Aging as a disease

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING

My kids turned 7 the other day and typical of kids of their age, they loved having a birthday and were very happy celebrating it. Then one asked me “Is there somebody in this world who is not happy about having a birthday?” Actually there are quite a lot, I told him. Old people mainly who are not happy being reminded they are growing older.

Aging: you can’t stop it but can you fight and postpone it? But is chronological aging a disease? And if it were a disease, can it be managed and treated like a disease? In other words, can we stop the time and put aging on hold? This was the topic of a scientific conference last week aptly called “Turning Back the Clock.”

According to biogerontologist David Gems

“If aging is seen as a disease, it changes how we respond to it. For example, it becomes the duty of doctors to treat it.”

Aging is traditionally seen as a natural biological process even if many of us are not happy about it. People try to slow down the external signs of aging through cosmetic surgery. However, there are currently no drugs in the market for the treatment of aging because drug regulators only approve drugs for specific diseases and conditions but not for a general concept like aging.

Gems continued to explain:

“Because aging is not viewed as a disease, the whole process of bringing drugs to market can’t be applied to drugs that treat aging. This creates a disincentive to pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to treat it.”

But one can point out that depression used to be a general concept but is now a valid medical condition with lots of treatment options available.

The sceptics will point out that viewing aging as a disease is just another way for pharmaceutical industries to make money, the way they make money with millions of people swallowing anti-depressants each day.

But scientists point out that aging comes with a lot of age-related diseases such as dementia, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer. Currently, medicine is trying to treat each of these specific conditions. They believe that there is a common denominator to all these and identifying and treating this common mechanism, all these conditions can be treated.

One avenue scientists are pursuing is looking at the genes of the very old people and identifying the genetic mechanisms that make them less susceptible to age-related diseases. These genes and the mechanism they control are believed to determine longevity.

According to Andrew Dillin of the Salk Institute in California and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute:

“It is … looking increasingly likely that pharmacological manipulation of these … pathways could form the basis of new preventative medicines for diseases aging, and aging itself.”

What’s the state of the air in your city?

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

The Americans are concerned about the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The Europeans are worrying about the volcanic clouds coming from Iceland. But what about what is going on in your immediate environment? What is the air like in your part of the world? The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released their 2009 State of the Air report. And one of the key findings is: 28.9 million Americans live in counties where the outdoor air failed all three tests covered in the State of the Air report.

Are you one of them? Have you checked out what’s blowing in the wind in your city?

The report ranks US cities according to two of the most widespread air pollution: ozone and particulate matter levels.

And the top 10 most polluted cities according to ozone levels are:

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA
  • Fresno-Madera, CA
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, CA-NV
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  • Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
  • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
  • Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC

The top 10 most polluted cities in terms of short-term particle pollution are:

  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Fresno-Madera, CA
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, AL
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, CA-NV
  • Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, UT
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA
  • Modesto, CA
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  • Merced, CA
  • The top 10 most polluted cities in terms of year-round particle levels are:
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
  • Fresno-Madera, CA
  • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, AL
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  • St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL

 So what is wrong with California?

But of course, it’s not all bad news. The report also gives a list of the cleanest cities based on the same criteria as above.

And the cleanest 12 cities according to ozone levels are:

  • Bismarck, ND
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
  • Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Duluth, MN-WI
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, ND-MN
  • Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Laredo, TX
  • Lincoln, NE
  • Port St. Lucie-Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL
  • Rochester, MN
  • Sioux Falls, SD

And the cleanest 10 for all year particle pollution are:

  • Cheyenne, WY
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, NM
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Great Falls, MT
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Bismarck, ND

And the cleanest 10 for short-term particle pollution are:

  • Alexandria, LA
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Athens-Clarke County, GA
  • Austin-Round Rock, TX
  • Bangor, ME
  • Billings, MT
  • Bloomington-Normal, IL
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
  • Champaign-Urbana, IL

So what does the dirty mean for many golden state residents and others who live in polluted areas?

Air pollution has been linked to respiratory problems, asthma, allergy and cardiovascular disorders (see our feature in Battling Asthma). Infants and children are especially susceptible.

Check out the ALA site for the following audio resources:

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence

Spondylosis and Back Pain (the Good News)

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Spondylosis is the medical word describing “wear and tear”  or “degenerative changes” in the spine. It is the equivalent of osteoarthritis in joints outside the spine.

It’s a universal phenomenon – everybody will have some degree of spondylosis in their spine as they grow older. There is though, a confusion about the relationship of spondylosis with chronic spinal pain.

Many patients and doctors think  that if you feel pain in a certain area of your spine and there is spondylosis in the same area,  that the spondylosis must be the underlying cause of the pain.  However, in the high proportion of cases this simply isn’t the case.

Some of the confusion arises because everyone knows that if there is arthritis in the major weight bearing joints of the body like the hip or knee, this will often cause significant pain. Arthritis in the hip or knee can be progressive, ending up in the need for a joint replacement.

