News News News
FEELING WORSE BUT COSTING MORE?
Americans are reporting a decline in both physical and emotional wellbeing. A study of around 1.2 million adults through the United States has found that the number of physically unhealthy days reported has risen from 3 per month in 1993 to 3.5 in 2001, with mentally unhealthy days rising from 2.9 to 3.4 during the same period. The number of people who described their health as fair or poor also increased, from 13.4% to 15.5%. (September 2004, Public Health Reports, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
AND MORE BLOOD PRESSURE
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of American adults with high blood pressure over the last 10 years. According to a new study, about 65 million over 18 year olds, one third of US adults, now have hypertension. (http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/aug2004/nhlbi-23.htm).
AND REDUCED LIFESPAN
The lifespan of American girls now ranks 19th in the world, while that of boys is 31st (tied with Brunei). Of the 13 wealthiest countries in the world, the US ranks last or nearly last in most measures of health, including infant mortality, low birth weight and life expectancy at birth. The average figures hide an enormous variation within the US, however, with a male born in some areas of Washington DC having a 40 year lower life expectancy than a woman born into a wealthier neighborhood. Of 34.6 million US citizens classified as poor, 14 million are ‘severely poor’.
Poor citizens can go hungry and be homeless, and poor neighborhoods are associated with high crime, inferior schools, high unemployment, inadequate health care facilities, and excess use of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and fast food – all factors associated with lowered health status. (American Prospect, 6/7/04.)
DESPITE LOTS MORE MEDICINES
Prescription drug use is rocketing in the US, a trend that looks set to continue into future years. The 3.4 billion prescriptions bought by Americans last year were nearly double the number bought 10 years ago, and represent an average of 11.8 prescriptions per person per year. (Providence Journal, 6/27/04).
One excellent way to increase the number of drugs Americans are taking is to redefine illness through intense direct to consumer advertising. The chief medical advisor for Consumer’s Union, Marvin Lipman, M.D., states that advertising for sleep remedies has created a 50 per cent increase in the use of prescription sleeping pills in the United States from 2001 to 2006. (Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2006)
HOME RECIPE MATCHES PSYLLIUM FOR CONSTIPATION
University of Texas researchers have found that for half the price, patients can make a remedy which works as well as commercial psyllium preparation. To make your own, mix one cup applesauce, one cup coarse unprocessed wheat bran, and ¼ cup prune juice. The daily dose used in the six week study was 4 tablespoons a day. (Family Practice News August 15, 2006)
ULTRAVIOLET PLEASURE … GET OUT MORE
It has been assumed that people who use tanning beds are primarily interested in altering their appearance, but new research suggests that this is only part of the picture.14 tanners who used tanning beds 8 to 15 times a month were assigned on Mondays and Wednesdays either to a normal tanning bed or an identical looking bed which in fact had an ultraviolet (UV) filter. On Fridays they were asked to choose which bed they wanted. On the 41 occasions when a choice was offered, 39 were made for the unfiltered bed. The tanners also reported a significantly more relaxed and less tense mood after using the UV bed. One possible explanation, according to the study authors, is that UV radiation may trigger endorphins. (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, July 2004, part 1, vol. 51, no. 1).
Meanwhile it was found that 24% of 307 healthy American adolescents were deficient in vitamin D, and up to 42% had low levels of the vitamin. Deficiency was most evident in African-American teenagers and during winter, although milk and juice consumption, body mass index and physical activity also played a part. (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:531-537).
(Ed note: 1000 to 1200 I.U. of Vitamin D orally is what we are recommending for those who live in a climate such as NE Ohio.)
GET ON UP
Viagra (sildenafil) can protect mountaineers from developing lung problems at high altitudes, causing more blood to be distributed through the vessels of the lung and reducing pulmonary hypertension and hypoxia. The findings may have implications for patients suffering from pulmonary hypertension. (Ann Intern Med, Aug 2004; 141: 169-177).
SOYA & MALE INFERTILITY
Research carried out in Belfast, Northern Ireland, suggests that men consuming large quantities of phyto-estrogen rich soya, have lowered sperm quality. They also suggest that the reproductive capability of boys might be damaged by too much soya in the diet. Many processed foods contain soya. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/3513607.stm).
THE NINE RISK FACTORS FOR HEART ATTACK
International research into heart attacks monitored over 15,000 patients after a first heart attack and matched them with nearly 15,000 healthy people. Every continent was represented apart from Antarctica. As a result, the researchers say they can now classify nine factors responsible for 90% of heart attacks which are true irrespective of ethnic group or gender. The nine are: abnormal cholesterol (specifically abnormal ratio of apolipoprotein A to apolipoprotein B), smoking (6 to 10 cigarettes a day doubles the risk, 20 a day quadruples it, and 40 a day gives a nine fold risk), high blood pressure, diabetes, abdominal obesity, low daily fruit and vegetable consumption, lack of exercise and abstaining from moderate alcohol consumption. Abnormal cholesterol and smoking accounted for two thirds of the total risk. (BMJ 2004;329:527).
Made famous recently by the fictional Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, rooibos tea from South Africa is being studied for its anti-cancer activity. It has shown protective effects against chemical-induced mutagenicity in vitro as well as in vivo. The activity of two drug detoxifying enzymes, glutathione-S transferase (GST-) and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UDP-GT) were significantly induced in the liver of rats consuming the rooibos tea at a 2% concentration. Further studies are being conducted at the PROMEC Unit of the Medical Research Council of South Africa. (http://www.mrc.ac.za/promec/antimutagenic.htm). (news24.com)
FRUIT, VEGETABLES & STROKE
Men with the highest blood levels of carotenoids have a 40% less risk of ischemic stroke, according to an analysis of data from the Physicians’ Health Study which has followed over 22,000 male doctors since the early 1980s. Three carotenoids appeared to confer the benefit: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene. All are found in highly colored fruit and vegetables. Since the study participants were asked at the onset of the study not to take food supplements, it is probable that the carotenoids came from food. The authors do not suggest that the carotenoids themselves were responsible for the reduced risk, rather that they are markers for a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables – some properties of which would be protective against stroke. (Stroke.2004;35:1584.)
GET UP OFF THAT COUCH AND DO SOMETHING
A two-year study of over 4,500 American adolescents has found that those who were physically active were less prone to depression, and that those who increased their physical activity during the study also reduced their risk of depression. (Psychosomatic Medicine 66:336-342, 2004).
BREAST MILK & WARTS
A Swedish study has found that a topical application of a derivative of breast milk (alpha-lactalbumin-oleic acid) can effectively eradicate warts induced by the HPV (human papilloma virus). Forty subjects with warts that were resistant to conventional treatment received either treatment by breast milk derivative or no treatment (control). Fifteen out of the 20 subjects who received the breast milk derivative showed a reduction in warts, compared to only three out of 20 in the control group. Since HPV is associated with several human cancers, including cervical cancer, anal cancer, skin cancers and head and neck cancers, the results of this trial may have implications for the treatment or prevention of these HPV-associated cancers. (The New England Journal of Medicine 2004;350:2663-2672).
PROBIOTICS & ANTIBIOTICS
It has long been thought that taking a course of probiotics during and after a course of antibiotics, can help prevent post-antibiotic infections, especially vaginal ones. A new study, however, appears to disprove this. 235 women who required a short course of oral antibiotics for a non gynecological infection, were given either lactobacillus bacteria or placebo until four days after completion of the antibiotics. The two groups were compared for subsequent vaginal infections. Overall, 23% of women developed vulvovaginitis after antibiotics, but as there was no difference between the probiotic and placebo groups, the trial was stopped for ethical reasons. (BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38210.494977.DE).