply takes a few photos, however. They are also able to determine what those photos show through careful examination and can also compare other examinations and tests to help them with their findings. In addition, they can also help treat diseases through radiation therapy – a form of cancer treatment that is often done before, during or after chemotherapy depending on the diagnosis and the stage that the cancer is in. During certain medical imaging procedures, the patient may either be asked to drink a solution or may require a dye that is injected into them intravenously. These dyes and solutions help give the radiologist a better view of certain parts of the body that may not necessarily show up as well as they would without dye or solution being present in the patient’s body. Think of it as a magnifying glass, in a way. The clearer the picture is, the easier it will be for the radiologist to provide your physician with an accurate report and diagnosis.

In order to become a radiologist, one has to graduate from an accredited school and complete a postgraduate residency, which usually lasts for approximately 4 years in the United States and Canada. During the learning and residency processes, a radiologist will learn about things like radiation safety, radiation protection, how radiation can affect the human body (for example, having frequent CT scans can increase the risk of cancer), how medical imaging tests are performed, and how to accurately read the scans.

For more information on the role of a radiologist, the important role they play in patient care, as well as education, visit the Canadian Association of Radiologists website at