Chiropractic for PMS
No one's completely certain what causes premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but there's no denying the pain and distress millions of
women suffer 7-10 days before menstruation every month. Different doctors have different recommendations for treating PMS, and
there's one perspective you might be hearing more about soon --
A study involving 84 subjects (54 with diagnosed PMS and 30
without) evaluated the potential for chiropractic to help relieve
PMS symptoms. Complete chiropractic examinations revealed that the
PMS group was more likely to show signs of spinal problems (i.e.,
spinal tenderness, muscle weakness, neck disability, etc.) than the
The study authors suggest that chiropractic care to correct these spinal problems may be an effective way to reduce some of the
symptoms of PMS. If you're still searching for relief from the pain
and frustration of premenstrual syndrome, make an appointment with
your local chiropractor. A complete spinal examination could be an important step toward finding a solution.
Walsh MJ, Polus BI. The frequency of positive common clinical
findings in a sample of premenstrual syndrome sufferers. Journal of
Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, May 1999: Vol. 22, No.
Can a Firm Grip Signal a Healthy Future?|
As we age, we lose muscle strength -- if we lose enough, it can
become difficult to do some of the simple, everyday activities
we're accustomed to doing, like getting dressed in the morning,
taking a bath, eating a meal, even walking from one place to the
Maintaining as much muscle strength as possible may help avoid or postpone these frustrating problems later in life. According to a
study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men with good hand grip strength in "midlife" (45+ years old when
the measurements were taken) reported much less disability related to muscle strength 20 years later. Specifically, men with weak
original hand grip measurements had more trouble with household
work, slower walking speed, and more difficulty dressing, bathing,
eating, etc., than men with strong grip strength measurements.
In other words, more muscle strength now might mean more muscle
strength (and less frustration) later. This is especially important because grip strength seems to be a good general indicator of
strength in other areas of the body.
Ask your chiropractor to measure your hand grip strength, and ask
about appropriate exercises that can help you improve and maintain
muscle strength throughout life.
Rantanen T, Guralnik JM, Foley D, et al. Midlife hand grip strength
as a predictor of old age disability. Journal of the American
Medical Association, February 10, 1999: Vol. 281, No. 6, pp558-560.
One More Reason Not to Smoke|
Despite prevention programs in schools, legal restrictions at
restaurants and bars, and repeated health warnings on TV, nearly
one in four Americans continues to smoke. For these people, lung
cancer and emphysema could be lurking in their not-so-distant
future, and evidence now suggests that smoking might also
contribute to other conditions, including back pain.
If you smoke and you have back problems, especially a history of
back problems, smoking might be making those problems worse. Results of a questionnaire mailed to 1,471 young men and women
diagnosed with adolescent scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and
1,750 men and women without scoliosis revealed that smoking
increased reported back pain not only in men and women with
scoliosis, but also in healthy women. Back pain was also more
frequent and more intense among smokers compared with
nonsmokers in the study group.
These results suggest that smoking is associated with back pain,
and that the impact may be even greater in people with spinal
conditions. All the evidence shows that smoking is addictive, but
picking up that first cigarette is a choice. Make the right choice
-- it's much less painful in the long run.
Scott SC, Goldberg MS, Mayo NE, et al. The association between
cigarette smoking and back pain in adults. Spine, June 1, 1999:
Vol. 24, No. 11, pp1090-98.
Aerobic Exercise for Asthma?|
If you've never had to work hard for a breath, you don't really
know what it's like to have asthma. For the millions of asthma
sufferers, life can be a daily struggle to function. Although the
benefits of aerobic training are well-established, the potential
impact on asthma patients is controversial because many patients
tend to show less tolerance to exercise.
A study of 42 asthmatic children (8-16 years of age) evaluated the
effectiveness of aerobic exercise in managing asthma. Aerobic
training consisted primarily of sessions on an exercycle, three
times per week for two months (10-15 minutes of warm up/stretching,
30 minutes of cycling, 5-minute cool down). Results showed that
aerobic training was associated with a significant short-term
reduction in use of the inhaled and oral steroids which are
commonly prescribed to asthma patients.
If you or someone you know suffers from asthma, ask your doctor
about the pros and cons of aerobic exercise. A moderate aerobic
training routine is a great way to stay fit, and it might be an
appropriate way to fight asthma at the same time.
Neder JA, Nery LE, Silva AC, et al. Short-term effects of aerobic
training in the clinical management of moderate to severe asthma in
children. Thorax 1999: Vol. 54, pp202-206.
Keep Your Heart Healthy with Resistance Training|
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among U.S. men and
women, claiming a life every 33 seconds. Smoking and eating a high-fat, high-salt diet are risk factors for the disease, and exercise
(or lack of exercise) may also play a role.
Consider a recent study published by the British Journal of Sports
Medicine. Twenty-four healthy pre-menopausal women were evaluated to
examine the effects of a supervised 14-week resistance training
program on cholesterol levels and overall body composition.
Subjects were randomly assigned to a non-exercising control group
or to an exercise group that participated in 45-50-minute
resistance training sessions, three days a week on non-consecutive
At the end of the 14-week training period, total cholesterol and
LDLC (the "bad" cholesterol) levels were significantly lower in the
training group compared to the control group, and HDLC levels (the
"good" cholesterol) had increased slightly.
Resistance training can involve free weights and/or weight
machines, and many men (and more and more women) use resistance
training as a supplement or alternative to aerobic exercise. Your
chiropractor can help you choose a resistance training program best
suited to your physical condition, time constraints and fitness
Prabhakaran B, Dowling EA, Branch JD, et al. Effect of 14 weeks of
resistance training on lipid profile and body fat percentage in pre-menopausal women. British Journal of Sports Medicine 1999: Vol.
Road to Strong Bones Is Paved with Nutrition|
Maintaining strong bones is vital to preventing osteoporosis and
related fractures when we get older. While it is generally agreed
that calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients for bone health,
much less is known about some of the other key nutrients.
In a group of 1,402 men and women, bone mineral density (BMD) was
measured twice over a two-year period. At the same time, dietary
patterns were determined by gathering results from a 126-item food
frequency questionnaire. Results showed that increased magnesium,
potassium, and overall fruit and vegetable intake increased bone
We all need to keep our bones strong and healthy, but for women,
it's absolutely crucial. Women are especially susceptible to bone
loss because they start out with less natural bone tissue and lose
it faster with age (especially after menopause when estrogen, a
hormone that protects your bones, is no longer produced in large
quantities). Your doctor of chiropractic can determine your bone
mineral density, and advise you on establishing a sensible diet to
maximize bone strength and overall health.
Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Chen H, et al. Potassium, magnesium, and
fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone
mineral density in elderly men and women. The American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition, April 1999: Vol. 69, No. 4, pp727-36.
Homeopathics for Relieving Arthritis Pain|
Eleven million people suffer from osteoarthritis, a common form of
arthritis in which cartilage, the "cushion" between bones, is
gradually worn away. No more cushion means the bones rub together,
causing considerable pain. In fact, pain relief is the top priority
in most osteoarthritis patients, often considered as important than
as treating the disease.
Acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) is a frequently used pain reliever,
although upset stomach is a potential side effect and many people
can be allergic to it. A study in the American Journal of Pain
Management explored the possibility for an alternative -- a
homeopathic preparation -- to relieve osteoarthritis pain.
Patients received either a liquid homepathic preparation or
acetaminophen for one month. Results showed that the homeopathic
treatment was slightly more effective than acetaminophen, and that
more than half (55%) of the patients reported pain relief of 40% or
greater, compared with only 38% of the acetaminophen patients.
Homeopathy is a system of healing that emphasizes the use of small
doses of different natural substances. Your chiropractor can tell
you more about homeopathy and about some of the reasons why you
should consider non-drug alternatives to treating your pain.
Shealey CN, Thomlinson RP, Cox RH, et al. Osteoarthritic pain: a
comparison of homeopathy and acetaminophen. American Journal of
Pain Management, July 1998: Vol. 8, No. 3, pp89-91.
Time to Cure Couch Potato Syndrome|
There you are, sitting on the couch again, watching TV instead of
exercising. You know you should get up and get to the gym, or even
just take a brisk walk around the block, but something's stopping
you. You're deep in the clutches of the evil couch potato syndrome.
Physical inactivity (often referred to as "Sedentarism") is a major
factor in heart disease, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes and
cancer. If you're sedentary, you're doing too much sitting, and it
may be putting you at risk.
Too many of us are doing too much sitting these days. Consider a
recent study that found that more than 79.5% of men and 87.3% of
women are "sedentary" -- expending less than 10% of their daily
energy in performing moderate or high-intensity exercise. Among
active men and women, two fairly basic activities (sports and
walking) were the main exercises performed.
So if you're one of the ones who don't exercise enough, take some
of advice from the ones who do. Moderate exercise can be easy and
fun to integrate into everyday life, and can include activities
such as biking, walking, swimming... even gardening. Get off that
couch and do something about your health. It's one of the best
decisions you'll ever make.
Bernstein MS, Morabia A, Sloutskis D. Definition and prevalence of
sedentarism in an urban population. American Journal of Public
Health, June 1999: Vol. 89, No. 6, pp862-67.
Drinking Coffee and Preventing Gallstones|
Your gallbladder stores bile, the liquid produced by the liver to
digest fats. Gallstones, hard masses of cholesterol and protein,
are the most common digestive-related cause of hospitalization in
the United States, with symptomatic gallstone disease affecting
more than 20 million Americans annually.
A 10-year study (1986-1996) examined the possibility that coffee
could reduce the risk of gallstone formation. The study, published
by the Journal of the American Medical Association, gathered data
from more than 45,000 men and found a decreased risk of symptomatic
gallstone disease associated with higher intake of regular
(caffeinated) coffee. Subjects who drank no coffee or only one cup
per day had a higher risk compared with those who drank four or
more cups per day.
Does that mean you should run down to your local coffee shop and
start chugging the 64-ounce cafe mochas? Of course not. As the
authors of the study note, "clinical recommendations on coffee
consumption should be based on patients' individual health risks
and benefits." In other words, ask your doctor for more
Letzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of
coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in
men. Journal of the American Medical Association, June 9, 1999:
Vol. 281, No. 22, pp2106-2112.
|On-the-Job Back Pain Isn't Going Away
Lifting boxes, pushing brooms, reaching for files, carrying supplies
-- is it any wonder that so many people suffer from job-related low back
pain? No matter what your occupation, back pain can
make your life miserable at any time.
But how big is the problem?
To answer that question, researchers analyzed claim data from three
major sources: the Washington State Department of Labor and
Industries; the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and a national
workers' compensation provider, over a period of 4-9
Results indicated that low-back pain claim rates decreased by 34% from
1987-1995, and claim payments declined by 58% over the same time
period. But the problem isn't going away, either. Just look at these
* $8.8 billion was spent on low-back pain workers' compensation claims
* Nearly two out of every 100 privately insured workers filed a low-back
pain claim in 1995.
* Payments for these claims accounted for almost a fourth (23%) of
the total workers' compensation payments in 1995.
So if you think you can avoid low back pain at the workplace, just
look at these numbers, and think again. Better yet, help
continue the decline in low back pain cases by getting regular adjustments
from your doctor of chiropractic.
Murphy P, Volinn E. Is occupational low back pain
on the rise? Spine, April 1, 1999: Vol. 24, No.
|Alcohol, Breast Cancer and Folate
Approximately 180,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each
year in the United States. One out of every eight women in
the U.S. is at risk for developing breast cancer, and
women who drink alcohol regularly only increase their
But the news isn't all bad. A study published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association found that high folic acid
intake was associated with a lower risk of breast
cancer among women who consumed more than 15 grams a
day of alcohol (approximately 1 beer, 5 ounces of
wine, or 1 shot of liquor).
Green-leaf vegetables, fruits, brown rice, chicken, barley, dates,
and certain seafood (salmon and tuna) are all good sources of
folic acid, and many multivitamins provide the
recommended daily requirement. Ask your chiropractor
to help outline a nutritional program specific to your
Zhang S, Hunter D, Hankinson S, et al. A prospective study of folate
intake and the risk of breast cancer. Journal of
the American Medical Association, May 5, 1999:
Vol. 281, No. 17, pp.1632-1641.
A Chiropractic Approach to Shoulder
Tendonitis Nature Instead of Drugs
If the tendon connecting the shoulder muscles to the bone becomes
inflamed or irritated, you're probably suffering from tendinitis.
Calcium deposited into the tendon may increase the pain and
restrict shoulder movement and flexibility.
The potential side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are
well-documented, making this study on a nondrug alternative --
ultrasound -- that much more interesting. Fifty-four patients (61
total shoulders) received either ultrasound therapy or a "sham"
treatment (in which the ultrasound machine was not turned on) for
After the treatment period, calcium deposits had disappeared in
six shoulders and decreased by at least 50% in nine shoulders. The
sham group showed no resolution of calcium deposits, and 50%
improvement in only three shoulders. These differences were even
greater at a follow-up visit nine months later.
If you're experiencing shoulder pain or tenderness, schedule a
consultation and a thorough examination with your chiropractor. If
tendonitis is the culprit, ultrasound or chiropractic adjustments may be the solution.
Ebenbichler G, Erdogmus CB, Resch KL, et al. Ultrasound therapy for calcific
tendonitis of the shoulder. The New England Journal of Medicine, May 20, 1999: Vol. 340, No. 20,
Add Walnuts to List of Foods that Fight Cholesterol
Unsaturated fatty acids, especially those found in many oils and nuts, are regarded as keys to preventing cardiovascular disease and
promoting healthy cholesterol levels. Walnuts are of special interest because they are primarily polyunsaturated (72%) and
monounsaturated (18%) fatty acids.
A recent study of 793 inhabitants of a French farming community examined the potential effect of walnut consumption on blood
cholesterol levels. Results showed that people who ate walnuts more than twice a week and used walnut oil every day (at least six
months out of the year) had higher levels of the "good" cholesterol than non-consumers. People who consumed at least some walnuts/walnut
oil also showed increased levels of the "good" cholesterol compared with non-consumers.
So what is "good" cholesterol? Technically, it's known as HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol -- but don't let the fancy
name confuse you. Research shows that it really is just plain "good" because it actually carries cholesterol out of the
bloodstream (As opposed to LDL -- low-density lipoprotein -- cholesterol, which is considered the "bad" cholesterol).
