Thursday, March 28, 2013

Low back pain therapy effective

More than 632 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain, and it is a leading cause of disability. According to the Institute of Medicine, one-third of all Americans suffer from chronic pain, which exceeds the number of people who are affected by heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. In the United States alone, approximately 100 million adults are affected by chronic pain, and the economic costs of medical care and lost productivity total more than $550 billion annually.

Chronic low back pain is an important component of these costs. A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine offers hope in the form of a hands-on treatment that provides moderate to substantial improvement in pain, and that reduces the use of prescription medication.

This study used osteopathic manual treatment (OMT) and ultrasound therapy to treat chronic low back pain in 455 adults. Patients in the study who received ultrasound therapy did not see any improvement, but the patients who received OMT did see significant improvement in pain (between 30 to 50% reduction), used less prescription medication and were more satisfied with their care over the 12 weeks of the study than those patients who did not receive OMT.

Patients received six treatments during the course of the study. OMT incoporates soe techniques used in chiropractic care or physical therapy, but OMT is more of a combination of techniques.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vitamin D as powerful as prescription drug: study

Researchers in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found vitamin D supplements can help obese children and teens control their blood-sugar levels.

"By increasing vitamin D intake alone, we got a response that was nearly as powerful as what we have seen using a prescription drug," said Catherine Peterson, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at Missouri University. "We saw a decrease in insulin levels, which means better glucose control, despite no changes in body weight, dietary intake or physical activity."

All of those in the study had insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels and had similar diets and activity levels. Study participants randomly were assigned either a high-dose vitamin D supplement or a placebo that they took daily for six months. Those who took the supplement became vitamin D sufficient and lowered the amount of insulin in their blood.

Vitamin D insufficiency differs in obese individuals because they process vitamin D about half as efficiently as normal-weight people. The vitamin gets stored in their fat tissues, which keeps it from being processed. This means obese individuals need to take in about twice as much vitamin D as their lean peers to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D.

Adding vitamin D supplements is a natural, inexpensive way to help obese children and teens decrease their odds of developing diabetes and avoid the side effects that might come from taking prescriptions to control their blood sugar.

Bonnie: I'm sure Big Pharma does not want this to get out.

Allergy drops as effective as allergy shots

A scientific review of 63 published studies affirms that putting small amounts of purified grasses, ragweed, dust mites, pollen and mold, in liquid drops under the tongue is a safe and effective alternative to weekly injections of those allergens or the use of other medications, in treating symptoms of allergies and allergic asthma in some people. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association report is believed to be the largest synopsis of its kind, involving some 5,131 participants, almost all in Europe, where allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy, have been widely available for nearly two decades. Sublingual therapies have not been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but physicians in the United States do use the drops "off-label" for some patients.

Researchers found what they say is "strong evidence" that drop therapy produced a 40 percent or greater reduction in coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest compared with other treatments, including inhaled steroids.

In studies comparing allergy drops to other allergy treatments, including antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, researchers found that allergy drops produced a 40 percent or greater reduction in symptoms of runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion.

Allergy drops are more convenient for many people because they can be taken at home, and allow such individuals to avoid the discomfort and travel time needed for regularly scheduled trips to the physician's office for an allergy shot. According to current estimates, as many as 40 percent of Americans suffer from some form of allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma.

Steve: This is wonderful news for the millions who go to the allergist weekly for shots. We have been touting the benefits of allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy) for several years. It has been used successfully in Europe for over 15 years, but has failed to catch on in the U.S., mainly because allergists are afraid of losing money from weekly visits. 

Forget about the fact that drops are much easier on the patient. What would you choose: weekly visits or a visit every three to six months? If you are not familiar with the process, your allergist writes a prescription to a special pharmacy who mixes your environmental/food allergens. The drops, which are taken three times daily, last the average patient about three months. Usually, the allergist requests a visit every time he increases the strength of the drops for safety reasons. The therapy can last anywhere from 18 months to 4 years, depending on the severity and complexity of the allergies. In some cases, maintenance doses are suggested in perpetuity.

My son and daughter are currently using this therapy with great success.

