News News News
WAKE UP, MR. AND MRS. AMERICA:
The recent theft of computerized records for every veteran and active member of the U.S. armed forces should remind everyone that computerized medical records are a disaster waiting to happen. These systems will be hacked or stolen and you and your children's private medical information will be made available to international and local criminals, busybodies, and your bosses, co-workers, and neighbors.
Thefts of medical information on a smaller scale are already occurring. The lesson is clear: if you are a patient, you should avoid these systems and utilize doctors who refuse to participate in this burgeoning and ill-advised intrusion into your privacy. Despite what you read and hear from the media and the medical establishment, electronic medical records will not improve your care or reduce errors. (see "Electronic Medical Records" at The Myths of Modern Medicine).
Electronic medical systems will increase costs, require more staff, reduce privacy, and are prone to all the bugs and failures of modern computer systems. Their use will only enhance the power and profits of the medical industrial complex. The American Medical Association and other lapdogs for the “health care” moguls should be ashamed of their role in promoting these programs, as should Mr. Bush and members of Congress for jawboning this distraction from more significant issues in medicine. (L.B. Grotte, July 2006)
EXERCISE & THE HEART
To compare the effects of exercise and angioplasty in patients with stable coronary artery disease, 101 70- year old men were randomly assigned to percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with stenting, or one year of exercise training (20 minutes cycling a day). At the end of the one-year study, 88% of the exercise group had no heart attacks, compared to 70% of the stented group, and the relative difference was maintained at two and five year follow-ups.
With additional significant financial savings in the exercise group, the exercise option has now been offered to all suitable patients in 5 cardiac centers in Germany. (Circulation. 2004;109:1371-1378). Meanwhile a meta-analysis of nine trials which compared exercise with normal care of patients with chronic heart failure, found a significantly reduced risk of mortality and increased median time to hospital admission among patients who exercised. (BMJ 2004;328).
Finally, a study of over 2,000 men and women who had suffered a recent heart attack and described themselves as either depressed or socially isolated, found that only 6% of those who exercised regularly died of a subsequent heart attack in the next two years, compared with 12% of those who took no exercise. They also experienced a greater reduction in depression compared to the non-exercisers. (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36(5):746-755, May 2004).
EXERCISE REDUCES ENDOMETRIAL CANCER
Modest levels of physical activity appear to reduce a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer by up to 40%, according to a study carried out in Shanghai., where endometrial cancer rates have increased significantly in the last two to three decades. Women who were more physically active in their teens and in later life (housework and walking) were at reduced risk, and the more such activity they did increased the risk reduction. Similar reductions in breast cancer risk were found in an analysis of over 2,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. (American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting, 2004).
LOSE THAT BELLY
Whether men have a high or a low body mass index (BMI), the less fat they carry around the belly, the fitter they are. In a study of nearly white 300 males, higher levels of cardio respiratory fitness were found to correlate to less subcutaneous (more superficial) and visceral (deeper) abdominal fat. (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Volume 36(2) February 2004 pp 286-291).
Previous items in news have reported that higher exposure to sun between the ages of 6 and 15 years appears to be associated with a decreased risk of multiple sclerosis (BMJ 2003;327:316), that bright sunlight can increase serotonin levels eightfold (The Lancet, Vol. 360, December 677, 2002, pp. 1840-42), and that insufficient exposure to ultraviolet radiation may be an important risk factor for cancer in Western Europe and North America, with up to 85,000 additional cancers and 30,000 additional deaths in the USA attributed to lack of sunlight in the year 2002. (Cancer 2002;94:272-81).
Now the anti-sun lobby has struck back. Professor Michael Holick has been forced to resign from the department of dermatology at Boston University after writing a book arguing that sunlight can help prevent cancer and heart disease, strengthen the bones and alleviate depression. He advocates a few minutes, two to three times a week, lying under a sun lamp (although his case is somewhat undermined by the financial support given to his book by the Indoor Tanning Association). The American Academy of Dermatology has called Prof. Holick “irresponsible” and compared his advice to advocating smoking to relieve anxiety.
However in a further challenge to dermatological rectitude, a paper presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, revealed that many teenage girls in Maine, USA, were lacking in vitamin D. Up to a half of a person’s adult bone mass is laid down in puberty, and vitamin D is essential for proper bone development. The primary source of the vitamin is sunlight, with dietary sources playing a secondary role. Recent research has suggested that vitamin D also plays a part in cancer prevention and control of blood pressure. The author of the study recommends 5 to 120 minutes of daily sunbathing in the summer.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS & THE HEART
An analysis of 12 different studies indicates that people who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder after events such as urban disasters, war, child abuse and sexual assault, are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack. (Annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, Orlando, Florida).
SELENIUM & PROSTATE CANCER
High levels of dietary selenium appear to significantly reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Men with high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) can reduce the risk of progressive prostate cancer by as much as 50%. Selenium is present in a wide range of foods, especially fish, organ meats, Brazil nuts and walnuts, as well as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, eggs, garlic, broccoli and cabbage. (J Natl Cancer Inst 2004; 96: 696-703).
OVARIAN CANCER & VEGETABLES
Women who ate higher amounts of vegetables (excluding potatoes) and foods containing vitamin E in the one year prior to their diagnosis of ovarian cancer, were more likely to still be alive 5 years after diagnosis. Taking nutritional supplements, however, appeared to have conferred no benefit, and consumption of dairy foods had a negative effect, conferring a 30% greater risk of death among women who consumed larger amounts. (International Journal of Cancer, Vol. 106, No. 2: 264-269).
MY FAMILY & OTHER ANIMALS
Siblings, pets and living on a farm all help protect infants against the development of atopic (allergic) diseases, according to new research from Denmark. Interviews with over 24,000 pregnant women (twice during their pregnancy, and again when their child was 6 and 18 months old) found that the risk of atopic dermatitis decreased with each additional exposure to three or more siblings, day care, pet ownership, and farm residence. However, contrary to recent suggestions that infectious diseases offer similar protection, the risk of atopic dermatitis increased with each infectious disease before 6 months of age. (BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38069.512245.FE).
TCM & HIV/AIDS
10 months after launching a program to provide free antiretroviral drugs to AIDS-stricken farmers, China’s Henan province is turning to traditional Chinese medicine instead. The Western drugs used were of older type and proved to have unacceptable side effects, whilst newer drugs are simply too expensive to supply to the region’s35,000 HIV/AIDS patients. Teams will be established throughout Henan’s hospitals to research the use of traditional medicines in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. (China Daily).
GOOD NEWS FOR COFFEE
Finns have the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world, so Finland was an appropriate place to study the relationship between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes. In a study of nearly 15,000 coffee drinkers, it was found that reduced risk of diabetes was 29% in women and 27% in men, if they drank 3-4 cups of coffee a day, with those figures rising to 79% and 55% in those who drank at least 10 cups. However only filtered coffee (as opposed to boiled coffee) had these protective effects. (JAMA. 2004;291:1213-1219).
DIET & ASTHMA IN THE YOUNG
Blood tests of over 7,000 children aged 4-16, found that higher blood levels of beta carotene, selenium and vitamin C were associated with a reduced risk of asthma, especially among those exposed to second-hand smoke. The reductions in risk were around 10% in children not exposed to smoke, but rose to between 40% and 50% in those who were. Beta carotene is found in orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, mangos and oranges, and selenium is found in liver, cereals, grains, fish and some nuts. Vitamin C is plentiful in citrus fruits, as well as strawberries, red and green peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. (Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 2004;169: 393-398).