So add walnuts to your list of foods that help keep your "good" cholesterol levels high. And ask your doctor for more information
on cholesterol and the many food sources high in unsaturated fatty acids.
Lavedrine F, Zmirou D, Ravel A, et al. Blood cholesterol and walnut
consumption: a cross-sectional survey in France. Preventive Medicine, 1999: Vol. 28, pp333-339.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
As we get older, we become more susceptible to health problems that can dramatically affect our lifestyle and enjoyment of daily
activities. When these conditions lead to disability or limitations in function, our ability to work may also suffer.
In 1992 and again in 1994, more than 8,000 people (aged 51-61) were interviewed as part of the Health and Retirement Survey. The
results of the survey were used to provide estimates of the impact of musculoskeletal conditions in the United States (estimated
percentage of people aged 51-61 reporting at least one musculoskeletal condition):
In addition to this startling data, the researchers also estimated
that almost 90% of people aged 51-61 (and 40% of the general population) experience disability related to these conditions.
The moral to this very real story? Stop the problems before they start. And what's the best way to prevent musculoskeletal
disorders? Regular adjustments from your doctor of chiropractic.
Yelin E, Trupin L, Sebesta D. Transitions in employment, morbidity,
and disability among persons ages 51-61 with musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions in the U.S., 1992-1994. Arthritis &
Rheumatism, 1999: Vol. 42, No. 4, pp769-779.
Weight Training: More or Less?
If those two-hour-a-day, 15-sets-per-bodypart workouts are driving you to the brink of madness, listen up: You might be working a lot
harder than you have to. A paper presented in the journal Sports Medicine reviewed a number of studies on the effectiveness of
single vs. multiple training sets for increasing muscle strength and size.
The researchers looked at studies that evaluated the value of performing one set vs. two sets, one set vs. three sets, and one
set vs. three or more sets (i.e., performing one set of biceps curls vs. performing two, three, or more sets).
Now here's the big news: After a thorough review of the material, the researchers concluded that "the benefits of resistance training
may involve undertaking the minimal amount of exercise needed to achieve the desired response"
Think about your current exercise regimen -- is the amount of effort you're putting in worth the results you're getting? If
you're slaving away at the gym but don't seem to be making any improvements, try slimming down your program for a while, and see
what happens. Less might actually be more.
Carpinelli RN, Otto RM. Strength training: single vs. multiple
sets. Sports Medicine, August 1998: Vol. 26, No. 2, pp73-84.
Six Cups a Day May Keep Bladder Cancer Away
Having to make frequent trips to the bathroom, even if you haven't been drinking that much, can be an early sign of bladder cancer --
the fourth most common cancer among men.
If you haven't been drinking a lot of fluids, you may want to start. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine,
adequate fluid intake may help prevent bladder cancer. In this study, nearly 50,000 men were evaluated over a 10-year period.
Results showed that men who drank at least six cups per day (of almost any fluid -- water, juices, tea, coffee, soft drinks, etc.)
had a 51% lower risk of bladder cancer compared to men who drank only 1 cup per day.
Making sure you get enough fluids isn't as difficult as it sounds, no matter how active or hectic your life gets. Simply fill a
plastic container or bottle (an average water bottle holds 64 ounces, or 8 cups) every morning and bring it with you wherever you
Michaud D, Speigelman D, Clinton S, et al. Fluid intake and the
risk of bladder cancer in men. The New England Journal of Medicine, May 6, 1999: Vol. 340, No. 18, pp1390-1397.
Teach Your Children the
Value of Exercise
Evidence suggests that behaviors established at a young age persist in adulthood. If you're a parent, you probably believe the evidence
-- that's why you don't want your children "picking up bad habits" from other children, or hanging out with "the wrong crowd."
But this might not be quite accurate, at least not when we consider a potential "good" behavior -- physical activity. According to a
recent study, simply increasing the amount of exercise as a child doesn't necessarily mean that your children will exercise as
adults. The study compared two adult groups: one that received five hours of physical education weekly for six years during primary
school, and a group that received only the standard physical activity requirements (about 40 minutes per week).
Questionnaires completed by the groups showed that childhood physical activity did not have a significant effect on attitudes
toward, frequency of, or intentions to exercise as adults. The authors believe that it may be consistent exposure to the process
of exercise and to an overall health-oriented program in childhood may be a more important contributor to positive exercise/fitness
patterns in adulthood.
Don't just encourage (or pressure) your children to participate in sports. Teach your children the value of staying healthy and
active, and schedule regular visits for them with your family chiropractor. The lessons they learn could last a lifetime.
Trudeau F, Laurencelle L, Tremblay J, et al. Daily primary school
physical education: effects on physical activity during adult life. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1999: Vol. 31, No. 1,
Too Many Children Still Drinking (and Driving)
The U.S. Surgeon General's Office reports that in the last 75 years, life expectancy has increased for every age group but one:
young adults (ages 15-24). Even more troubling is the observation that nearly half of the deaths in this age group can be attributed
to alcohol and drug-impaired driving.
To better understand the problem of teenage drinking and driving, an article in the American Journal of Public Health presented data
from 10 years of national surveys of American high-school seniors. Three main points emerged from the data, along with a conclusion:
Rates of adolescent drinking and driving (and riding with a
driver who had been drinking) actually declined from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.
However, these trends did not continue after 1995, and the
rates may have increased again from 1995-1997.
A substantial percentage of students have exposed themselves
to alcohol-impaired driving, even at the lowest points.
The authors suggest that teenage drinking and driving behaviors
can be changed over time, as evidenced by the decline between 1984-1992, but are quick to suggest that improved prevention
efforts may also be necessary. Tell your children about the profound dangers of
drinking and driving. The lives they save may be their own.
O'Malley PM, Johnston LD. Drinking and driving among U.S. high school seniors, 1984-1997. American Journal of Public Health, May
1999: Vol. 89, No. 5, pp678-684.
|No Shortage of Back Pain |
Back pain, back pain, everywhere there's back pain. Back pain is second only to the common cold as the most frequent cause of sick leave, accounting for approximately 40% of all work absences. It's also the most common reason for filing workers' compensation claims (about 25% of all claims filed in the U.S.).
How bad is the situation? A study in the American Journal of Public
Health analyzed data from a national health interview survey and found over 30,000 respondents who reported daily back pain of one week or more in the 12 months prior to the survey. From this data, the authors estimated that more than 22 million people suffer from back pain that lasts one week or more; these cases result in an estimated 149 million lost workdays. These estimates didn't even include workers who reported back pain of less than one week, or who missed work for the entire study period!
If you've managed to escape back pain to this point, it's probably just a matter of time until you're caught. So make an appointment with your doctor of chiropractic, the expert on preventing and managing back pain.
Guo HR, Tanaka S, Halperin WE, et al. Back pain prevalence in U.S. industry and estimates of lost workdays. American Journal of Public Health, July 1999: Vol. 89, No. 7, pp1029-1035.
|Antibiotic Use Linked to Asthma |
More and more people are suffering from asthma these days, even though research shows that outdoor air pollutants are decreasing. What's the explanation for this disturbing trend? One possible answer may be just as disturbing.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy examined the potential for antibiotic use in childhood to contribute to the development of asthma. A survey mailed to the parents of 612 grade-school students(5-10 years old) asked questions about antibiotic use and history of asthma in their children.
