Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Red Meat Raises Bowel Problems for Men

redmeatmen

Red Meat Raises Bowel Problems for Men

 

A new study suggests that men who eat lots of red meat are much more likely to have bowel problems, pain and nausea than their peers who stick mainly with chicken or fish.

 

Researchers examined more than two decades of data on more than 46,000 men and found frequent red meat eaters were 58 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diverticulitis, a common bowel condition that occurs when small pockets or bulges lining the intestines become inflamed.

 

“Previous studies have shown that a high fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of diverticulitis, however, the role of other dietary factors in influencing risk of diverticulitis was not well studied,” said senior study author Andrew Chan, a researcher at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Our result show that diets high in red meat may be associated with a higher risk of diverticulitis,” Chan added by email.

 

Diverticulitis is common, resulting in more than 200,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S. at a cost of more than $2 billion, Chan and colleagues note in the journal Gut.

 

New cases are on the rise, and the exact causes are unknown, although the condition has been linked to smoking, obesity and the use of certain nonprescription painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

 

While diverticulitis can often be treated with a liquid or low-fiber diet, severe cases may require hospitalization and surgery to fix complications like perforations in the gut wall.

 

Researchers examined data collected on men who were aged 40 to 75 when they joined the study between 1986 and 2012. Every four years men were asked how often, on average, they ate red meat, poultry and fish over the preceding year.

 

 

They were given nine options, ranging from ‘never’ or ‘less than once a month,’ to ‘six or more times a day.’

 

During the study period, 764 men developed diverticulitis.

 

Men who ate the most red meat were also more likely to smoke, more likely to regularly take NSAIDs, and less likely to eat foods with fiber or get intense exercise.

 

By contrast, men who ate more chicken and fish were less likely to smoke or take NSAIDs and more likely to get vigorous exercise.

 

After accounting for these other factors that can influence the risk of diverticulitis, red meat was still associated with higher odds of developing the bowel disorder.

 

Each daily serving of red meat was associated with an 18 percent increased risk, the study found.

 

Unprocessed meats like beef, pork and lamb were associated with a greater risk than processed meats like bacon or sausage.

 

It’s possible the higher cooking temperatures typically used to prepare unprocessed meats may influence the composition of bacteria in the gut or inflammatory activity, though the exact reason for the increased risk tied to these foods is unknown, the researchers note.

 

Swapping one daily serving of red meat for chicken or fish was associated with a 20 percent reduction in the risk of this bowel disorder, the study also found.

 

The study is observational, and doesn’t prove red meat causes diverticulitis.

 

Other limitations of the study include its reliance on men to accurately recall and report how much meat they ate and the possibility that the results may not apply to women, the authors point out.

 

Even so, the findings should offer yet another reason to consider cutting back on red meat, said Samantha Heller, a nutritionist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.

 

Diets high in red and processed meats have been linked with increased risks of inflammatory bowel diseases, so the link found in this study “is not surprising,” Heller said by email.

 

“Focusing on a more plant based, higher fiber diet that includes legumes, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits, replete with appropriate fluid intake, may go a long way in helping reduce of inflammatory bowel diseases, diverticulitis, and other chronic diseases,” Heller added.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tied To Lower Drug Costs

heartdisease

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Tied to Lower Drug Costs

People with heart disease spend a lot less on medications when they take steps to lower their risk of complications by doing things like getting enough exercise, avoiding cigarettes and keeping their blood pressure in check, a U.S. study suggests.

For the study, researchers focused on adults diagnosed with the most common type of heart disease, known as atherosclerosis, which happens when fats, cholesterol and other substances build up on artery walls.

 

When these patients did as much as they could to avoid so-called modifiable risk factors for heart disease – inactivity, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and diabetes – their total average annual pharmaceutical expenditures were $1,400, the study found.

