Fastrack Archives November 2012
Friday November 2, 2012
Stage 4 Chemotherapy Benefits Over-estimated by Patients and Doctors
Patients with advanced cancer have the mistaken belief that chemotherapy can cure their illness according to a New England Journal of Medicine article published in October of 2012. This Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study showe that 69% of advanced lung cancer and 81% of advanced colorectal cancer did not understand that chemotherapy was not at all likely to cure their cancer. The five year survival rate for stage 4 cancers is 2.3%.
Conflicts of interest created by oncologists getting what amounts to a kickback from Big Pharma for prescribing their drugs is likely part of the reason why oncologists readily prescribe chemotherapy for their patients but not so much for themselves or their family.
Monday November 5, 2012
Epidural Injections for Back Pain Cause Fractures
A study at the Henry Ford Hospital found that epidural steroid injections for back pain increased the risk of fracture by 29% with each steroid injection. They compared 3000 patients with severe back pain who had at least one injection with 3000 control patients without an injection.
Steroids decrease absorption of calcium in the GI tract and increase excretion in the kidneys. This results in secondary hyperparathyoidism, decreased levels of estrogen and testosterone, which all predispose to bone breakdown and compression fractures.
Other alternatives should be considered to manage severe back pain that can include chiropractic, acupuncture, bodywork, imagery, infrared light therapy and much more. It is interesting that infrared light therapy accomplishes the same thing that an epidural injection does except it supports healing rather than suppressing it.
Tuesday November 6, 2012
Exercise Boosts Immunity Against Cancer
Exercising after completing chemotherapy boosts immunity by replacing senescent NK cells with vibrant, healthy NK cells that can fight against the progression of cancer according to an October 2012 article presented at theIntegrative Biology of Exercise in October of 2012. This study out of the University of Nebraska studied people who participated in a 12 week exercise program and looked at NK cell activity before and after the 12 week period.
Previous studies have repeatedly shown the exercise can decrease the chance of developing several cancers that include prostate, breast, and colon cancer. It can also improve the prognosis of people with cancer and can decrease the chance of cancer recurrence.
You would think that oncologists would be more interested in promoting lifestyle medicine than chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery because it often works better and is far less toxic.
Wednesday November 7, 2012
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are absolutely necessary for life. Sources are from fish, fish oil, krill, flax and oils from other seeds, nuts, and plants. There is an epidemic of essential fatty acid deficiencies in the US. Infant formulas have been deficient in EFAs; we can add fish oil and evening primrose oil to it. EFAs thin blood, prevent rhythm disturbances, reduce inflammation, make healthy cell membranes, increase serotonin levels, and lower triglycerides and blood pressure.
Thursday Novermber 8, 2012
Can Probiotics Help Prevent Heart Attacks?
Research in the prestigious FASEB Journal suggests that the types and levels of microbes in the intestinal tract may predict a person's chances of having a heart attack. It further suggests that modifying this microbial flora may help reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack. This is a revolutionary milestone in the prevention and treatment of heart attacks and highlights the impressive role of the microflora of the gut and its influence on the biochemistry and physiology of the rest of the body.
Studies in rats showed that the level of a hormone produced in fat called leptin was closely associated with the risk of heart attack; the lower the level of this appetite suppressing hormone the lower the risk for heart attack. The question arises about whether or not certain microbes in the gut worsen or protect against having a heart attack and perhaps many other diseases!
Monday November 19, 2012
SSRI Antidepressants are Risky in Pregnancy
The October 31, 2012 issue of Human Reproduction published an article from Harvard and Tufts Medical Centers stating that SSRI antidepressants should not be used in pregnancy because they lead to worsened pregnancy outcomes, have not been shown to be of benefit, and are massively overused in clinical practice. This family of drugs is associated with an elevated risk for miscarriage, preterm births, neonatal health complications and possible longer term neurobehavioral abnormalities such as autism.
Who in their right mind would take these drugs during pregnancy, and even worse, why would an MD prescribe them! Antidepressants are now the most commonly prescribed drug between the ages of 18 and 44, the childbearing years for most women. Sadly, 11% of women doing invitro fertilizations are prescribed these drugs and the data shows that they reduce the rate for pregnancy and for miscarriage.
Treatments recommended included cognitive behavioral therapy (psychotherapy), exercise, relaxation training, yoga, acupuncture, and nutritional supplements.
Tuesday November 20, 2012
Green Tea Lowers Blood Sugar Spikes
The November 2012 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reported that an ingredient in 1 and 1/2 cups of green tea, epigallocatchin (EGCG), helps reduce blood sugar spikes by about 50% when taken with starches. Some of the effect may be related to the fact that EGCG reduces the activity of alpha amylase (which digests starch) by 34%.