Results showed that children given antibiotics in their first year of life were over four times more likely to develop asthma symptoms than children who had never taken antibiotics. This increased risk was evident even after the researchers accounted for potential variables such as gender, ethnicity, family size, family history of asthma and parents' smoking habits.
If asthma is linked to antibiotics, then it's just another of many risk factors associated with antibiotic use. As a parent, you may want to think twice before giving antibiotics to your children, especially if they're not specifically required. Always find out why your doctor is prescribing a particular medication, and ask if there are acceptable nonpharmacological alternatives available. And get a second opinion -- from your chiropractor.
Wickens K, Pearce N, Crane J, et al. Antibiotic use in early childhood and the development of asthma. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 1999: Vol. 29, pp766-71.
|Give Your Children a Head Start|
No one has a completely straight spine, but nearly three out of every 100 people have what's known as scoliosis -- an "S-shaped" curvature of the spine. Usually, this curvature isn't a problem, but for some, the curve gets worse over time and can cause discomfort and problems with breathing and circulation.
Scoliosis might be even more dangerous than originally thought. A study in the journal Spine found that children diagnosed with scoliosis had significantly lower bone mineral density (BMD) than healthy children. These results were maintained over three years of follow-up measurements.
What's this all mean? Basically, bone density is a good indicator of bone strength. The greater the bone density, the stronger your bones are. People with weak bones often suffer from osteoporosis, which can lead to painful falls and fractures. Researchers believe that osteoporosis is extremely uncommon in children, but these results suggest that children with scoliosis may be at risk.
Give your children a head start on health by making sure they visit your chiropractor regularly. A complete physical examination can help detect scoliosis and any other spinal abnormalities that may lead to problems later in life.
Cheng JCY, Sher AHL. Persistent osteopenia in adolescent idiopathic
scoliosis. Spine, June 15, 1999: Vol. 24, No.12, pp1218-1222.
|Don't Fear the Garlic|
Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes are known risk factors for atherosclerosis -- hardening and thickening of the arteries. If your arteries are clogged, blood can't get to your heart and all the other places that need a constant supply.
A recent study evaluated the influence of garlic on arterial wall thickness and plaque buildup (arterial plaque being an established
indicator of atherosclerosis). Patients received garlic supplementation in the form of 900 milligrams of garlic powder daily, or a harmless tablet that contained no garlic powder.
After 48 months, plaque buildup was measured in the 152 patients who completed the study, and results were compared with original measurements taken before the study began. The researchers found that patients who took garlic showed a 2.6% decrease in plaque, whereas patients in the placebo group showed a 15.6% increase in plaque volume.
Talk to your chiropractor about nutritional and exercise guidelines that can help you avoid atherosclerosis and other health problems. And go to your local market and pick up some garlic. If you're afraid your partner won't kiss you, try an odorless supplement instead of the raw version... but whatever you do, don't fear the garlic!
Koscielny J, Klubendorf D, Latza R, et al. The antiatherosclerotic
effect of allium sativum. Atherosclerosis 1999: Vol. 144, pp237-249.
|Back Pain a Question of Weight?|
If you're overweight and suffering from back pain, your doctor will
probably suggest that you drop the extra pounds. Losing the weight is probably a good suggestion from an overall health perspective, but it might not be the answer to your back pain, at least not according to a recent study.
The potential association between excess weight and back pain was examined in 152 patients attending a hospital-based spinal pain unit. Researchers determined the body mass index (BMI) of each patient after measuring weight and height. (The BMI is essentially a scale that determines "appropriate" weight range by comparing weight and height.) Results showed that BMI had no significant effect on the incidence of back pain, except perhaps in cases involving extremely obese individuals.
If you're looking to lose some weight, exercise and dietary adjustments are a good place to start. But if you're suffering from back pain, the chiropractic office is the place to go. In fact, your doctor of chiropractic will be able to manage your back pain and also help you design a sensible program to shed those unwanted pounds.
Baker PG, Giles LGF. Is excess weight related to chronic spinal pain? Chiropractic Journal of Australia, June 1999: Vol. 29, No. 2, pp51-54.
|The Key to Training Is Moderation|
Whether you're dropping them off at gymnastics class, standing on the sidelines during football practice, or cheering them on during a soccer game, proud parents everywhere know how involved children are in sports these days. More and more children are participating in athletics, often starting at a very young age.
Evidence suggests that children who resistance train can improve motor skills and reduce the risk of injury during athletics, although the exact recommendations (i.e., number of exercises and repetitions to be performed) have not yet been determined.
In a study published in the online version of Pediatrics, 43 boys and girls were divided into three groups for eight weeks: an exercise group that performed 1 set of 6-8 repetitions with a heavy weight; a second exercise group that performed 1 set of 13-15 repetitions with a moderate weight; and a control group that did not resistance train at all.
The children exercised twice a week using various exercise machines, and after eight weeks, strength and muscular endurance were measured using leg extension and chest press exercises. The researchers found that not only did both exercise groups show greater gains than the control group, but that the high-repetition/moderate-weight approach was more effective than the low-repetition/heavy-weight approach.
If your children are involved in athletics, encourage them to adopt a moderate, consistent program of resistance exercise. But don't just hand them a set of weights and say "go for it." Teach your children the safe, effective way to train. If you're not sure what to do or would just like more information, ask a health care professional.
Faigenbaum AD, Westcott WL, LaRosa Loud R, et al. The effects of
different resistance training protocols on muscular strength and endurance development in children. Pediatrics (online version --
www.pediatrics.org), July 1999: Vol. 104, No. 1, ppe5.
|Maintain Strong Bones with Exercise |
Women begin to lose bone mass around the age of 30, putting them at
risk for osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones) and associated fractures and back pain. Nutritional adjustments, such as increasing daily calcium intake, have been shown to increase bone density, but can exercise adjustments benefit as well?
An article published in the journal Sports Medicine investigated the potential role of exercise in helping women maintain bone mass. The researchers analyzed 21 different studies and presented their conclusions:
* Regular exercise can delay or halt bone loss in women.
* Weightbearing exercises are considerably more effective than exercises that do not involve any loading.
* Premenopausal and postmenopausal women can benefit from a consistent exercise routine.
So what constitutes "weightbearing exercise"? Basically, it's any
activity that stresses your bones against your full body weight, such as walking, running, tennis, step aerobics, or stair climbing (actual stair climbing, not on a machine). All those rowers, bicycles, gliders and ski machines at the gym will provide a good cardiovascular workout, but they won't help you build or maintain bone mass.
Talk to your chiropractor about your particular exercise and
nutritional needs as a woman. A consistent fitness program that includes weightbearing and non-weightbearing exercises can help keep you healthy inside and out.
Ernst E. Exercise for female osteoporosis. A systematic review of
randomized clinical trials Sports Medicine 1998: Vol. 25, No. 6, pp359-68.
|Dancing Your Way to Knee Pain|
Back and forth, around and around, to the left, to the right, then
back again. The repetitive movements of dance can contribute to any
number of injuries, including tendinitis and stress fractures.
