Tips on combating stress
Whether you’re fighting through traffic, paying the monthly bills, dealing with the noisy next-door neighbor or struggling with illness or disease, it can all add up to a considerable amount of stress. Stress is basically what we feel whenever we are faced with a difficult, unpleasant or challenging situation, and the way we deal with all this stress can substantially influence our overall health and well-being.
If stress is affecting your life, it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor of chiropractic. Here’s why: A study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) examined the contribution of stress as a potential disease trigger among 138 chiropractic patients attending one of 10 chiropractic clinics. Patients
completed two questionnaires that asked about how their current stress affected their ability to function emotionally, mentally and physically.
Results showed that nearly one in three patients viewed their lives as moderately to severely stressful, and more than 50% felt that stress had a moderate or severe impact on their current health problem. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the patients said that it would be helpful if their chiropractic care included strategies to help them cope with stress.
Chiropractic care might be just what you need to help relieve some of that stress in your life. And remember, evidence suggests that low back pain, a condition that chiropractors are experts at managing, may be caused or worsened by stress. So talk to your chiropractor about stress and about all of your health care needs. Trust and communication are important in any relationship, but perhaps no more so than between patient and doctor. After all, you’re placing your health and wellness in their hands.
Jamison J. Stress: the chiropractic patient’s self-perceptions. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, July/August 1999: Vol. 22, No. 6, pp395-98.
Can Exercise Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
Mothers, sisters, friends and daughters can be affected by breast cancer. Regardless of age, race or economic status, an estimated 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly 45,000 will die from the disease. Although there is currently no known cure, researchers are working diligently to give women a fighting chance against this frightening, life-threatening disease.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine examined the role exercise may play in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 121,701 women (aged 30-55) from 1976-1992. Women were surveyed at different points during the study period to gather data on physical activity, including the average number of hours per week spent participating in moderate or vigorous “recreational physical activity” (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobic dance, tennis, etc.).
Surveys also were used to identify cases of breast cancer during the 16-year study. Women who were more physically active showed a lower risk of breast cancer than women who were less active. The intensity of physical activity did not seem to be as important as consistent activity; women reporting four or more hours of vigorous physical activity each week had only a 10-15% lower risk of breast cancer than women reporting one hour or less of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week.
Early detection of breast cancer can play a major role in saving your life or the life of someone you love, and these research findings suggest that consistent physical activity may help as well.
Rockhill B, Willett WC, Hunter DJ, et al. A prospective study of recreational physical activity and breast cancer risk. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1999: Vol. 159, pp2290-2296.
Baby’s Crying? Take a Trip to the Chiropractor
The most widely accepted definition of “colic” is uncontrollable crying in babies, especially from the ages of 0-3 months, and often lasting for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week for three weeks or more.
No matter how long the condition lasts, parents know that struggling with a colicky child can be frustrating and exhausting. But there is hope, and it could come from your doctor of chiropractic. A recent study divided 50 infants with colic into two groups. The first group received chiropractic spinal manipulation for two weeks; the second group received traditional drug treatment (dimethicone) over the same two weeks.
Results revealed that the chiropractic group improved more than the drug group (less hours spent crying) after the first five days of the study. After day five, the dimethicone group showed little or no reduction in average colic hours per day. Specifically,
* Days 4-7: Hours of crying were reduced by a total of 2.4 hours in the manipulation group compared with only one hour in the drug group.
* Days 8-11: Hours of crying were reduced by 2.7 total hours in the manipulation group, compared with one hour in the drug group.
Even more revealing, five infants in the dimethicone group dropped out before the end of the study, described by their patients as having “worsened” or “much worsened” colic. The authors suggest that if these severe cases had been included in the results, the drug intervention would have appeared even less effective than chiropractic for reducing the symptoms of colic.
Wiberg JMM, Nordsteen J, Nilsson N. The short-term effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of infantile colic: a randomized controlled clinical trial with a blinded observer. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 1999: Vol. 22, No. 8, pp517-22.
Mothers with High Cholesterol = Children with High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is critical to many bodily functions (cell membrane production, sex hormones, digestive processes), although most people don’t think of it in such a positive light. That’s because excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can also cause hardening of the arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Children generally have low cholesterol concentrations and don’t develop atherosclerosis. However, atherosclerotic “lesions” (evidence of thickening in the arteries caused by the buildup of excess cholesterol) have been noted in some young adults and infants, even without a family history of the disease. This suggests that other factors may be involved.
A study published in the October 9, 1999 issue of The Lancet examined whether hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels in the blood) in mothers could be linked to the same condition in their children. More than 150 children age 1-3 were classified by whether their mother had normal or high levels of cholesterol during pregnancy; the children were
then examined for evidence of atherosclerotic lesions.
Results showed that lesions were more pronounced and developed more rapidly in children whose mothers had high cholesterol levels, and this observation could not be explained when accounting for the conventional risk factors (high-cholesterol diet, family history, etc.).