But patients who did little to modify these risk factors had total average annual pharmaceutical expenditures of $4,516, researchers report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

 

“Individuals who are unwilling to modify their lifestyles so as to have a favorable risk factor profile would most likely resort to medications to control the risk factors,” said lead study author Dr. Joseph Salami of the Center for Health Care Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida in Coral Gables.

 

“A person getting little or no exercise has a higher risk of obesity,” Salami said by email. “Someone obese is more likely to have diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension.”

 

For the study, researchers examined 2012 and 2013 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national snapshot of spending based on surveys of almost 76,000 American patients, families, doctors and employers. The total pharmaceutical costs, reported in 2013 dollars, include patients’ out-of-pocket fees like co-payments and co-insurance as well as the portion of the tab covered by insurance or other sources, Salami said.

Among the survey participants, 4,248 adults aged 40 or older had atherosclerosis, representing about 21.9 million people in the U.S. population. They were 68 years old on average, and 45 percent were women.

 

Overall, average annual drug costs for each participant were $3,432. About a third of this was for cardiovascular disease drugs and another 14 percent was spent on diabetes medicines.

 

The remaining expenditures – more than half of the total – were for non-cardiovascular disease and non-diabetes drugs and were significantly associated with the modifiable risk factors, the study team notes.

Nationwide, this adds up to annual drug spending of $71.6 billion for patients with atherosclerosis, researchers estimated.

 

One limitation of the study is that it might overestimate expenditures because it’s possible some people prescribed medications for heart disease might be taking them for other reasons, the authors note. Researchers also lacked data on the type of insurance patients’ had or for individual characteristics of patients, doctors or pharmacists that might influence drug costs.

 

Costs should be considered in the context of how well treatments work, and the study doesn’t address this, noted Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston who wasn’t involved in the study.

 

“In some cases, the benefit that patients get from these non-pharmacologic therapies may be much more substantial than the benefit that drug therapy can offer,” Kesselheim said by email. “In other cases, the drug might be more helpful.”

The study also isn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that people will spend less on drugs when they make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of heart disease, said Julie Schmittdiel of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland.

 

“It does suggest there is promise that addressing modifiable health behaviors will reduce costs,” Schmittdiel, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

 

Knowing this might help motivate some patients to make changes, said Stacie Dusetzina, a pharmacy researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who wasn’t involved in the study.

 

“I think many of us realize how hard these risk factors are to modify,” Dusetzina said by email. “But having incentives that include feeling better and saving money may help with motivation.”

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Breakthroughs Help Vets Fight the PTSD War

Ptsd Concept Letterpress Type

Breakthroughs Help Vets Win the PTSD Battle

Thanks to medical miracles, veterans of today’s wars survive battlefield injuries that almost certainly would have been fatal just a generation ago.

 

But when those wounded warriors return home, they face another monumental challenge: How to mend their broken minds and bodies to resume successful, rewarding lives after they leave the military.

 

Fortunately, doctors and therapists are studying a number of innovative methods that could help get wounded veterans back on their feet.

 

Among the promising techniques for veterans currently being explored:

 

Electric Patch Treatment

 

Post-traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD, plagues many soldiers returning home from war. Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles report trigeminal nerve stimulation, or TNS, has shown promise in treating chronic PTSD.

 

“This could be a breakthrough for patients who have not been helped adequately by existing treatments,” Dr. Andrew Leuchter said.

 

A second study is now under way.

 

Transcendental Meditation

 

Seventy-four soldiers seeking treatment for PTSD at the Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Ga., recently participated in a study on transcendental medication. Within one month, nearly 84 percent of the meditating soldiers had stabilized, reduced, or eliminated their use of the psychotropic drugs that were helping them to cope with their condition.

 

Meditating twice a day helped veterans remain calm and avoid the “fight or flight” response associated with PTSD.

 

 

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Subjecting patients to oxygen at a higher-than-atmospheric pressure infuses the cells of their bodies with oxygen. This has proven especially effective in fighting infections and warding off the effects of concussion, a common injury sustained by soldiers.