Although ballet is considered one of the more graceful and delicate
types of dance, ballet movements and positions can place particular
stress on the foot, ankle and knee.
A survey of 22 ballet dancers (16 women and 6 men; average age of 30 years) examined the relationship between ballet and the incidence of knee injury. All but one of the 22 dancers reported experiencing some type of knee injury during their ballet training and career, with injuries occurring most frequently to the front of the knee.
The survey also revealed that only eight of the 21 dancers who reported a knee injury had practiced any specific preventive exercises (i.e., stretching, strengthening, etc.); following their injuries, almost all of the injured dancers began to incorporate such exercises into their regular routines.
So get out on that floor and move to the rhythm! But before you do,
consider the potential for injury, especially if ballet is your dance of choice. Don't wait until after you get hurt to decide to adopt preventive exercises.
Credico M, Davis A. Knee injury in ballet dancers: incidence and the effect of preventive exercises. Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, June 1999: Vol. 13, No. 2, pp43-49.
|HOUSE BILL 586 EASILY PASSES THE NEW HAMPSHIRE
House Bill 586 has now been approved by both of New Hampshire's
legislative bodies. Passage of this bill is a great victory for
Chiropractors and their patients in this state. After two years of diligent
work, Senators and Representatives have responded to the tremendous support
that pro-Chiropractic legislation has received from their constituents. We
had the opportunity to educate many legislators about Chiropractic and the
desires/demands of the community. We fully expect this to have an impact on
We would like to extend a heartfelt Thank You to all those who helped in
this process through calls and letters to your legislators.
As a recap: HB 586 clarifies the New Hampshire Board of Chiropractic
Examiners' rules and regulations regarding the practice of Chiropractic, and
the penalties for practicing Chiropractic without a license. Passage of this
bill helps to prevent unqualified individuals from performing spinal
manipulation techniques on their patients. Currently, no clear laws are in
place to prevent other health care providers from administering a form of
treatment in which they have no formal training.
Hitting Back Pain from All Angles
Doctors of chiropractic spend years in chiropractic college learning to manipulate the spine, but that's certainly not all
they learn. Chiropractors are effective at relieving back pain because they know that long-term solutions come from taking a
well-rounded approach to dealing with the problem.
A study involving 147 patients (101 of whom were classified as "disabled" from car accidents or work-related back injuries)
provides evidence of the effectiveness of this approach to managing back pain. Patients participated in a four-phase
rehabilitation program consisting of:
1) chiropractic treatments, including spinal adjustments, ultrasound therapy, and TENS (electrical stimulation of the muscles), along with cardiovascular exercises;
2) isometric strength training;
3) resistance weight training; and
4) education on back pain, including strategies for coping with pain, relaxation techniques, etc.
After nine weeks of rehabilitation, patients reported decreases in pain and disability compared with pre-rehabilitation measurements. Strength, flexibility and range of motion were also higher, and most significantly, 91 of the 101 disabled patients were able to return to work.
If back pain's got you down, get up and take a trip to your doctor of chiropractic. You'll get a comprehensive, caring approach that's sure to help you get back on your feet.
Guerriero RC, Rawani M, Gray E, et al. A retrospective study of the
effectiveness of physical rehabilitation of low back pain patients in a multidisciplinary setting. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, June 1999: Vol. 43, No. 2, pp89-103.
Relieving Back Pain
Ah, the indescribable joys of pregnancy. The anticipation of new life, the intimate, developing bond between mother and child ... and the back pain. More than 50% of women experience back pain during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, and frequently the pain can be excruciating and debilitating.
A Swedish study involving 258 pregnant women investigated whether water gymnastics could reduce the intensity of back pain and the
number of days taken for sick leave. Women were divided equally into two groups: an exercise group that participated in water gymnastics (one hour of relaxation exercises, performed in a swimming pool and accompanied by music) during the second half of their pregnancy; and a control group that did not participate in water gymnastics.
Although back pain intensity increased during the course of pregnancy for both groups, the exercise group reported less pain compared with the control group. The total number of reported days on sick leave was also lower in the exercise group (982 days taken) compared with controls (1,484 days taken).
Many of the joys (and frustrations) of parenthood will last much longer than nine months, so prepare yourself. But back pain's one frustration that doesn't have to last. If you're expecting a child and are experiencing back pain, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about making your pregnancy as pain free as possible.
Kihlstrand M, Stenman B, Nilsson S, et al. Water gymnastics reduced
the intensity of back/low back pain in pregnant women. Acta Obstetrics Et Gynecologica Scandinavia, March 1999: Vol. 78, No. 3, pp180-85.
Antibiotics for Viral Infections?
When you or one of your children catch a cold, chances are good that a virus is to blame. In fact, evidence also suggests that 60-75% of colds, bronchitis, and other upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses.
Unfortunately, chances are also good that your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic, despite substantial evidence that antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections. Doctors know the statistics, but for some reason, they don't always share the information with you.
A study published in the research journal Pediatrics examined pediatrician prescribing behaviors as they related to parental expectations. Ten physicians and more than 300 parents attending sick visits for their children were surveyed. Results showed that when physicians thought a parent wanted an antibiotic for viral complaints, they prescribed one 62% of the time, compared with only 7% of the time when they did not think the parent wanted antibiotics.
The bottom line? Many medical doctors prescribed unnecessary medication -- antibiotics they knew would be ineffective against viral infections -- because they thought that's what parents expected.
The researchers suggest that steps need to be taken to change physician perceptions regarding parental expectations. After all, parents may or may not expect antibiotics, but what they probably expect (and want) most of all is a doctor who provides quality, accurate and honest health care each and every visit.
Mangione-Smith R, McGlynn E, Elliott M, et al. The relationship between parental expectations and pediatrician antimicrobial prescribing behavior. Pediatrics, April 1999: Vol. 103, No. 4, pp711-718.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin E?
We hear about vitamin C, vitamin A, the B vitamins, calcium and iron. But what's so great about vitamin E? Well, most of us know that it's good for the skin. After all, check out all those skin care products in your local supermarket -- most (if not all) contain some form of vitamin E.
What too many people apparently don't know is that vitamin E also plays an important role in preventing and controlling cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, an estimated 27% of the U.S. population doesn't get enough daily vitamin E. Men have a higher concentration than women, and African Americans have the lowest concentration of any ethnic or racial group.
If you're not getting enough vitamin E in your diet, you're an inviting target for cancer, heart disease, and a number of other dangerous conditions, including infertility, nerve destruction and anemia. So don't ignore vitamin E -- especially when it's so easy to find. Plant and seed oils, nuts, whole grains, milk, soybeans and sweet potatoes are all good sources of vitamin E. Ask your chiropractor for more information.
Ford E, Sowell A. Serum alpha-tocopherol status in the United States population: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. American Journal of Epidemiology, August 1999: Vol. 150, No. 3, pp290-300.
Exercise for Low Back Pain
Back pain might go away for a while, but you never know when it will return. Research shows that recurrence rates for low back pain soar as high as 50% in the 12 months following the initial episode. And although patients are encouraged to return to normal activities as soon as possible, many fear that movement or activity will only make their pain worse.