The fundamental problem with arthritis in the hip or knee is a failure of the articular cartilage to cope with the stresses through the joint. But in the spine and there are two major weight bearing structures – the disc (which does not rely on cartilage at all) and the facet joint (which does). The disc carries a significantly higher proportion of weight than the joint and therefore the the failure of articular cartilage is much less significant in the spine. This means spondylosis does not always cause pain.

We all get ‘degenerative changes’ as we grow older. There is no hard evidence that these changes are a cause of back pain.

In fact the peak incidence of back pain occurs in the age group from 40-55 years of age and declines after that. The incidence of spondylosis continues to increase. If spondylosis always caused back pain, then the two would increase together. However, the opposite is the case.

If you want to study further – here’s a link to some research that clarifies the relationship between chronic pain and spondylosis or degenerative changes in the spine.

It is really important that we understand that if there is underlying spondylosis we are not doomed to a life of chronic pain. I describe the changes of spondylosis as similar to the wrinkles you get from laughter lines in your face – if you haven’t lived a full and rich life, you won’t get them.

About the Author:

Dr Jonathan Kuttner has been treating people with chronic pain for over thirty years. He firmly believes that knowledge is power, and once you understand the cause of your pain, you can begin to control it. Go to Jonathan’s site to read more about mind body connection and treating trigger points.

Cancer in the headlines, May 28

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

No Evidence Linking Cell Phone Use to Risk of Brain Tumors, according to FDA, WHO
A consumer health information advisory from the US FDA says that mobile phone use does not increase risk for brain cancer. The advisory is based on the latest data from the Interphone study published June 2010 issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology. The World Health Organization (WHO) also issued a similar statement. Does this settle the issue once and for all? We’ll bring you more on this next week.

Novartis: Ovarian cancer drug disappoints in trial
A big disappointment for pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The anti-cancer drug patupilone may be effective against ovarian cancer but it is not better than any drugs currently in the market. Under these circumstances, the likelihood of approval for this indication is unlikely. According to the company:
“Novartis does not plan to proceed with regulatory filings based on these data.”

Research Shows Surgical Procedure Offers New Option for Pediatric Patients with Rare Cancer in Abdomen
A surgical intervention meant for adults but was adapted for pediatric patients is reported to improve survival of children with rare tumors in the abdomen. The procedure called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) or “heated chemotherapy” was used in 24 pediatric patients which resulted in an overall 3-year survival rate of 71%. This is significantly higher than the 26% survival among those who received standard treatment.

Hospital wins suit after man got uterine cancer
The NYU Langone Medical Center won the malpractice suit filed by the widow of a man who contracted cancer after undergoing kidney transplant at the hospital. The donor kidney was taken from a deceased stroke victim whose uterine cancer was only discovered 6 weeks later. Although the hospital advised the patient of the risks of keeping the organ, he decided to keep it for 6 months. The jury decided in favor of the hospital. This is probably the only case of uterine cancer to be transmitted through an organ transplant.

Effect of reduced immunosuppression after kidney transplant failure on risk of cancer
Patients have to undergo immunosuppression after organ transplants to lower the chances of rejection. However, due to suppressed immunity, these patients have a higher risk for developing cancer. Australian researchers report that incidence of certain cancers increase during immunosuppression after kidney transplant. However, the incidence decreases when immunosuppression (e.g. in cases of transplant failure) is stopped, e.g. the effect of immunosuppression seems to be reversible. These cancers are non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lip cancer, and melanoma.

Age Matters: Employing, Motivating And Managing Older Employees

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Age Matters: Employing, Motivating And Managing Older Employees

Heart(y) News, May 28: updates on implants and devices

May 28, 2010 by  

Mayo Clinic Discharges 1st SynCardia Total Artificial Heart Patient in U.S. History
This patient just made history when he became the first patient in the US to walk away from the hospital with a SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart . 43-year old Charles Okeke, husband and father of three could go home while waiting for a matching heart donor, thanks to the Freedom™ driver, the first ever U.S. portable driver designed to power SynCardia’s Total Artificial Heart both inside and outside the hospital. The driver weighs only 13.5 lbs and can be carried in a backpack or shoulder bag. Okeke is one of the lucky few to be part of the trial testing the driver.

Reused pacemakers safe, effective in meta-analysis
Almost everything is reused and recycled nowadays, so why not pacemakers? Just, that’s right. Those little implants that keep the heart ticking. Researchers at University of Michigan removed pacemakers from deceased patients, sterilized them, and used them in patients who cannot afford to pay for these devices. The results are very positive, with no increased occurrence of infection, device malfunction or other side effects were observed. According to the researchers:
“Pacemaker reuse is a safe, efficacious, and ethical alternative to address the medical needs for those in Third World countries who could not afford therapy otherwise.”
The study looked only at pacemakers but not at ICDs.

