Monday, June 29, 2015

More Than Two-Thirds of U.S. Adults Now Overweight or Obese

Fewer than one-third of Americans are currently at a healthy weight, with the rest of the population either overweight or obese, a new report finds.

About 35% of men and 37% of women are obese. Another 40% of men and 30% of women are overweight, researchers said in the June 22 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Obesity is not getting better. It’s getting worse, and it’s really scary. It’s not looking pretty,” said Lin Yang, a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Obesity has been linked to a number of chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and arthritis, Yang said.

“This generation of Americans is the first that will have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation, and obesity is one of the biggest contributors to this shortened life expectancy because it is driving a lot of chronic health conditions,” she said.

The new report used data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey gathered between 2007 and 2012, involving more than 15,000 men and women age 25 and older.

Based on the data, researchers estimate than more than 36 million men and nearly 29 million women in the United States are currently overweight. About 32 million men and 36 million women are obese, the researchers found.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Popular Heartburn Meds Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack

People who use certain heartburn drugs for a long period of time may have a slightly heightened risk of suffering a heart attack, a new study suggests.

Using medical records from nearly 300,000 U.S. adults with acid reflux disease (commonly called heartburn), researchers found that the risk of heart attack was slightly elevated among those using proton pump inhibitors.
Proton pump inhibitors are a group of acid-suppressing drugs that include brand-names such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium. In 2009, they were the third most commonly used type of drug in the United States, the researchers said.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, adds to the list of risks linked to prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors.

“These are powerful drugs, and we already know they have negative effects,” said Dr. F. Paul Buckley III, surgical director at the Scott & White Heartburn and Acid Reflex Center, in Round Rock, Texas.

Most of those long-term risks are linked to the drug’s suppression of stomach acids, said Buckley, who was not involved in the new study.

When stomach acids are blocked, the body is less able to absorb certain nutrients, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin B12. And proton pump inhibitors have been linked to problems such as bone-density loss and fractures.

Researcher Dr. John Cooke, chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute estimates proton pump inhibitor users were 16 to 21% more likely to suffer a heart attack than people with chronic acid reflux who were not taking the drugs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: Vitamers

No, that’s not a misprint or spelling error although spell check doesn’t recognize vitamers. A vitamer of a particular vitamin is any of a number of chemical compounds, generally having a similar molecular structure. All vitamers show vitamin-activity in vitamin-deficiency biological systems, but not necessarily in humans.

Some of these vitamers are familiar to you. For example, Vitamin A has at least six vitamer chemicals that all qualify as “vitamin A”. In the vitamin A family, four of the chemicals naturally found in foods are carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene and xanthophylls). These chemicals give fruits and vegetables the colors of red, yellow, and orange. Retinols, and retinal forms, found in animal-based foods, are however many times more active in the human body.

Typically, the vitamin activity of multiple vitamers is limited by the body’s ability to convert one vitamer to another, or to add the enzymatic cofactor(s) to make the bioavailable or bio-active form of the vitamin.

Vitamin B12 occurs in foods as cyanocobalamin. When it is absorbed into the epithelial lining of the small intestine, the epithelial cells convert cyanocobalamin to one of two biologically active forms – methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin. The cyanide is stripped off of cobalamin and a methyl group or adenosyl group (the enzymatic cofactors) are substituted. The active vitamer is then released into the blood stream to function as vitamin B12.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Only ‘Limited’ Evidence for Mammograms in 40s

Adding to the debate about the benefits of mammography screening before age 50, a new research review find “limited” evidence that screening prevents breast cancer deaths among women in their 40s.

The results come from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which asked experts from 16 countries to look at the latest evidence on breast cancer screening.

What they found largely confirmed what experts have long said: For women ages 50 to 75, routine mammograms reduce the risk of dying form breast cancer.

The report, published in the June 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, reflects a longstanding debate.
In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force ignited a controversy when it changed its recommendations on mammograms – which had long advised women to have screening every one to two years, starting at age 40.

The revised guidelines now say routine screening should begin at age 50 and be done every two years. The panel said women in he 40s should discuss the pros and cons of mammography screening with their doctors, then make an informed decision.

However, the cancer society and the American Collage of Obstetricians and Gynecologists still urge women to get yearly mammograms, starting at age 40.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Leaky Pipes May Mean Tainted Tap Water

It’s long been thought that leaks in water pipes wouldn’t pose a health threat to the water supply. But a new study suggests otherwise.

The pressure in water mains typically forces water out through any leak – preventing any contaminants from getting in. However, a British study finds that if the damage leads to a significant pressure drop, dirty water surrounding the pipe can then get sucked in through breaks.

It was believed that only clean water from the leak would be sucked into a broken pipe, and that even if contaminants were also sucked in, they would be expelled once water pressure in the pipe returned to normal.

However, a team led by engineer Joby Boxall of the University of Sheffield discovered that groundwater from around the pipe – which is often contaminated – can be sucked into and remain in the pipe. It then travels through the water supply network, they said.