In July, the British Medical Journal published a study that evaluated the effectiveness of an exercise program for dealing with back pain. One hundred and eighty-seven patients with low back pain of 1-6 months duration were divided into an exercise group or a control group. The exercise group participated in eight one-hour classes that included muscle strengthening, stretching, relaxation techniques and a brief education on back care. The control group continued under the care of their doctor.
Questionnaires completed six months and one year after the program revealed that patients in the exercise group reported less back pain and associated disability than the control group. The exercise group also took less days off work than the control group in the 12-month follow-up period (378 days by the
exercise group vs. 607 days by the control group).
As these results suggest, something can be done about back pain. In fact, exercise is just one of many potential options available to back pain sufferers. A doctor of chiropractic can evaluate you and outline the most appropriate course of rehabilitation for your condition.
Moffett JK, Torgerson D, Bell-Syer S, et al. Randomised controlled trial of exercise for low back pain: clinical outcomes, cost and preferences. British Medical Journal, July 31, 1999: Vol. 319, No. 7205, pp279-283.
Blood Pressure Responds to Weight Changes
Do you realize you might be suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension) and not even know it? High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms until complications develop, such as a heart attack or a stroke -- that's why it's referred to as the "silent killer."
Exercise and dietary adjustments can usually keep this dangerous condition under control, and evidence suggests that weight loss and gain may also play a role. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine tracked 82,473 U.S. female nurses from 1976-1992, calculating weight loss or gain every two years and noting all cases of physician-diagnosed high blood pressure.
Results showed that weight gain dramatically increased the risk for high blood pressure, whereas long-term weight loss reduced the risk. These associations were stronger in younger women (less than 45 years of age) than older women (more than 55 years of age).
So what's the moral to this story? First, make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly. The earlier you discover the problem, the faster you can start doing something about it. Second, avoid excess weight gain by maintaining an active lifestyle and following a sensible diet. And third, consult your doctor for more information.
Huang Z, Willett WC, Manson JE. Body weight, weight change, and risk for hypertension in women. Annals of Internal Medicine, January 1998: Vol. 128, No. 12, pp81-88.
Maintaining Heart Health
As We Age
Natural variations in the heart rate are an important measure of health -- not only of the heart, but of the entire body. If this "heart rate variability" (HRV) is low, it's an indication that your autonomic nervous system isn't functioning properly. And that's not a good sign, considering that this system is responsible for maintaining balance and control of nearly 90% of the body's functions.
HRV is generally lower in the elderly population, but maintaining healthy variations in our heart rate can help prevent heart attacks and other cardiac problems. A study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that regular physical activity was effective in increasing HRV -- slightly over 24-hour periods, and moderately during the daytime.
The 51 elderly subjects (average age: 67 years) were divided into a non-exercising control group or an exercise group that trained three times a week for six months; each 45-minute training session consisted of jogging/walking, stretching, and various aerobic exercises. After six months, heart rate variations were higher in the exercise group compared with the group that did not exercise.
If you're not sure about how healthy your heart is, or if you'd like more information on how to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy body as you get older, talk to your doctor of chiropractic.
Schuit AJ, Van Amelsvoort LG, Verheij TC, et al. Exercise training and heart rate variability in older people. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, June 1999: Vol. 31, No. 6, pp816-821.
Long-Term Smoking Linked to Arthritis
Unless you've just moved here from another planet, you're well aware of the profound dangers associated with consistent tobacco use. People who smoke run the risk of developing chronic conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease, not to mention rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
OK, let's mention RA afterall. Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form of arthritis in the United States, is a disabling disease characterized by joint swelling, pain and stiffness. And according to a recent study, long-term cigarette smoking may contribute to the development of RA.
As part of the Women's' Health Cohort Study, 377,481 female health care professionals completed questionnaires that asked about health habits, cigarette smoking history, and medical history (including a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis). Results showed that women who smoked for many years faced a 24-39% increase in the risk of developing RA compared with nonsmokers, even after accounting for other potential risk factors, such as age, race, pregnancy history, menopausal status and hormone use.
Smoking is a choice, but it's easy to see why it's probably not a very good choice, especially considering some of the horrible diseases long-term smoking may cause. If you choose to smoke, be aware of the risks to yourself and your children. If you'd like to quit, your doctor can help determine the method that will work best for you. And if you don't smoke, keep up the good work! Your body will thank you for it.
Karlson E, Min-Lee I, Cook N, et al. A retrospective cohort study of cigarette smoking and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in female health professionals. Arthritis & Rheumatism, May 1999: Vol. 42, No. 5, pp910-917.
Important Enough to Talk About
Ask 10 happily married couples why their relationships work. No doubt you'll hear a common phrase offered as the key
ingredient: communication. Communication is vital to all human relationships, whether between husband and wife,
employer and employee, or doctor and patient.
The relationship between the physician and the patient is especially important because life-and-death issues may be
involved. Communication problems that contribute to delays in diagnosis and treatment can prove fatal.
Race, ethnicity and gender have been cited as important barriers affecting patient-physician communication. A study
that appeared in the August 11, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association investigated these variables in
terms of patients' expectations and sense of participation in the clinical experience. Results revealed some disturbing
* Patients who were the same race as their physician rated their visits as more participatory than other patients;
* African-American patients rated visits as far less participatory than Caucasian patients; and
* Patients of female physicians rated visits as more participatory than patients of male physicians.
The authors suggest that these findings emphasize the need for improved cross-cultural communication between primary care physicians and patients. Don't let your doctor examine you for a minute or two and then send you on your way with another prescription. And if you're looking for a thorough examination and consultation with a health care professional who will take the time to answer all your questions, make an appointment with a doctor of chiropractic.
Cooper-Patrick L, Gallo JJ, Gonzales JJ, et al. Race, gender and partnership in the patient-physician relationship. Journal of the American Medical Association, August 11, 1999: Vol. 282, No. 6, pp583-89.
There is no single cause of back pain, although many clinicians approach problems from a "mechanical" perspective (i.e., the spine or muscles around the spine aren't functioning properly, which causes the pain). However, evidence suggests that a number of factors, including exercise, may be involved in the development of low back pain (LBP).
In a study designed to evaluate the short-term risk factors for new episodes of LBP, more than 2,500 adults (18-75 years old) completed a survey that gathered data on height, weight, nonoccupational physical activities (i.e., cycling, gardening, walking, etc.) and overall health.
All subjects were free of current back pain; new episodes of LBP were documented in the 12 months following the survey. Self-reported poor general health (men and
women) and being overweight (women only) proved to be the strongest predictors of low back pain, as well as excess weight (in women only). Overall, 34% of men and 37% of women reported new episodes of low back pain during the study period.
And the moral to this story? Good health is more than just "fixing something when it's broken"; it's more than a single workout or a single nutritious meal. If you're interested in a comprehensive approach to health and wellness, then give us a call.
Croft PR, Papageorgiou AC, Thomas E, et al. Short-term physical
risk factors for new episodes of low back pain. Spine, August 1, 1999: Vol. 24, No. 15,
Avoid Colon Cancer with EXERCISE
The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 95,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. The exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, but some of the risk factors are known: a high-fat diet, inadequate fiber intake, or family history of the disease.