Henry Ford Hospital study: Fewer infections with new heart-pump implant
A new heart pump model indicated for end-stage cardiac patients significantly lowers  the risk for infection, according to researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. HeartMate II is a newer model of the left ventricular assist device HeartMate that is less invasive and thus the patient is less prone to infection. HeartMate was approved by the US FDA in February this year.

HRS issues guidance on tough device-withdrawal issues
The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) has spoken and issued a first-of-its-kind consensus statement regarding the pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) of terminally ill patients. The issue especially addressed the withdrawal or refusal of life-sustaining devices such as pacemakers or ICDs by dying patients. According to the guidance by HRS and its collaborators from other groups and countries:

Patients (and their surrogates) have the right to refuse or withdraw any life-sustaining treatment including [cardiovascular implantable electronic device] CIED therapies based on their healthcare-related values, preferences, and goals. [Data suggest] that physicians are not necessarily comfortable with device deactivation—their understanding varies, and their comfort level varies as well.”

Some doctors believe that especially pacemaker withdrawal is tantamount to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

There is a common misconception that such withdrawal is just like “pulling the plug” leading to instantaneous death. The guidance provides that doctors should carefully discuss and inform the patients and family members the consequences of cardiac device withdrawal.

5 servings of fruit & veggies each day: is this possible?

May 27, 2010 by  
Filed under OBESITY

Health and nutrition experts believe that obesity can be prevented through proper diet and exercise. And 4 to 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day is what we are supposed to eat. But hey, can we really consume that many servings each day? And even if we manage to do it, how do we pass on this practice on our little children?

I remember when growing up that I hated vegetables. My mom was a fish-and-vegetable person and we resented that we didn’t get meat as often as we wanted. Looking back now, my aversion to vegetables then was due to how they prepared (boiled!) and presented (eat it or else!). But to be fair, there were not that many resources to help moms 30 years ago. Growing up in a tropical country, it was a common belief that veggies (there weren’t that many available then) could not be eaten raw or half cooked or else you’ll get ill. Times have changed and luckily, we have more resources on our hands now, from fridges and freezers to a wide range of fresh produce at the supermarket. In other words, we have room for creativity in preparing and presenting nutritious food. I want to share here with you some tips.

Serving # 1: Breakfast

Cereals (low sugar, low fat) with topped with sliced soft fruit such as banana, kiwi, or oranges. My kids love watching me slicing bananas or kiwis over their bowl of cereal. “Thin slices, please!” And they’d count how many slices a banana can have. The record so far is 46 slices.


Crepe or pancakes topped with fruit such as strawberries or raspberries. But only on weekends when there is no need to rush.


Cereal or pancakes with apple sauce. Choose the sugar-free kind of apple sauce or make your own.

You can add raisins, prunes, fresh nuts, and pumpkin seeds.


Serving #2: Morning snack

Sliced apples, pears, cucumbers, or carrots. For their snack box, it’s slices of firm fruit or vegetables. It’s usually apples although firm, crunchy pears are also great. To top it up, I insert a small cheese sandwich or a granola (preferably whole grain) bar.

Serving #3: Lunch

Stirred fried veggies plus rice. Veggies would include carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, zuchini, beans or peas. Another variation would be fried rice with veggies with a dash of soya or oyster sauce. A small amount of cube ham or bacon pieces can make it more appealing.


Baked vegetables. This could be broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes and potatoes topped with cheese. Another variation is baked veggies with macaroni and ground beef.


Pasta with spinach cream sauce. My kids love this, with macaroni or penne and fresh or frozen spinach. You can add small pieces of smoked salmon and cheese on top.

Serving #4: Afternoon snack

Sliced fruit/fruit salad. If good mangoes are available, I invest in this expensive as my kids love it. I also buy seasonal like melons, pineapples, strawberries, and cherries. If you use canned fruit, choose the sugar-free kind.


Cake with fruit and nuts. I like to bake apple cake, banana bread, carrot cake and other fruity cakes on weekends or when the kids have company.


Apple sauce or fruity yoghurt and whole grain cookies. My kids love apple sauce and yoghurt and I try to buy the ones with low sugar and low fat.

Serving #5: Evening supper

True to the tradition of many European countries, only 1 warm meal is eaten in our family each day. Evening supper would consist of dark bread, cold cuts, and cheese. To go with it:

Mixed salad. Lettuce, tomatoes, and other fresh veggies with Italian dressing (olive oil and vinegar) topped with nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)


Veggie cuts with dip. I use low-fat yogurt or vinegar for a dip although the kids would eat the cuts without dip.


Vegetable soup. I sometime prepare vegetable soup during the cold months. This could be pumpkin, broccoli, zuchini, or pea soup, with a sprinkle of cheese and crouton on top.