Breaking news: it seems that Big Pharma is getting involved, which could be a game changer. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing Merck & Co.'s new immunotherapy for grass pollen allergy. One tablet that dissolves under the tongue would be taken daily throughout allergy season for three years, to gradually desensitize the patient's immune system to the substance triggering the allergic reaction

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Families go organic because of GMOs

U.S. families are becoming increasingly aware of unlabeled genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods in the marketplace, according to the latest consumer survey conducted for the Organic Trade Association. To that end, consumers are turning to organic in an effort to avoid foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

Results from the U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2013 Tracking Study show that 32 percent of parents who learned about GMOs in the news are significantly more likely to increase their organic purchases.

Families continue to cite their desire for healthful options, especially for their children, in choosing organic foods. Those who claim their primary reason for choosing organic is to avoid GMOs has now reached 22 percent—up from 17 percent in 2011. The leading reason continues to be that parents want to avoid pesticides and fertilizers (30 percent) and antibiotics or synthetic hormones (29 percent) in food they purchase for their families.

The Organic Trade Association is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Sweet Sixteen is Set! Vote in Your Favorites Now.

Broccitology: Superfood Championship Sweet 16

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Living in a sunny climate no help for vitamin D levels

While it is well known that a majority of hip fracture patients of all ages and both sexes have insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D, a new study presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found living in a warm, sunny climate di not improve patient vitamin D levels.

Researchers reviewed the vitamin D levels of 1,539 patients, including 448 acute hip fracture patients and 1,091 total hip or total knee replacement patients, from December 2010 to December 2011 at a major medical center in southern California.

Overall, the majority of patients age 18 and older of both sexes with hip fractures had insufficient levels of vitamin D, and those age 71 or older had significantly lower levels than the control group.

Steve: This is simply reaffirming data. We have seen numerous studies on relatively healthy individuals living in sunny climates as well. 

The premise is pretty simple. Even though you live in a sunny climate, if you do not get sun exposure for at least 15 minutes daily, five days per week, without sunscreen, your chances at being vitamin D deficient go up.

You can also help yourself by supplementing with vitamin D3, as well as getting a little bit of unencumbered sunshine!

Sugary beverages linked to 180,000 deaths worldwide

Therapy as good as surgery for knee tear

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Round 2 of the 2013 Superfood Championship Live

Voting has just opened for round 2 of the Superfood Championship. Keep an eye on Onions versus Green Tea, and upstart Eggs versus Cod Liver Oil.

Round 2 Voting Here

Updated Bracket Here

Fruit's effect on type 2 diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, advising patients who are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to limit their fruit intake does not improve glycemic control, according to a new study in Nutrition Journal. Researchers randomized patients to high fruit or low fruit intake, and after 12 weeks, the 2 groups had similar drops in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, weight, and girth.

All subjects received standard medical nutrition therapy. However, subjects in the low-fruit-intake group were advised eat no more than 2 pieces of fruit a day, whereas the subjects in the high-fruit-intake group were told to indulge in 2 or more pieces of fruit a day. A piece of fruit was defined as the amount that contained about 10 g of carbohydrate — for example, an apple (100 g), half a banana (50 g), or an orange (125 g). The subjects were also instructed to eat whole fruit, skip dried fruit, and not drink fruit juice.

Patients in the high-fruit-intake group had a significant drop in HbAIC levels, from 6.74% to 6.26%. They also lost weight and trimmed their waistlines. Similar results were obtained by patients in the low-fruit-intake group.

Bonnie: It is preposterous to recommend that type 2 diabetics avoid fruit. Sticking with lower glycemic fruit, as well as, eating it with a lean protein or healthy fat, is all you need to do to normalize your blood sugar.

Monday, March 18, 2013

No dairy for breast cancer survivors

According to a study of 1,893 women, breast cancer survivors who average as little as one serving per day of high-fat dairy foods have a 49 percent higher risk of dying from breast cancer than those who eat little or no high-fat dairy.

The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the first to separate out the effects of high- and low-fat dairy on women diagnosed with breast cancer. High-fat dairy is whole milk, cream, and anything made with them such as cheese and ice cream.

Breast cancer survivors who ate one or more servings per day (according to a 120-item questionnaire they answered) also had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from all causes.

The estrogens that reside in milk fat might be the problem, the researchers said Another reason to suspect estrogens rather than fat itself was that eating more saturated fat of all kinds did not raise the women's chances of dying of breast cancer as strongly as high-fat dairy did. That suggests that fat consumption per se is unrelated to breast-cancer mortality: nuts, chocolate, coconut and fats such as those in avocados did not increase the risk.

