Newsletter Archives > Monthly Health Newsletter: October 2012 Health Newsletter

October 2012 Health Newsletter

Current Articles

» Successful Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies
» Medical Profession Fighting Transparency Despite Patient Benefits
» Pediatricians Warn Kids Off Trampolines
» Intense Ten-minute Workouts Offer Benefits, Risks
» Stressed Out Heart Attack Patients More Likely to Die

Successful Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies

   It is often surprising to doctors that so many women know so little about what causes breast cancer. Although one popular belief is that it is a genetic disease, 80 percent of women that get breast cancer do not have a relative with it and research has shown that less than 10 percent of breast cancer is of genetic origin. There are many factors to consider, and no single cause can be pinpointed, so we should embrace all of the known, reasonable practices that will help to prevent breast cancer.

 Lose weight: Studies have clearly associated high body fat with increased breast cancer, a higher frequency of breast cancer reoccurrence and increased likelihood that cancer will spread. This may be due to the fact that fat increases estrogen levels and/or the connection between belly fat and increased insulin, which makes tumors grow.

 It is challenging to decrease body fat. It is best to adopt a balanced, low-glycemic diet that focuses on fruits and vegetables. Journaling is very helpful as well, because it forces us to examine what we are really eating. Additionally, a consultation with a practitioner experienced in sensible weight loss is a great idea.

Improve diet: A low-fat and high-fiber diet protects against breast cancer, so eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a plant-based diet. This doesn't mean we have to become vegetarians, but it does mean eating bitter, leafy greens such as kale, arugula, collard greens and spinach on a daily basis. We should also limit intake of animal products, choosing lean, healthy meats and fish when possible. Brassica family vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage, contain Indole-3-carbinol, a plant chemical shown to stop the growth of breast cancer. Other dietary factors that are important include limiting alcohol consumption to two drinks or less per week and decreasing overall calorie intake. An obvious benefit of decreasing caloric intake is weight loss—further decreasing cancer risk.

 Avoid chest/breast radiation: We've known that X-ray radiation causes cancer for more than 100 years, yet our "gold standard" in breast cancer screening is the mammogram, a test that squashes the breast as flat as humanly possible to then irradiate it. Despite research demonstrating its potential harm and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations not to start mammograms until the age of 50, doctors are still insisting that women get them at the age of 40. Breast thermography is a great alternative to screen for breast cancer. This test, which identifies abnormal blood flow associated with cancer, is especially good for younger women under the age of 40, in which mammograms cause more cancer than they find.

 Avoid hormones and chemicals: With the release of the findings of the Women's Health Initiative, it has been proven that hormone replacement therapy contributes to breast cancer. What has emerged in its place is "bio-identical" or "bio-equivalent" hormone therapy; both touted as safer than synthetic hormones. To date, however, the safety of bio-identical hormones has not been adequately studied. The fact is that they are still hormones, which stimulate breast tissue. We should not confuse a deficiency therapy with a lifestyle drug—menopause is not a deficiency disease, but rather the natural process of aging and women considering hormone replacement should weigh the risks versus benefits.

 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 200 manmade chemicals to be found in the average human body. Some of these chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) are particularly nasty, acting as endocrine disruptors, even with extremely small exposure. Found in plastics and in the lining of canned goods, BPA has been shown to stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancers. A recent study found that parabens, estrogenic compounds contained in many skin care products, are deposited in breast tissue. Although there is no clear correlation between parabens and breast cancer, avoid plastics and canned goods that do not have BPA-free linings, including soda cans.

 There are many meaningful ways to decrease breast cancer risk. Myriad minor factors may or may not increase or prevent breast cancer, but many lack research and distract us from the most important preventive factors. Focus on the proven big risk factors and take action now to prevent breast cancer.