 

But doctors report the Veteran’s Administration and the Pentagon have been slow to fully adopt the use of hyperbaric oxygen by veterans.

 

Equine Therapy

 

President Ronald Reagan famously remarked there is nothing as good for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse. Therapists say as soon as vets get around horses they tend to relax, and their anxieties begin to fade away.

 

OperationWeAreHere.com offers contact information for over a dozen equine-therapy organizations that work with veterans.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

 

Sensitizing patients to their fears, and the stimuli that tend to trigger panic and anxiety, can help veterans learn to control their reactions. Researchers say those who return from war zones often suffer from “hypervigilance,” an exaggerated readiness to respond to perceived threats in the environment.

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients learn to respond productively to stressful situations.

 

Virtual Reality Therapy

 

Using computer-generated simulations, veterans under expert medical supervision can get in touch with traumatic events, to better process and understand their own reactions. One small trial suggested it might reduce the effects of PTSD, but more studies are needed.

 

Accelerated Resolution Therapy

Using a technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, PTSD patients learn to process the traumas they experienced thereby reducing anxiety. A patient brings to mind the disturbing images they cannot escape, while practicing deep breathing and focusing on the rapid movements of a therapist’s hand.

 

A technique just beginning to gain widespread acceptance, it appears to work by mimicking the rapid eye movements people experience during REM sleep.

 

Magnetic Resonance Therapy

 

Colloquially known as “brain zapping,” magnetic resonance therapy uses magnetic coils to stimulate the cortex. The FDA approved the procedure in 2008 to combat major bouts of depression.

 

Published studies suggest it could also help patients suffering from PTSD. The Washington Post reported the procedure is offered as a treatment for depression by the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Yoga, as Good For Back Pain as Physical Therapy

yoga

Yoga as Good for Back Pain as Physical Therapy

 

Chronic lower back pain is equally likely to improve with yoga classes as with physical therapy, according to a new study.

Twelve weeks of yoga lessened pain and improved function in people with low back pain as much as physical therapy sessions over the same period.

 

“Both yoga and physical therapy are excellent non-drug approaches for low back pain,” said lead author Dr. Robert Saper, of Boston Medical Center.

 

About 10 percent of U.S. adults experience low back pain, but not many are happy with the available treatments, Saper and colleagues write in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The American College of Physicians advised in February that most people with low back pain should try non-drug treatments like superficial heat or massage before reaching for medications.

 

Physical therapy is the most common non-drug treatment for low back pain prescribed by doctors, according to Saper and colleagues. Yoga is also backed by some guidelines and studies as a treatment option, but until now no research has compared the two.

 

For the new study, the researchers recruited 320 adults with chronic low back pain. The participants were racially diverse and tended to have low incomes.

 

The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group took part in a 12-week yoga program designed for people with low back pain. Another took part in a physical therapy program over the same amount of time. People in the third group received a book with comprehensive information about low back pain and follow-up information every few weeks.

 

 

At the start of the study, participants reported – on average – moderate to severe functional impairment and pain. More than two-thirds were using pain medications.

 

To track participants function and pain during the study, the researchers surveyed them at six, 12, 26, 40 and 52 weeks using the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ).

 

Scores on the RMDQ measure for function declined – meaning function was improving – by 3.8 points over the 12 weeks in the yoga group, compared to 3.5 points in the physical therapy group. Participants who received education had an average RMDQ score decline of 2.5.

 

Statistically, participants ended up with similar functional improvements whether they underwent yoga, physical therapy or education.

 

More people in the yoga and physical therapy groups ended up with noticeable improvements in function, however.

 

People would feel a noticeable improvement with a four to five point drop on the RMDQ, write Dr. Douglas Chang, of the University of California, San Diego and Dr. Stefan Kertesz of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in an accompanying editorial.

 

They write that 48 percent of yoga participants and 37 percent of physical therapy participants reached that goal, compared to 23 percent of people who were in the education group.