Let me tell you that I am not a good cook and I don’t like spending so much time in the kitchen. Yet I manage to give myself and my kids the needed nutrition each day. 4 to 5 servings seem much but if you sit down and really think about it, it’s doable. 2 to 3 servings are not ideal but would also do, with focus on fresh produce. But how much is a serving? The CDC has a nifty tool to calculate your needs according to your age, gender, and physical activity.

It’s not easy but the important thing is to try. And in case of kids, you should start them young. I did, and I’m happy to say I am reaping the benefits now.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Help! Fresh Air Needed for Children

May 27, 2010 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

A plant needs water, sunlight, and fresh air in order to grow. So does a child. However, children who live in big cities seldom have the space, much less the fresh air they need.

The latest State of the Air report by the National Lung Association shows that the air in major cities in the US are so dirty they can “harm your body and risk your life.”

It takes a lot of foresight to foresee what quality of life and air  will be in a hundred years but this was what some visionaries did more than 130 years ago when The Fresh Air Fund was founded, a unique non-profit organization. Unique in a sense that unlike most charity organizations, it does not give the recipients – children – material things or services. What it gives is – fresh air and clean fun!

Look at the activities listed below:

  • Playing in the backyard
  • Picking wild flowers
  • Laughing in the sunshine
  • Catching fireflies
  • Riding bicycles
  • Learning to swim
  • Running barefoot through the grass
  • Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
  • Building sandcastles
  • Making new friends

These are simple things that children in rural areas (including my kids) may take for granted, but many children in big cities will grow up without experiencing all these things.

The Fresh Air Fund is based on the simple mission that city children should get the chance to breathe fresh air and commune with nature. It was initially set up to help children affected the tuberculosis epidemic in the New York City tenements way back in the 1800s. And if one cannot change the city and its air, the next feasible thing is take the child somewhere where it is green and clean. However, all children – not only those with respiratory illness – deserve a respite from the pollutions of the city and to have clean air in their lungs. Since it started in 1877, the Fund has given the gift of fresh air to more than 1.7 million NYC kids.

The Fresh Air Fund gives hundreds of inner city children every summer vacation the chance to enjoy nature and breathe fresh air out in the country side. The children are especially from the New York area aged 6 to 18 years old, whose family cannot afford paying for a vacation The organization hosts these kids in five Fresh Air camps. The camps are located in upstate New York and are also open the whole year round for off season camping and educational field trips.

However, building and maintaining the summer vacation camps is not an easy thing. The Fresh Air Fund needs all the help it can get to continue its work. Here are ways we can help.

Host a child. In order to accommodate more children than what the camps can hold, Fresh Air Fund has solicited the help of rural and suburban families to host city children. The Friendly Town Program has host families in 13 American states and in Canada. Your family could be one of them. Check out the hosting area map.

Volunteer. You can donate your services to the organization in many ways, as camp counselors and helpers as well as volunteers in running the organization. Since a couple of years, optometrists work pro bono to provide eye tests for the summer camp children.

Donate. If you neither have the time to volunteer or the space to host a child, but have the financial means, donating is the best way of supporting the fund. Recently, a very generous donor has offered to match all donations given to the Fresh Air Fund before June 30. This means that any donations they get will be doubled!

This is your chance to give the gift of fresh air!

Patient-doctor encounter is important in hypertension control

May 26, 2010 by  

Hypertension patients: How often do you talk to your doctor about your blood pressure? Current guidelines recommend that patients with “uncomplicated hypertension” should consult their doctor at once a month. That’s the theory. In practice, it is more like every 3 or 4 months.

Well, a recent study shows that talking to your doctor regularly, say, every 2 weeks or even more frequently, can actually help keep your blood pressure under control.

According to lead author Dr Alexander Turchin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA (source: heartwire):

“Patients’ blood pressure normalized much faster if they saw their physician frequently. [This] may be common sense, there have been no data to prove this. Ours is the first large study to really show that there might be an association.”

The study looked at 502 diabetic patienst with hypertension and analyzed their doctor encounter frequency. Those who had encounter frequency of once a month or less had their BP normalized faster (median of 1.5 months at the rate of 28.7 mm Hg/month). Those whose encounter was less frequency took longer to have their BP normalized.

“Shorter encounter intervals are associated with faster decrease in BP and earlier BP normalization. Greatest benefits were observed at encounter intervals of two weeks or less, shorter than what is currently recommended.”

The authors believe that there is a lot to improve when it comes to adherence to the frequency of patient-doctor contact. For those with more complication condition and comorbidities (e.g. hypertensive diabetic patients), this is especially crucial in keeping BP in control.

Ok, so it is such a hassle to visit the doctor very often. The authors point out that there are more “creative ways” of improving care and increasing compliance. Patient-doctor encounter need not be face-to-face

Dr. Turchin points out:

“All healthcare systems need to become more creative in terms of their approach. And this is not just a message to physicians put also to patients.”

Nowadays, technology is available for remote consulting such as by phone or using the Internet. Both doctors and patients should make use of this technology.

