Natural Health Reviews - December 2004
Health Reviews Headlines
- Study relates fast food and weight gain
- Acupuncture May Help Ease Labor Pain
- The Paradox of Osteopathy
- Harm Seen from Vitamin D Deficiency
- Curry May Keep Alzheimer's at Bay
- Working While Ill Increases Risk of Heart Attack
- Watchful Waiting, OK for Some Prostate Cancers
- Staying Active Keeps Mind Sharp in Old Age
- Religious Affiliation May Lower Suicide Risk
- Yet, another reason to eat red cherries
- Weight and Exercise Both Important for Long Life
- Study Finds No Evidence Death Takes a Holiday
- Acupuncture Shown Effective For Treating Osteoarthritis
- Exercise Before Fatty Meal May Lessen Negative Effects
- The Seven Healthiest Foods
- Vitamin E from Diet Kills Cancer Cells
- Blood Pressure After Exercise May Predict Heart Risk
- Vitamin E May Stave Off Lou Gehrig's Disease
- A Good Reason NOT to Get Bent Out of Shape: Stroke
- Ads for Body-Imaging Health Screens is Quackery
- Folic acid supplements linked to breast cancer
- Dental mercury not tied to ailments
- Combating obesity with more exercise and a better night's sleep
- Some people are 'immune' to exercise - Not!
- Nutrient value declines in American food crops
- Eating red meat is bad for you
- Moderate consumption of alcohol is heart healthy
- Socially outgoing women have greater protection against heart disease
Here is our health reviews of historical news stories covered from the Natural Health Perspective.
Friday, December 31
A new study says fast-food consumption has a strong positive association with weight gain and insulin resistance.
Those who visited fast-food outlets twice a week, or more, gained 10 pounds more during the course of the study than those who ate fast food less than once a week. Eating fastfood even once a week, is really too much.
This study points out the obvious conclusion that fastfood is bad for your health.
A growing body of research suggests that acupuncture can help control pain during childbirth, according to a review of published in November 2004.
Acupuncture, of course, is helpful in treating all kinds of pain; like low back pain, acute dental pain and recurrent headache.
Ever wonder about Osteopathy? What is the difference between Osteopathy, Allopathy, and Chiropractic? Or, what is the difference between a doctor with an MD and an DO degree? Dr. Joseph Mercola, for example, is a DO. So, what exactly is a DO? An old article in the New England Journal of Medicine sets the record straight.
Normally, access to this article is restricted which means that you have to pay in order to read it. However, there is a backdoor to it where you can read it for free online. Click on the following full text research study. Then go to the bottom of this study to reference number 12 and click on: 'Free Full Text' with your Web browser. This should grant you free online access to the NEJM article on Osteopathy.
While Osteopathy started out in the 19th century as alternative medicine, today it is where medical students often go when they fail to get accepted by one of the 125 medical schools that grant the MD degree. Spinal manipulation in practice plays little part in Osteopathic treatment today. Graduates with an DO degree can actually convert it to an MD degree for just USA $65.00 in California. Therefore, I would conclude that OD's more interested in allopathy than in alternative medicine would be practicing under an MD degree. And, from the original full text article on CAM we see that 95% of the medical schools offering the DO degree teach courses on alternative medicine. Thus, while a doctor with an DO degree is probably both interested in and knowledgeable about holistic and alternative medicine, that may not actually be the case.
I will also point out, that despite all this evidence. And, despite the fact that the education of Osteopathic medicine is strongly based on science, just like allopathy is, a minority of scientists, known as quackbusters, still stubbornly refer to Osteopathy as Quackery. While the NEJM refers to it as the Paradox of Osteopathy, referring to Osteopathy as Quackery is a good litmus test for science bigotry, IMHO.
And, in case, you are interested in following through all the links in these two full text studies you can also gain FREE online access to about a dozen other interesting restricted assess studies on CAM.
Thursday, December 30
More than 40 percent of American adults have low blood levels of vitamin D, according to this news article.
Additional Vitamin D is linked to a variety of good things: decreased risk of fractures among the elderly, better muscle control, lower blood pressure, and fewer ills in general. It appears that supplementing with 800 IU's of Vitamin D a day now appears reasonable. A new study that will report a 30 percent decreased risk of all cancers from Vitamin D, will soon be published according to the author.
Tuesday, December 28
Curry may be a powerful new weapon in fighting Alzheimer's Disease, according to a new study.