“Many of us will have had [an upset] tummy in the past that we couldn’t quite explain, often putting it down to something we’d eaten,” Boxall said. “It now seems possible that some of these illnesses could have been caused not by food, but by water.”

Study co-author Richard Collins said that the new “research shows that contaminants that enter through a leaking pipe could be reaching consumer’ taps, and although this will be at very low concentrations, it would fail the safety tests if detected.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: Pediatrics

Treating children is a very rewarding aspect of practice. It was my initial motivation to get rid of the clinic jacket many years ago. It just scared the kids. When they saw that jacket, they knew a shot was close behind.

Just like all new patients, you have to put children at ease in your office. Depending on the age, I try to direct the consultation toward them, not their parents. I want to hear what they have to say. I need to engage them in the conversation.

From a chiropractic standpoint, no child is too young for an adjustment. I have adjusted many infants within 24 hours of birth for birth trauma. I have treated a lot of infants with colic. Frequently, colic is a lack of proper movement of the CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) with breathing due to cranial or sacral subluxations. These are easily corrected with non-force techniques.

Children love spinal manipulation. In fact, one of the problems treating children is that they will fake injures and symptoms so they can get an adjustment. They also respond much more quickly than adults. Often patients note an immediate improvement after spinal manipulation. Kids get up off the table and invariably say “I’m fine” or “I’m all better.” Their capacity to heal and their ability to avoid injury with trauma is much greater than adults. They also do not carry the inflammatory load of metabolic syndrome like many adults.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Special Diets, Supplements Not Always Helpful for Kids with Autism

Many children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are picky eaters, and parents may direct them to nutritional supplements, or gluten- or casein-free diets.

However, the study reported June 4 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and dietetics found that these regimens leave children still deficient in some nutrients, such as calcium. On the other hand, special diets and supplements can cause children to take in excessive amounts of other nutrients, such as vitamin A, the researchers said.

“Each patient needs to be individually assessed for potential nutritional deficiencies or excess,” study lead researcher Patricia Stewart, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., said in a journal news release.

“Children with an autism spectrum disorder are not very different nutritionally form non-ASD children,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“Giving children with an autism spectrum disorder a multivitamin/mineral supplement will not correct many of the nutritional deficiencies seen in these children,” he added, “and may in fact lead to excess amounts of some nutrients in the blood stream.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

‘Fracking’ Linked to Low Birth Weight Babies

Living close to a high number of “fracked” natural gas wells may be linked to an increased risk of having a lower birth weight baby, according to a new study of Pennsylvania birth rates.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing – also known as “fracking” – allows access to large amounts of natural gas trapped in shale deposits. Natural gas wells using this method are increasingly common in the United States. For example, the number of these types of wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale rose from 44 in 2007 to more than 2,800 in 2010, the researchers pointed out.

In this study, University of Pittsburgh researchers analyzed the birth records of more than 15,400 babies born in Pennsylvania’s Washington, Westmoreland and Butler counties between 2007 and 2010.

Women who lived close to a high number of natural gas fracking sites were 34% more likely to have babies who were “small for gestational age” than mothers who did not live close to a large number of such wells, the study found.

The findings held true even after the researchers accounted for numerous factors that could affect a newborn’s weight, including whether a mother smoked, her race, age, education, prenatal care and whether she’d had previous children, as well as the baby’s gender.

The study, published online June 3 in the journal PLOS One, does not prove that living close to a high concentration of natural gas fracking sites caused lower birth weights, but does show the need for further investigation, the researchers said.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: Slippery Elm Bark

North American Indians and early settlers used the inner back of the slippery elm not only to build canoes, shelter and baskets, but as a poultice or as a soothing drink. Upon contact with water, the inner back, collected in the spring, yields a thick mucilage or demulcent that was used as an ointment or salve to treat urinary tract inflammation and was applied topically for cold sores and boils. Surgeons during the American Revolution treated gun-shot wounds with slippery elm. Early settlers boiled bear fat with the bark to prevent rancidity. Late in the 19th century, a preparation of elm mucilage was officially recognized in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

Slippery elm coats and protects irritated epithelial tissue (skin and the lining of the digestive tract). The powdered bark has been used in this manner for local application to treat gout, rheumatism, cold sores, wounds, abscesses, ulcers, and toothaches. The tannins present in the bark are known to possess astringent actions. It also has bee known to “draw out” toxins, boils splinters, or other irritants.

When slippery elm preparations are taken internally, they cause reflex stimulation of the nerve endings in the GI tract, leading to mucus secretion. This may be the reason they are effective for protection against stomach ulcers, colitis, diverticulitis, gut inflammation, and acidity. Slippery elm is also useful for diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, IBS, and to expel tapeworms.

I also use slippery elm as a prebiotic. It is very high in soluble fiber that remains intact through the digestive process all the way to the colon. In the colon it feeds the healthy bacteria, the probiotics that form the microbiome.

