Email: Graduation's in Four Weeks!

DiseaseProof’s inbox is a busy place. New emails come in every second. Most are for cheap pharmaceuticals and male enhancement pills, but amidst all the SPAM, there’s plenty of good stuff. Like this email from Elysse. Here’s her dilemma:
I have been (trying) to follow the Eat to Live program for nearly 8 months now. I am 19 years old and a senior at UCLA and I have lost a total of 20 lbs following the ETL program. However, in the past month I have hit some bumpy spots that are making me gain weight and making me lose sight of the benefits of the program.

I eat well for 2-3 days and then I will have an off day where I overeat (more like a binge!) on terrible foods. I am 5' 9 and weighed 132 lbs a month ago and now weigh about 139 lbs. Any advice for avoiding these crashes? I have graduation in 4 weeks and I would love to regain control and get back to my previous weight. Any advice is appreciated!
Now, like I told Elysse, I’m just a dopey blogger. So, the first thing I did was ask Dr. Fuhrman. Here’s what he had to say:
Trying to be healthy in an unhealthy world is not always easy, but has to be a lifetime effort and the longer you do it and the more days you link together healthy eating, the less you miss the unhealthy stuff and the easier it gets.


And remember, that temporary weight loss is meaningless. It is the quality behaviors that you can maintain for a lifetime that are most important.
Dr. Fuhrman suggested that Elysse join the Member Center at DrFuhrman.com and this is not a sales-pitch, but DrFuhrman.com is the best place for one-on-one support and Q&A with Dr. Fuhrman. DiseaseProof is just an information source, peppered with my stupidity.

But, I’ve been doing DiseaseProof for a while now, and, I’m a walking, talking, squawking success story. So, with Dr. Fuhrman’s blessing, here are my thoughts Elysse.

Now, I don’t know if four weeks is enough time—I never attached any timeframe to my weight-loss/lifestyle change—so I can’t help you there, but as for the “crashes” here’s what I did. Think long term. Sure, having beer and pizza tastes good now, but how will it effect your life long term?

When I crave my crutch-foods—like chocolate and grainy breads—I talk it out. It sounds something like this, “Okay Gerry, why do you want these foods?” Usually it’s because I’m a little depressed or angry. Or the opposite, I’m really happy or excited.

Then I say to myself, “Is there anything else you can do to fill this need?” That solution takes many forms; listening to music, going to the gym, doing Yoga, or, making something to eat that I like just as much and is totally Fuhrman-friendly; usually its my chocolate pudding.

And I never keep any of my crutch-foods in the house, so I have to go out and buy them. That can be a major a deterrent, but let’s say I fail. I break down and buy something naughty. What do I do? Do I beat myself up? I’d be lying to you if I said no, but after I eat it I take a second to remind myself of why I don’t eat chocolate and bread on a regular basis.

I start thinking about living longer and healthier and that charges me up. Then weeks go by before I falter again. And in the end I realize that my episodes of cheating or “crashing” become more spread out and few and far-between.

So Elysse, what I’d say to you is this. Don’t get caught up on the occasional crash. Keep your eye on the prize, stay active, continue to eat healthy and learn more about healthy eating. As your knowledge and commitment grows, you’ll stop crashing, and before you know it you’ll be fit, trim, and healthy—and keep reading DiseaseProof too!

I hope this helps, but if you need more encouragement. I’m sure your fellow DiseaseProof readers would be more than happy to chime in—wink-wink, hint-hint. Oh, and if any you want to email DiseaseProof its diseaseproof@gmail.com. Until then, peace!

Have a Healthy Heart!

How do you keep your heart healthy? Well, for a long time Americans have turned to drugs. Has it worked? Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times investigates:
While doctors still advise patients to diet, exercise and stop smoking, the medical community has adopted an almost singular focus on cholesterol-lowering drugs as the fastest and best way to battle heart disease. Americans spend $18 billion a year on cholesterol-reducing drugs, making them the nation’s biggest-selling class of drugs.

Clearly, drug treatments have played a role in the health of American hearts. Since 1950, age-adjusted death rates from cardiovascular disease have dropped 60 percent, a statistic praised by government health officials.

Average blood pressure and cholesterol levels are dropping, partly because of drug treatments. But drugs don’t get all the credit. A sharp drop in smoking has had a huge impact on heart health. And major changes in diet have also played a role. Surveys of the food supply suggest that consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol has decreased since the early 1900s. Medical care has also improved.

But an important lesson from the last 50 years is that when it comes to improving heart health, it is important to look beyond the medicine cabinet.