This is really an old story, as curry powder that is made from turmeric seasoning with curcumin as the active ingredient offers a variety of health benefits. Anybody interested in eating a healthy diet should not overlook the benefit of cooking their food with Herbs and Spices.
Men who never take a sick day even though they're not in good health may be setting themselves up for a heart attack, according to a new study.
The article doesn't really state why they thought that these people worked while they were ill. Apparently they are claiming that British males with perfect attendance records who have risk factors for coronary heart disease are more likely to get a heart attack then people who are more laid-back about calling in sick. They were talking just about government jobs, where employees are generally known for abusing their sick leave. Many jobs, of course, do not even offer sick leave.
It's possible to identify men with slowly progressive or latent prostate cancer, according to new research.
This study actually calls it: Watchful Waiting. When it comes to prostate cancer, many consider the conventional heroic treatments to be worst than the disease itself. It has been said that all men will end up with prostate cancer, if they live long enough. In general, most prostate cancers are very slow to progress. That is why they recommend: Watchful Waiting.
Monday, December 27
Stay active after age 70 and you are less likely to experience age-related declines in mental functioning, according to a new study.
This study was about the effects of increased or decreased physical activity in the elderly. Physical activity included such things as gardening and walking. Exercise protects the brain by keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy, which boosts blood flow to the brain and reduces the risk of stroke. Elderly individuals that decreased their physical activity levels the least were the healthiest.
Depressed people affiliated with a religion are less likely to attempt suicide than their non-religious counterparts, according to a new study.
The key phrase, here, is depressed people.
Obviously, the best way to avoid suicide is to ensure that you are always healthy and living a high quality of life, so that you can avoid depression in the first place.
Thursday, December 23
Researchers recently reported chemicals found in cherries may help fight diabetes. Anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants, responsible for the bright color of many different fruits can boost insulin production, which helps control blood sugar levels. They are also found in red grapes, strawberries, blueberries, vegetables, and wine, cider, and tea.
Both weight and exercise are important for longevity, according to a new study.
"We estimate that excess weight (defined as a body-mass index of 25 or higher) and physical inactivity (less than 3.5 hours of exercise per week) together could account for 31 percent of all premature deaths, 59 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 21 percent of deaths from cancer among nonsmoking women."
Tuesday, December 21
Terminally ill cancer patients might not be able to will themselves to survive long enough for the holidays, according to a new JAMA study.
Does this study prove anything? Not really. With these types of studies published in a journal hostile to anything related to the mind-body connection, you really have to carefully read the fine print. Is every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthday really going to be a significant event to everyone? I rather doubt it. Now, if a particular person is trying to make it to a particular significant event like perhaps their 100th birthday then perhaps you might have something worth testing for. For every person who likes Christmas, you are going have people who don't or who might not even cerebrate it. Did JAMA take into account a person's religion for example? I rather doubt it.
Monday, December 20
Acupuncture added to conventional therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee improves function and reduces pain, according to a new study.
The test subjects were given 23 sessions of traditional Chinese Acupuncture over a eight week period. "Acupuncture seems to provide improvement in function and pain relief as an adjunctive therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee."
A new study suggests that exercising before a fatty meal can lessen the effects of high fat intake on blood vessel function.
In the study, men spent 90 minutes walking on a treadmill the day before the fatty meal. There was a general decrease in blood vessel function after a fatty meal, whether the men exercised or not. The blood vessel impairment was less pronounced, however, when the meal came after exercise. Previously, I have reported that exercising before a high fat meal also helps to raise your HDL levels.
As far as walks go, 90 minutes is a very long walk. But, exercising in a gym can usually take that long, or longer. Also, if you exercise for at least 30 minutes every day you will in one sense always be exercising before all high fat meals.
Saturday, December 18
A new study in the BMJ says that the seven healthiest foods are: wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic, and almonds.
''Daily consumption of [5 ounces] 150 ml of wine reduces cardiovascular disease by 32% ... Fish ([4 ounces] 114 g) consumed four times a week reduces cardiovascular disease by 14% ... [3.5 ounces] One hundred grams of dark chocolate consumed daily reduces systolic blood pressure by 5.1 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.8 mm Hg8; ... A total of [14 ounces] 400 g of fruit and vegetables consumed daily produced a reduction in blood pressure similar to that observed with chocolate ... Daily consumption of garlic reduced total cholesterol concentrations by 0.44 mmol/l (17.1 mg/dl)... We selected 2.7 g/day of fresh garlic for the Polymeal. Consuming [2.4 ounces] 68 g/day of almonds produced half the reduction in total cholesterol (10 mg/dl) observed with garlic."
