Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Better Sleep is Added to the National Goals for 2020

Every decade our government lists our health goals for the next 10 years called the Healthy People report. This year better sleep was added to the list. 25% of US Adults say that they have insufficient sleep or rest at least 5 days out of a month. A major cause is sleep apnea, but others simply do not sleep well. Poor sleep contributes to car and motorcycle crashes. Only 31% of high school students get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night. Careful attention to good sleep habits can bring great dividends to your health.

See Healthy People 2020 from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One Out of Five Americans Are at Risk of Gout

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that is related to an unhealthy accumulation of uric acid, which is a waste product in the body. High levels of uric acid (>7.0 in men and 5.7 in women) put patients at risk for developing gout and to some degree for heart disease as well. During a 15-year period ending in 2004, the risk of gout in males increased from 3.8% to 5.9%. There was a lesser but still significant increase in women. Only 5% of those who have gout are treated for it. It is not clear why the increase, but we can speculate that the cause is either more obesity or higher levels of toxic chemicals in the environment. Ask your doctor for a blood uric acid test to find out if you have it. If you do, lots of cherry juice is often an effective treatment.

See the National Health and Nutrition Survey (click here) (NHANES 2008).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Advances in Acne Treatment

Acne is a great frustration to many teenagers, and sometimes it continues for decades. In middle-age Rosacea causes a bright red pimply rash that is equally difficult. A study funded by the manufacturer but reported at the Annual Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology showed a 70% reduction in acne lesions with the topical combination of adapalene 0.1% and the old standby benzoyl peroxide 2.5% combined in a gel with oral doxycycline. This treatment applies to all but the more severe cases with nodules and pustules. What they did not mention was that it is crucial to take probiotics at a different time of day from the doxycline, or you can develop severe problems with yeast overgrowth in the intestine and elsewhere. For the more severe cases of acne, Accutane is still recommended but the potential side effects are horrible. We have had excellent results with 4-6 treatments of the Smoothbeam laser as a simple office treatment. It is used in some university settings but has not been embraced yet by conventional medicine.

See Family Practice News (click here), January, 2011, p. 34.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Teenage Minds Occasionally Malfunction

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny published a fascinating article on brain toxicity in young people. Studies have shown an average of 207 toxic chemicals in the cord blood of infants. Immediately after birth, doctors add antibiotics, the hepatitis vaccine and preservatives. Then in the first 5 years of life we inject 35 vaccines of live or dead organisms, containing 59 different chemicals, too many of which are given at the same time. Coupled with further environmental exposures during the period of rapid growth, it is no wonder that some children develop ADHD, Autism, Depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and increased violence and risk taking. Obviously, there are other factors as well, and some of these exposures have benefits as well as risks. But we are exposing our young people to many factors that can particularly influence their brains without full knowledge of the consequences.

See NaturalNews.com (click here), February 3, 2011, Sick Brains in Teens—Is There a Root Cause?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walking Toward Mental Health

In an editorial, Dr. Gurprit Lamba summarized the mental health benefits of walking and similar aerobic exercise. Recent research has shown that neurocognitive performance is enhanced in college students that use a treadmill or stationary bike regularly. Biochemicals that counteract anxiety and depression in the body are increased with exercise. Even patients with schizophrenia did better with exercise. Patients being treated with medications for major depression often do better with regular exercise, but they do have to be careful. If they forget even one or two doses, they are more likely to get immediate symptoms because their drugs are metabolized quicker.

See Family Practice News,(click here) January 2010, p. 9

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gait Speed Might Be Considered a new Vital Sign

A report from Dr. Stephanie Studenski of the University of Pittsburg showed that gait speed correlated quite well with expected years of life in patients 65 years of age and older. Gait speed is measured by patients walking at their usual rate from a standing start for 6-8 feet indoors. All that is needed is a walkway of 4 meters and a stopwatch. The rate that corresponds to a median life expectancy is 0.8 meters per second. The measured range was from 0.4 to 1.4 meters per second. Those whose gait speed was 1.2 meters per second or higher had “exceptional” life expectancy. Those whose gait speed is reduced are then targeted with more concentrated preventive measures. This vital sign appears to be as predictive as body mass index, blood pressure, and family history. Welcome to the medicine of the future.

See JAMA 2010(click here);305:50-8.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What to do if You Have a Strong Family History of Breast Cancer

First, you should see your doctor and be tested for a BRCA DNA mutation. If you are positive, some have advocated prophylactic surgery to actually remove the breasts. A Danish study has found that such a radical procedure is probably unnecessary. Instead of annual screening with mammograms, MRIs are performed. This recommendation now applies to all women with a 20-25% risk, even if the BRCA tests are negative. I would add breast thermograms to the annual testing, and I would definitely give some chelation treatments to reduce toxic metals, one of which is gadolinium, which is contained in the dye used in MRIs. An accumulation of toxic metals increases the risk of cancers and heart attacks.

See Family Practice News (click here), January, 2011, p. 4.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Even One Cigarette is Harmful

The Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, issued a report on December 9, 2010 that stated emphatically that even one cigarette can lead to damaged DNA, a heart attack or stroke, sudden infant death syndrome or other health problems. The 700-page report describes how tobacco causes damage, even when inhaled as second-hand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains 7000 chemicals, hundreds of which are know to be toxic and 70 of which are carcinogenic. Every day 4000 Americans under the age of 18 try their first cigarette, and 1000 of them become addicted. 1200 Americans die every day of smoking related diseases. Many states use the money they received from the tobacco companies for general expenditures instead of preventing smoking related deaths as it was intended for. We have a smoking epidemic that we need to address in a big way.

See www.surgeongeneral.gov(click here) to see the highlights of the report.