Author: Dr. Nick LeRoy
Source: Natural Awakenings
Copyright: Dr. Nick LeRoy, MS, DC 2012

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Medical Profession Fighting Transparency Despite Patient Benefits

Dr. Marty Makary, a cancer surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is aiming to reduce the over 9 million patients harmed or killed every year in the United States by medical mistakes. However, hospitals and medical professionals are often resistant to the solutions he suggests. Makary is the author of the recently published book, "Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care." In it, he outlines how doctors and hospitals suppress objective data on how patients fare in their care. Makary argues for an end to the professional code of silence that often protects incompetent or careless medical practitioners and calls for hospitals to provide publicly accessible statistics on treatment outcomes to help people make informed treatment choices. Currently there is no mechanism in place in any U. S. state for a patient to find out a surgeon's rate of complications, how many mistakes a hospital makes or almost any other data that may influence their treatment decisions.  What data is available to patients often reflects subjective values like a hospitals' "reputation"  among specialists. Dr. Makary does note several models of medical transparency that show promise. Currently, California, New York and Oregon all require hospitals to report death rates from heart bypass surgery. The information has benefited patients; after New York made its data public in 1989, hospitals scrambled to improve and death rates from heart surgery fell 41 percent in four years.

Source: Reuters; September 27, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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Pediatricians Warn Kids Off Trampolines

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has issued a recommendation that kids stay off of trampolines. They cited the exercise units as being responsible for over 100,000 injuries a year, some of which include serious life threatening spinal injuries. The new statement updates an AAP recommendation from 1999 that caused trampoline manufacturers to add safety features like padding and nets in an attempt to reduce risks. Since then, while overall injuries have been dropping, the number of trampolines in use have dropped as well, meaning the injury rate has remained constant despite the new safety features. While the majority of injuries to children in trampoline accidents cited were ankle sprains and fractures, the AAP also noted that one in 200 trampoline injuries lead to permanent neurological damage, often caused by botched somersaults or flips. The recreational use of trampolines was "strongly discouraged" by the pediatricians' group, but parents who are unwilling to stop their kids from using trampolines were offered a number of tips to make the activity safer, including using the mat one at a time, maintaining effective padding around springs and frame, placing the trampoline on level ground, avoiding somersaults and flips and actively supervising kids. Trampoline manufacturers meanwhile, issued a statement that trampolines are safer for children by hours of use, than activities like skateboarding, climbing trees or swings.

Source: Pediatrics, online September 24, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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Intense Ten-minute Workouts Offer Benefits, Risks

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that most adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, but surveys indicate that the number one objection raised to meeting that goal is a lack of time. However, that may change with the growing popularity of the 10-minute workout. The workouts, sometimes referred to by devotees as "exercise snacking" substitute intensity for duration. Liz Neporent, co-author of "The Thin in 10 Weight-Loss Plan," says science is discovering that if you increase the intensity of your exercise routine, you can decrease the time needed to benefit. Neoporent and co-author Jessica Smith recommend a hybrid of cardio and strength exercises to experience benefits. According to the ACSM, multiple shorter sessions of at least 10 minutes are acceptable alternatives to the traditional 30-minute workout and even people unable to meet the minimums will still benefit from some activity. But for the middle-aged or older, high-intensity exercise carries risks as well. Studies indicate that inappropriately intense exercise is a contributing factor in the majority of heart attacks and other cardiovascular accidents. Experts recommend that the intense short-burst workouts only be attempted by people who are already moderately active on a regular basis.

Source: Reuters; September 24, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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Stressed Out Heart Attack Patients More Likely to Die

In a recent study of over 4,200 U.S. heart attack patients at St Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, researchers concluded that heart-attack victims who felt 'stressed out' were 42% more likely to die within the next two years than calmer patients. While many studies in the past have focused on the link between stress and developing heart problems, the new research was the first to focus on chronic stress and a patient's prognosis after a heart attack. While the patients were still in the hospital recovering, they answered a survey on how much stress they'd felt in their jobs and personal lives over the last month. Overall, people who reported the most stress were more likely to die in the next two years. However, it is still unclear whether stress is to blame for the gloomy prognosis, as the stressed patients were also more likely to experience other factors which contributed to poor cardiovascular health, such as poor diet, obesity, smoking and depression. The researchers concluded that patients concerned with the results try simple steps to relieve stress and promote heart health, like taking regular walks outside.

Source: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;():. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2012.06.044
Copyright: LLC 2012

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