"For men, taking the Polymeal would result in increases of 6.6 years in total life expectancy and 9.0 years in life expectancy free from cardiovascular disease. ... The reductions were similar for women, although the magnitudes were lower."
The problem with this list is that it is only in regards to CVD. Once you start considering cancer and other causes of death, other foods might also be included like turmeric seasoning, tomatoes, olive oil, the onion and broccoli families of vegetables, and probably some soy products.
Friday, December 17
Vitamin E from diet halts the growth of prostate and lung cancer cells, according to a new study.
This is, of course, a very old news story. The kind of vitamin E that you get from your diet is the Gamma form. While most supplements supply only the Alpha form. This fact is often used to knock vitamin E supplementation by the medical establishment. However, your body, through evolution, obviously recognized the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E to be both rare and valuable since your body recycles only the Alpha form of vitamin E. Your body must consider the Gamma form to be abundant enough for one shot use as your liver actively works to remove it from your body. Hence, the half-life of the Gamma form of vitamin E is only about 12 hours whereas the alpha form will hang around in your body for a couple of days because it is recycled.
The solution, as the article suggests, is to supplement with a mixed form of vitamin E.
Wednesday, December 15
A new study shows that the body can maintain a balance between tumor cell proliferation and cell death. People who stay cancer-free may have a system for keeping a tumor under control.
This should not be a surprise for anyone. We all have cancer, germs, and viruses floating around in our bodies. This is totally normal. We are disease and cancer-free as long as our immune system, or whatever wisdom of the body, keeps these disease agents in check. That is why some people get sick, while healthy people do not.
Tuesday, December 14
The upper number in a blood-pressure reading, during the recovery period after exercise stress testing may help predict the risk of heart attack in men, according to a new study.
Systolic blood pressure greater than 195 mm Hg two minutes after stopping exercise was associated with a 1.7-fold increased risk of heart attack. Each 10 mm Hg increase after two minutes was associated with a 7-percent increased risk of heart attack.
So, is this just another reason to worry? Actually, it is not. It is a good measure of physical fitness. You are becoming more physically fit, when your systolic blood pressure doesn't jump as much after exercise. Of course, dietary factors like salt consumption may, also, be evolved.
Monday, December 13
People who take vitamin E supplements are at decreased risk of death from Lou Gehrig's disease, a new study reports. Interestingly, these results are the exact opposite of those found for coronary heart disease (CHD) in another studied written by the same authors.
That is the way it is for supplements. A specific supplement will work for one health condition, but not for another. Just remember that there is more than one way to die or to get sick. Just because vitamin E might not protect against heart disease is not a reason not to take it.
"Negative emotions, anger, and sudden changes in body posture in response to a startling event appear to be independent triggers for ischemic stroke," according to a new study.
"The main modifiable risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, [high cholesterol], and obesity," said the lead study author. However, the mind-body triggers of sudden posture changes, anger and negative emotions raised the risk of stroke 14-fold.
Newspaper ads and brochures peddling body-imaging to screen for cancer and other ills are offering expensive fad diagnoses that try to exploit healthy people.
Critics working to protect the public against health frauds say that clinics offering these services should be chastised, investigated, put on notice, and if possible, put out of business. Advertisements for these clinics often make statements about full-body CT and MRI screening that were scientifically unsupported, and many used negative, sometimes fear-evoking, tactics to promote the services. The misbeliefs of these clinic operators are especially hard to understand.
Quackery is where you find it. My write up of this news story shows that the same verbiage of the quackbusters used against alternative medicine can be applied to practitioners of conventional medicine. Many of these Quack clinics are located within conventional hospitals.
A new British study found a link between taking very large folic acid supplements during pregnancy and an increased incidence of breast cancer.
Women who took folic acid supplements were found to have a higher incidence of breast cancer than those who took a placebo. The effect was most noticeable among those who took 5 mg daily. "Compared with women who had received placebo, in women who had been randomised to high doses of folate, all cause mortality was about a fifth greater, and the risk of deaths attributable to breast cancer was doubled."