If you're at risk for type 2 diabetes, and you want to consume starches such as a bagel or toast, drinking green tea should help to reduce the rise in blood sugar that is accompanied by these types of food. When blood sugar levels exceed about 170, a process called glycation ensues that leads to the destruction of important proteins in the body such as hormones and enzymes.
Wednesday November 21, 2012
Flaxseeds Lower Blood Pressure
The largest decrease in BP ever shown by any dietary intervention is flaxseeds according to a paper presented at the American Heart Association 2012 Scientific Sessions. Just 2 tablespoons of milled flax seeds resulted in a drop of 10 mm of Hg systolic and 7 mm Hg diastolic. This is equivalent to most antihypertensive drugs, and without their associated "side effects."
Flaxseeds cause a doubling of plasma alpha linolenic acid and a 10 fold increase in lignans that in combination with the high fiber content of flaxseeds, each of which lower BP.
This level of reduction of BP would be expected to result in 50% fewer strokes and a 30% reduction in heart attacks. The body converts the alpha linolenic acid into EPA and DHA, which have profound positive effects on inflammation, coagulation, and cardiac rhythm disorders.
Friday November 23, 2012
Exercise Makes You Smarter
A study in October of 2012 at the Montreal Heart Institute showed that high-intensity interval training makes middle-aged people both healthier and smarter. The program was 4 months long and consisted of 2 days a week of interval training and 2 days of resistance training. Cognitive function and physical conditioning improved greatly, showing that the brain was better oxygenated. There was also improvement in insulin sensistivity and abdominal obesity.
Monday November 26, 2012
What Determines Arterial Stiffening
Apolipoprotein E (apoE) plays a major role in maintaining arterial softness by supressing production of a network of connective tissue in the body according to an article published in the November 2012 issue of Cell Reports. This work suggests that it may be the apoE-containing HDL that confers the main benefit of HDL cholesterol by promoting arterial softness. It is interesting that even when cholesterol is high the softening effects of apoE take precedence in protecting against heart attacks and strokes.
Tuesday November 27, 2012
Reactions to Everyday Stress Predict Future Health
It is not stress itself that causes health problems, it is how we react to stress that will determine our health 10 years from now according to the November 2012 issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Researchers at Penn State surveyed 2000 people daily for 8 days regarding the level of stress in their lives and measured their cortisol level. They then re-surveyed them and re-measured cortisol levels 10 years later. People who were upset at the beginning of the study by daily stressors and continued to dwell on them were more likely to suffer from chronic health issues such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease 10 years later. It is far better to learn to deal with stress sooner than later!
Wednesday November 28, 2012
Drugs that Worsen Memory in the Elderly
A report from the Montreal Geriatric University Institute in November of 2012 reviewed 68 trials on benzodiazepines, 12 on antihistamines, and 15 on tricyclic antidepressants and concluded that these families of drugs have a significant negative impact on memory and concentration in the elderly. The American Geriatrics Society proclaimed that these drugs should not be used in the elderly.
These drugs bind to cholinergic, histamine, GABAergic, and opoiod receptors in the brain and cause problems in cognitive function and in memory.
Thursday November 29, 2012
Mammograms Remain Controversial
One third of cancers detected by mammography may not be life-threatening according to the November of 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Over the past 3 decades, an estimated 1.3 million women have been over-diagnosed of breast cancer that has led to treatment for a cancer for which they did not need treatment.
Many of these cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which in 97% of cases does not shorten life expectancy. However, many are invasive cancers that will spontaneously resolve on their own. Autopsies of women at age 50 show that 30% have an invasive breast cancer. However, many of these resolve because nowhere near 30% of women of this age will die of breasts cancer.
So, we're in desperate need of a breast cancer screening test that is accurate, does not cause cancer, and is affordable. While there is no ideal test today, breast thermography is the closest test that fulfills these criteria.
Friday November 30, 2012
Music Benefits Surgical Patients
A study out of the University of Kentucky published in November of 2012 in the Southern Medical Journal showed that music therapy can benefit patients pre-operatively, intra-operatively, and post-operatively. They found that patients needed less sedative medication, recovered more quickly, had shorter ICU stays, felt better, and had lower hospital costs. Previous studies have shown that through imagery that patients also had less blood loss during surgery and needed less pain medication post-operatively.
Some great resources for this kind of therapy can be found at Aurelis.org, thehealingmind.org and from music from people like Steven Halpern.