March Madness for Food! 2013 Superfood Championship

SuperfoodCenter: Expert Analysis of 
the 2013 Superfood Championship

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why does US lag behind in life expectancy?

Higher mortality rates among Americans younger than 50 are responsible for much of why life expectancy is lower in the United States than most of the world's most developed nations.

The research, published in Health Affairs, found that excess mortality among Americans younger than 50 accounted for two-thirds of the gap in life expectancy at birth between American males and their counterparts and two-fifths between females and their counterparts in the comparison countries.

Most of the excess mortality of those younger than 50 was caused by noncommunicable diseases, including perinatal conditions, such as pregnancy complications and birth trauma, and homicide and unintentional injuries including drug overdose, a fact that she said constitutes a striking finding of the study.

"These deaths have flown under the radar until recently," Ho said. "This study shows that they are an important factor in our life expectancy shortfall relative to other countries."

The author stated that the majority of the drug overdose deaths stemmed from prescription drug use.

Calcium necessary at or above 600 mg daily

Recent studies have suggested that dietary calcium may have beneficial effects on adiposity, insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia and blood pressure (BP). One potential mechanism underlying these benefits involves modifications in intracellular calcium concentration. A British Journal of Nutrition study aimed to evaluate the associations of dietary calcium with adiposity, metabolic profile, blood pressure, inflammatory state and endothelial function in healthy pre-menopausal women. Women aged 18–50 years were allocated into two groups according to calcium intake: low calcium group (less than 600 mg daily) and high calcium group (more than 600 mg daily). 

Women in the low calcium group compared with those in the high calcium group exhibited higher values of BMI, waist circumference, waist:height ratio, percentage of body fat, insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, leptin, diastolic and mean blood pressure; and lower levels of HDL-cholesterol, adiponectin and vascular cell adhesion molecule. Women in the high calcium group had lower risk for overweight, obesity, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, HDL-cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The findings of the present study suggest that calcium intake above 600 mg is inversely associated with numerous cardiovascular risk factors.

Bonnie: As we have incessantly stated since recent studies have greatly confused the public, around 600 mg. of supplemental calcium is ideal, as long as it is accompanied with magnesium and vitamin D3. Of course, every person should be evaluated individually to assess their needs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Diabetes skyrockets in kids

Researchers have documented a startling rise in the rate of type 1 diabetes. Diagnoses in kids younger than 5 jumped by 70 percent between 1985 and 2004 in Philadelphia. According to the study by University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, overall, the rate of type 1 diabetes in children aged 14 and younger climbed by nearly 30 percent during that time period.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, if current trends continue, the rates of type 1 will increase by 23 percent by 2050.

The other striking finding was that in white and Hispanic children, the incidence of type 1 diabetes jumped dramatically from the 1995 to 1999 study period to the 2000 to 2004 period. The rates of type 1 went up 27 percent in Hispanic kids and 48 percent in white children in that short time period.

Cash for pounds seems to work

The chance to win or lose $20 a month enticed dieters in a yearlong study to drop an average of 9 pounds — four times more weight than others who were not offered dough to pass up the doughnuts. The new study, done with Mayo Clinic employees, was the longest test yet of financial incentives forweight loss. Doctors think it succeeded because it had a mix of carrots and sticks — penalties for not losing weight, multiple ways to earn cash for succeeding, and a chance to recoup lost money if you fell off the "diet wagon" and later repented.

The diet study involved 100 obese employees at Mayo Clinic but was not a workplace wellness program. Half were given weight-loss counseling, monthly weigh-ins and a three-month gym membership. The others had those things plus financial incentives.

The aim was to lose 4 pounds a month up to a goal that depended on their starting weight. If they failed, they paid $20 into a kitty. If they succeeded, they got a voucher to collect $20 when the study ended. Part of the kitty was used to pay the rewards. The rest was put into a lottery that anyone could win, whether they had made their weight-loss goals or not.

Participants in the financial incentives group also earned $10 a month and lottery "tickets" for coming to monthly weigh-ins and texting their weights to study leaders each week. So people could have lost as much as $240 or won as much as $360, plus what built up in the lottery fund.

After a year, 27 of the 50 financial incentive participants came out ahead moneywise. About 62 percent of them completed the study versus 26 percent of the other group. The incentives group lost a little more than 9 pounds on average, compared to 2.3 pounds for the others.

The results are promising, but people may need to lose more than 9 pounds to make a big difference in health.

Whole Foods to label GMO food by 2018,0,1570609.story

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Can plants can be altruistic?

