Tips on combating stress

 

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,
pp1234-41.

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.

No Shortage of Back Pain

September 1999 To Your Health

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, 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.

Chiropractic for PMS

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 — Chiropractic.

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 non-PMS group.

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. 4, pp216-220.

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 next.

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 warmup/stretching, 30 minutes of cycling, 5-minute cooldown). 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 premenopausal 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 days.

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 goals.

Prabhakaran B, Dowling EA, Branch JD, et al. Effect of 14 weeks of resistance training on lipid profile and body fat percentage in premenopausal women. British Journal of Sports Medicine 1999: Vol. 33, pp190-195.

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 mineral density.

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 information.

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.

Pregnancy Back Pain

 

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 during Pregnancy

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.

In Your Best Interest?

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.

Chronic Low Back Pain and Memory

June 1999 To Your Health

Can Chronic Low Back Trouble Affect Your Mind?

If you keep ignoring that low back pain, you’re might be damaging more than just your body. A recent study in the journal Spine examined the association between cognitive impairment (e.g., slow reaction times and reduced short-term memory affecting certain motor tasks) and chronic low back trouble.

Patients’ low back problems were assessed and analyzed at the beginning of rehabilitation and six months later. Measurement of cognitive impairment was accomplished by having all subjects use a desktop computer’s mouse and special foot pedals to react to arrow symbols flashed on the screen in random order and at random intervals.

The study concluded that

“chronic low back trouble (i.e., pain, psychological distress, and general disability) hampers the functioning of short-term memory, which results in decreased speed of information processing among patients with chronic low back trouble.”

Just another reason to go to the expert on managing and treating low back pain — your local chiropractor.

Luoto S, Taimela S, Hurri H, Alaranta H. Mechanisms explaining the association between low back trouble and deficits in information processing: a controlled study with follow-up. Spine, Feb. 1, 1999; vol. 24, no. 3, pp255-61.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Ultrasound instead of Surgery?

Until recently, most people thought that surgery was the only option for dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome (pain and inflammation in the forearm, wrist and/or hand). But a new study in the British Medical Journal reveals a potential noninvasive alternative — ultrasound.

Forty-five patients with carpal tunnel problems in both arms received 20 treatments each over a 6-week period. On each occasion, one wrist was treated with ultrasound and the other with a fake or “sham” ultrasound treatment that appeared to be real.

The findings of the study preliminarily confirmed that ultrasound treatment could provide short-term effectiveness and even achieve satisfying medium-term effects for patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.

This is all good news for those people who are experiencing the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially those who may be afraid to seek care because they don’t want surgery. Ask your chiropractor for more information on conservative, nonsurgical options for your pain.

Ebenbichler GR, Resch KL, Nicokakis P, et al. Ultrasound treatment for treating carpal tunnel syndrome: randomised “sham” controlled trial. British Medical Journal, Mar 7, 1998;316(7133), pp.731-35.

Writing about Stress Might Benefit Asthma and Arthritis Patients

Many people believe that art — writing, painting, sculpting, drawing, etc. — serves as a release from the stress and tensions of everyday life. And as we all know, stress can contribute to all manner of physical problems.

A recent study investigated whether writing about stressful experiences can help asthma and arthritis sufferers. Volunteer subjects were divided into two groups: an experimental group assigned to write about the most stressful event in their lives; and a control group asked to write about emotionally neutral topics. Participants wrote continuously for 20 minutes on 3 consecutive days.

Of those who engaged in the expressive writing about their most stressful experiences, asthma patients showed improved lung function and the controls showed no change. Rheumatoid arthritis patients also reported improvements in overall disease activity that control patients did not show.

According to the investigators, “this is the first study to demonstrate that writing about stressful life experiences improves physician ratings of disease severity in chronically ill patients.”

Based on these results, one wonders if perhaps there may be benefit not only to writing about stress, but in sharing traumatic or stressful experiences with your doctor, especially as they relate to an injury.

Smyth JM, Stone AA, Hurewitz A, Kaell A. Effects of writing about stressful experiences on symptom reduction in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of the American Medical Association, Apr. 14, 1999; vol. 281, no. 14, pp1304-9.

An Egg a Day Is Okay?

The public and health care professions have been frustrated by the mixed messages about eggs: positive reports on the nutritional value of egg consumption, alternating with warnings that eating eggs can be unhealthy.

The controversy may be ending, at least if you accept the position taken in this research paper, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study subjects (37,851 men, age 40-75, and 80,082 women, age 34-59), who were free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol or cancer at the outset, returned diet questionnaires that included information on egg consumption.

The men were followed-up over 8 years and the women over 14 years, with no evidence shown of any significant association between egg consumption and coronary heart disease or stroke in either men or women. The dozen researchers involved in this study concluded that healthy men and women could safely consume up to 1 egg per day without substantially increasing their overall risk.

Ask your chiropractor to outline a nutritional program appropriate to your health needs.

Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association, Apr. 21, 1999; vol. 281, no. 15, pp1387-94.

First-Time Snowboarders: Higher Risk than First-Time Skiers

You’re on the slopes, drinking in the cool, crisp air and the breathtaking scenery, ready to dash down into the pure white snow. Problem is, you’ve never done this before.

First-time snowboarders and skiers can meet up with danger if they’re not careful — but is one group more at risk than the other? A study of more than 22,000 first-time snowboarders and skiers at two major winter resorts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire between 1994 and l996 found that:

* Injuries were sustained by 4% of the snowboarders and 4% of the skiers.

* Snowboarders had a higher percentage of upper extremity injuries (53%); skiers had more lower-extremity injuries (63%).

* Most significantly, snowboarders had a much higher incidence (42%) of emergent injuries (fractures, concussions involving loss of consciousness, dislocations, and lost teeth, which necessitated immediate medical intervention) than did skiers (16%).

By eliminating experience and equipment as variables, the researchers were able to conclude that “snowboarding has a significantly higher rate of emergent risks than skiing.” They state that this rate should diminish with the use of helmets and wrist guards.

O’Neill DF, McGlone MR. Injury risk in first-time snowboarders versus first-time skiers. American Journal of Sports Medicine, Jan.-Feb. 1999; vol. 27, no. 1, pp94-97.

Cycles of Weight Gain/Loss Increase Women’s Risk for Gallstones

Obesity and rapid weight loss in obese persons are known risk factors for gallstones. The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that investigated whether long-term, moderate weight changes also pose a risk for development of gallstones and the need for gall bladder surgery.

Of the 47,153 study participants (all women determined to be at risk for gallstones):

* 54.9% reported weight cycling with at least 1 episode of intentional weight loss associated with weight gain;

* 20.1% were light cyclers (5-9 lbs of weight loss and gain) 18.8% were moderate cyclers (10-19 lbs. of weight loss and gain), and 16% were severe cyclers (greater than or equal to 20 lbs. of weight loss and gain);

* Women who gained without losing constituted 29.3% of the total cohort; only 4.6% of the subjects lost without regaining; and 11.1% maintained weight within 5% over the 16 years studied.

The investigators concluded:

“…weight cycling as a result of intentional attempts to lose weight is highly prevalent in women. Weight cycling of more than 10 lbs. of weight loss and regain led to a 31% to 68% increase in the risk for [gall bladder surgery]. … our findings reinforce the idea that in addition to avoidance of obesity, it is important to maintain stable weight in adulthood.”

Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about a moderate, consistent exercise and nutritional program that can help you avoid the many health problems associated with weight problems.

Syngal S, Coakley EH, Willett WC, et al. Long-term weight patterns and risk of
cholecystectomy in women. Annals of Internal Medicine, Mar. 16, 1999; vol. 130,
pp471-77.

Having Pets Is Good for Seniors

More people have pets than ever before, and with a few notable exceptions (tarantulas come to mind!), they’re cuddly, playful friends for life.