Please refer to my blog “2014 in Review” posted on December 29, 2014. It lists 5 blogs posted last year on digestive issues.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pesticides Linked to ADHD

Researchers found an association between exposure to pyrethroid pesticides and ADHD, as well as ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The link between the pesticides and ADHD was stronger in boys than in girls, according to the findings published online in the journal Environmental Health.

However, researchers only found an association between pesticides and ADHD. The study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Pyrethroid pesticides – considered safer than organophosphate pesticides – are the most widely used pesticides for home and public health pest control, and their use in agriculture is increasing, according to the researchers.

“Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides and the perception that they may represent a safe alternative, our findings may be of considerable public health importance,” study corresponding author Dr. Tanya Froehlich, a developmental pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said in a hospital news release.

She and her colleagues analyzed data from nearly 700 children between the ages of 8 and 15. The children had taken part in the 2000-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers looked at levels of 3-PBA – a chemical indicator of exposure to pyrethroids – in the children’s urine.

Boys with detectable levels of 3-PBA in their urine were three times more likely to have ADHD than those without detectable 3-PBA. For every 10-fold increase in 3-PBA levels in boys, there was a 50% increased risk for hyperactivity and impulsivity – both symptoms of ADHD.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Alzheimer’s-Linked Brain Proteins Tied to Poor Sleep

Poor sleep in old age may be linked to the brain-clogging plaques thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.

“Sleep appears to be a missing piece in the Alzheimer’s puzzle, and enhancing sleep may lessen the cognitive burden that Alzheimer’s disease imparts,” said study author Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.

It’s not clear how sleep and memory affect – or are affected by – the accumulation of beta amyloid plaques, believed to interfere with mental functioning. Still, the study findings hint at a major message regarding Alzheimer’s, said Mander, who works at the university’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory.

For the new study, Mander and colleagues recruited 26 mentally healthy adults ages 70 to 79. They underwent brain imaging to assess plaque buildup, and were asked to remember pairs of words before and after a night’s sleep. Overnight, researchers measured their brain waves, and the next day they conducted MRI scans during the memory testing.

Those patients with the highest levels of amyloid plaques in one part of the brain – the medial prefrontal cortex – had lighter sleep and higher levels of memory problems, the researchers found.

“It is not so much that memory after sleep is important, but that sleep after initial learning is important to help us retain memory for a longer period of time,” Mander said.

The study suggests – but does not prove – that insufficient deep sleep contributes to “a reduced ability to cement memories in the brain over the long-term, resulting in greater memory loss,” he noted.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: A1C Test

The A1C is a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and then to gauge how well you’re managing your diabetes. The A1C test goes by many other names, including glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C and HbA1c.

The test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin – a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen – is coat with coated with sugar (glycated). The higher the A1C level, the poorer the blood sugar control and the higher the risk of diabetes complications. Because red blood cells (RBCs) live approximately 120 days, the half life of an RBC is 60 days. So the test measures the saturation of sugar into RBCs over that 60 day average.

Recently an international committee of experts from the American Diabetes Association, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the International Diabetes Federation recommended that the A1C test be the primary test used to diagnose prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Previously, the fasting glucose was the gold standard. However, in many cases the A1C elevates years prior to the fasting glucose. It is estimated that there are 35 million undiagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes in the United States alone.

The medical norm for the A1C test is less than 5.7%. That corresponds to an average blood sugar level, in milligram per deciliter (mg/dL) of 117. Research reveals anything above that level causes damage to the kidneys, small blood vessels, nerves and the eyes. A test result of 6.5%, the threshold for diabetes, reflects an average blood sugar level of 140.

A1C levels above 5.7 but below 6.5 are considered pre-diabetes. This is where many of my patients land, if they are not yet true diabetics. This is also where early treatment in the form of dietary improvements, regular exercise, and supplementation will easily reduce the A1C below 5.7% and allow patients to avoid Type 2 diabetes.

Monday, June 1, 2015

One-Third of Americans Have Dangerous Mix of Heart Risk Factors

More than one-third of U.S. adults have a combination of health problems collectively known as metabolic syndrome that increase the risk of heat disease and diabetes, according to new research.

What’s worse, the researchers found the rate of metabolic syndrome increases dramatically with age. Almost half of people 60 or older in the United States have metabolic syndrome, the study found.

“That’s concerning, because we know the population of the U.S. is aging,” said senior author Dr. Robert Wong, an assistant clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco. “I think it will potentially place a huge burden on our health care system.”

Metabolic syndrome is a “perfect storm” of conditions that include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, increased levels of blood sugar, and a wider waist circumference, Wong said.

Medical experts are turning to metabolic syndrome as a key indicator of heart health risk. “Metabolic syndrome is a more comprehensive analysis, because it takes into account a lot of risk factors,” Wong said.

To assess the nation’s rate of metabolic syndrome, Wong and his colleagues used health data on Americans gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2003 and 2013.

The researchers concluded that 35% of all U.S. adults had metabolic syndrome in 2011-2012. That number is up slightly from 33% in 2003-2004, the researchers said.