As the National High Blood Pressure Education Month in the US come to a close, we bring some more resources:

Mission Possible: Prevent and Control America’s High Blood Pressure

Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure

National High Blood Pressure Education Program

Top Diabetes Weight Loss Diet

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Diabetes ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the US with new cases of the disease rising at alarming levels, especially among children and teens. More alarming is the fact that diabetes more than doubles the risk of sudden death from a heart attack.

Weight loss among those suffering from diabetes is very difficult as the body’s delicate glucose and lipid balancing mechanisms are disrupted, causing excess pounds to become resistant to traditional diet plans. Following a simple, natural three step plan can provide weight loss relief and health benefits to diabetics and those concerned with preventing this devastating disease.

1. Control Diabetes With Food

Control Diabetes Through Diet

Control Diabetes Through Diet

The Hippocrates quote Let food be thy medicine’ holds special meaning when discussing diabetes. Medical advise provided to those newly diagnosed with the disease include a variety of prescription medications and a ‘low-fat’ diet which is laden with carbohydrates, both of which lead to a proliferation of diabetes and life threatening complications. Diabetes drugs work by forcing sugar into the cells whether needed or not, and don’t address the core problem.

Diabetics are particularly sensitive to the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar and a resulting high level of triglycerides. Excess triglycerides circulating in the blood are directly responsible for fat storage in the body, and too many carbohydrates at any given meal will be converted to this fat storage lipid resulting in weight gain.

To prevent and treat diabetes, it’s critical to limit carbohydrates from all sources with each meal. Totally eliminate refined carbohydrates from desserts, potatoes and breads. Even fruits and vegetables in large quantities can create blood sugar problems, depending on individual metabolism. Be sure to include a fat source with each meal, as this helps to regulate the release of sugar into the blood. Lean protein sources from chicken, turkey and pork as well as nuts and seeds have minimal impact on blood glucose and triglyceride levels.

As you remove junk carbohydrate calories from your diet, it becomes easier to monitor total caloric intake to achieve slow and healthy weight loss. Women should target 1200 calories a day, and men need around 1500 calories for effective weight loss.

2. Monitor After Meal Blood Sugars

Monitor Blood Sugar to Reduce Risk of Complications

Monitor Blood Sugar to Reduce Risk of Complications

The best way to determine your carbohydrate sensitivity is to test your blood sugar at 1 and 2 hour intervals after eating. Strong evidence exits which indicates that it’s the post meal blood sugar readings which determine the risk for diabetic complications. It’s also important for those wishing to avoid this disease, as it provides a real-time reading of overall blood glucose control. Many people are unaware they may be pre-diabetic, or already have the disease.

Blood sugar readings 1 hour after a meal should not exceed 140 mg/dl, and no more than 120 mg/dl after 2 hours. Readings which are higher are indicative of metabolic dysfunction, where the cells are bathed in excess sugar for many hours of the day. This leads to a condition known as Syndrome X, and significantly increases risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It also raises triglyceride levels, leading to stubborn weight gain as the body works to store excess sugar as fat. Regular blood sugar monitoring to optimal levels will ensure proper metabolic function, improved health and reduced weight.

3. Develop a Resistance Training Exercise Program

Compliment With Exercise to Reach Weight Loss Goal

Compliment With Exercise to Reach Weight Loss Goal

Compliment your new diet and blood sugar monitoring plan with regular exercise. The power of physical activity cannot be underestimated, as it helps the muscles to properly utilize blood sugar for energy.  When done most days of the week, the body is trained to become metabolically efficient, as sugar and triglycerides are ushered out of the blood quickly after finishing each meal.

Recent studies show that progressive resistance training using weights or power bands in short bursts are the best method of achieving physical health, as it mimics the exercise patterns of our evolutionary ancestors. Be sure to work all major muscle groups at high intensity for 1 to 2 minutes and then rest for the same time. 20 minutes a day is enough for beneficial effects.

Those wishing to prevent or treat diabetes must be disciplined in following this three step plan. Proper diet is the only way to halt the devastating effects excess carbohydrates have on our metabolism, and blood sugar monitoring provides the necessary confirmation that the program is working properly. Resistance exercise assists the body to naturally regulate insulin and blood sugar, the end result being improved health and sustainable weight loss.

About the author:

John Phillip is a Health, Diet and Nutrition Researcher and Author of the popular Optimal Health Resource Blog who regularly reports on the alternative cutting edge use of supplements and lifestyle modifications to enhance and improve the length and quality of life. Health problems can be avoided and overcome with a sensible approach to monitoring key health factors such as weight, blood glucose, blood pressure and body temperature. His mission is to discuss the relevant findings on nutritional factors as they become available, and how you can incorporate this latest information to better your lifestyle. Read John’s latest healthy articles, updated regularly at his Optimal Health Resource Blog.