As people get older and friends grow distant or pass away, companionship, especially in the form of a pet, can help maintain physical and physiological well-being. At least that’s the conclusion drawn by a recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

This study’s objective was “to examine whether companion animals or attachment to a companion animal was associated with changes in physical and psychological health, and whether the relationships between physical and psychological health and human social networks were modified in the presence or absence of a companion animal.”

Pet ownership was defined as owning a dog or a cat; the study found that activities of daily living (ADL) scores (the ability to perform basic tasks) of respondents without pets deteriorated more on average than that of those who had pets.

As the authors concluded, “[This study] demonstrated the benefits of pet ownership in maintaining or slightly enhancing the physical health status of older people. Pet ownership buffered the negative impact of lack of social support on psychological well-being and emerged as a factor that may help some older adults age successfully.”

Raina P, Waltner-Toews D, Bonnett B, et al. Influence of companion animals on the physical and psychological health of older people: an analysis of a one-year longitudinal study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Mar. 1999; vol. 47, no. 3, pp323-29.

Smokers Put Spouses at Risk for Stroke

Passive smoking, secondhand smoke, or exposure to environmental tobacco smoke
whatever term you use, the effects of smoking on the people around you is a
well-documented public health problem and a highly controversial social and political issue.

The chemical composition of the smoke inhaled by passive smokers is not identical to that inhaled by active smokers, but the toxic and carcinogenic effects are similar. There have been angry debates between smokers demanding their right to smoke in social and work situations and nonsmokers calling for laws protecting them from the proven ill effects of tobacco smoke produced by others.

A recent study presented in the American Journal of Public Health examined the potential association between stroke and smoking, concentrating on the situation in which passive smoking is the most difficult to control: smoking by close family relatives in the confines of shared environments.

Results showed that among 452 hospitalized cases of first-episode stroke, the risk of stroke was twice as high for subjects whose spouses smoked than for those who were the spouses of nonsmokers.

If you’re a smoker, think seriously about quitting – for your own health, and the health of your loved ones and those around you.

You RX, Thrift AG, McNeil JJ, et al. Ischemic stroke risk and passive exposure to spouses’ cigarette smoking. American Journal of Public Health, Apr. 1999; vol. 89, no. 4, pp572-75.

Time to Increase Daily Vitamin C Intake?

We’ve all heard about the benefits of vitamin C, but how much is enough? The answer might be more than you originally thought.

In April, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper alerting consumers to the news that the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences is revising its recommendations for vitamin C intake. The revision is required because since the current 60mg Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) was set in 1989, extensive new biomechanical, molecular, epidemiologic and clinical data have become available.

The new recommendations use a series of criteria to determine and estimated average requirement in order to establish a specific RDA for each person. If the average requirement cannot be determined, the authors suggest that the recommended amount of vitamin C should now become 200mg per day from 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (or 100mg per day of a vitamin C supplement) to prevent deficiency.

Ask your doctor of chiropractic to help you determine exactly how much vitamin C and other important nutrients you should be getting each day.

Levine M, Ramsey SC, Daruwala R, et al. Criteria and recommendations for vitamin C intake. Journal of the American Medical Association, Apr. 21, 1999;281(15), pp. 1387-94.

Keep Eating Those Whole-Grain Foods?

We’ve all seen the “nutritional pyramid” with sugars and fats at the top (“eat sparingly”) and breads and cereals at the bottom (“eat 6-11 servings per day”). But how many of us know why eating breads and cereals, particularly those made from whole grains, is so important to our overall health?

A study examining whether nutrient-rich whole grains reduce mortality risk began with the awareness that whole grains contain a wide variety of nutrients that may be beneficial to health, but are lost in refining. The researchers were concerned that refined grains contributed more than 20% of energy intake in the United States whereas whole grains contributed only 1%, despite dietary recommendations to the contrary.

The subjects (38,740 women aged 55-69) completed a baseline food frequency questionnaire including information on grain intake. Data were assessed for known or suspected risk factors for coronary heart disease and cancer. Results suggested that women with higher intakes of whole grain had healthier lifestyles and less baseline disease. The total death rate increased among groups of women with higher intakes, and the pattern repeated for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other causes combined.

The researchers contend that these findings have important public health implications, namely, that “it would be prudent for the general population to increase its whole grain intake.” This led them to this far-reaching conclusion: “Substitution of whole grain for refined grain may reduce chronic disease risk in the United States.”

Jacobs DR, Me KA, Kushi LH, Folsom AR. Is whole grain intake associated with reduced total and cause-specific death rates in older women? The Iowa women’s health study. American Journal of Public Health, Mar. 1999; vol. 89, no. 3, pp322-29.

Chiropractic Treatment For Low Back Disc Problems

low back disc chiropractic treatment

May 1999 To Your Health Newsletter

Chiropractic: The First-line Treatment for Disc-Related Low Back Pain

With low back pain being the burden that it is to both patients and the health care system, patients and health care practitioners regularly must decide if surgery or more conservative management is the best option.

This review of the literature distills and synthesizes previously published research. The article lists various causes of low back pain, noting what findings in patient histories, physical examinations, and diagnostic imaging represent “red flags” that indicate the need for referral to a specialist for surgical intervention.

After patients are screened for red flags, conservative treatment should be the first line of treatment for patients without absolute signs for surgical intervention.

The authors concluded:

Of the available conservative treatments, chiropractic management has been shown through multiple studies to be safe, clinically effective, cost-effective, and to provide a high degree of patient satisfaction. As a result, in patients . . . for whom the surgical indications are not absolute, a minimum of 2 or 3 months of chiropractic management is indicated.

Troyanovich SJ, Harrison DD, Harrison DE. Low back pain and the lumbar intervertebral disk: Clinical consideration for the doctor of chiropractic. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 1999; vol. 22, no. 2, pp96-104.

Some Headaches Linked to Upper Cervical Spine

There is a common structural variation of the atlas vertebra at the top of the spine. It is called ponticulus posticus (also known as foramen arcuale or “Kimmerle’s anomaly”). Investigators studied the relationship between this condition and headache symptoms in 895 first-time chiropractic patients. The patients” complaints included migraine with aura (classical migraine), migraine without aura (common migraine), cervicogenic headache, neck pain only, and other problems. They were examined for the presence or absence of partial or complete ponticulus posticus.

The authors found a significant correlation of ponticulus posticus with migraine without aura. They explain that because the ponticulus posticus is intimately attached to the atlanto-occipital membrane (where the spine and skull meet) and this membrane, in turn, is attached to the dura (the outermost covering of the brain and spinal cord), small tensions exerted on the dura may result in excruciating head pain of a type experienced in migraine.

The beneficial results of chiropractic treatment for migraine and cervicogenic headache are probably related to the nature of the structures connecting the upper spine to the skull.

Wight S, Osborne N, Breen AC. Incidence of ponticulus posterior of the atlas in migraine and cervicogenic headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Jan. 1999; vol. 22, no. 1, pp15-20.

Pacifiers Cause Breastfeeding Problems

Because many of the infant health benefits attributable to breastfeeding depend on the duration of full breastfeeding, this study sought to determine if infrequent and shortened-duration breastfeeding is associated with pacifier use.

The subjects were breastfeeding mothers and their infants. Results showed that 68% of the mothers began using pacifiers before 6 weeks. Pacifier introduction this early significantly increased the chances for a shortened duration of full breastfeeding. Mothers who introduced pacifiers tended to breastfeed less frequently and they experienced breastfeeding problems consistent with infrequent infant feeding.

Howard CR, Howard FM, Lanphear EAD, et al breastfeeding. The effects of early pacifier use on breastfeeding duration. Pediatrics, Mar. 1999; vol. 103, no. 3, p. e33.