Fortunately, there are ways to lower the risk of colon cancer. A study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute examined the effect of physical activity and low BMI (body mass index -- a measure of your weight in proportion to your height) on the risk of colon cancer.
The study included 63 men and women with a history of polyps in the colon (another risk factor for the development of colon cancer). Researchers found that subjects who participated in consistent leisure-time physical activity had a reduced risk of colon cancer compared to more inactive subjects; higher BMI was also associated with an increased risk compared with low BMI.
Leisure-time physical activities include walking, jogging, aerobics, and moderate housework or yardwork. Working out in a gym isn't the only way to exercise, but what's important is that you do some form of exercise regularly.
Martinez ME, Heddens D, Earnest DL, et al. Physical activity, body mass index, and prostaglandin E2 levels in rectal mucosa. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 2, 1999: Vol. 91, No. 11, pp950-53.
Physical Complaints May Predict Teen Depression
If you're a parent, especially the parent of a teenager, each day brings new joys and new frustrations. For many parents, a constant challenge in the family home is dealing with a common teenage condition: complaining. You're probably so accustomed to the steady stream of complaining that you "tune out" some of it.
But don't tune out everything. A study published in the journal Pediatrics reports that adolescents with multiple physical complaints (that cannot be explained by known physical conditions) may be at risk for depression. The study evaluated 1,015 teenagers (13-16 years old) and found that teens reporting physical symptoms (i.e., headaches or abdominal pain) with unknown causes faced the possibility of panic attacks and major depression four years later. If you don't think these results are cause for concern, listen to this somber statistic: The suicide rate for adolescents has increased by more than 200% over the last decade!
We should all listen more in general. Parenting is more than just telling your children what to do. It's also about listening to what they have to say and what they're feeling. As this study suggests, seemingly harmless physical complaints might be a manifestation of depression.
Zwaigenbaum L, Szatmari P, Boyle MH, et al. Highly somatizing young adolescents and the risk of depression. Pediatrics, June 1999: Vol. 103, No. 6, pp1203-09.
Fighting Lead Poisoning with Vitamin C
Muscle and joint pain, headaches, memory and concentration problems, nerve and digestive disorders, slowed growth -- these are just a few of the potential consequences of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is caused by exposure to lead from our environment -- in old water pipes, old painted toys or furniture, or foods/liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery. And if you live in a house built before 1978, the paint on your walls probably
Increasing evidence suggests that nutritional deficiencies also affect levels of lead in the human body (See "Get the Lead out with Vitamins" in the September 1999 To Your Health). A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that subjects with high levels of vitamin C intake had less measureable lead in their bloodstream than subjects with low levels of vitamin C intake. Specifically, the data showed that:
* Children with the higher vitamin C intake were 89% less likely to have elevated blood lead levels compared with youths with the lowest intake; and
* Adults with the highest vitamin C intake were 65-68% less likely to have elevated blood lead levels compared with adults with the lowest intake.
If you think lead poisoning isn't a problem anymore, think again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed screening programs to identify childhood blood lead levels; among adults, work-related lead exposure has been targeted as an area of concern by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Simon JA, Hudes ES. Relationship of ascorbic acid to blood lead levels. Journal of the American Medical Association, June 23/30, 1999: Vol. 281, No. 24, pp2289-2293.
Vitamin A for Low-Birth-Weight Infants
Nothing can be more heart-wrenching to a mother and father than watching their newborn child from the confines of an incubator. Low-birth-weight infants can suffer from chronic lung disease, intracranial hemorrhaging, infections and numerous other complications can make their first few days a literal struggle for life.
A study of 807 extremely low-birth-weight infants (weighing less than 2 1/2 pounds and requiring respiratory support within 24 hours of birth) assessed the potential for vitamin A to improve their chances for survival. Infants were divided into an intervention group and a control group, with the former group receiving intramuscular injections of vitamin A (5,000 IU) three days a week for four weeks.
By 36 weeks, the overall incidence of complications, namely chronic lung disease or death, was significantly lower in the vitamin A group (55%) compared with the control group (62%). The most pointed observation was that one additional infant survived without chronic lung disease for every 14-15 infants who received vitamin A supplementation.
If you're expecting a child, consult your team of health care professionals regularly to ensure that your pregnancy, and the birth of your child go as smoothly as possible. Following appropriate nutritional and exercise guidelines can help keep you and your newborn healthy and happy.
Tyson JE, Wright LL, Oh W, et al. Vitamin A supplementation for extremely low birth weight infants. The New England Journal of Medicine, June 24, 1999: Vol. 340, No. 25, pp1962-68.
Hormone Replacement: When Less Means More
At menopause (usually around age 45), women's bodies stop producing the hormone estrogen, contributing to short-term symptoms (hot flashes) and increasing long-term health risks (heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis). Many women undergo hormone replacment therapy (HRT) to combat these risks, although treatment may cause other complications, including weight gain, pelvic discomfort, breast tenderness and mood changes.
A study of 128 elderly women with low bone mass (a risk factor for osteoporosis) investigated whether low-level hormone replacement could reduce these side effects while still providing the same benefits (especially concerning bone mass) as higher-level HRT. Women received hormone replacement or a placebo for 3.5 years, and bone density of the spine, hip, forearm and total body was measured at six-month intervals. Calcium and vitamin D supplements were also
provided to both groups during the study period.
Bone density of the spine, forearm and total body increased significantly in the hormone replacement group compared to the placebo group. Most encouraging was the observation that the usual side effects of HRT were generally mild and short-lived, often disappearing within six months.
Recker RR, Davies KM, Dowd RM, et al. The effect of low-dose continuous estrogen and progesterone therapy with calcium and vitamin D on bone in elderly women. Annals of Internal Medicine, June 1999: Vol. 130, pp897-904.
Take The First Step Toward Lifelong Health
When someone mentions the word "exercise," what's the first thought that jumps into your head? For many, exercise means discomfort -- hours spent at the gym, fighting through the tan, lean bodies to lift weights or pedal away on an uncomfortable exercycle.
Fortunately, exercise comes in many forms, and almost all of them help us stay healthy. Physical activity reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and many other serious health problems, and evidence suggests that something as simple as walking may be just as effective as vigorous exercise.
Researchers compared walking, vigorous exercise and total physical activity with the incidence of coronary artery events (heart attack or death from heart disease) in 72,488 healthy female nurses. Data collected over the eight-year study revealed that three hours of brisk walking per week comparable to 1.5 hours of jogging, cycling, heavy gardening or heavy housework) in reducing the risk of coronary events.
So don't get overwhelmed by exercise, embrace it! You don't need to slave away in the gym to stay healthy. A brisk walk might be all it takes to get you started on the road to lifelong health. For a complete evaluation of exercise and nutritional guidelines specific to your needs, talk to your chiropractor.
Manson JE, Hu FB, Rich-Edwards JW, et al. A prospective study of walking as compared with vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease in women. The New England Journal of Medicine, August 26, 1999: Vol. 341, No. 9, pp650-58.
Arthritis Patients Choose Chiropractic
Arthritis is the name given to more than 100 different diseases that cause pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissue. One out of every six Americans suffers from some form of arthritis, and unfortunately, the condition can last a lifetime.