Watch out for Phi, the new prostate cancer test

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

The Prostate Health Index or Phi for short is making waves. And doctors, researchers, and patients are hoping that this new test will clear up the ambiguity surrounding prostate cancer testing once and for all. Is this the new prostate cancer test we are waiting for? The current testing protocol is based on the levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in the blood. One of the main problems of the PSA method is the high rate of false positives that lead to unnecessary biopsy, anxiety, and even cancer treatment.

Enter Phi, a new method developed by the medical device company Beckman Coulter. The method tests for 3 different types of PSA: total PSA, free PSA, ands [-2]pro PSA in the blood serum. From these 3 values, an index called Phi ratio is calculated [Phi = (proPSA / free PSA) x (square root of PSA)]. Its advocates claim that this index is a much more precise measure of prostate cancer risk. At the annual meeting of the European Association for Urology in Barcelona last April, Phi was introduced in a symposium sponsored by Beckman Coulter and addressed the following issues:

Serum Prostate Health Index (phi) significantly increases specificity when selecting men for biopsy

Implementation of the Prostate Health Index (phi) in a prostate cancer risk assessment tool

Predicting an unfavorable outcome in men enrolled in active surveillance for prostate cancer

Supporting data were from 71 patients of John Hopkins Hospital. In these patients, researchers were able to show that Phi was correlated to unfavorable biopsy results.

Additional claims from the Barcelona symposium:

“Serum Beckman Coulter Phi is a multivariate index incorporating PSA, free PSA and [-2]proPSA concentrations into a single result to estimate the probability of cancer in men aged 50 and older with total PSA in the 2.0-10.0 ng/ml range and a non-suspicious DRE. [-2]proPSA is a novel serum marker strongly associated with prostate cancer and delivers added specificity to PSA. As a result, phi contributes to significantly reduce the number of negative biopsies resulting from suspicious PSA or %free PSA results.”

Indeed, this new test looks promising but data from large scale studies are needed to confirm its use as a more specific alternative to the standard PSA test. The annual meeting of the American Urological Association is scheduled this coming week (May 29 to June 3) in San Francisco. We will be sure to hear more about Phi at the conference.

Pathobiology Of The Aging Rat: Blood And Lymphoid, Respiratory, Urinar

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Pathobiology Of The Aging Rat: Blood And Lymphoid, Respiratory, Urinar

5 ways of preventing food-borne illnesses

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Now that summer is almost here, more and more cases of food poisoning and food-borne infections are reported. More are expected in the coming months. While some of these cases are due contaminated food sold in supermarkets, most contamination actually occurs right in our own kitchen, and thus, with appropriate actions can be avoided. Our local newspaper has given us a couple of tips on how to avoid food-borne diseases. I add a couple of my own.

Wash hands. Such a simple action can avoid a lot of health issues. Hands should be washed before and after kitchen work, before and after handing food stuffs especially raw meat and fish.
Rings, bracelets and watches should not be worn while working in the kitchen.

Use your fridge and freezer properly. This means keeping these appliances at the right temperatures. The fridge should ideally be at 4°C, the deep freezer at -18°C. The freezer compartment of most fridges goes down only to -4°C and therefore shouldn’t be used for long-term storage.
Overfilling your fridge and freezer is not recommended as this can cause disruption in the temperatures.

Store food properly. Follow instructions on the food packaging in terms of storage. The time lag between supermarket and fridge/freezer should be as short as possible.
If possible, store separately food that needs to be cooked and ready-to-eat food stuff. Raw fish and meat are especially susceptible to spoilage and contamination.
Stored food should be placed in a proper container such as a box or a plastic foil. Not all containers can withstand freezing temperature and may break when used in the freezer. Do not store food in the metal tins it came with.
Do not eat food that is spoiled or expired. Pay attention to the expiration date!
Do not mix left-overs with freshly prepared food when storing.

Defrost food the right way. Defrosting deep-frozen food should not be done at room temperature but in the fridge at 5°C. I usually transfer frozen food to the fridge the night before just before I go to bed.
If time for defrosting is rather short, the defrosting option of the microwave can be useful.
Do not refreeze thawed food, raw or cooked.
Dispose of thaw water properly.

Keep your kitchen, utensils, and appliances clean. This includes the countertops, the fridge, the freezer and the oven. The fridge should be cleaned regularly whereas the freezer should be defrosted properly.
Remember that cleaning solutions may be effective against dirt and germs but they can also be toxic on their own. Try to use natural home cleaners instead.

Cancer cause: environmental pollutants or unhealthy lifestyle?

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Experts agree that cancer is killing us. What they cannot agree on is the root cause of this evil. Let us take a look at the ongoing debate.

Blame the environment

A presidential panel issued a report that claims that environmental cancer risks are “grossly underestimated.” The panel consists of two cancer experts LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., MD, of Howard University and Margaret L. Kripke, PhD, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and was set up by the Bush administration to conduct a 3-year study.