Early Day Care May Protect against Allergies

The hypothesis behind this study is that childhood infections may protect individuals from allergies later in life. Consequently, the investigators tried to learn if children who attend day care facilities away from home at an earlier age have a lower incidence of allergies later in life than children who attend at an older age.

This study’s findings supported other research that found that children from small families (usually one child) who entered day care early had a lower incidence of allergies. A related finding was that for children from large families, the age at which they began to go to day care did not influence whether or not they later developed allergies. It appears that early infections picked up while in day care may protect children from developing allergies (involving symptoms such as hay fever and irritated eyes) later in life.

KrŠmer U, Heinrich J, Wjst M, Wichmann H-E. Age of entry to day nursery and allergy in later childhood. Lancet, Feb. 6, 1999; vol. 353, no. 9151, 450-54.

Poor Cycling Technique and Low Back Pain

This study was inspired by a 24-year-old male chiropractic patient’s report that he was experiencing numbness and tickling in a small region of his upper right buttock. His chiropractor noted that the condition had developed in the few days since the man’s most recent bimonthly adjustment. A physical exam and close scrutiny of the patient’s history revealed that the complaint was probably gluteus medius syndrome (GMS) resulting from the man’s activities as an amateur cyclist.

The subject’s chiropractor learned that the ailing cyclist had just begun riding a new bicycle. Because the new bike had different gearing than his previous bicycle, by continuing to use his customary riding technique, the patient was fatiguing and straining himself, as he hadn’t done before getting the new bike. The patient’s cycling technique was modified to accommodate the changed gearing of the new machine. After only 2 days, the GMS symptoms resolved and did not return-results attributable to altering a cycling technique that was damaging him and interfering with his favorite pastime.

Green B, Johnson C, Maloney A. Effects of Altering Cycling Technique on Gluteus Medius Syndrome. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 1999; vol. 22, no. 2, pp108-13.

Mass Media and Dangerous Female Self-Image

The subjects of this study were 548 fifth- through twelfth-grade girls in a working-class suburb in the northeastern United States. The objective was to assess the influence of the media on girls’ weight concerns, weight control/loss behaviors, and perceptions of body weight and shape.

The study found that “the majority of preadolescent and adolescent girls . . . were unhappy with their body weight and shape. This discontent was related strongly to the frequency of reading fashion magazines, which was reported to influence their idea of the perfect body shape by 69% of the girls.” It also obtained data showing that frequent readers of fashion magazines were significantly more likely to diet and exercise to lose weight and to get their image of ideal body shape from the pictures of grossly underweight models.

There is a substantial health risk associated with being overweight, and in the past 2 decades the prevalence has increased sharply among children and adolescents. The authors concluded: “It is not prudent to suggest that overweight girls should accept their body shape and not be encouraged to lose weight. However, aspiring to look like underweight models may have deleterious psychological consequences.”

Field AE, Cheung L, Wolf AM, et al. Exposure to the mass media and weight concerns among girls. Pediatrics, Mar. 1999; vol. 103, no. 3, p. e36.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Nursing Homes

A citywide outbreak of multiple antibiotic-resistant infections in Chicago prompted this study of the epidemiology of the outbreak.

The study investigated ceftazidmine-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli bacteria recovered between 1990 and 1992 from patients who were residents of Chicago-area nursing homes. The aim was to identify factors that may have contributed to making the nursing home patients particularly likely to become infected and spread the infection.

The independent risk factors identified included having previously received suspected antibiotics, having been exposed to infective agents during visits to area hospitals, and being at an increased risk of infection because hand-washing rates during patient care are often low among nursing home personnel.

Conclusions: Nursing home patients appear to be a reservoir for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Nursing homes should monitor infection control practices, control antibiotic use, and regularly survey antibiotic resistance patterns among various germs.

Weiner J, Quinn JP, Bradford PA, et al. Multiple antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella and Escherichia coli in nursing homes. Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 10, 1999; vol. 281, no. 6, pp517-23.

Regular House Cleaning Can Protect Toddlers from Lead Poisoning

Household dust may be a major source of exposure for children with elevated blood lead levels. This randomized trial was designed to test the hypothesis that regular vigorous household cleaning could reduce exposure to lead and blood lead levels.

All mothers in the study were educated on the importance of adequate housecleaning and biweekly assistance with household cleaning. Two trained lay workers did the cleaning, focusing on wet mopping floors, damp-sponging walls and horizontal surfaces, and vacuuming with a high-efficiency particle-accumulating vacuum. Household dust lead levels, blood lead levels of the children, and maternal knowledge of lead poisoning were measured before and after the study.

Results after a year of follow-up: “Blood lead fell 17% in the intervention group and did not change among controls. Household dust and dust lead measures also fell significantly in the intervention group. Children in homes cleaned 20 or more times throughout the year had an average blood lead reduction of 34%.”

Conclusion: The utility of regular home cleaning, accompanied by maternal education, is “a safe and partially effective intervention that should be recommended for the large majority of lead-exposed children for whom, unfortunately, removal to lead-safe housing is not an option.”

Rhoads GC, Ettinger AS, Weisel CP, et al. The effect of dust lead control on blood lead in toddlers: A randomized trial. Pediatrics, Mar. 1999; vol. 103, no. 3, pp551-55.

Carbohydrates Can Cause Overeating!

Carbohydrate-containing foods that are rapidly digested and absorbed or transformed into glucose have a high glycemic index (GI). Starchy foods such as refined grain products and potatoes have a GI that is higher than table sugar by some 50%. Vegetables, legumes, and fruits tend to have a low GI.

The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that consumption of high dietary GI foods induces a sequence of hormonal changes that lead to decreased availability of metabolic fuels, excessive hunger, and overeating in obese individuals.

The subjects of this study were 12 boys (mean age 15.7) who were more than 120% of ideal body weight. They were given identical test meals at breakfast and lunch that had a low, medium, or high GI. The results showed that energy intake after a high-GI meal was 53% greater than after a medium-GI meal and 81% greater than after a low-GI meal. Insulin levels were also elevated.

The investigators concluded: “Rapid absorption of glucose after consumption of high-GI meals induces a sequence of hormonal and metabolic changes that promote excessive food intake in obese subjects.” Excessive fat consumption should not remain the prime focus of what causes and maintains obesity. Eating food with a high-GI should be considered a factor in obesity and the risk of diabetes.

Ludwig DS, Majzoub JA, Al-Zahrani A, et al. High glycemic index foods, overeating, and obesity. Pediatrics, Mar. 1999; vol. 103, no. 3, p. e26.

Dangers of Chinese Herbal Creams?

Because of reports by patients that their eczema was improving after using Chinese herbal medicine, the authors of this paper investigated the preparations that were used. They tested herbal creams that had been employed by adults and children (ages 4 months to 36 years).

The research was done in London, employing high-resolution gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify the ingredients in 11 herbal creams, 9 of which had no list of ingredients on their containers. The patients had turned to this alternative medical treatment in part because they believed the herbal medicine was safe and natural. But as the tests revealed, in 8 of the 11 creams the effective active ingredient was dexamethasone, a potent steroid.

The creams prescribed for children had a dexamethasone concentration 5.2 times higher than those prescribed for adults. The dispensing of such potent steroids by unauthorized people is illegal in the United Kingdom. The use of creams with such high concentrations of dexamethasone is inappropriate, especially when applied to the thin skin of the face or to children. Such creams can even exacerbate eczema herpeticum, the very condition for which the herbalists prescribed them.

Keane FM, Munn SE, du Vivier AWP, et al. Analysis of Chinese herbal creams prescribed for dermatological conditions. British Medical Journal, Feb. 27, 1999; vol. 318, no. 7183, pp563-64.