Just a few small changes — eating more fish, vegetables, nuts and fiber — can have a major impact on your risk for heart problems. For some people, drinking moderate amounts of wine may offer additional benefits. Even a 55-year-old man who is about 20 pounds overweight and does not exercise regularly will have a heart-disease risk far below average if he regularly consumes fish, nuts, fiber and vegetables and drinks moderate amounts of wine.
Okay, it makes sense that drugs would make an impact, but, are they really the best option? Dr. Fuhrman has his doubts. He points out some the drawbacks of drugs:
When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
So, what’s the answer? America’s got it half right. You do need to change your diet, but for OPTIMAL health you’ve got to make a profound change—not just a few small changes. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
When you drop body fat, your cholesterol lowers somewhat. But when you reduce animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, your cholesterol lowers dramatically. In fact, when a high-fiber, high-nutrient, vegetable-heavy diet was tested in a scientific investigation, it was found to lower cholesterol even more than most cholesterol-lowering drugs.1


The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high-protein foods) are without question. However, they contain an assortment of additional heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol.2

In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population.3

The average cholesterol level in rural China, as documented in the massive China Cornell Project, was 127 mg/dl. Heart attacks were rare, and both cancer and heart disease rates plummeted as cholesterol levels fell, which reflected very low animal product consumption. The lowest occurrence of heart disease and cancer occurred in the group that consumed plant-based diets with less than two servings of animal products per week.
I think most people approach health and nutrition too cavalierly. You need to be vigilant. It’s a fulltime job. You can’t go half-assed—know what I mean?
Continue Reading...

Wednesday: Health Points

Harvard researcher Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues in Italy studied 870 people diagnosed with DVT from 1995 to 2005. They compared their particulate air pollution exposure in the year before their diagnosis to that of 1,210 matched people without DVT.

They found that DVT risk goes up 70% for every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meterrise in particulate air pollution above 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air (the lowest pollution level measured in the study).

The U.S. EPA standard for particulate air pollution is 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air. However, it's likely that fine and very fine particles cause most of the health risks linked to particulate air pollution.
The simple truth, experts say, is that pounds must also be shed to keep cardiovascular trouble away.


"There is a debate out there about whether this generation is going to live as long as their parents, and the truth is they probably won't," said study author Dr. Gregory L. Burke, director of the division of public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of medicine in Winston-Salem, NC.

"My ultimate worry is that we've seen a 50-year decline in cardiovascular disease mortality, but if you begin to look at recent trends, it's beginning to plateau," he added. "And my fear is that because of the increase in obesity we're going to begin to see a reversal of that trend where heart disease rates begin to go up."
On Saturday, a tornado with the second-strongest rating killed six people, destroyed a 20-block area, and blew dust off mountains of mining waste, or chat piles.


"You can look at the chat piles and see that a lot of the material has blown off," said John Sparkman, head of the Picher housing authority. "We went up on a chat pile an hour and a half after the tornado hit, and you could see dust blowing fine material all over the place from that vantage point."

Long-term exposure to lead dust poses a health risk, particularly to young children.
The two conditions appear to increase one's risk for retinal vein occlusion, a condition that leads to vision loss. It results from one or more veins carrying blood from the eye to the heart becoming blocked and causing bleeding or fluid build-up, according to background information in the report published in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.


The Irish study found that people with high blood pressure had more than 3.5 times the risk of developing retinal vein occlusion than those without it. People with high cholesterol levels had an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk of retinal vein occlusion.

The findings come from an analysis of 21 previously published studies involving 2,916 people with retinal vein occlusion and 28,646 people without the condition. It found that 63.6 percent of patients with retinal vein occlusion also had hypertension, compared with 36.2 percent of people without the eye condition. High cholesterol levels were more than twice as likely to be found in those with retinal vein occlusion as those without (35.1 percent vs. 16.7 percent).
Fairbank Farms is issuing a voluntary recall of selected ground beef products produced at its Ashville, N.Y., facility and sold through Price Chopper, Shaw's, BJ's, and Wilson Farms retail outlets and C&S Wholesale distributor.


The affected product may contain small pieces of hard plastic. All recalled products have either a "sell-by" date of 05/13/08, 05/15/08, or a "Julian date 124" on the package's label.
New research shows "alarming levels" of obesity in most ethnic groups in the United States, principal investigator Dr. Gregory L. Burke, of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina told Reuters Health. The study also confirms the potentially deadly toll obesity exacts on the heart and blood vessels.