In the report entitled Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now, the panelists point to the fact that nearly 80,000 chemicals currently on the market in the United States are largely unregulated, many of them understudied in terms of health and environmental effects. Among these chemicals are most likely carcinogens.

The report says:

“The grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

The report sparked a debate over an issue that has been controversial for years: What is the actual burden of environmentally-induced cancer?

Many advocacy groups welcome the report especially the Environmental Working Group, a strong advocate for more environmental legislations.

According to environmental health professor Richard Clapp of Boston University at a news conference sponsored by the Breast Cancer Fund:

“This is an attempt to update the science. This report … calls for action on things where we don’t yet know all the details. We shouldn’t wait until the bodies are counted to say, ‘Well, maybe people shouldn’t be exposed so much to that chemical.”

Blame your lifestyle

Dr. Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a cancer epidemiology expert, thinks we are using environmental issues as the scapegoat when in fact, the cause of cancer is a bit closer to home – our unhealthy lifestyle.

“The lack of physical activity, weight gain, obesity clearly account for 20 percent or more of cancer in the United States today.”

Dr. Colditz believes that instead of blaming BPA, phthalates, dioxins, and other substances in the air, water, and food, we should take responsibility for our life. The report that blamed cancer on pollutants will only give people an excuse to ignore the risk factors they can control and modify.

“The damage is that it distracts us, as a society, from actually acting on the things that are already in our grasp.”

Colditz uses the examples of well-known cancer causes in our lives, e.g. tobacco, alcohol, and meat. Smoking causes the majority of lung and other cancers. Alcohol causes 4% of cancers. Red meat is also a known cause for colon cancer. Yet despite all the cancer warnings on tobacco packaging, despites all the educational and media campaigns, people are still smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating meat. In addition, no legislation was able to completely ban these carcinogens from our lives.

The American Cancer Society seems to agree with Colditz and fears the report will undermine cancer prevention programs currently in place.

“…the panel’s report goes too far in trashing established efforts to prevent cancer and that its conclusions go well beyond established facts.”

Environment and lifestyle

Cancer is a very complex disease and experts are still trying to decipher the relationships between genetic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors. To say that one set of risk factors is more important than the other would be a gross mistake. The report on environmental causes of cancer brings to light new insights on this deadly disease that scientists and policy makers shouldn’t ignore. Yet, it also shouldn’t trivialize the role of lifestyle factors that we can modify. In the fight against cancer, these are all our enemies and solidarity against multiple enemies is the key to success.

Allergy test for your newborn

May 24, 2010 by  
Filed under ALLERGIES

When I became mom seven years ago, I was very much concerned about allergies. My family has a history of asthma and I do get hives and hay fever from the time to time though the allergens have never been identified. When I expressed my concerns to our paediatrician, he told me that I have to wait till my kids (I had twins) reach the age of two. By then, it would be evident whether they have allergies. It was a bit frustrating for a mom to play trial and error for two years with food and other stuff. I had to be content with the fact that at least they weren’t allergic to milk – breast milk as well as cow’s milk.

A recent discovery by researchers at the University of Adelaide In Australia may just put mothers’ minds to rest about their babies’ allergies. The researchers at this university developed a simple yet feasible blood test that can predict whether babies are at risk of developing allergies later in the life, a test which can be performed right after delivery.

According to Professor Tony Ferrante, an immunologist from SA Pathology and the Children’s Research Centre at the University of Adelaide:

“A protein in the immune cells of newborns appears to hold the answer as to whether a baby will either be protected, or susceptible to the development of allergies later on.”

The protein kinase C zeta is a cell signalling protein which is present in all babies but whose levels are much lower among those with allergies. The current indicators for allergy risks are family history or the measurement of the antibody IgE. According to the researchers, this protein is far more effective and precise that the currently used indicators. Furthermore, researchers also used this test to find ways and means to reduce the allergy risk. Here is what they found:

“There is evidence that the levels of this important protein increase with fish oil supplementation to protect against allergy development.”

By supplementation, the researchers refer to giving fish oil supplements to pregnant women and those women who are breastfeeding.

Allergies, especially food allergies are on the rise, and allergic reactions can be severe or even life-threatening. For parents as well as paediatricians, identifying allergy risks early on would be a great help in raising a healthy child. This new blood test holds a lot of promise in addressing these concerns and “the new marker may be the most significant breakthrough in allergy testing for some decades.