In 1997, Americans made an estimated 629 million visits to practitioners of "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM), compared with just 388 million visits to primary care physicians that same year. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that many arthritis patients used CAM, and that chiropractic was the most frequently used type of care.
Even more significantly, chiropractic was also near the top of the list in terms of the number of patients who regularly used CAM, and the number of patients who found CAM helpful for their condition.
Don't let arthritis get the best of you. If you or someone you know suffers from the daily pain and frustration of arthritis, schedule an appointment with a doctor of chiropractic.
Rao JK, Mihaliak K, Kroenke K, et al. Use of complementary therapies for arthritis among patients of rheumatologists. Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept. 1999: Vol. 131, No. 6, pp409-16.
Breast Milk Protects Against Asthma?
Doesn't everyone know about the benefits of breastfeeding? If you're one of the few who doesn't know, just check out the wealth of recent research on the topic. (See "Breast Milk: It Does a Baby Good" in the Nov. 1998 issue of To Your Health, and "Breastfeeding to Prevent Infant Illness" in the March 1999 issue.)
If that isn't sufficient proof, consider a study that appeared in the September 25th issue of the British Medical Journal. The study found that children who received milk other than breast milk had a substantial higher risk of developing asthma than children who were exclusively breastfed for the first four months of life.
The authors believe that excluding non-breast milk (and its potentially allergic components) and providing breast milk (and its proven beneficial components) may account for this protective effect. They also note that the age at which other milk is introduced into the children's diet may be more important than how long they nurse.
Breastfeeding is an important aspect of the mother-child relationship, and as the evidence continues to show, it's an important aspect of childhood development and overall health.
Oddy WH, Holt PG, Sly PD, et al. Association between breastfeeding and asthma in six-year-old children: findings of a prospective birth cohort study. British Medical Journal, Sept. 25, 1999: Vol. 319, No. 7213, pp815-19.
Fight Otitis Media Without Surgery
Otitis media is an infection or inflammation of the middle ear, and it's fairly common -- affecting thousands of children 6-36 months of age. In fact, it's estimated that one-third of the child population will experience six or more episodes of otitis media before starting school, and some will endure as many as 12 episodes in a given year.
Adenoidectomy and adenotonsillectomy (removal of the adenoids and/or the tonsils) are the most common major surgical procedures performed on children in the United States, and the rationale behind them is often to relieve the pain and discomfort of recurrent otitis media.
However, a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that these surgeries were ineffective in resolving otitis media or preventing its recurrence. Specifically, the authors noted that "the effectiveness of surgery... was modest and limited mainly to the first follow-up year."
The authors also pointed out that complications and/or side effects associated with surgery did occur, especially in children undergoing adenotonsillectomy (14.6% of patients suffering complications). And their conclusion says it all: "...neither operation should be considered a first surgical intervention in children whose only indication is recurrent acute otitis media."
Paradise JL, Bluestone CD, Colborn DK, et al. Adenoidectomy and
adenotonsillectomy for recurrent acute otitis media. Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 8, 1999: Vol. 282, No. 10, pp945-53.
Medication Use May Cause Weight Gain
Increasing evidence suggests that prescription medications can cause a variety of disturbing side effects, ranging from minor to life threatening. In fact, nearly 100,000 people die each year from the effects of prescription drugs, and that's when they're
A recently published study has examined the potential association between prescription medications and obesity. An extensive literature search uncovered many commonly prescribed medications known to contribute to weight gain, including medications millions of Americans use every day to manage such conditions as:
high blood pressure
Chiropractic care offers a natural, safe alternative to preventing and treating disease, without the side effects associated with prescription and over-the-counter medications. If you'd like more information about this drug-free approach to wellness, schedule a consultation with a chiropractor near you.
Cheskin LJ, Bartlett SJ, Zayas R, et al. Prescription medications: a modifiable contributor to obesity. Southern Medical Journal, Sept. 1999: Vol. 92, No. 9, pp898-904.
Cigars Just as Dangerous as Cigarettes
Overwhelming evidence suggests that smoking contributes to numerous life-threatening conditions, yet cigar sales in the United States increased by nearly 50% from 1993-1997. Even more disturbing, cigars are advertised and often glamorized in the mass media. And the general perception is that cigars are safer than cigarettes, despite their similar associations with lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A 25-year study involving nearly 18,000 men addressed this misconception by investigating the link between cigar smoking, cardiovascular disease and other major diseases. The study, which appeared in the June 10th, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that cigar smokers were at higher risk for developing heart disease, COPD, or cancer of the lungs/throat than nonsmokers.
So don't believe the glamour and the hype, believe the warnings. Smoking, whether it be cigarettes, cigars or pipes, can threaten your life and the lives of your loved ones. If you're a current smoker who'd like to quit, or if you know of someone who's having
trouble quitting, don't be afraid to ask your doctor for help.
Iribarren C, Tekawa IS, Sidney S, et al. Effect of cigar smoking on the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer in men. The New England Journal of Medicine, June 10, 1999: Vol. 340, No. 23, pp1773-1780.
Help Your Heart: Eat Whole Grain Foods!
In today's fast-paced world, we order pizza on the cellphone, whisk through the fast-food drive-through for burgers and fries, and microwave just about anything we can get our hands on. But how many of us take the time to eat enough whole grain foods?
Whole grains are exactly that: foods that contain the entire kernel or grain -- oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, rye bread, puffed rice cakes... the list goes on and on. Familiarizing yourself with this list is important, and making sure that you
include whole grains in your daily diet is even more important.
Here's why: A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed more than 75,000 women for 10 years as part of the Nurses Health Study. During that time, the researchers administered food-frequency questionnaires at two-year intervals, and documented all cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) as they occurred.
Results showed that women who consumed higher amounts of whole grains had a decreased risk of developing CHD compared with women who consumed lower amounts. Interestingly enough, this reduced risk could not be explained by the contribution of any of the nutritional elements of whole grain foods (dietary fiber, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, etc.), suggesting that this protective effect may be attributed to whole grain intake in general, rather than any specific aspect of whole grains.
Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, et al. Whole-grain consumption and risk of coronary artery disease: results from the Nurses' Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999: Vol. 70, pp412-419.
More Evidence That Exercise Improves Bone Strength
Several issues ago, we summarized a study from Sports Medicine that advocated
weight-bearing exercise (walking, running, step aerobics, etc.) for bone strength. (See "Maintain Strong Bones with Exercise" in the Sept. 1999 To Your Health.) Now comes another study, this time from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, that discusses the impact of resistance training
on bone strength.
The authors in this study reviewed 10 years of literature on exercise and bone mineral density (BMD), paying particular attention to potential differences in type of exercise
(weight-bearing, aerobic, or resistance training) and BMD changes.
The research reviewed suggested that exercise positively affects BMD in young and older adults, with the effects being specific to the muscles worked and the bones to which they attach. The authors also noted that "although aerobic exercise and
weight-bearing physical activity are important... resistance training seems to have a more potent impact on bone density."
Resistance training is just about any exercise in which the muscles are forced to resist against an opposing force -- i.e., exercises involving free weights or weight machines, often with progression (increasing the resistance each set).
Layne JE, Nelson ME. The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1999: Vol. 31, No. 1, pp25-30.