1/3 of low back pain patients treated by chiropractors

 

February 1999 To Your Health News Volume 2, Number 2

Use of Alternative Medicine Increasing

In November 1998, many American Medical Association (AMA) publications featured studies on alternative medicine. The centerpiece of the alternative medicine issue of the AMA’s flagship publication, JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), was a national telephone survey by Dr. David Eisenberg and his colleagues that was a follow-up to their landmark survey of 1991.

Far higher percentages of people sought alternative care and vastly greater sums were spent on alternative treatments in 1997 than in 1990: There were 629 million visits to alternative practitioners–more than the total visits to all U.S. primary care physicians.

The conclusions were inescapable: Alternative medicine in all its forms must be taken more seriously, must be studied and understood better, and traditional organized medicine must do more to recognize the utility of effective alternative approaches such as chiropractic.

The Eisenberg study found that “the highest condition-specific rates of alternative therapy use in 1997 were for neck (57%) and back (47.6%) problems.” This fact–plus the high degree of satisfaction patients express for the treatment their chiropractors provide–places chiropractic at the center of the movement toward alternatives to traditional medicine.

Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL, et al. Trends in Alternative Medicine Use in the United States, 1990-1997. Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 11, 1998; vol. 280, no. 18, pp1569-75.

Significant Role of Chiropractic Recognized

Chiropractic is recognized as an important component of the U.S. health care system and is the largest alternative medicine profession. An analytical and historical overview (published in the AMA’s prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine), states that it is problematic even to call chiropractic”alternative,” because in many ways it is “distinctly mainstream.”

Chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. One-third of all patients with low back pain are treated by chiropractors. Tens of millions of visits are made to doctors of chiropractic and billions of dollars are spent on chiropractic annually. Since 1972, Medicare has reimbursed patients for chiropractic treatments, which are also covered by most insurance companies. And the number of chiropractors is expected to double by 2010, while the increase in the number of traditional physicians is expected to grow by only 16 percent.

With great insight, this article identifies what makes chiropractic different and so appealing to its patients:

“Too often, biomedicine fails to affirm a patient’s chronic pain. Patients think their experience is brushed aside by a physician who treats it as unjustified, unfounded, or annoying, attitudes that heighten a patient’s anguish and intensify suffering. … By rooting pain in a clear physical cause, chiropractic validates a patient’s experience. Even for patients with acute pain, chiropractic’s assertiveness, clarity, and precision provide reassurance. Chiropractic’s ultimate lesson may be to reinforce the principle that the patient-physician relationship is fundamentally about words and deeds of connection and compassion. Chiropractic has managed to embody this message in the gift of hands.”

Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM. Chiropractic: Origins, controversies, and contributions. Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov. 9, 1998; vol. 158, no. 20, pp2215-24.

No Evidence Back Belts Work

Lumbar back belts are popular in many industries. Low back pain affects more than 60 percent of the adult population in the United States and billions of dollars are lost in wages and medical costs. Manufacturers of the belts have had little difficulty selling their products on the assumption that back belts reduce muscle fatigue, protect against low back injuries and save money.

There is no scientific evidence that the belts work. A study in the journal Spine had 13 men and 11 women each perform a dynamic lifting test twice (once with a belt and once without) and measured muscular fatigue and isometric force. The results do not support manufacturers’ claims that wearing their back belts will minimize muscle fatigue.

Many chiropractors warn their patients not to depend too much on back belts to protect them while working or playing in ways that put unusual strains on the lower back.

Majkowski GR, Jovag BW, Taylor BT, Taylor MS, et al. The effect of back belt use on isometric lifting force and fatigue of the lumbar paraspinal muscles. Spine, Oct. 1, 1998; vol. 23, no. 19, pp2104-9.

Exercise Your Prostate Trouble Away?

Most men over fifty eventually suffer lower urinary tract symptoms caused by noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Researchers assessed whether exercise leads to a reduction in lower urinary tract symptoms. Nearly 4,000 men 40 to 75 who were free of diagnosed cancer, and found that men who walked two to three hours per week had a 25 percent lower risk of total BPH and lower urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH.

You, or your older male friends and family members, can benefit from knowing that exercise is a safe and easy method for decreasing the frequency of lower urinary tract symptoms.

Platz EA, Kawachi I, Rimm EB, et al. Physical activity and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov. 23, 1998; vol. 158, no. 21, pp2349-56.

Saw Palmetto May Also Be Good for Your Prostate

As more men live longer, far greater numbers of them experience the discomfort and distress of the lower urinary tract symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland). Consequently, interest is growing in ways to prevent and treat BPH symptoms.

The results of a study published in JAMA suggests that nonprescription saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) extracts diminish urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH. Moreover, compared with the typically prescribed drug finasteride, they produce similar improvement at lower cost and with fewer adverse (and often serious) treatment effects.

Such research supports the chiropractic approach of recommending more natural, alternative treatments for common and debilitating physical conditions for which traditional medicine customarily orders the use of costly and not-always-safe medications and/or highly intrusive, often-damaging surgery.

Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Stark G, et al. Saw palmetto extracts for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: A systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 11, 1998; vol. 280, no. 18, pp1604-9.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Affects Fertility

Alcohol consumption is one possible cause of the growing infertility problem. Animal studies have shown that alcohol decreases steroid hormone concentrations, causes amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period), reduces ovarian weight, inhibits ovulation and interferes with sperm cell transport through the fallopian tube.

Fecundability is defined as the probability of achieving conception or a recognized pregnancy in a menstrual cycle. From 1992 through 1995, Danish researchers studied 430 couples aged 20 to 35 who were trying to conceive for the first time. The couples were followed up over six menstrual cycles or until a clinically recognized pregnancy occurred after discontinuation of contraception. Female fecundability was lower even among women with relatively low alcohol intake (5 drinks a week).

Because consuming the equivalent of five or fewer drinks can reduce the chances of conceiving a child, women who are trying to get pregnant should avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.

Jensen TK, Hjollund NH, Henriksen, et al. Does moderate alcohol consumption affect fertility? Follow up study among couples planning first pregnancy. British Medical Journal, 1998; vol. 318, pp505-10.

Over-the-Counter Nicotine Patch Works?

Transdermal nicotine patches are in wide use to help smokers give up their damaging habit. An article in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Family Medicine reports on a study that shows over-the-counter patches have permitted a significant percentage of smokers to quit (defined as 4 consecutive weeks of total abstinence from smoking).

Because over-the-counter quit rates were comparable to those reported for medical settings, the nicotine patch may be a justifiably attractive option if you are trying to stop smoking without costly, time-consuming medical intervention.

Davidson M, Epstein M, Burt R, et al. Efficacy and safety of an over-the-counter transdermal nicotine patch as an aid for smoking cessation. Archives of Family Medicine, Nov./Dec. 1998; vol. 7, no. 6, pp569-74.

Watch out for Herb-Drug Interactions!

It is in your own best interest to be sure that all your health care providers know exactly what drugs, herbs, or other supplements you already take–before they recommend any others that may interact in ways that jeopardize rather than improve your health. Dangerous, even fatal, interactions between herbal preparations and medical prescriptions become more likely when doctors are not aware of herbal consumption by their patients.

This article provides an invaluable reference guide to drug-herb interactions of many commonly used herbs.

Miller LG. Herbal medicinals: Selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions. Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov. 9, 1998; vol. 158, no. 20, pp2200-11.

Walsh WJ, Isaacson HR, Rehman F, et al. Elevated blood copper/zinc ratios in assaultive young males. Physiology and Behavior, 1997, vol.62, pp327-29.

Chiropractic treatment for Torticollis

Chiropractic treatment torticollis

Chiropractic treatment torticollis

January 1999 To Your Health News Volume 2, Number 1

Another Reason to Take Your Migraine to the Chiropractor

Are you one of the millions who suffer from migraine headaches? If so, you’ve probably tried all sorts of treatments: various prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, home remedies (lots of coffee, maybe even coffee enemas), relaxation techniques, and perhaps chiropractic care.