Resolving Infertility

May 23, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Dealing with infertility is, at best, a frustrating experience.At work, it’s confusing, emotional grueling, and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. Resolving Infertility, from the country’s foremost infertility organization, is an invaluable roadmap to navigating the vast landscape of infertility options. Its special interactive design offers simple tools to facilate your decision making, from “Decision Tress” to “Questions to Ask” to sections sharing firsthand accounts from people coping with infertility. You’ll also learn, in clear, compassionate language, the latest information on: Choosing your medical teamCutting-edge medical treatments The myriad emotional issues surrounding infertility and its treatment Alternative family-building options, such as adoption, surrogacy, and donor pregnancy Planning your finances and knowing your legal options Making the decision to live child-free and much more

Gene Therapy of Cancer: Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Me

May 23, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Gene Therapy of Cancer: Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Me

Heart(y) News, May 21

May 21, 2010 by  

Nintendo Wii gets the AHA thumbs-up
A video game gets the American Heart Association (AHA) heart check? Well, it is not just any video game. It’s the Nintendo Wii virtual exercise and active game systems. In return for the heart check, Nintendo is donation $1.5 million to AHA. Uh-uh. Has AHA sold out to the enemy? Well, it depends on how you look at it. According to AHA president Dr. Clyde Yancy:

“We can ignore the audience that is engaged with gaming—a huge audience—or we can find different ways of engaging that audience.”

AHA is giving Nintendo credit for pioneering physical active gaming also called “exergames.” The AHA heart logo, which will appear on the Nintendo Wii system, as well as video games Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort, is part of a nationwide program to let consumers know that the organization considers the system and games healthy choices. Through this partnership, AHA aims to make exercise more fun and accessible.

A step to artificial life: Man-made DNA powers cell

Carl Venter of the Human Genome Project has made the headlines again. This time, he and his team claim to have created the first “synthetic cell”. Why synthetic? Because the cell is running on DNA synthesized in the lab. This is the first step in creating artificial life, an achievement which thrills some and scares others. The potential use of this development in health care is almost boundless.

New polypill trial begins in Europe; others planned
UMPIRE stands for Use of a Multidrug Pill in Reducing Cardiovascular Events, a clinical trial that just started in Europe. The trial compares compliance between the polypill (consisting of 75 mg aspirin, 40 simvastatin, and the antihypertensive agents, 50 mg atenolol and 10 mg lisinopril) vs individual medications. Other trials are being planned.

Statin side-effects found by British doctors
British researchers reported in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal about “unintended effects of statins” that include higher risk for kidney and liver problems as well as cataracts. However, the frequency of side effects seems to be low. To have a clearer view of the risk and benefits, let us take a look at the numbers. Of10,000 women with high-risk CVD profile treated with statin

  • 271 cases of heart disease will be prevented..
  • 8 cases of esophageal cancer will be prevented
  • 74 patients will suffer from liver dysfunction.
  • 23 patients will have acute renal failure.
  • 307 will develop cataracts.
  • 39 will develop muscular myopathy.

No Parkinson’s disease will be reported.

The authors write that their findings are “reassuring”.

“At national level, our study is likely to be useful for policy and planning purposes. Our study may also be useful for informing guidelines on the type and dose of statins.”

Cancer in the headlines, May 21

May 21, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Swim Across America for cancer
Swim Across America will be hosting two events to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. On July 16, 2010 is the Boston Harbor Island Swim. This 22-mile open-water relay features Olympians and local swimmers plunging into the Atlantic to make a difference for cancer survivors. This event kicks off with a party and silent auction and the swim starts at Rowe’s Wharf in Boston.

On July 17 is the Nantasket Swim. Swimmers age 12 and up are invited to join this fundraiser, which features a one-mile competitive swim and a half-mile recreational swim. Both events start at the Nantasket Beach House in Hull, Mass.

All proceeds support follow-up care and research for cancer survivors at Dana-Farber’s David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic.

Pink Ribbons on the Road: Texas Gets Breast Cancer License Plate
Starting this month, the state of Texas follows the example of other states and is offering specialty license plates with oink ribbons to help promote breast cancer awareness. Two different designs are available at $55 a year and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to National Breast Cancer Foundation. “The plates will be available for cars, motorcycles, trailers, RVs and buses. Personalization is also offered at an additional cost. The license plate will be available for pick up at the county tax assessor’s office about three weeks after the order is placed.”

Actress Lynn Redgrave Dies at 67 of Breast Cancer
Lynn Redgrave, actress and mother died of breast cancer earlier this month. According to her family, she “passed away peacefully after a seven year journey with breast cancer.”The 67-year old documented this journey in her autobiographical photographic journal “A Mother and Daughter’s Recovery from Breast Cancer”. After undergoing mastectomy and several types of therapies, Redgrave was declared cancer-free in 2003. However, the cancer came back and metastasized to other organs this year.

Cancer report energizes activists, not policy
What really causes cancer? Is it the carcinogens that are in the food and drinks we consume and in the air we breathe or is it our unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking and lack of physical activity? Experts are debating heated over this issue. A panel consisting of two cancer experts issued a report recommending drastic policy changes that would address the environmental causes of cancer. However, Dr. Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis believes the report only distracts people from behavioral changes that can prevent cancer by giving them other scapegoats to blame. More about the debate in the next post.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.