Health Points: Thursday

Doctors can't help patients recover more quickly by prescribing antibiotics, said Richard P. Wenzel, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. “There is probably some sense of a placebo effect, but that's short-lived,” he said.
Given the intensity and high-voltage anxiety of serious illness, public crying in hospitals — by patients or family or staff — is less common than one might expect. Sure, it goes on more frequently than, say, at a department store or a restaurant. But more often, people remain buttoned up, dry-eyed, determined to maintain composure.
Africa, a continent usually synonymous with hunger, is falling prey to obesity. It's a trend driven by new lifestyles and old beliefs that big is beautiful. Ask Nodo Njobo, a plump hairdressing assistant. She is coy about her weight, but like many African women, proud of her "big bum." She says she'd like to be slimmer, but worries how her friends would react.
Staying slim and fit is especially important for cancer survivors, because obesity raises the risk of cancer coming back, the American Cancer Society said in new guidelines issued on Wednesday.
Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were nearly three times more likely to start smoking regularly at, or before, age 14 and about twice as like to start smoking after age 14 compared to children born to nonsmoking mothers.
  • Okay, how many of you belong to a gym? I do. Have you ever really looked at some of the trainers? A lot of them could use a personal trainer themselves—they’re pumped up, but a little doughy. So this begs the question, how qualified are they? Rick Callahan of the Associated Press investigates:
Virtually anyone can become a certified trainer because there are no national educational standards for the field. Numerous Web sites offer personal trainer certification after just a few hours of online training -- and a few hundred dollars.
And at this time of year, bitter greens are calling from nearly every other stall or stand at the farmers market or the grocery store; they're a boon of winter. Until fairly recently, bitter greens have been popular in this country only in the South, but more of them have become more widely available, though their names still can be confusing. Greens in the chicory and endive family include Belgian endive (also called French endive and witloof), curly endive (sometimes called chicory or frisée), escarole and several varieties of radicchio. Then there are dandelion greens, mustard greens and turnip greens (yes, keep the tops of your turnips).
The study by World Health Organization researchers projects global figures for mortality and the burden of 10 major disease groups in both 2015 and 2030.

"According to our baseline projection, smoking will kill 50 percent more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS and will be responsible for 10 percent of all deaths globally," said their study in the Public Library of Science Medicine.

Health Points: Tuesday

  • Get ready, here comes a big surprise—obesity is in the news again! Yup, you can pretty much bank on obesity always being in the headlines. Today The Chicago Tribune reports obesity has been linked to female infertility. Judy Peres has more:
"That association is pretty well established," said Dr. Roger Lobo, a reproductive endocrinologist at Columbia University. Heavy women often don't ovulate normally because their hormones are out of whack. If they lose just 5 percent of their body weight, he said, "some will ovulate and even get pregnant with no further intervention."
The CDC also offers weight-management classes, healthy grocery shopping seminars, health assessments, walking programs and other activities.

The agency also has improved its cafeteria fare and expanded its salad bars. Three years ago, the CDC began bringing in produce vendors so employees could buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Now, the produce carts visit three CDC campuses and boast daily sales of $2,000 to $3,000.
The researchers admitted they do not know why the extra pounds (kg) may protect premenopausal women from breast cancer, but noted obesity actually greatly boosts breast cancer risk after menopause, when the disease more often is diagnosed.
  • Does spicy food increase metabolism? To be honest, I never assumed it does. Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times investigated, and believe it or not spicy food can actually give your metabolism a kick—coming soon, the hot-pepper diet! Here’s more from O’Connor:
One study by Canadian researchers this year looked at a group of adult men and found that those who were served hot sauce with appetizers before a meal went on to consume on average about 200 fewer calories at lunch and in later meals than their peers who did not have anything with capsaicin. The researchers suggested that capsaicin may work as an appetite suppressant. But take heed: spicy foods can also worsen symptoms of ulcers and heartburn.
At least six states and some counties prohibit foster parents from smoking when foster children are present, says Kathleen Dachille, director of the Legal Resource Center for Tobacco Regulation, Litigation & Advocacy at the University of Maryland School of Law. "There are times when it's appropriate to regulate what people can do in their home," she says. "The state is responsible for that child."
Men with the highest levels of vitamin E in their blood were 18 percent less likely to die than those with the lowest levels, the researchers found. They also had a 21-percent lower risk of death from cancer, a 19-percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 30-percent lower risk of death from other causes.
Blues and purples: Keep memory sharp and reduce risk of several kinds of cancer, including prostate. Plums, eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes (and raisins).