Research now shows that the gentle spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) provided by your chiropractor may be as effective as– and safer than–widely used drug therapy prescribed by medical doctors. A study compared the relative effectiveness of treating migraines three ways:

1. with chiropractic spinal manipulation alone;
2. with the antidepressant/anti-anxiety drug amitriptyline (best known under the brand name Elavil);
3. with a combination of both the drug therapy and chiropractic care.

Patients who received only spinal manipulation showed significant improvement, on a par with those given the powerful prescription drug. The headache index, from a diary kept by each patient, showed SMT to have reduced the severity and frequency of headaches as well or better than the combined therapy or amitriptyline alone at each stage of the study.

Chiropractic treatment doesn’t pose the risk of literally dozens of unwanted side effects or interactions with other drugs that with this medication can range from mild through annoying to very serious and even deadly. You owe it to yourself to consider chiropractic treatment as a viable (even preferable) treatment option for those miserable migraines.

Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, et al. The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for prophylaxis of migraine headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 1998: volume 21, number 8, pp511-19.

Kinder, Gentler Care

Sometimes a newborn child’s neck will be twisted or tilted to one side. This so-called “fixed wry neck” (technically known as infant torticollis) is usually caused by problems during birth. The condition causes painful, involuntary spasms; impedes normal growth and development; disturbs vision; and frustrates parents and the child.

Surgery on muscles, nerves and tendons may repair the damage, and intensive physical therapy, drugs, and other standard medical treatments may provide some relief, but chiropractic care should also be considered.

A new study shows that a few chiropractic sessions can have an enormous impact on normalizing the child’s health and restoring its appropriate pace of physical and social development. For example, in the case study featured in this paper, the 7-month-old subject became more confident and responsive, had better motor control, and his head centered rather than being twisted and tilted.

Best of all, the sessions a child has with the chiropractor can be pleasant, soothing, and reassuring to the child and parents alike. Treatment involves low-force manipulations and gentle massage of the neck and jaw.

Colin N. Congenital muscular torticollis: a review, case study, and proposed protocol for chiropractic management. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, September 1998:volume 5, number 3, pp27-33.

Basic Biological Evidence that Spinal Manipulation Works

If you see your chiropractor regularly, you know how much better you feel after and between visits. You also know that your chiropractor is not only providing relief from such symptoms as aches and pains, but also contributing to your overall well-being.

But is there objective, measurable, scientific evidence that spinal manipulation affects the way your body feels and functions? Some fascinating research offers proof that the body responds at a very basic level to what chiropractors do for their patients.

Men and women employed by a large Australian corporation volunteered to undergo chiropractic spinal manipulation and have their reactions measured. To assess the impact of chiropractic, the researchers measured the cortisol (hydrocortisone) levels in the saliva of the subjects–before, during and after treatments over several weeks.

Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands when the body is under stress or injured. In many research subjects, their cortisol level was reduced or not increased while they experienced spinal manipulation therapy. This observation suggests that chiropractic treatment has a measurably, entirely real calming and physically soothing and restorative effect.

Tuchin PJ. The effect of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy on salivary cortisol levels. Australian Chiropractic and Osteopathy, July 1998:volume 7, number 2, pp86-92.

Unhappiness about Work Causes Back Pain?

Most people will experience pain in the lower back during their lifetime. But this doesn’t account for the fact that debilitating low-back pain is a major reason individuals give for being absent from work and for a large proportion of disability insurance claims. It has been hard to explain, especially since fewer and fewer people in the more economically developed nations work in physically demanding jobs in heavy industries.

A study in England showed that people who were dissatisfied with their jobs (or were stressed and unhappy about being unemployed) were two or three times more likely to be absent from work (or receiving treatment) because of low-back pain than were people who felt good about their work and economic situation.

If you experience back pain great enough to make you call in sick and possibly stay out of work for weeks, months, or even permanently, it may have more to do with your happiness or lack of it than with whether or not you have strained your back working.

The message is clear: It hurts to have a negative attitude; unhappiness and discontent endanger your health and your livelihood.

Papageorgiou AC, Croft PR, Thomas E, et al. Psychosocial risks for low back pain: are these related to work? Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 1998:volume 57, pp500-502.

Pesticides Can Give Babies Brain Tumors?

Pregnant women must be especially careful about endangering their unborn child. That’s why they are warned about smoking and drinking, exercise and diet during those critical nine months.

Scientific investigation is now showing that brain tumors in young children may have been caused by pesticides their mothers used before giving birth. It seems the fetal brain may be especially vulnerable to potentially cancer-causing effects of pesticides.

The principal culprits identified by researchers were flea/tick products: especially foggers and sprays, more so than dips, shampoos and collars. And expectant mothers who prepared, applied or cleaned up flea/tick products themselves were most likely to be endangering the future health of their unborn child.

Pogoda JM, Preston-Martin S. Household pesticides and risk of pediatric brain tumors. Environmental Health Perspectives, November 1997:volume 105, number 11, pp1214-20.

High-Priced Athletic Shoes Cause More Injuries?

We’ve all seen those flashy and entertaining television commercials, magazine ads and billboards promoting the latest and greatest athletic shoes. They usually feature a superstar athlete moving effortlessly to dunk the basketball, return the tennis serve, win the marathon or decathlon. These remarkable individuals possess physical attributes, skills and talent so “superhuman” that they probably could perform better barefoot or in wet hiking boots than we ordinary mortals wearing those extraordinarily expensive athletic shoes we are being tempted to purchase.

The ads leave the impression that these “super shoes” alone will make you fly through the air and race like the wind. The sad truth is quite the opposite. These high-priced shoes not only lack substantially improved ability to cushion impact or keep your feet stable, they endanger you by making you believe you are safer.

Researchers showed that such deceptive advertising creates a false sense of security in wearers of high-priced athletic footwear. The British Journal of Sports Medicine study scientifically measured footfalls and ground reaction forces. They showed how advertising claims made users rely too heavily on the mythical protective qualities of their shoes, play harder and more carelessly, exposing themselves to unnecessary injuries that could have been prevented by commonsense care and caution.

Ironically, people don’t expect their cheaper shoes to make them safely jump higher and run faster. But in their ordinary shoes they play safer than those who shelled out two or three times as much money to have the latest, most beautiful, but not really better athletic shoes.

Robbins S, Waked E. Hazard of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1997: volume 31, pp299-303.

Preventing Injuries to Older People

Anyone can suffer a painful and disabling accident at any time. But older people are at increased risk because they:

1) are more likely to have accidents that can seriously injure or even kill them,
2) usually have a harder time recovering from an accident than younger people do, and
3) may have pre-existing conditions that complicate their injuries and prevent them from healing rapidly.

This problem is a serious public health concern with a huge impact on the health care system. It deserves your personal attention. Even if you aren’t elderly and in less than top physical condition. Even if you aren’t showing some (or many) of the common signs of age, you may have an aging friend or family member who is infirm and in jeopardy.

The chiropractic profession, with its philosophical emphasis on wellness and conservative, preventive patient-care strategies, is ideally suited to take the lead in protecting older people from injuries.

Your chiropractor can give you important insights and practical guidance concerning ways to improve health and well-being –including a great deal of sound advice and preventive treatment options for older people.

Killinger LZ. Trauma in the geriatric patient: a chiropractic perspective with a focus on prevention. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, 1998:volume 5,number 3, pp10-15.

Don’t Get Bitten by the Shark-Cartilage Scam

Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most frightening things that can happen to you. Because cancer is such a menacing disease, it is natural to think the worst and want to try almost anything that might stop it from killing you.