These findings add to the considerable evidence emphasizing the importance of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. What you do while you’re pregnant doesn’t just affect you — it can affect the health and safety of your child. Consult with your team of health care professionals to optimize your prenatal care.
Napoli C, Glass CK, Witztum JL, et al. Influence of maternal hypercholesterolemia during pregnancy on progression of early atherosclerotic lesions in childhood: fate of early lesions in children (FELIC) study. The Lancet, October 9, 1999: Vol. 354, No. 9186,
Bone Loss Linked to Mental Decline?
Bone mass increases during childhood and adolescence, reaching its greatest mass when we’re in our 30s and declining slowly but steadily as we age. Women have less bone mass than men at all ages and lose bone mass rapidly following menopause. In fact, after menopause this bone loss can occur at a rate of up to five percent per year, putting women at risk for osteoporosis (bone loss to the point that they become thin, brittle and prone to fracture).
If the threat of osteoporosis isn’t distressing enough, consider a recent study published in the Journal of the Geriatric Society. More than 8,000 elderly women (all 65 years of age or older) evaluated the potential association between bone mineral density (BMD) and cognitive decline. BMD was measured at the beginning of the study (baseline) and again 4-6 years later, and vertebral fractures were determined with x-rays at year
six. Women were also monitored for cognitive changes via several questionnaires given at different points during the study period.
Women with low BMD at baseline had up to 8% worse cognitive scores at baseline and up to 6% worse scores at follow-up than women with higher BMD at baseline. Woman with vertebral fractures also revealed lower test scores and a greater overall risk of cognitive decline than women without any fractures.
Exercise and dietary supplementation (calcium) are potential options for women trying to prevent bone loss following menopause. This study suggests that preventing bone loss might help prevent some of the mental declines normally associated with aging.
For a comprehensive evaluation of your exercise, diet and lifestyle needs as a woman, schedule an appointment with your chiropractor.
Yaffe K, Browner W, Cauley J, et al. Association between bone mineral density and cognitive decline in older women. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 1999: Vol. 47, pp1176-1182.
An Important Reason to Lose the Weight
Body-mass index (BMI) is basically a measure of your weight in proportion to your height. BMI is regarded as an important indicator of overall fitness and health, although the specific nature of BMI as it relates to disease is not clear-cut and the “optimal” BMI is highly subjective.
More than one million U.S. adults (457,785 men and 588,369 women) participated in a 14-year study that examined the relationship between BMI and the risk of death from all causes. Results showed a distinct association between BMI and disease, including the following:
* A high BMI was most strongly linked with death from cardiovascular disease, especially in men.
* Overall, heavier (higher weight in proportion to height) women and men in all age groups had an increased risk of death compared to those with lower BMIs.
* Among men and women with the highest BMIs, Caucasian men and women had a significantly higher risk of death compared with African-American men and women, although both groups had an elevated risk compared with those with a lower BMI.
Keep in mind that the “ideal” should always be considered in terms of one’s height and overall body size, shape and frame. And of course, exercise and diet are also important factors which BMI doesn’t consider. Lean muscle mass weighs more than fat, so good health is more than just weight in proportion to height. Your chiropractor can determine your BMI, assess your overall health status, and recommend appropriate fitness strategies to keep you on the road to lifelong wellness.
Calle EE, Thun MJ, Petrelli JM, et al. Body-mass index and mortality in a prospective cohort of U.S. adults. The New England Journal of Medicine, October 7, 1999: Vol. 341, No. 15, pp1097-1105.
Good for the Body, the Mind and the Wallet
Obesity has been linked to a number of serious conditions, including high blood pressure, type II (adult-onset) diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. Despite these associations, obesity is increasing in the United States, rising from an already unacceptable 25.4% from 1976-1980 to the staggering rate of 35.2% from 1988-1994.
In a study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers evaluated the potential lifetime health and economic benefits of a sustained 10% reduction in body weight in men and women (35-64 years of age and suffering from mild, moderate or severe obesity). They estimate that this type of weight loss would:
* reduce the expected number of years of life with high blood pressure by up to three years; years with elevated cholesterol levels by almost one year; and years with type II diabetes by from 1/2 a year to nearly two years per person;
* reduce the expected lifetime incidence of coronary heart disease by 12-38 cases per thousand and stroke by 1-13 cases per thousand;
* increase average life expectancy by 2-7 months per person; and
* reduce expected lifetime medical care costs associated with these diseases by $2,200-$5,300 per person.
Most of us need to lose a few pounds, but don’t starve yourself for a temporary fix. If you want to live longer and avoid disease, get on a sensible diet that will take the pounds off steadily and keep them off. Your doctor of chiropractic can recommend a complete exercise and nutritional program suitable to your needs.
Oster G, Thompson D, Edelsberg J, et al. Lifetime health and economic benefits of weight loss among obese persons. American Journal of Public Health, October 1999: Vol. 89, No. 10, pp1536-42.