Greens: Protect bones, teeth and eyesight. Kiwi, spinach, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, honeydews.
Reporting in the journal Tobacco Control, a team from the National Health Screening Service in Oslo found that limiting the daily amount of cigarettes may be useful as a temporary measure when a smoker is trying to quit, but kicking the habit is the only real way of reducing the risk of smoking-related health consequences and early death.

Nutritional Wisdom

Did you miss the first two episodes of Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritional Wisdom radio show? In case you did, here’s a recap:

Dr. Fuhrman discusses the primary nutritional factors (good and bad) that can either prevent or promote cancer. He also welcomes two women who overcame their battles with breast and ovarian cancer, and how a high nutrient diet made significant differences in both their recoveries.

 

Fifty-percent of all Americans die of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Fuhrman discusses the startling facts about heart disease and explains how to prevent or reverse it. Hear Dr. Fuhrman’s suggestions for getting rid of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.

For new episodes, remember to listen live Wednesdays 8 AM Pacific/11 AM Eastern time.

Cold Weather, More Clothes, and Comfort Food

I once heard a chubby comedian say, “Men are like lasagna, we dress in layers.” And for a longtime this was my dress code; two layers of t-shirts, polo-shirt with t-shirt underneath, button-down shirt over t-shirt. Yup, I seldom left the house wearing only one layer. So you can imagine how much I dreaded the warmer summer months. How I’d yearn for winter!

But winter does have its drawbacks. Sure you can cover up those extra pounds with a little more clothing, but for many snuggling into a turtleneck and sweater, also means gobbling up more calorie-rich comfort food, especially around the holidays. Jane E. Brody of The New York Times insists this can be the beginning of a continuous weight-gaining cycle:
Then there’s the coming holiday season, replete with the stress of too much to do, high-calorie temptations at every turn and, it seems, not enough time to expend those extra calories.


The inevitable result for many of us? A few extra pounds that we must struggle to lose when the weather warms up and the days get longer next spring. Unfortunately, though, too often those pounds remain, only to increase further the next winter, and the next, until they undermine our health as well as our psyche.
For help preventing the cold weather weight-gain Brody enlists the aid of Dr. Michael D. Ozner, who as it turns out is a major advocate of the Mediterranean diet. Now, while you won’t hear Dr. Fuhrman singing the praises of Mediterranean diet anytime soon, Ozner does make a couple useful suggestions that might help you avoid winter/holiday weight-gain.

For starters, Ozner is not big on red meat, claiming it contains too much saturated fat , which can lead to an increased risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke. He also encourages people to avoid processed foods because many of them are loaded with saturated fat, sugar, salt, trans fat, and high-fructose corn syrup. Dr. Fuhrman would definitely agree. Dr. Ozner’s recommendation to get plenty of exercise is another sound piece of advice. Although I can’t say the same for his tip about adding whey to food, according to Dr. Fuhrman whey isn’t exactly a wonder-food.