That’s why unproved, unconventional methods of cancer treatment are particularly appealing, especially to patients with advanced-stage cancer. In fact, the wilder the claims made for the various “cancer cures,” the more appealing such treatments appear to the most desperate victims of cancer. Such individuals have used shark cartilage preparations for many years. But there is little scientific research that proves shark cartilage helped them in any significant way.

A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology measured the impact of therapy with shark cartilage. It was shown to be an inactive substance that had no beneficial effect on the health and quality of life of patients with advanced-stage cancer.

Miller J, Anderson GT, Stark JJ, et al. Phase I/II trial of the safety and efficacy of shark cartilage in the treatment of advanced cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, November 1998:volume 16, number 11, pp3649-55.

How Sweet it Isn’t

Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are the main source of energy in what we eat. Grains, fruits and vegetables furnish most of the fuel we run on. But although sugar is a “high-octane” energy source, it can contribute to tooth decay and more serious long-term ailments such as bone-deterioration.

A study in The Journal of Nutrition examined the effect of a high-sugar (sucrose) diet on growing rats. Researchers documented that a refined sugar diet led to the deterioration in the mineral composition and mechanical strength of rapidly growing bones. Alterations were more pronounced in females. The study concluded that sucrose interfered with basic metabolism and the bone-building process.

Of particular concern is the fact that girls and young women who regularly eat large amounts of refined sugars–a diet widely consumed by adolescents in Western countries–may be at future risk of developing osteoporosis. One of the most important factors in preventing osteoporosis is reaching appropriate peak bone mass in the preteen years.

Children who load up on candies, sugary drinks, snack foods and desserts are weakening their bones and opening the way for the tragic discomfort, disfigurement, and disability of osteoporosis later in life. Ask your chiropractor to suggest some ways to protect your kids with an improved diet.

Tjaderhane L, Larmas M. A high sucrose diet decreases the mechanical strength of bones in growing rats. The Journal of Nutrition, October 10, 1998:volume 128, number 10, pp1807-10.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.

Large international variations in rates of prostate cancer incidence and mortality suggest that environmental factors have a strong influence on the development of this disease.

A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute used large quantities of data from United Nations sources to analyze information on prostate cancer mortality, food consumption, tobacco use, socioeconomic factors, reproductive factors and health indicators in countries all over the world. The study found that a larger proportion of men die of prostate cancer in Western nations where diets tend to include large amounts of fat and animal products (including milk and dairy foods), alcohol and sugar.

Consult with your chiropractor on how to modify your family’s diet to optimize good health.

Hebert JR, Hurley TG, Olendski BC, et al. Nutritional and socioeconomic factors in relation to prostate cancer mortality: a cross-national study.Journal of the National Cancer Institute, November 4, 1998:volume 90, number 21, pp1637-47.

Chiropractic Solution for Treating Headaches

 

December 1998 To Your Health News

Antibiotics Helping Doctors More than Patients?

This might be the first time you’ve heard the news, but most doctors have known for several years that antibiotics only fight bacterial infections. If you’ve got a sore throat, cold symptoms, or a respiratory infection caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t help you get better.

But don’t rely on doctors to volunteer this information. A study published in the British Medical Journal surveyed 21 doctors and their sore-throat patients and found that:

1) Doctors knew that evidence showed antibiotics don’t help sore throats. 2) They often prescribed antibiotics anyway to promote a “positive relationship” with their patients. 3) Many patients expected to receive antibiotics, but admitted that assurance and accurate information were just as important.

A sore throat can make your life miserable, but antibiotics may not be the answer. The next time your doctor starts to write that prescription for an antibiotic, make sure you ask at least three questions: Do I really need this? How will it help my specific problem? Are there any side effects? If you aren’t satisfied with the explanation you receive, ask more questions.

Butler CC, Rollnick S, Pill R, et al. Understanding the culture of prescribing: qualitative study of general practitioners’ and patients’ perceptions of antibiotic for sore throats. British Medical Journal, September 5, 1998:volume 317, pp637-47.

Time to Let the Ice out of the Bag

After twisting your knee playing soccer, you limp home and head straight for the freezer. Five ice cubes and a Ziploc bag later, you’re safe on the couch with your trusty ice bag, soothing the muscles of the affected leg. Applying ice to the injured area is a great idea, but just holding it there might not be the most effective option, according to a study in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy.

Subjects were treated for fifteen minutes with ice massage (a cold compress or ice pack massaged gently into the skin) or an ice bag held on the injured area. Maximum temperature reduction was reached after only 17.9 minutes of ice massage vs. 28.2 minutes when using the ice bag. The authors suggest that both techniques are effective in reducing muscular temperature, but that “when rapid cooling is needed… ice massage appears to provide a faster intramuscular cooling rate than an ice bag.”

Keep these results in mind next time you limp home with a swollen knee, ankle, elbow or wrist — especially if you’ve suffered what could be a major strain or injury.

Zemke JE, Andersen JC, Guion WK, et al. Intramuscular temperature responses in the human leg to two forms of cryotherapy: ice massage and ice bag. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, April 1998:volume 27, number 4, pp301-307.

Rehab that Knee Injury without Surgery

Athletes involved in competitive sports know all about the anterior cruciate ligament — it’s the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. An ACL strain or tear can put even the well-conditioned athlete on the sidelines indefinitely, but getting back into the game might not always require surgery.

In a study published in Sports Exercise and Injury, 103 patients diagnosed with an ACL tear participated in a rehabilitation program to strengthen the leg muscles surrounding the knee (quadriceps and hamstrings). After three to eight months of rehabilitation, only nine patients required surgery. The remaining 94 reported satisfactory improvement in knee function, and almost all were able to resume partial or full participation in sports.

Patients in the study group were also treated with ice, ultrasound, and a number of other techniques commonly used by chiropractors.

Baltaci G, Ergun N, Bayrakci V. Non-operative treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Sports Exercise and Injury, November 1997:volume 3, number 4, pp160-63.

Protect Your Children From Injury

Automobile manufacturers, product designers and politicians have taken great strides in the past ten years to reduce the potential for injury. Innovative car seat restraints, seatbelts, and legislation requiring mandatory restraint use have addressed the problem, but apparently there’s more work to be done.

Case in point: a recent study that examined data from nearly 3,000 fatal car crashes involving children. Results showed that only 56% of children aged 0-10 were secured in car seats or wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. Even more startling, only 65% of infants (two years old or younger) had been restrained in any fashion.

Factors contributing to low restraint use included driving older or larger vehicles, driving in rural areas or late at night, and carrying a large number of passengers. Whatever “good” reason you have for not buckling your child, it’s not good enough. If the results of this study don’t convince you, take one look into your child’s smiling face. Doing whatever we can to protect our children from harm is our responsibility as parents.

Agran PF, Anderson CL, Winn DG. Factors associated with restraint use of children in fatal crashes. Pediatrics (electronic version–www.pediatrics.org), September 1998:volume 102, number 3, ppe39.

Three Ways to Lower Your Stroke Risk?

That’s the question, and a study published by the American Heart Association may provide the answer: potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber.

A study involving 43,738 middle-aged and elderly men examined the potential for these three nutrients to reduce the risk of stroke. Food questionnaires were completed every two years for eight years to determine dietary patterns, and cases of stroke during that time period were documented. Results indicated that men who took in high daily levels of potassium, magnesium and fiber suffered substantially fewer strokes compared with men with low daily levels.

Where can you find these valuable nutrients? Look no further than your local market. Bananas, grapefruit, raisins and green leafy vegetables contain high levels of potassium and magnesium; beans, bran, and many fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Ask your chiropractor for a list of foods high in potassium, magnesium, fiber and other vitamins and minerals essential to good health.

Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Hernan MA, et al. Intake of Potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber and risk of stroke among U.S. men. Circulation, 1998:volume 98, pp1198-1204.