This appears to be another flawed headline grabbing news story. Criticisms of it are already starting to appear. The key phrases that loudly indicate that you should be ignoring this study are during pregnancy, high dosage folic acid, and chance finding. The high dosage used in this study was 5 mg daily; which is equivalent to taking between 12 and 13 tablets of the normally recommended dosage of 400 mcg daily.
BMJ Rapid Responses
The Life Sciences Research Office of the National Institutes of Health examined the peer-reviewed, primary scientific and medical literature published between Jan. 1, 1996 and Dec. 31, 2003 relating to dental amalgams and human health and concluded that there is little evidence of a link between dental mercury and health problems, except in rare instances of allergic reactions.
Can you trust these people anymore than any of the other reviews that have been shown to be biased on this Health Reviews? Who knows? It is a massive report that would take a very long time to review in detail.
Speaking as a person who has lived a lifetime with a mouthful of Mercury amalgams, I cannot say that I have noticed any toxic symptoms. Removing all your Mercury amalgams does not seem either to be necessary or practical to me. Nor, can you really completely remove these old amalgams as dentists actually put traces of Mercury amalgam into your jaw bone by drilling through your roots.
A new study found that slept deprived young men reported being more hungry than after they had slept for 10 hours. Further, the foods these men craved the most were sweets, salty foods, and starches like bread and pasta.
These new findings suggest that getting a good nights sleep makes it easier to control your appetite. In other words, sleep deprivation might be keeping some people from losing weight through dieting.
Another headline grabbing news story is being circulated. This study was so bad that the authors did not even attempt to have it published. The study was presented at the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress in Sydney, Australia.
There is astounding variation in the response to exercise. The vast majority will benefit in some way, but there will be a minority who will not benefit at all.
That is like saying that if you administer CPR to a group of people that have stopped breathing, some wont benefit from the CPR. Yeah, that is true, but so what?
The key phrase here is that the "vast majority [of people] will benefit in some way." That is all anyone needs to know about the subject.
Of course, this headline is nothing but double-talk. The health benefits of exercise cover a very broad area. And, it definitely appears that the authors were looking at only one specific benefit: insulin sensitivity. The concept of genetic variation obviously applies to insulin sensitivity response to exercise, as well as it does to anything else.
It would be interesting to see exactly who these people are that were deemed immune to exercise? What exactly do they have in common? Commenting on this study, would be like trying to speculate why Johnny cannot read, when no one knows who Johnny is. Not everybody makes it through the Navy Seal's training program, either. Did these slackers fail to respond to the Navy Seal's exercise program? Or, was the problem over-training? Who knows? It could be explained by any number of logical reasons.
There are many factors that could possibly affect the benefits of exercise: diet, attitude, general state of health, amount of air pollution, body weight, and sleep. Do everything stupid, and slog away at exercise with nothing but contempt and you too might program yourself to fail. But, try using your brain, have a positive attitude, eat right, get adequate sleep, start out slow and gradually buildup endurance, and the vast majority of you will benefit from exercise.
If you are not responding to your exercise program, it means that you are doing something wrong. Either, you can figure it out for yourself or you should seek the services of a personal trainer.
Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data over a 50-year time interval American food crops were found to have declined significantly in nutrient value. The lead study author stated: "Considered as a group, we found that six out of 13 nutrients showed apparently reliable declines between 1950 and 1999."
The most likely explanation is that American farmers are now growing cultivated varieties that have higher crop yields. The apparent trade off for bigger and faster growing crops are lower nutrient levels.
The urban legend of less nutrients in our whole foods appears to have been scientifically validated by this study.
British researchers found that people who ate more than 2 ounces (58 grams) per day of red meat were twice as likely as people who ate less than 1 ounce (26 grams) per day to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Or, those who eat red meat every day versus a couple of times a week were twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling and pain. Over time, this form of arthritis will erode the bone and soft tissue within the joints.
A U-shaped association was found between alcohol consumption and coronary calcification in a new study from the Netherlands. This study was about calcium deposits in your arteries.
Yet, another study that shows drinking one or two alcoholic drinks a day is good for your heart.
Small social networks were linked to heart disease death in women, in a new study.
Yet, another example of the mind-body connection in action. The overall magnitude of the social network effect rivaled or exceeded that of more commonly considered biomedical risk factors including smoking, diabetes and hypertension histories.