Health Points: Friday

Consumer and health groups protested that they did not go far enough -- saying that junk food ads should be banned from all programming before 9:00 pm, whether for adults or children.
Safe and effective doses in humans have not been established, and there could be downsides to taking resveratrol. Preliminary studies point to some cancer protection, but there's also evidence that it may increase the risk of breast cancer -- a reminder that tinkering with nutritional substances can be complex.
The study of more than 2,000 patients in 27 countries focused on the outcomes of angioplasties performed more than 24 hours and up to 28 days after the patients first developed symptoms of a heart attack.
"The results of our study provide clear evidence that regular smoking increases the risk for asthma and that important chronic adverse consequences of smoking are not restricted to individuals who have smoked for many years," Dr. Frank D. Gilliland, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said in a prepared statement.
The theory is that vitamin D explains the link. Sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis in the skin, so a person’s stores of the vitamin depend, in part, on where he or she lives. Moreover, a growing number of studies have linked vitamin D intake and vitamin D levels in the blood to cancer risk.
The test was repeated three times -- once with each kind of drink -- and the data showed that the cyclists were able to go between 49 and 54 percent longer on the second stint after drinking chocolate milk than when they drank the carbohydrate drink. The difference between the milk and the fluid-replacement drink was not significant.
The plan, vigorously debated for two years and heavily opposed by power plants and mining companies, trumps a weaker federal rule. Pennsylvania would join Illinois as the first major coal-producing states to move beyond the federal limits and make them tougher - if measures to do so in both states become final.
  • Have you noticed the newcomers in the pear-market? You haven’t? Well get ready the Asian pears are coming. David Karp of The New York Times reports:
In recent decades Chinese government policy and market reforms have encouraged farmers to sharply increase pear production, which is expected to reach 12.5 million metric tons this year, more than two-thirds of the world’s supply. Virtually all are Asian pears, crunchy and ripe off the tree, not the European kind, such as Bartlett and Bosc, which develop their desired buttery texture and rich flavor after harvest.

Mom, Where Are My Statins?

Now, if preschool puberty didn’t scare you, what about children with clogged arteries? I realize it seems a little out of place, but Canadian researchers have determined obese children, and children with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, may already have fatty build-up in their arteries that could lead to heart attacks later in life. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
"Obesity puts children at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels. Children's diets have changed dramatically, influenced by television commercials and the convenience of fast foods," researcher Dr. Sanaz Piran, an internal medicine resident at McMaster University said. "Children are eating too much fatty and processed foods. Parents need to involve their kids in regular exercise activities and cut down on fatty meals, emphasizing healthy food such as vegetables."
Can you picture father and son heading off to the pharmacy to refill their cholesterol-lowering medication together? No pun intended, but that’s a hard pill to swallow. Dr. Piran makes a lot of important observations, but I really like her recommendation of a family-oriented approach to cardiovascular disease prevention. Kind of sounds Fuhrmanesque to me.

In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman explains that getting children to eat more healthfully is contingent on the parents playing by the rules too. Meaning—parents, if you want your kids to eat their broccoli, you better eat yours! More from the post:
Here is the most important: No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not prefer either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.
Now, if you have any doubts about the precursors of heart disease developing in young children, take a gander at this post. In it Dr. Fuhrman explains what we eat as children can follow us into adulthood:
There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1 What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels. For many, changing the diet to a plant-based, low-saturated-fat diet in later life does not result in the favorable cholesterol levels that would have been seen if the dietary improvements were started much earlier in life.

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Heart Disease in Young Children

I admit, kind of a dramatic title, but not without merit. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman points out that an unhealthy diet early in life sets the stage for coronary atherosclerosis and heart disease later in life. He’s a refresher from the book:
There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1 What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels. For many, changing the diet to a plant-based, low-saturated-fat diet in later life does not result in the favorable cholesterol levels that would have been seen if the dietary improvements were started much earlier in life.
And don't forget exercise. According to Reuters a new study has revealed teens that get a minimum of ninety minutes of exercise three times a week reduce their cardiovascular risk. The results are pretty amazing, here’s an excerpt:
After six months, tests showed that the exercisers had improved the flexibility of their arteries, allowing these vessels to carry more oxygen-rich blood. Moreover, the already expanded inner layer of their arteries had shrunk.

The exercisers also lowered their cholesterol levels and blood pressure and lost weight.
Good thing my folks had me playing soccer and little league when I was a kid. The researchers do point out that primary obstacle to all this is teen’s low perseverance and motivation to exercise. Maybe you could just do what my father did, hold my Nintendo hostage until I worked up a sweat.
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