Childhood Development: A Possible Link to Alzheimer’s

Confusion, disorientation, language problems, and impaired judgement — a temporary problem when the cause is alcohol, but much more permanent and debilitating when Alzheimer’s disease is the culprit.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics evaluated the potential relationship between childhood development (represented by adult height) and the onset/progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers screened more than 3,500 elderly men (71-93 years of age) for signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other brain-related impairments and looked for a possible connection with height measurements taken 25 years earlier.

The percentage of men with poor cognitive performance declined steadily with increasing height, from 25% in men shorter than 61 inches (5’1″) to only 9% in men taller than 69 inches (5’9″). Almost five percent of the shorter men suffered from Alzheimer’s disease compared with three percent of taller men. Height is one of several variables believed to indicate healthy childhood growth and development.

Abbott RD, White LR, Ross GW, et al. Height as a marker of childhood development and late-life cognitive function: the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Pediatrics, September 1998:volume 102, number 3, pp602-609.

How Effective Are Workplace Lifting Belts?

Grocery stockers, shipping receivers and lumber yard workers are familiar with lifting belts — they probably wear one every day. Lifting belts are designed to prevent back injuries associated with heavy lifting or continuous bending, but are they as effective as they’re cracked up to be?

Attempting to answer that question, researchers monitored 13 subjects who performed several lifting tasks: once while wearing a lifting belt and once without the belt. Results showed that although the belt effectively limited low-back movement while lifting, hip motion increased and knee motion remained constant.

The research authors suggest lifting belts may decrease the risk of low-back injury by restricting movement of the torso (basically from the neck to the waist), but could also increase the risk of other injuries because added pressure is placed on the hip and other joints. Do you think you should be wearing a lifting belt? Ask your chiropractor about workplace lifting injuries and what you can do to prevent them.

Sparto PJ, Parnianpour M, Reinsel TE, et al. The effect of lifting belt use on multijoint motion and load bearing during repetitive and asymmetric lifting. Journal of Spinal Disorders, 1998:volume 11, pp57-64.

Keep Exercising during Pregnancy?

Nine months can seem like an eternity for an expectant mother, but it’s well worth the wait, especially when you consider some of the alternatives. Premature babies can spend weeks in the intensive care unit as their underdeveloped bodies struggle to function.

A study in the American Journal of Public Health examined the relationship of exercise to premature birth by surveying 557 pregnant women. Exercise information (intensity, type, duration) was gathered by telephone at week 13 and by mailed questionnaires at weeks 28 and 36. Low to moderate exercise did not contribute to premature birth (as some health care professionals have feared), and in fact, vigorous exercise seemed to contribute to normal, on-time delivery.

It is important to note that women who exercised heavily were accustomed to that level of physical exertion. Always talk to your doctor before making any substantial changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle, especially while you’re pregnant.

Hatch M, Levin B, Shu XO, et al. Maternal leisure-time exercise and timely delivery. American Journal of Public Health, October 1998:volume 88, number 10, pp1528-1533.

A Chiropractic Solution for Treating Headaches

Many doctors, lawyers and insurance agents claim that chiropractors can only treat people suffering from low-back pain. To these skeptics, we present the results of a recent study that appeared in the journal Headache.

Researchers first categorized patients according to frequency of headache symptoms: episodic (occasional headaches), chronic (persistent headaches over time) or not at all (no headaches), measured tenderness in the muscles of the head and face. What did they find? The more muscular tenderness, the more frequent and debilitating the headache symptoms.

An estimated 68% of men and 88% of women suffer episodes of tension headache. Aspirin and other painkillers provide temporary relief at best and can cause dangerous side effects, especially when taken for long periods of time.

Jensen R, Bendtsen L, Olesen J. Muscular factors are of importance in tension-type headache. Headache, 1998:volume 38, pp10-17.

The Value of Pushups for the Shoulders

How do you improve your upper body without spending time and money at a crowded health club? The simple pushup might be a good place to start, and might help you more than you think. Research suggests that pushups help strengthen the shoulders and can be an effective element of rehabilitation programs following injury.

Consider a recent study in which 16 subjects performed a series of specific, progressive pushups: five repetitions in the standard position, five with the feet elevated, and five with the hands placed on a mini-trampoline (with the feet still elevated). All three pushup conditions increased the stability of the shoulder muscles, particularly pushups performed with the feet elevated.

Ask your doctor of chiropractic about the potential value of pushups and other simple exercises you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Whether your goal is to tone your body, avoid injury, or just get “back to your old self” after a chest or shoulder injury, pushups may be a great place to start.

Lear LJ, Gross MT. An electromyographical analysis of the scapular stabilizing synergists during a push-up progression. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, September 1998:volume 28, number 3, pp146-57.

Chiropractic treatment for neck pain

November 1998 To Your Health News Volume 1, Number 11

 

Neck Pain as Common as Back Pain?

Low-back pain affects more than 150 million Americans each year — that’s 56% of the population! (See “Three good reasons to see a chiropractor” in the October issue of To Your Health.) And until researchers prove otherwise, it’s probably safe to assume that this estimate applies to the rest of the world. Doctors of chiropractic know just how to handle back pain, and fortunately, they’re also great at diagnosing and treating many other disabling conditions, including neck pain.

Neck pain may be as frequent as low-back pain, at least according to a recent study that posed two questions to 1,131 Canadians: “In your lifetime, have you ever experienced neck pain?” and “Do you have neck pain at the present time?” Two-thirds of the patients reported experiencing neck pain in their lifetime and 22.2% complained of neck pain at the time of the study.

Whether you live in the United States or Canada, Belgium or Brazil — back and neck pain can strike anyone at anytime. Wherever you are, ask yourself these same two questions about neck pain. If you answer “yes” to one or both, here’s a third question for you: When you suffer from neck pain, where should you go? Oh, and here’s the answer: your doctor of chiropractic!

Cote P, Cassidy JD, Carroll L. The Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey: the prevalence of neck pain and related disability in Saskatchewan adults. Spine, August 1, 1998: volume 23, number 15, pp1689-1698.

Calcium Supplements May Reduce PMS Symptoms

Approximately one in three women of childbearing age suffer monthly from a wide range of physical and emotional premenstrual symptoms, yet health care professionals have only an incomplete understanding of what causes the condition and how to treat it.

A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology examined the effect of calcium on 466 women with moderate to severe PMS symptoms. Patients receiving 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily for three complete menstrual cycles reported a reduction in all four of the major PMS symptom categories (negative emotional changes, water retention, food cravings and pain) and in 15 of 17 individual symptoms (anger, irritability, cramping/bloating, headaches, low-back pain, fatigue, etc.). Anti-inflammatory drugs, birth control pills and antidepressants may reduce symptoms, but can also be accompanied by unpleasant side effects. Women desiring safe, effective relief from premenstrual distress should ask their doctor about the value of regular exercise, adequate sleep and a calcium-rich diet.

Thys-Jacobs S, Starkey P, Bernstein D, et al. Calcium carbonate and the premenstrual syndrome: effects on premenstrual and menstrual symptoms. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, August 1998: volume 179, number 2, pp444-52.

Vertigo, Heal Thyself!

Well, not exactly. Before you get confused, here’s a little background information: Homeopathy is a natural system of medicine promoting the use of small doses of natural substances (i.e., herbs, roots, etc.) to stimulate the body to heal itself; vertigo is the sensation that you or the room is moving or spinning (not the same as dizziness). Now here’s what’s new: A recent study involving 119 vertigo patients compared a homeopathic remedy with traditional medical treatment (“betahistine”) and found that both were equally effective in reducing vertigo symptoms. Patients received the homeopathic remedy or betahistine three times a day for 42 consecutive days. Both patient groups reported significant improvement in intensity, frequency and duration of their vertigo attacks.