 

For achieving noticeable differences in pain, physical therapy was again no better or worse than yoga. After 12 weeks, people in the yoga group were 21 percentage points less likely to used pain medications than those in the education group. That difference was 22 percentage points for physical therapy versus education.

 

 

The improvements among the people in yoga and physical therapy groups lasted throughout the year, the researchers found.

 

“If they remain the same after one year, it’s a good bet that their improvement will continue on,” Saper told Reuters Health.

 

One treatment method won’t help all or even most patients, wrote Chang and Kertesz in their editorial.

 

“Nevertheless, as Saper and colleagues have shown, yoga offers some persons tangible benefit without much risk,” they write. “In the end, however, it represents one tool among many.”

 

 

 

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Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Natural Compounds in Ordinary Food Beat Prostate Cancer

naturalcompunds

 

Natural Compounds in Ordinary Foods Beat Prostate Cancer

 

Adding common foods to your diet can help you beat — or even avoid developing — prostate cancer, hints a study conducted at The University of Texas at Austin. Researchers discovered that several natural compounds found in foods starve cancerous tumors of the nutrition they need to thrive and spread.

 

For instance, a main dish of curry, which contains the spice turmeric, topped off with baked apples, whose skins contain ursolic acid, provides essential nutrients effective in fighting cancer.

 

Researchers used a unique method to analyze plant-based chemicals and discover specific combinations that shrink prostate tumors.

 

They first tested 142 natural compounds on mouse and human cell lines to see which inhibited prostate cancer cell growth when administered alone or in combination with another nutrient. The most promising active ingredients were then tested on model animals: ursolic acid, a waxy natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, the bright yellow plant compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, found in red grapes and berries.

 

The found that when combined with either curcumin or resveratrol, ursolic acid prevented the uptake of glutamine, a nutrient necessary for cancer growth.

 

“These nutrients have potential anti-cancer properties and are readily available,” says Stafano Tiziani. Combinations of the nutrients, he says, “have a better effect on prostate cancer than existing drugs.

 

“The beauty of this study is that we were able to inhibit tumor growth in mice without toxicity,” Tiziani said.

 

The study was published in Precision Oncology.

 

Other studies have also found potential cancer therapies in foods, including turmeric, apple peels, and green tea.

 

Italian researchers at the University of Parma studied men with a pre-malignant form of prostate cancer called prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), and found that those who took three 200 milligram capsules of green tea extract daily slashed their risk of developing prostate cancer by 90 percent when compared to men taking a placebo.

 

Previous studies have found that lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes and watermelons their bright red color, can decrease the risk of prostate cancer by up to 35 percent. One study found that men with precancerous changes in their prostates who took 4 milligrams of lycopene twice daily lowered the risk of their condition progressing to cancer.

A study at Britain’s University of Portsmouth found that lycopene in tomatoes becomes even more biologically active when cooked with a small amount of oil.

 

A study from the University of Missouri found that resveratrol can make chemotherapy and radiation more effective in men who have aggressive prostate cancer.

 

Researcher Michael Nicholl found that the combination of resveratrol and radiation treatment killed 97 percent of tumor cells. “It’s important to note that this killed all types of prostate tumor cells, including aggressive tumor cells,” he said.

 

An Italian study found that men who drank three cups of Italian-style coffee every day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 53 percent. “Italian Style” coffee is prepared using high pressure, very high water temperature, and no filters. The benefit is probably due to the caffeine, but scientists say that the method of preparation could lead to a higher concentration of the helpful bioactive substances.

 

 

A high-fiber diet may be able to inhibit early-stage prostate cancer by stopping tumors from growing, said a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Scientists fed one group of mice inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), a natural type of carbohydrate that’s found in large amounts in high-fiber diets. A second group of mice didn’t get the supplement. MRIs were used to monitor the progression of prostate cancer.

 

“The study’s results were really rather profound,” said researcher Komal Raina. “We saw dramatically reduced tumor volumes.” IP6 kept prostate tumors from making new blood vessels needed to make the cancer grow and metastasize.

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