"The obesity epidemic has the potential to reduce further gains in U.S. life expectancy, largely through an effect on cardiovascular disease mortality (death)," Burke and colleagues warn in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Among 6,814 middle-age or older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, or "MESA" study, researchers found that more than two thirds of white, African American and Hispanic participants were overweight and one third to one half were obese.
The question is loaded and points to a really interesting diagnosis: What IS the biggest environmental problem on the planet? The answer is subjective, of course. If you are talking about global warming then coal plants are the biggest problem on the planet. If you are talking about natural resource preservation then deforestation is the biggest problem. Insert water for life sustainability and disease, or plastics for waste. To be sure, cigarettes are no one’s friend: Neither health nor the environment. In fact, in terms of litter, they are the biggest source of it: More than two billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded worldwide – more than two pounds for every person in China. I use that country as an example because as I traveled from Beijing southward along the Silk Route, people still smoked a lot – everywhere. In Southeast Asia too people light up.


Smokers’ waste is rather easy to calculate. Figure out how many cigarettes are smoked and you’ll find out how many butts are tossed. You can’t recycle ‘em. One thing I’d like to know is the emission factor, or pollution due to smoking.
The experiments were conducted with the brain cells of rats and they show that contact with this ingredient called methylisothiazoline, or MIT, causes neurological damage.


Which products contain this chemical compound MIT? Head and Shoulders, Suave, Clairol and Pantene Hair Conditioner all contain this ingredient. Researchers are concerned that exposure to this chemical by pregnant women could put their fetus at risk for abnormal brain development. In other people, exposure could also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders.

The chemical causes these effects by preventing communication between neurons. Essentially, it slows the networking of neurons, and since the nervous system and brain function on a system of neural networks, the slowing of this network will suppress and impair the normal function of the brain and nervous system.

Health Points: Friday

York company voluntarily recalled more than 286,000 pounds of its products.

Officials said certain products labeled Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, although there were no reports of illness before the recall.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal disease that it is rarely contracted by healthy people, the Monterey County Health Department reported. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Rare but serious symptoms can occur in those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women make up about a third of listeriosis cases, health officials said.
Arthritis strikes more than half of the 20.6 million American adults who have diabetes, and the painful joint condition may be a barrier to exercise among these patients, a new government report shows.


Being physically active helps people manage both diseases better by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing joint pain, according to the report in the May 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The prevalence of arthritis is astoundingly high in people with diabetes," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Over half the people with diabetes have arthritis."
Nudging reluctant seniors to take physical fitness classes represents just one strategy to reduce the risk of falling. It's also vital to evaluate their vision and the medications they're taking. Aged pupils, for example, don't dilate as well in darkness or constrict as well in brightness.


One study showed that falls decreased 34 percent among seniors who had the milky opaqueness of a cataract removed from their eyes. Some specialists also point to bifocals and trifocals, which can blur vision, as potentially contributing to falls.

It's also common for lighting to be so inadequate that navigation of hallways and rooms can be treacherous, said Dr. Gary Chu, vice president for community collaborations at the New England Eye Institute.
"I've asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free," he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.


"The consensus is that it's better left to the cities and states," he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were "the way to go."

"Second-hand smoking is something I'm very passionate about," he told the committee.
Young children who live in neighborhoods with lots of trees have lower rates of asthma than children who reside in areas with fewer trees, a new study finds. Researchers looked at asthma rates among children age 4 to 5 in New York City. Asthma rates decreased by almost one-quarter for every standard deviation increase in tree density, equivalent to 343 trees per square kilometer, the study found. The researchers said that trees may help reduce asthma rates by encouraging children to play outdoors more or by improving air quality.
Male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart, says James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.


Paulson and colleagues reviewed data on more than 5,000 two-parent families with children aged 9 months.

They found that one in 10 new dads met standard criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression.

That's a "striking increase" from the 3% to 5% of men in the general population that have depression, Paulson tells WebMD.
In the current study, researchers found that professional firefighters had higher-than-expected rates of colon cancer and brain cancer. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, that they had elevated risks of bladder and kidney cancers, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Dr. Letitia Davis with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Firefighters are exposed to many potentially cancer-causing chemicals released from burning materials. At the scene of the fire, toxic substances such as benzene, lead, uranium and asbestos can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
A drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments disrupted wiring needed for brain development in young mice, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, raising concerns about using such medications in children.


Mark Bear and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in ... brain development," said Bear, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.
Even a benign lesion on a mammogram makes women and doctors nervous, and doctors sometimes recommend a biopsy anyway. But new data show that waiting six months for a follow-up mammogram is a safe option.


Researchers tracked more than 45,000 women who were given six-month follow-up mammograms after an initial scan found lesions that were “probably” benign. In most cases, they were. Only about one in 100 women were eventually diagnosed with cancer six to 12 months later, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.


In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.