Persistent vertigo can interfere with driving and can be a source of irritation at work and home. Not to mention that it increases your risk of falling down and suffering cuts, bruises or broken bones. If vertigo’s got you feeling a bit off-balance, your doctor of chiropractic can evaluate your condition and suggest the most appropriate course of treatment.

Weiser M, Strosser W, Klein P. Homeopathic vs. conventional treatment of vertigo: a randomized, double-blind controlled clinical study. Archives of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, 1998: volume 124, pp879-85.

Boost Your Immune System with the Power of Herbs

To the native American Indians, ginseng and echinacea were considered sacred herbs capable of warding off disease. Hundreds of years later, these plant roots continue to be regarded as a source of healing power. A recent study evaluated the ability of echinacea and ginseng to improve immune function in 60 patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Blood samples were taken from three patient groups (20 patients with CFS, 20 with AIDS, and 20 healthy volunteers) given concentrations of echinacea and ginseng, and the results compared.

Results showed that both herbal extracts increased the immune response in all three patient groups, whether taken alone or in combination. These findings provide further evidence of the ability of echinacea and ginseng to help the body defend against infection and disease.

See DM, Broumand N, Sahl L et al. In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients. Immunopharmacology, 1997: volume 35, pp229-35.

Walking OK during Early Stages of Labor?

Pregnancy truly represents a time of change in a woman’s life: the birth of a unique bond between mother and child that will last for a lifetime — and the onset of a series of uncomfortable physical and emotional developments that, fortunately, usually only last for nine months or so.

The beginning of labor is a particularly stressful time for many women (and men!), as contractions start and the baby positions itself to exit the womb. Many women find that walking during labor helps reduce their anxiety and discomfort, yet little research has investigated the potential benefit or harm. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 1,000 pregnant women were assigned to one of two groups: a “usual-care” group confined to labor beds (sitting or lying down) or a “walking group” permitted to walk as desired during the first stage of labor (about six hours prior to the birth of the baby).

Walking had no significant effect on labor or delivery. Average birth weight and infant condition/health were similar in the walking vs. the non-walking group, and the majority of women who chose to walk said they would do so again. No one ever said childbirth was easy, but health care professionals, family and friends can help ensure that it’s the most rewarding experience of your life.

Bloom SL, McIntire DD, Kelly MA et al. Lack of effect of walking on labor and delivery. The New England Journal of Medicine, July 9, 1998: volume 339, number 2, pp76-9.

Breast Milk: It Does a Baby Good!

Everyone’s talking about breast milk these days, and we’re no exception. In the July issue of To Your Health we reported on a study documenting the immunological benefits of breast milk for full-term infants (see “Breast milk protects against viral infection”). In this issue, we present the findings of a similar study from the online version of Pediatrics.

Infants born prematurely are often at higher risk of infection than full-term babies. In this study, 212 pre-term infants were evaluated for type of feeding (breast milk vs. formula) and the presence of infection. Results showed that overall rates of infection were once again significantly lower in infants fed breast-milk compared with infants fed formula milk.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to know what can keep our children healthy and happy, and what can do potential damage to them. Talk to your chiropractor about the benefits of breast milk and about all your health-related concerns.

Hylander MA, Strobino DM, Dhanireddy R. Human milk feedings and infection among very low birth weight infants. Pediatrics, September 1998: volume 102, number 3, ppe38.

The ABC’s of Back Pain

If you’re one of those people who thinks you can live with back pain, think again. A recent study in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation provides evidence that many back-pain sufferers develop poor posture and motions to compensate for their pain, which only leads to more pain and progressive dysfunction.

Thirty-two patients (16 with a history of back injury and 16 without) examined the potential influence of the injury on their ability to perform a simple posture task (standing with the upper body bent forward at a 45 degree angle). Results showed that the healthy group could replicate the target position much better than the group with a history of back pain, suggesting the “ABCs” of back pain:

A Back injuries can affect movement, balance and the ability to accurately perceive body position.

B These changes in body mechanics can increase the risk of further injury (i.e., when engaging in activities requiring balance and accurate sense of body position, such as lifting heavy objects).

C This cycle of pain and disability can be counteracted with professional help from an expert in treating/relieving back pain — your doctor of chiropractic.

Field E, Abdel-Moty E, Loudon J. The effect of back injury and load on ability to replicate a novel posture. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 1997: volume 8, pp199-207.

Magnesium Helps Prevent Bone Breakdown

Thin, brittle bones can break or fracture with very little warning — even minor slips and falls can lead to painful, disabling injury. Calcium and fluoride are known for their ability to promote strong bones, but what about Magnesium?

A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism may provide an answer. Twelve men received magnesium (Mg) supplements daily for 30 days and were compared with a second group of 12 men that received no more magnesium than their normal diet provided (daily intake within recommended allowances). Blood analyses showed that the men taking Mg supplements had lower levels of the chemicals known to contribute to bone breakdown than men who took no supplements.

Whole-grain foods, nuts, dry beans and peas, dark green vegetables and soy products are good sources of magnesium. In addition to influence on bone loss, research suggests that magnesium can reduce cold symptoms and the frequency/duration of migraine attacks. Ask your doctor of chiropractic about the many benefits of magnesium, and look for more information in future issues of To Your Health.

Dimai HP, Porta S, Wirnsberger G, et al. Daily oral magnesium supplementation suppresses one turnover in young adult males. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1998: volume 83, pp2742-48.

Two Words for Arthritis Sufferers: Aerobic Dance

“For you and I are past our dancing days,” Mercutio tells cousin Romeo in Act I of Shakespeare’s timeless masterpiece. Certainly not the case if taken literally (both were young men), and not necessarily a wise choice, either. Consider the results of a study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Ten patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) participated in a low-intensity (no jumps or sudden movements) aerobic dance program twice per week for eight weeks — 10 minutes at 50% of maximum heart rate in the beginning, progressing to 25 minutes at 60-70% of maximum heart rate from the sixth week on. Although the group reported no significant gains in aerobic power, nearly half showed 10-20% improvement in their cardiovascular fitness. Many patients also reported significant improvements in physical stability and movement, and reductions in pain/stiffness.

Aerobic dance classes are filled with men and women looking to lose weight, stay in shape, improve performance, or just have fun. As this study suggests, relieving the pain and disability of arthritis could be another good reason. If you or a loved one suffers from arthritis, ask your chiropractor about the potential risks and benefits of low-impact aerobic dance exercise.

Noreau L, Moffet H, Drolet M, et al. Dance-based exercise program in rheumatoid arthritis. Feasibility in individuals with American College of Rheumatology functional class III disease. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1997: volume 76, pp109-113.

Don’t Give Vitamin C the Cold Shoulder!

We’ve all heard about the benefits of vitamin C — especially its potential use in preventing the common cold. Getting enough vitamin C shouldn’t be a problem in developed countries with year-round access to fresh fruit and vegetables, which makes the results of a recent study all the more perplexing.

Researchers collected blood samples from 492 generally healthy, middle-class patients visiting a health care facility for routine health, gynecological and pregnancy exams. After evaluating vitamin C levels daily for 10 consecutive days, the researchers determined that 6.3% of the patients had vitamin C deficiency (less than half of the minimum recommended daily allowance, or RDA) and a whopping 30.4% had vitamin C depletion (barely the minimum RDA).

These rates are startling considering that a single piece of fruit (i.e., an orange) often provides a full day’s supply of vitamin C. Could it be you’re giving vitamin C the cold shoulder? Make sure you stock your refrigerator with plenty of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and other valuable nutrients. After all, a happy vitamin C helps make you and your loved ones happy — and healthy.


Johnston CS, Thompson LL. Vitamin C status in an outpatient population. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, August 1998;17(4), pp366-70.