Vegetarians and vegans: you may not want to read this. There may be nothing left for you to eat!

Bumble Bee Tuna Recall

Bumble Bee Foods officials issued a voluntary recall on specific codes of 5-ounce Chunk White Albacore and Chunk Light Tuna products due to loose seals. 

 "Due to can integrity concerns, our top priority at this time is to remove these recalled products from distribution as soon as possible. We are working closely with our sales team and with retailers to help expedite the recall. We must assure our consumers and retailers of a safe and quality product so we very much appreciate everyone's part in disposing of the products with the specific codes indicated," Steve Mavity of Bumble Bee Foods said in a statement. "There have been no consumer reports of illnesses attributed to these products, but because we've identified an issue with seal tightness, we're voluntarily recalling products to ensure the highest margin of safety and quality."  

Loose seals or seams could result in product contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens and lead to illness if consumed, Mavity said. A list of the recalled products are at:
Consumers can contact Bumble Bee Consumer Affairs 24 hours a day at (800) 800-8572.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Mosquitoes giving DEET the brush-off

The insect repellent Deet appears to be losing its effectiveness against mosquitoes, scientists say. Researchers in a PLOS One study say mosquitoes are first deterred by the substance, but then later ignore it. They say more research is needed to find alternatives to Deet - or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide - which is one of the most widely used active ingredients in insect repellents.

ADHD treatment deemed woeful as cure

Bonnie: Note that 77% of the participants in the following Pediatrics study received stimulant treatment as children. However, you will find that information nowhere in the media coverage. Maybe that's because the pharmaceutical company that funded the study did not want that information getting out?

The first large, population-based study to follow children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder into adulthood shows that ADHD often doesn't go away and that children with ADHD are more likely to have other psychiatric disorders as adults. They also appear more likely to commit suicide and to be incarcerated as adults.

Only 37.5 percent of the children contacted as adults were free of worrisome outcomes. The study is unique because it followed a large group of ADHD patients from childhood to adulthood.  At follow-up, the researchers found: 
  • 29 percent of children with ADHD still had ADHD as adults. 
  • 57 percent of children with ADHD had at least one other psychiatric disorder as adults, as compared with 35 percent of those studied who didn't have childhood ADHD. The most common were substance abuse/dependence, antisocial personality disorder, hypomanic episodes, generalized anxiety and major depression.
  • Of the children who still had ADHD as adults, 81 percent had at least one other psychiatric disorder, as compared with 47 percent of those who no longer had ADHD and 35 percent of those without childhood ADHD.
  • Ten adults who had childhood ADHD (2.7 percent) were incarcerated when the study started.
Steve: Here is the conclusion quoted directly from study "These ļ¬ndings have important implications for the effectiveness of care provided to children with ADHD and the system of care to meet the needs of individuals with ADHD across the lifespan. It is concerning that only a minority of children with ADHD reaches adulthood without suffering serious adverse outcomes, suggesting that the care of childhood ADHD is far from optimal. Our results also indicate that clinicians, insurers, and health care systems must be prepared to provide appropriate care for adults with ADHD."

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Salivary pH and Metabolic Syndrome

The objective of a recent BMC Oral Health study was to document the association between salivary pH and Metabolic Syndrome expression in women. The salivary pH level was significantly correlated with several MetS covariates, namely triglycerides, apolipoprotein B, and plasma glucose concentrations as well as waist circumference. Mean pH levels decreased as the number of MetS components increased.

Bonnie: Salivary pH is an inexpensive screening tool to more easily monitor health status without increasing the burden of healthcare costs. I have used pH strips my entire career.

Omega-3 may protect against skin cancer

Taking omega-3 fish oils could help to protect against skin cancer. Results of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that taking a regular dose of fish oils boosted skin immunity to sunlight. Specifically, it also reduced sunlight-induced suppression of the immune system, known as immunosuppression, which affects the body's ability to fight skin cancer and infection. This was the first time the research had been carried out on humans.

Patients who volunteered for the trial took a 4g dose of omega-3, which is about one and a half portions of oily fish, daily and were then exposed to the equivalent of either 8, 15 or 30 minutes of summer midday sun in Manchester using a special light machine. Other patients took a placebo, before being exposed to the light machine. Immunosuppression was 50% lower in people who took the supplement and were exposed to 8 and 15 minutes of sun compared with people who did not take the supplement.